1. says

    Young ‘long haulers’ featured in ad campaign targeted at unvaccinated

    […] “Voices for Long COVID” features testimonies from “long-haulers” between the ages of 18 and 29 in which they discuss a multitude of issues they’ve faced after testing positive for the coronavirus, including memory loss, brain fog and chronic fatigue.

    The website focuses on conveying the message that some people who developed COVID-19 early in the pandemic “still have symptoms of long COVID, more than a year after their initial infection.”

    “Anyone who has had COVID-19 can develop long COVID, including people who have had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. Long COVID symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog,’ gastrointestinal problems and loss of taste and smell, among many others,” the website said.

    “Tens of thousands of Americans are struggling to manage Long COVID while doctors and medical researchers are learning more about the condition and how to treat it,” it added. […]

    “Thousands of Americans struggle with Long COVID every day. Their stories are important reminders that vaccination is our best tool to prevent this potentially life-altering condition,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, in a statement. […]

  2. says

    Hello, Readers, I see that the previous chapter of the Infinite Thread reached its 500-comment limit. It rolled over to start again at comment #1.

    For your convenience, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:

    White House seeks to boost Covid vaccine manufacturing by 1B doses a year
    More intense weather systems … and the resulting damage: “A record heatwave killed hundreds in BC just months ago; today, rain cuts off Vancouver from Canada.”
    Republican seeks credit for infrastructure bill he voted against
    A white voter in Nevada cast an illegal ballot for his dead wife. He received a vastly lighter sentence than Crystal Mason. This keeps happening.

  3. says

    The space debris problem is getting dangerous

    The ISS seems fine after a Russian weapons test blew up a defunct satellite, but these incidents could become more common.

    Russia shot down one of its Soviet-era satellites in a weapons test on Monday, sending more than 1,500 pieces of trackable debris into space. This forced astronauts on the International Space Station to shelter for about two hours in two spacecraft that could return them to Earth in the event of an imminent collision. While the ISS appears to be in the clear for now, experts say the situation is still dangerous. Satellite operators will likely need to navigate around this new cloud of space junk for several years and possibly decades.

    In fact, Russia’s latest missile test may have increased the total amount of space junk, including discarded pieces of rockets and satellites in Earth’s orbit, by as much as 10 percent. These shards are spinning at incredibly fast speeds and risk hitting active satellites that power critical technologies, like GPS navigation and weather forecasting. Space debris like this is actually so dangerous that national security officials are worried it could be used as a weapon in a future space war. In fact, the State Department has already said the Monday missile test is evidence that Russia is more than willing to create debris that jeopardizes the safety of all countries operating in low-Earth orbit, and even risks disrupting the peace in space.

    These risks have only heightened concerns that we’re far from solving the space junk problem, especially as private companies and foreign governments launch thousands of new satellites into orbit — inevitably creating even more space junk.

    Monday’s events, however, were more politically fraught than your average space debris incident. The Russian government launched a so-called antisatellite test (ASAT), which, as the name implies, is designed to destroy satellites in orbit. Launched from a site a few hundred miles north of Moscow, the missile struck a non-operational Russian spy satellite called Kosmos-1408 that had been orbiting the Earth since 1982.

    […] “I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts.” Nelson added that Russia’s actions were “reckless and dangerous” and also imperiled those aboard China’s Tiangong space station. […]

  4. says

    Wonkette: “Jim Bob Duggar So Mad Son Canceled Just For ALLEGED Child Porn That He Is Running For Office”

    Hey guess what, there’s a person named “Duggar” running for political office. No, not the one charged with all the kiddie porn named Josh, but rather the one named Jim Bob, who is the father to the one charged with all the kiddie porn. […]

    Yes, Jim Bob Duggar is running for the Arkansas state Senate. […] And his platform — or at least part of it — is “cancel culture.” Yes, with everything that’s going on with his family right now. He’s really saying this, on his campaign website.

    After telling his boring-ass story about how he married a person and they decided to start a birthing farm for 20 children, Jim Bob starts in with the whiny whiny whiny whiny white-ass man whining that typifies Republican white men these days.

    He whines about “NWA families and small businesses” — that’s Northwest Arkansas, not the rappers — “who are too often bullied by giant businesses and government mandates that violate their conscience.” He whines about “government leaders act[ing] like dictators, shutting down small businesses and telling the masses to comply with their mandates or get arrested.” He whines about “our freedom of speech [being] censored on social media if we dare question the liberal left’s propaganda.”

    And now!

    Now we are seeing President Biden advocating for forced vaccines for our children—with an experimental, untested shot! Parents, not the government, should make decisions for their own children. The liberals scream “it’s my body” when they want to end the life of an unborn child but would gladly force mandatory vaccines upon everyone without hesitation.

    Wait what is his firstborn son charged with again? Oh yeah. Plz tell us more about protecting the kids from “vaccine.”

    Is it fair for us to keep bringing up Josh Duggar’s little problems? Oh, we think so, considering how we could have all seen this fame-obsessed family’s current predicament coming YEARSFUCKINGYEARS ago, when all the sibling-molesting scandals involving Josh Duggar started coming to light, and we really got a good look at the Duggar-style Christian worldview that arguably contributed to all those scandals.

    But Jim Bob himself is bringing it up on his campaign website. That’s where he goes really hard into the “cancel culture” schtick. And that’s why it’s absofuckinlutely fair game.

    Jim Bob whines:

    I will not allow the liberal left, social media, or fake news to define me and my family. Like so many other families, we too have faced crises, difficulties, and heartbreak. “Cancel culture” and the radical left want to keep us from being involved in politics. They say because our family has faced problems we should shrink away—this is why they are often so relentlessly unkind, but we cannot sit on the sidelines during a time when one of America’s most important battles is taking place! We are devoted to doing our part and making a difference for our children and grandchildren.

    Is the liberal left, social media and the fake news the one that arrested Josh Duggar for kiddie porn? Or was that just the po-lice?

    Fuck this guy, is our point.

    In other Duggar news, Josh Duggar’s kiddie porn trial is in two weeks and his wife literally just gave birth to their seventh child […]


  5. says

    Bureau Of Labor Statistics Had One Job. Is That Job One Or 19 Jobs?

    Some good economic news from the Washington Post, albeit a little damn late: It turns out that for four straight months, from June through September, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics “sharply underestimated job gains,” missing a total of 626,000 new jobs in those four months. It’s the biggest gap between actual job growth and the BLS’s initial monthly jobs reports since 1979. As the Post’s Andrew Van Dam puts it, “If those revisions were themselves a jobs report, they’d be an absolute blockbuster.”

    It’s not because anyone was asleep at the switch; the article goes into quite a bit of detail to explain how careful BLS statisticians are to account for variables. Rather, it’s a matter of how the BLS figures out the data for its monthly jobs reports — as we’ve noted previously, the sampling system works pretty well in normal economic times, but it’s not terribly effective when employment numbers are rising or falling quickly, as has been the case in our weird pandemic economy. In this case, reports of a stagnant non-recovery were greatly exaggerated.

    As Van Dam explains,

    […] The missing jobs surfaced through revisions to the widely watched non-farm payrolls number that BLS releases each month. The data is considered preliminary until it has been revised twice. The fixes are typically minor, but recent revisions have been big enough to turn a substantial slump into a surprising surge.

    So what went wrong? Basically, the numbers were off because the monthly payroll reports rely on data that businesses provide to government surveys. In this case, “businesses have been slow to respond to government surveys amid the chaos of the pandemic,” meaning that they were hiring people but slow in reporting the new hires to the BLS. In fact, Van Dam notes that as many as a quarter of responses from the more than 697,000 businesses the BLS surveys were submitted late in one recent month.

    […] The story these latest revisions tell is a heck of a lot better economic news than the earlier reports of disappointing job growth suggested, particularly for August of this year:

    […] Unfortunately, by the time the more accurate jobs numbers were posted, Biden’s polling was already beginning to suffer, in part because of the COVID resurgence, and in part because of what was being called the dismal jobs numbers. […]

    Gosh, next we’re probably going to find out that nobody was sitting around on their butts collecting emergency unemployment, oh wait, we already knew that!

    […] hooray for the number crunchers, and we now vow to refer back to this article whenever weird one-month economic numbers raise their bizarre fuzzy heads. Also, get ready for a bunch of doofuses to continue insisting that even though the economy is showing very good growth, typical families with nine kids can’t afford the 12 gallons of milk they need every week and everything is terrible we’re doomed.

  6. says

    Followup to comment 490 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    “Chuck Todd Pretty Sure Biden’s Historic Infrastructure Bill Is DOOOOOM For Democrats, DOOOOOM.”

    The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (or BIF) that President Joe Biden signed into law Monday will do a lot of great things for the country, but Chuck Todd thinks it’s too little too late. Yesterday, the “Meet the Press” host explained why the White House bill signing ceremony was like the sad final days of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. [video available at the link]

    TODD: Look, yesterday that event … I’ll be honest, it felt like — it just felt like an event out of time. That event might have been impactful in August or September, or October. It feels more like an epilogue to the ending of what’s going to — might not be a good story for Democrats in 2022.

    Yes, the guy who infamously claimed Hillary Clinton was “overprepared” for a presidential debate now insists that passage of a historic infrastructure bill marks the beginning of the end for Biden and the Democrats. He declares this without any facts to back up his dire prediction. […]

    It’s true that the fundamentals point to Democratic losses in the midterms. Republicans have already gerrymandered themselves a House majority before a single vote’s been cast. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate a bill that will positively impact American lives, even if those same voters don’t appreciate it and hand control of the nation to the book-burning party.

    Todd is from the Mark Halperin school of game theory politics. All that matters is how policies and legislation “sell.” It’s cynical and amoral, and if it’s Sunday, that’s what you’ll get on “Meet the Press.”

    […] BIF is expected to create almost one million new jobs over the next decade, but Todd dismisses its impact because a few dozen Democrats might lose their jobs next year. The 2010 Tea Party shellacking was also not a “good story” for Democrats, but they passed the Affordable Care Act, which literally saved people’s lives. Democrats should do all the good they can, for all the people they can, in all the ways they can, as long as they can. […]

    Todd isn’t a passive observer. He’s theoretically a journalist who helps craft the political narrative. If people only see stories about how the Democratic-controlled government is failing them and whatever Biden achieves doesn’t matter, they will react accordingly at the ballot box. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. […]

    there’s no question that the country’s in far better shape than it was exactly a year ago. While Democrats should shoulder some blame for less than ideal messaging, mainstream media has helped promote the GOP’s doom-and-gloom narrative, and Chuck Todd is perhaps the worst offender.


  7. says

    Kyrsten Sinema Would Like To Thank Kyrsten Sinema For Her Hard Work Passing The Bipartisan Sinema Bill

    President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure deal into law Monday, and there was much rejoicing, especially from Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who took the stage to declare BIF peace in our time. […]

    SINEMA: How many times have we heard that bipartisanship isn’t possible anymore, or that important policy can only happen on a party line? Our legislation proves the opposite, and the senators who negotiated this legislation show how to get things done.

    First place, Speaker Nancy Pelosi got this legislation passed. Period. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s contribution was agreeing not to filibuster the bill dead. When Pelosi was herding cats and making deals, Sinema pouted and insulted Democratic leadership from the comfort of her most recent big-money fundraiser. […]

    Sinema is straight-up wrong when she claims BIF disproves that “important policy can only happen on a party line.” This legislation is a Democratic achievement that a few Republicans hopped onto because it was in their best interest. […] Sinema’s the annoying person at the party who prances around while her friend gets everything ready. Then once the guests arrive, she gives a long, self-congratulatory toast.

    She fails to mention that Democrats needed control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to pass this legislation, and ultimately only 32 out of the 250 Republicans currently serving in the House and Senate supported the bill. That’s pretty close to a party-line vote. […]

    While Sinema was taking her Ironman victory laps, McCarthy was fending off revolt from his caucus members who are less than thrilled with all this bipartisanship. Some conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus want to officially sanction the 13 members who broke ranks and voted for BIF. The caucus apparently has a selective definition of “freedom.” […]

    Kyrsten Sinema’s vanity parade of bipartisanship isn’t helpful and is almost more useless than she is.


  8. says

    “Art” that makes you shudder:

    Usually when hero patriot Christian inspiration prophet painter Jon McNaughton releases one of his little paintings, we let Doktor Zoom review it. You know, like when he paints “Duck Dynasty” riding on Donald Trump’s muscular back while they do sexual anger tangos with Robert Mueller, to show him who’s boss. […]

    Anyway, there is a new release from America’s Greatest Artist, and it is McNaughton’s favorite presidents cosplaying as the co-stars of some kind of military-themed superhero gay porn or something. It’s called “The Magnificent Seven.”

    […] Of course, because McNaughton has such a well-documented love for Donald Trump, he puts Trump in the middle and paints Abraham Lincoln next to him all sassy like he and Washington are Trump’s sidekicks. This is also likely why McNaughton paints Trump to look like he’s about 174 years younger than he actually is. […]

    The others in the painting, according to McNaughton, and we guess we’re just gonna have to trust him here, are, from left, Thomas Jefferson, St. Ronald of Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, and JFK. […]

    There have been 46 US Presidents since George Washington: some good, others not so much. As the artist, I decided to put together my team of the most magnificent seven Presidents. How did I choose this motley crew? Each was loved and hated for different reasons, but all stood against the establishment and to fight for American ideals. These are – The Magnificent Seven!


    We don’t want to read too much into how skillfully McNaughton paints each president, and we don’t want to mine these images for secret messages, because Occam’s Razor says he’s just not that good at painting and that’s why JFK looks weird as shit.

    […] But what did Trump and his Six Sidekicks destroy in that painting, and why are they standing in rubble? Maybe woke cancel culture. Maybe just THE WORLD.

    Before we leave this post, just want everyone to also know that McNaughton is selling a wall calendar of his most favoritest paintings, which might be nice for holiday gift-giving, or if you need a calendar to remind you when to get abortions and do critical race theory.


    You can view the awfulness at the link.

  9. says

    Followup to comments 439, 449, and 460 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    Belarus moved migrants from the Polish border to a warehouse, easing the crisis for now.

    Washington Post link

    Belarus used buses Wednesday to move hundreds of migrants from the Polish border to a nearby warehouse, providing temporary shelter amid freezing temperatures and potentially easing a standoff with the European Union.

    The Belarus decision comes a day after violence erupted along the border, where migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere have been stranded. For months, Belarus has opened routes for migrants to reach E.U. borders in retaliation for European sanctions.

    Polish authorities used water cannons to push back the migrants, an escalation they said was overseen by Belarusian forces.

    […] Attempts at a diplomatic resolution have ramped up. The E.U. on Monday agreed to impose new sanctions against Belarus, which it accuses of using vulnerable refugees and migrants to launch a “hybrid attack” on its borders since the summer.

    […] Belarusian officials were also hit with sanctions last year for a crackdown on peaceful protesters after a presidential election in which Lukashenko claimed he swept to victory. The vote has been widely denounced as rigged.

    […] migrants can be trapped and pushed back and forth between the two countries for weeks, during which time they say they have little access to food and water. Polish police said they found the body of a young Syrian man in the woods near the border last week.

    Water cannons were used against migrants that were already freezing, with some of them dying from the cold.

    Lukashenko is cynically using migrants to gain a political advantage in negotiations with the E.U.

    For now, it looks like international outrage against the inhumane conditions for migrants has forced a small improvement.

  10. blf says

    US Capitol rioter[insurrectionist] who wore horned headdress sentenced to 41 months

    Prosecutors had asked US district judge Royce Lamberth to impose a longer 51-month sentence on Jacob Chansley, who pleaded guilty in September to obstructing an official proceeding when he and thousands of others stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election.

    The sentence matches one imposed by a judge on a former mixed martial artist filmed punching a police officer, who was sentenced last week to 41 months in prison.


    Chansley’s attorneys asked the judge for a sentence of time served for their client, who has been detained since his January arrest. […] While in detention, Chansley was diagnosed by prison officials with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. When he entered his guilty plea, Chansley said he was disappointed Trump had not pardoned him.


  11. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine is snarking, Americans were horrified to be told to live like Europeans. Is it longer life expectancy they mind?:

    I do hope European readers are going to be able to access this article. Do you have computers where you live? What about electricity? Are there shops where you can buy newspapers? I vaguely recall seeing such things during my travels on the pale continent, but perhaps I was mistaken. A recent Bloomberg op-ed, titled Americans need to learn to live more like Europeans, suggests Europeans live deprived lives with limited access to modern conveniences — and argues that, owing to supply-chain issues, Americans may have to get used to doing the same. “Store shelves are emptying, and it can take months to find a car, refrigerator or sofa,” the article opined. “If this continues, we may need to learn to do without — and, horrors, live more like the Europeans.” The horrors, indeed!

    As someone residing in France, sometimes considered to be in Europe, except when it’s confused with Réunion, which is part of France but a hemisphere away and listed as a separate location, uninhabited until 1665, meaning France was vacant until then, which would be a surprise to a lot of French. And most everyone else. Anyways, no, there aren’t any “computers” here, except for badly-paid young ladies graciously granted an education. I’m reading baked clay tablets imported from Londinium via the Germanic tribes (need anything, even a monk, hire a Norseman!), and replying with the older, more trustworthy, technology of chiselled stone. Perhaps you’re thinking of papyrus, albeit I didn’t think that had made it into the frozen wastelands to the north. Wasn’t too sure people had either. There is a plentiful supply of chains here, along with our own kookery of loons.

    I’m not sure whether the Bloomberg headline was explicitly designed to trigger transatlantic anger and start an online culture war, but that’s exactly what it did. To be fair, it doesn’t take much to make the internet irate. You can write a light-hearted article about how you like cheese and, whoops, you’ve started a no-gouda, very bad culture war. Someone on Twitter will explain that your joke about brie was classist; someone else will say that your omission of cheddar was a violent act of erasure, and someone with a username like @DairyPatriot69 will tell you to go back to where you came from and eat whatever horrible cheese they make there. And if your article is somewhat more serious? If your article should suggest that Americans might learn a thing or two from other people? Well, the Maga crowd will track you down and denounce your opinions with all-caps inanities.

    Don’t mention the cheese, you British Industrial Cheddar mongers! The mildly deranged penguin will soon fly over and explain at great length, LOUDLY!, that not only is your cheeseboard not up to snuff, not even being fit a mushy pea, you don’t know how to spell “whiskey”. And if you mention it’s spelled the same incorrect way here in France, I mean Réunion, she’ll point you also don’t know how to spell “ghoti”.

    Which, of course, is exactly the fate that befell the Bloomberg piece. Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, for example, who is famous for loving guns and sympathising with QAnon, indignantly tweeted that if she wanted to live like a European she would move to Europe (which, famously, is a single, homogeneous country [located in the Indian Ocean]). Let’s … keep our AMERICAN dream, thank you, she exclaimed.

    Meanwhile, the former Ukip MP and Brexiter Douglas Carswell, who now heads a conservative thinktank in Mississippi, tweeted: If Americans lived like Europeans, the world would still be using Nokias, printed encyclopaedias, diesel cars, waiting for a Covid vaccine and at the mercy of Russia for energy needs. The world is a better place because America is not like Europe. (Supply chains might be messed up right now, but congratulations to the UK on managing the successful export of one toxic politician.)

    The American right […] routinely jump on every opportunity they can find to portray Europe as a socialist nightmare. The US, they would have us believe, is the land of choice and prosperity. But, as Carswell may well have discovered in his move to America, free markets often work rather better in “socialist” Europe.

    I live in New York, where I pay way more for my mobile phone plan and internet than I would for comparable services in the UK or anywhere in Europe.

    If we may interrupt this snark, yeah, that’s a point which continues to astonish me. I have a plan with provides mobile, landline (not really used), and optical fibre-into-the-lair (at fabulously fast down- and up-load speeds with a huge limit), for only a few dollars more than what the author says they’re paying…

    There are effectively two companies I can choose between for my (pretty mediocre) home internet and they both cost around $80 (£60 [€70]) a month. That’s because the sort of deregulation that figures such as Carswell champion produces very little competition within the US broadband market.

    If Americans lived like Europeans, they wouldn’t have to learn to do without, as Bloomberg suggests; they would learn that they didn’t have to pay some of the highest prices in the world to access basic necessities. If Americans lived like Europeans, their life expectancy might be higher: a recent study showed that Americans had shorter lives than similarly situated Europeans. If they lived like Europeans, they might not have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. If they lived like Europeans, they would likely be a lot happier than they are now. Even if their refrigerators were smaller.

    What’s this “refrigerator”?

    Bloomberg’s opinion column (linked embedded in first excerpt) seems very largely reasonable. Albeit with the caveat of speaking from experience (decades on both sides of the pond), even the title seems reasonable.

  12. says

    blf in comment 10: “Lynna@8, Any suggestions on how I can unsee that McNaughtonian faeces?”

    OMG, I have been trying and failing for hours. My next plan is to inundate my eyeballs with images I actually like, Ile aux Fleurs Near Vetheuil for example, and hope that works as the visual equivalent of cleansing one’s palate.

  13. blf says

    In Kansas, Reality and conspiracy collide at Lawrence COVID-19 vaccine clinic for kids:

    Saturday should have been a banner day for my family.

    I brought my 10-year-old son to West Middle School in Lawrence, where he received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The school gymnasium was quiet but cheery, with parents and children waiting patiently after the shots. A magician performed, and one table offered stickers, buttons, T-shirts and treats.

    Outside the school, however, was a different story. There, according to reporting from Mackenzie Clark of the Lawrence Times, “a man who has become well-known in Lawrence for his protests of mask mandates was arrested Saturday morning for allegedly threatening people with a sign post as they attempted to enter a vaccine clinic for kids.”

    Thankfully, my son and I left shortly before the arrest.

    On that tranquil November day, an increasingly radical fringe movement clashed with reality. I wish I could say that reality is winning easily.

    [… V]accines, created in record time, all but eliminate the risk of death and substantially reduce illness and transmission. If you want to end the pandemic, the single best thing you can do is get vaccinated and make sure your family and friends are as well. The vaccines are free and widely available.

    For parents like me, these facts had posed a challenge for much of 2021. Sure, my husband and I were vaccinated. So were my siblings and father. Without our 10-year-old being inoculated, however, the virus still threatened.

    The CDC’s approval of vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds changed all that. Finally.

    After 20 months of remote learning, hybrid school and tentative face-to-face instruction, children’s vaccinations are a vital piece of restoring safety and security to our school system. They’re a vital piece of restoring equilibrium for families across Kansas. I was proud to bring my son to the vaccine site, and he put up with my pride, complaining only of a sore arm for a couple of hours afterward.

    That’s not remotely how the people who packed hearing rooms at the Kansas Statehouse see the pandemic, however. That’s not how protesters who picketed the Lawrence school district offices and an elementary school see it.

    To this over-passionate clique, vaccines and attempts to control the virus are proof of a worldwide plot against freedom. Pharmaceutical companies and public health officials, politicians and neighborhood school teachers, all are collaborating in an attempt to overthrow our country.

    How do they imagine a children’s vaccine clinic?

    Do they suppose everyone bows to gargantuan portraits of Bill Gates on one wall and Anthony Fauci on the other? Do they believe tiny microchips swirl around each bottle of vaccine? Do they assume children are screaming and crying as heartless adults held them down, forcing poison in their veins? As we drive home, do they figure we play the Chinese national anthem over our car speakers?


    There is reality, and there is fantasy.

    Anti-vaxxers support a self-destructive goal. The more people believe their conspiracies, the more COVID-19 will spread. The more people will die of a preventable disease. The pandemic will grind on for months or years longer. That’s hardly a rational method of building political power. Anger and fear always attract adherents, though, especially after nearly two years of societal disruption. […]

  14. blf says

    Good grief, DeSantis Spokesperson Blames Vaccine Passport on the Rothschilds:

    It was the obvious next step after the space lasers.


    Because the Rothschilds are an actual firm, they will continue to engage in regular business activities that conspiracy theorists can hold up as evidence of something suspicious. In June, Arielle Malard de Rothschild, the managing director at Rothschild & Co., visited the Republic of Georgia [not the state in the States, the independent country in Euroasia –blf], where she met with the government to discuss investment opportunities. This is a completely normal thing to happen.

    This month, the Republic of Georgia announced it will institute a “green pass” system starting in December that will give people who are “fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19, or have taken a PCR test within the last 72 hours or an antigen test within 24 hours” access to an array of indoor venues. This news raised the antenna of Christina Pushaw.

    Who is Christina Pushaw? She is a paid spokesperson for Florida governor Ron DeSantis. (Pushaw got her job by being such a DeSantis superfan that he offered her a position and hired her at $120,000 a year.) […] DeSantis has obsessively attacked local governments and businesses that try to require it while promoting anti-vaccine nuts, including one he hired for the state’s top medical job.

    Pushaw, learning through Twitter that a country that had implemented a COVID pass had also met with the Rothschilds, put two and two together [my transcription –blf]:

    Georgia decided to enact a “Green Pass” system (biomedical security state). Immediatedly after that the Rothschilds showed up to discuss the attractive investment opportunities in Georgia (lol). No weird conspiracy stuff here!

    First of all, the timing is completely wrong. Georgia did not announce its green-pass system “immediately” after meeting with the Rothschilds. The Rothschild meeting occurred five months ago.

    Second, many countries have implemented COVID pass systems. A handful of Asian countries, as well as Europe [sic] and, um, Israel, are setting up passport systems that will allow people to gather in public indoor spaces.

    DeSantis and his spokespeople are furious about this because they believe people who refuse vaccinations should not be denied any privileges, either by a government or a private company. Indeed, this has become DeSantis’s defining agenda.

    This agenda is the context for Pushaw’s tweet. Georgia is doing something sinister by making it easier for vaccinated people to resume normal life. Georgia supposedly did the terrible thing right after meeting with a Rothschild. Suspicious!

    […] Pushaw almost certainly stumbled onto this news because some conspiracy theorist in her social network brought it to her attention. The anti-vaxx movement is filled to the brim with conspiracy theorists, and conspiracy theorists have a deep attraction to anti-Semitism.

    One can easily predict that the next turn of this story will be that Pushaw and DeSantis angrily deny that her Rothschild conspiracy tweet had any anti-Semitic connotation. She will probably change the subject to DeSantis’s right-wing stance on Israel, which conservatives generally treat as a hall pass to engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric. But the larger point is that DeSantis is gleefully swimming in a sea of conspiracy nuts, and those conspiracy nuts are inevitably going to include a healthy share of anti-Semites.


    Apparently, Pushaw has since claimed an absurd explanation (something about the Georgian government trolling anti-vaxxers), see the article…

  15. blf says

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones declares war on Gene Simmons for vaccine comments:

    Jones, who believes tap water has made most of America’s frogs homosexual, asked Simmons: Are you stupid or are you consciously evil?

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has blasted KISS frontman Gene Simmons for his comments on the unvaccinated. Simmons expressed support for getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and compared those who refuse the shot or disbelieve death numbers to those who believe the Earth is a flat disc.

    […] Jones endorses a swathe of other baseless or disproven theories such as the idea that the US government staged the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the 11 September attacks and the moon landings.

    Jones’ views on vaccination predate COVID-19 — he has long been a proponent of the dangerous and unproven theory that vaccines cause autism, alongside a mostly inconsistent smörgåsbord of related theories.

    In a video uploaded to the Banned.Video website Jones stated: I’ve got a very important message for Gene Simmons or, as he’s known, the Demon. You claim that we’re evil because we don’t want you and Big Pharma to literally rape us with your Frankenshot GMO. And then you claim that we’re gonna get you sick and you’re gonna die if we don’t take the shot. I thought the shot protects you. They admit it doesn’t protect you. That was all a lie. In fact, it doesn’t give you a little bit of protection. It actually lowers your immunity. That’s in the real studies.

    It’s important to note here, as is the case with a lot of Jones’ statements, the real studies he is talking about are either nonexistent or just as conspiratorial and unproven as his other statements. Medical authorities across the world, not just in the US, report that the rate of hospitalisation, deaths and infection are lower for the vaccinated. Side effects are reported as less of a risk than the alternative: catching COVID-19 without being vaccinated.


    The above clarification is unlikely to change the mind of Jones, however, as he often frames any reporting on ‘official’ advice as the product of the mainstream media’s vague but nefarious ulterior motives.

    So, I ask the question: are you stupid or are you consciously evil? Either way, it doesn’t matter, because you’re literally out there promoting to the world that I need to be forcibly injected with this garbage, Jones added. That is a declaration of war against humanity, Simmons, and you’re on the wrong side of history.

    In a sense, Jones’ response has helped Simmons’ case: Simmons initially compared conspiracies surrounding COVID-19 to the flat Earth belief. Now, one of the most notorious conspiracy theorists in the world has “declared war” on Simmons for his views, lending weight to the idea that those who cast serious doubt on the generally-accepted truths about COVID-19 are also proponents of other nonsensical or dangerous conspiracies.

  16. blf says

    Conspiracy theories run rampant during testimony on Gov DeSantis’ vax mandate ban:

    Committee hearings on [Florida] Gov Ron DeSantis’ legislative response to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates ran heavy on alarmist claims of impending fascism and endorsements by medical experts of unproven COVID-19 treatments including ivermectin.

    During some four hours of hearings Monday before the Senate Commerce Committee, for example, conservative political activists joined forces with vaccine-resistant first responders, plus doctors who flew in for the occasion from as far away as Hawaii.

    Taken together, they portrayed the COVID-19 vaccines as actively dangerous and lavished praise on natural immunity, hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin […]


    Among the organizations that sent representatives to the House hearing to support the bill were the Eagle Forum, which pushes to stop mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, according to its website, and Florida Right to Life.

    Members also heard from firefighters and a nurse who face job losses for refusing local mandates to get vaccinated.

    By contrast, no doctors supporting federal health authorities appeared. The League of Women Voters of Florida and the American Lung Association did show up to urge the measure’s defeat.

    That left the floor to people like Dr[quack] Gene Posca of the Cleveland Clinic’s Indian River Hospital, who called the vaccines a dangerous and experimental drug being imposed by fascists from DC and added: Their blitzkrieg against our freedom will continue.

    Dr[Quack] Jeffrey Mueller, in family practice in Orlando, said he has been treating COVID-19 patients with ivermectin and called it an incredibly effective therapeutic. By contrast, he said this of the vaccines: What do we know about it? We have months of data — that’s nothing. […]

    Ah yes, there’s centuries of data for both ivermectin (discovered in 1975) and hydroxychloroquine (1955), to treat Covid-19 (2019), albeit not the virus causing it (SARS-Cov-19, 2019). The vaccines, specially designed to combat the virus, have been available for almost a year, and zillions of over 4 billion people jabbed have turned into Gates’s Magnetic Monster. Clearly dangerous and experimental!

    And oh, b.t.w., whilst the vaccine is free, the costs of hospitalisation (potentially including an ICU stay), long-Covid, etc., is not. Clearly, it’s more cost-effective to get sick, and possibly die or suffer for (potentially) years, then get a jab. Makes perfect sense!

  17. says

    Good news: Gosar was censured.

    House censures GOP’s Paul Gosar following violent video

    The vote on censuring Paul Gosar was obviously about his indefensible video, but it was also about overdue accountability for an odious public figure.

    Before today, only 23 U.S. House members have ever been censured by their colleagues, and over the last three decades, it’s only happened once: New York Democrat Charlie Rangel was censured in 2010 after having been accused of, among other things, misusing his office for fundraising.

    Today, the list grew a little longer. NBC News reported:

    The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden.

    The final tally was The House voted 223 to 207.

    For those who may need a refresher, it was 10 days ago when Gosar thought it’d be a good idea to release a new online video. In the edited anime clip, the Arizonan is depicted as a character who kills Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Joe Biden. […]

  18. says

    Followup to comment 19.

    Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger voted with the Democratic majority to censure Gosar and to strip him of his committee assignments.

    “Without committee assignments, the congressman’s day-to-day responsibilities as a federal legislator have been dramatically curtailed.”

  19. says

    Followup to comments 19 and 20.

    More background on Arizona Republican Paul Gosar: He publicly associated with white nationalists, and he praised insurrectionist rioters. Gosar told voters that President Joe Biden is a “fraudulent usurper.” The most recent revelation of his rotten core became public via a threat to murder AOC, (with the threat thinly disguised as a cartoon). Gosar also fantasized about killing President Biden.

  20. says

    John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, is no longer holding back

    It says a lot about the former president that the man who served at his side for a year and a half seems to hold him in barely contained contempt.

    John Kelly served as Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff for 17 months, and after parting ways with the Republican president, the retired Marine general said very little about his former boss and place of employment.

    His reticence did not last. Business Insider reported this week:

    John Kelly, Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, did not mince words about his ex-boss as rioters violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, according to a new book. “If he was a real man, he would go down to the Capitol and tell them to stop,” Kelly said of Trump to ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl during a phone call as the insurrection was taking place.

    According to Karl’s new book, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” Kelly said the Jan. 6 riot was so serious, and the then-president’s handling of the crisis was so indefensible, that the cabinet would’ve been justified in trying to remove Trump from office.

    “If I was still there, I would call the cabinet and start talking about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment,” Kelly told Karl. (Then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also reportedly broached the subject with other cabinet members about this in January.)

    What strikes me as notable about this is that Kelly got to know Trump very well. The retired general first joined the then-president’s cabinet as the Homeland Security secretary, and then ran Trump’s White House for a year and a half — longer than any other of Trump’s chiefs of staff. If anyone got a first-hand look at how Trump works, thinks, acts, and processes information, it’s Kelly.

    And Kelly concluded that Trump is not a “real man” — but he was a man who should’ve been removed from office before the end of his tenure.

    It took a while for Kelly to reach this point, though he’d taken some prior steps in this direction. Last year, for example, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, wrote a rather extraordinary rebuke of Trump, condemning the then-president for being divisive, immature, and cavalier about abusing his powers. Soon after, Kelly publicly endorsed Mattis’ criticisms.

    Kelly added at the time, “I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

    By January, Kelly saw far less need for subtlety, accusing Trump of “poisoning” people’s minds. Kelly added that Trump is “a very, very flawed man … who has got some serious character issues.”

    It says a lot about the former president that the man who served at his side seems to hold him in barely contained contempt.

  21. says

    Followup to comments 19, 20 and 21.

    […] n a fervent House floor speech during the debate over a resolution to censure Gosar and remove him from House committees, Ocasio-Cortez implored lawmakers to make clear that they won’t tolerate depictions of violence toward members of Congress.

    “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? […] this is about what we are willing to accept,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    Ocasio-Cortez rejected Gosar’s claims that the video was “symbolic” of the debate over immigration, arguing that fantasizing about murdering a political opponent still has real-life consequences.

    “I have seen other members of this party advance the argument, including Rep. Gosar himself, the illusion, that this was just a joke. That what we say and what we do does not matter so long as we claim a lack of meaning,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    “Now, this nihilism runs deep. And it conveys and betrays a certain contempt for the meaning and importance of our work here. That [what] we do, so long as we claim that it is a joke, doesn’t matter. That what we say here doesn’t matter. That our actions every day as elected leaders in the United States of America doesn’t matter. That this chamber and what happens in it doesn’t matter. And I am here to rise to say that it does,” she continued.

    “Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country. And that is where we must draw the line, independent of party, identity or belief,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    Ocasio-Cortez spoke moments after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that Democrats were setting a bad precedent and cautioned that Republicans might also censure or take away Democrats’ committee assignments if they win back the House majority.

    McCarthy said that “I do not condone violence,” but argued that the video didn’t merit the punishment being considered on the House floor.

    “It is sad,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong.”

    Moments after Ocasio-Cortez spoke, Gosar defended the video and said it “directly contributes to the understanding and the discussion of the real-life battle resulting from this administration’s open-border policies.”

    Gosar also notably did not apologize for the video.

    “I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset. I voluntarily took the cartoon down, not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was. Out of compassion for those who generally felt offense, I self-censored,” Gosar said.


  22. says

    In his latest attack on a fictional character beloved by children, Senator Ted Cruz has lambasted Bob the Builder for spreading what the legislator called “blatant pro-infrastructure propaganda.”

    Cruz said that Bob, who originates from the United Kingdom, should “stop throwing his precious wrench into the American economy by supporting runaway government spending.”

    “Whenever you see Bob the Builder, he’s maniacally building something,” Cruz said. “Our children are being exposed to his sick and twisted message that functional infrastructure is good.”

    Because of Bob the Builder’s “extreme pro-infrastructure views,” the senator said that he has banned Bob’s program from the Cruz household.

    “Sorry, Bob the Builder, but I like my TV shows without the stench of socialism,” Cruz said.

    New Yorker link

  23. says

    The tacky, unethical show must go on:

    Here’s one more tacky-ass news giblet for you from Jonathan Karl’s new book […]

    The day after January 6, […] there was something on Ivanka Trump’s calendar, and also the calendar of her husband, Jared Kushner. We imagine it had been planned for months, this engagement. And despite how Ivanka and Jared spent all of January 6 with Father, despite how they stood by and did the bare minimum while white domestic rage terrorists threatened members of Congress and sought out Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence with intent to kill, despite how Father had literally spent that day trying to overthrow the United States of America …

    Well, Ivanka and Jared had this dinner party planned.

    And the crumpets were getting stale.

    […] So …

    President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, hosted a fancy dinner party for members of the Trump administration and invited guests just hours after a deadly siege at the US Capitol resulted in the death of a police officer, while more would die in the coming weeks.

    […] According to the book, while Trump people were resigning left and right on January 7, Vanky and the Brain were saying “I’ll take your coat and put it on the bed in the guest bedroom” and other quotes that were maybe also 14 words long to their guests. You know, dinner party arrivals talk.

    They didn’t talk about the resignations at dinner, though, apparently. They didn’t even talk about the resignation of Stephanie Grisham, who had served them all so lovingly for so long. Here’s what they talked about instead:

    Instead, the party focused on ideas about the formation of a free-market-espousing think tank with the goal of appealing to Democrats and pulling their opponents away from an embrace of left-leaning economic policies that has overtaken the party’s base in recent years.

    Annnnnnnnd Jared Kushner served one final “OH I BET I KNOW WHAT DEMOCRATS WOULD LIKE!” idea directly into the net! “Hey, Democrats, I’m Jared! Wanna come to my think tank? I made it just for you!”

    The report says you can’t tell from Karl’s book whether Donald Trump knew about this dinner party, but that quotes from Jared to Karl made really clear that Trump was only keeping the company of his closest sycophants in those hours after the attack he incited, and that Jared was making himself scarce.

    “We’ll just get in a fight if I go over there,” said Mr Kushner [to a House Republican], according to Mr Karl, referring to the Oval Office.

    But that’s OK, because back at his house where he lived with Ivanka, there were friends!

    “Among those who attended were Larry Kudlow and Brooke Rollins, who were still working as senior officials in the Trump White House. Kevin Hassett, who had served as one of Trump’s top economic advisors until the summer of 2020, was also there.”

    And they talked about Jared Good Think Tank For Benefit Of Democrats! And nobody talked about January 6. […].


  24. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @23: For the republican hypocrisy about depicted violence, I have two words: Kathy Griffin.

  25. says

    stroppy @26, yes. She knows whereof she speaks, and how to get her message across effectively. AOC is good at honing in on the core issue.

    johnson catman @27, good point!

    In other news, Republicans keep complaining about the Biden administration stopping illegal fentanyl shipments at the border. It’s getting a little weird.

    Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, published a tweet this morning, alerting the public to some developments along the U.S./Mexico border:

    “899 lbs of fentanyl and 15,631 lbs of methamphetamine were seized at the southern border in October alone. That much fentanyl is the equivalent of 204 MILLION lethal doses. We need border security!”

    Of course, part of the problem is that the third sentence doesn’t quite match the first: If all of these illegal drugs were seized at the border, then we clearly already have quite a bit of border security.

    […] what’s especially odd about this is how often Republicans push this message, seemingly indifferent to its implications.

    In July, for example, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona complained via Twitter, “Under Joe Biden, 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 outgoing 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? Biggs asked about the missing outrage, leading to the obvious question as to why anyone would be outraged that U.S. officials had successfully done their jobs.

    […] 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.

    A few weeks ago, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa joined them, highlighting fentanyl shipments that have been seized by Customs and Border Patrol. “Welcome to President Biden’s America,” the GOP senator wrote in a tweet.

    […] 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. […]

    For Republicans to criticize the seizures is a little weird. In fact, common sense suggests GOP officials should focus attention elsewhere, since the seizures disprove one of the party’s favorite talking points: 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.

    If GOP officials want to argue that the shipments represent only a fraction of a larger whole, and that there are other shipments that border officials aren’t catching, they’re certainly welcome to make that case and present the evidence, to the extent that it’s available.

    But that’s not what Republicans are saying. Instead, they keep complaining about U.S. successes, which is a tough sell from a public-relations perspective.

    White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates recently asked via Twitter, “Wait, Republicans are now attacking us for stopping fentanyl trafficking?” It’s hardly an unreasonable question given the circumstances.

  26. says

    Oh, FFS.

    A partisan gap emerges on flu shots

    The Kaiser Family Foundation published its latest report on the domestic vaccination rate and found a partisan gap that’s existed for months: Republican voters are three times more likely to be unvaccinated against Covid-19 than Democratic voters.

    The KFF findings added that when predicting whether someone’s vaccinated, it’s not age, race, education, or insurance status that matters most — it’s party affiliation.

    But as discouraging as this persistent trend is, it also leads to questions about the degree to which this dynamic might affect other areas of public health. CNN’s Harry Enten made the case this week that partisan attitudes toward Covid-19 shots appear to have transferred to decisions about annual flu shots.

    Take a look at two recent polls that have asked about whether or not people have gotten the flu shot: Axios/Ipsos and Kaiser Family Foundation. By assessing two polls instead of one, we know what we’re seeing is a real phenomenon and not statistical noise. According to the Ipsos data, 68% of Democrats said they have gotten a flu shot or are very likely to get one. Just 44% of Republicans said the same. This 24-point gap is very similar to the 30-point gap for Covid-19 vaccines. The Kaiser poll shows basically the same thing.

    The same analysis reviewed Americans’ attitudes toward flu shots from recent years — before the Covid-19 crisis — and found there was no meaningful difference between Democratic and Republican voters.

    In other words, there’s evidence to suggest that the pandemic has created a partisan gap on flu shots that didn’t exist before 2020. […]

    That’s just peachy. It means that not only do I live in a state where fewer people are vaccinated against Covid, but I will also live in a community where more people refuse to get the flu vaccine.

    I would not say that “the pandemic has created a partisan gap on flu shots.” The partisan gap on flu shots is sludge comprised of willful ignorance, misinformation being distributed relentlessly, and herd mentality focused around the Trump cult.

  27. tomh says

    Record-setting judicial nominees weather GOP bluster
    Four prospective federal judges are the latest to face down Republican criticism that their histories as public defenders and advocates will produce bias on the bench.
    Rose Wagner / November 17, 2021

    WASHINGTON (CN) — As the Senate Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to advance a crop of President Joe Biden’s federal court picks, they were confronted by legal arguments and advocacy statements made early on in their careers, a tactic the GOP hopes will slow down what has been the fastest nominating pace by a president in history.

    Biden has announced 62 judicial nominees to date, placing an emphasis on speed and racial and gender diversity in an attempt to counteract the court-packing of former President Donald Trump that gave lifetime appointments to the least-diverse group of federal judges since the Reagan administration.

    The nominees each have been endorsed from bipartisan nominating commissions at the state level, and they have the support of their home-state senators, but Republican members of the committee question their ability to rule fairly.

    “I find them a little concerning,” GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said Wednesday of arguments that one nominee to the Northern District of Ohio made in 2014 when he was a federal defender representing a grandfather convicted of child pornography involving his step-granddaughters.

    Charles Esque Fleming represented the defendant in United States v. Brown during a three-decade career as a federal public defender. He told the committee Wednesday that it was his job to represent his client and that he was fulfilling that duty when he mounted an argument that raised questions about whether the pornography could be considered interstate commerce and thus lead to higher federal charges.

    Fleming was one of 10 names in Biden’s eighth judicial-nomination rounds. Another pick from the same list, John Chun, is poised now to be the first Asian American man to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

    A judge today on the Court of Appeals for Washington state, Chun faced inquiries Wednesday from Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee about his participation as an attorney on an amicus brief in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger. The brief urged the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in college admissions, a position Blackburn contorted to equate racial diversity efforts with racial discrimination.

    “Do you believe discrimination on the basis of race is permissible in college admissions?” the senator asked Chun. “Is it OK to discriminate on the basis of race in hiring?”

    Chun agreed to submit a written statement to the committee on his position, noting that he was serving as an advocate for the King County Bar Association along with a group of other attorneys when the brief was written.

    The hand-wringing over Chun struck Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii as uneven, barely a year after the committee saw multiple Trump nominees with politically complicated pasts make their way to confirmation.

    “I would like the note the many times that we have sat here listening to my Republican colleagues talking about how lawyers represent their clients not necessarily sharing the views or the behavior of their clients,” she said.

    More Republican overwrought distress at the link.

  28. says

    Republicans are undermining U.S. foreign policy.

    When it comes to U.S. ambassadors serving abroad, there are few diplomatic posts as challenging as serving as ambassador to China. It’s why President Joe Biden chose carefully before nominating Nicholas Burns for the job.

    Burns is a career diplomat, having served as ambassador to Greece in the Clinton administration and ambassador to NATO in the Bush administration. He’s done Foreign Service work in Africa and the Middle East, and held top positions in the State Department.

    When the White House announced his nomination to serve in Beijing […] it was widely assumed that Burns would be among Biden’s least controversial picks. […]

    Even Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who’s imposed a blockade against too many of the administration’s ambassadorial nominees, recently announced he’d make an exception for Burns. Axios reported soon after, “Cruz’s decision not to delay Burns’ confirmation … reflects the bipartisan consensus that the threat posed by an increasingly assertive Chinese government is too important to ignore.”

    And yet, as Axios added yesterday, there’s a problem.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced Tuesday he had placed a hold on President Biden’s nominee for ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, over concerns about Burns’ business relationships in China….Burns is a widely respected former career diplomat who was expected to receive overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.

    During a Senate confirmation hearing last month, Burns argued that China poses “the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world” in the 21st century. That, evidently, wasn’t a hard enough line for Rubio, who said Burns doesn’t understand “the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” at least not to the Florida Republican’s satisfaction.

    […] Rubio’s political antics will only exacerbate an ongoing problem. As 2021 nears its end, the Biden administration only has four ambassadors to foreign countries — and before a few weeks ago, the total was just one. For comparison, at this point in Donald Trump’s first year as president, the Senate had already confirmed 22 ambassadors.

    For the most part, Cruz’s blockade is the principal problem, and as The Washington Post recently reported, Democratic senators’ usual irritation with the Texas Republican has “reached new levels.”

    “This risks being hyperbolic, but it’s like negotiating with a terrorist,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with past and potentially future presidential ambitions. “He is not the secretary of state. The people of this country did not elect him or his party to represent us abroad. And what he’s asking for is to control American foreign policy.”

    The Connecticut Democrat added, “Public diplomacy is neutered when you don’t have an ambassador. When six months or a year goes by without a U.S. ambassador, they infer that it’s a value judgment being placed on the relationship.”

    […] As the Post’s report added, “In some countries, high-ranking government officials will not meet with anyone short of a formal U.S. ambassador, shunning the chargés d’affaires who have taken over in the interim.”

    Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is well aware of the problem — and he appears eager to make it worse. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has also had a role in making sure the United States is shorthanded in foreign affairs.

    As a procedural matter, these GOP senators are not in a position to defeat every relevant Biden nominee on their own. But by abusing the chamber’s dysfunctional rules, the Republicans can force Democratic leaders to jump through a series of time-consuming hoops to confirm qualified nominees that the Senate has traditionally advanced in an efficient manner. At the same time, the more the governing majority is forced to clear these procedural hurdles, the less it’s able to do other legislative work. […]


  29. says

    Say, what now? Gosar Reposts, Then Deletes Again Violent AOC Vid After Censure

    Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), shortly after being censured by the House for posting an anime video of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), retweeted a post with the video on Thursday before apparently unretweeting it.

    The Associated Press, the New York Times and multiple Twitter observers noted that on Thursday evening, Gosar retweeted a post from a right-wing commentator at the Blaze that captioned the video “Really well done. We love @DrPaulGosar, don’t we folks?”

    The retweet was deleted from the GOP lawmaker’s feed after a couple of hours, per receipts provided by ProPublica.

    Gosar’s repost came after he had defended himself during the censure vote by pointing out that he had deleted the video “out of compassion for those who genuinely felt offense.”

    “I voluntarily took the cartoon down not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was,” the far-right congressman said in his prepared remarks on the House floor. At no point during the speech did he apologize for the video. […]

  30. says

    Followup to comment 32.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Well, after losing his committee assignments, he’s got a lot more time on his hands.

    Expect more and more of his childish bullshit
    The man is not well. He exhibits not one ounce of remorse. McCarthy knows Gosar is sick and continues to enable him and the other deranged members of his caucus.
    ‘I’m so INNOCENT that I’ll post it AGAIN
    Gosar reposted it! GOSAR REPOSTED IT! He is a terrorist
    Rittenhouse resonates with Republicans because they are absolutely celebrating, with varying degrees of common sense to keep quiet about it, their ability to groom and egg a dumb teenager on, until he actually goes through with what they ALL WANT and have all fantasized about for years. They want AOC dead. They want Rep. Omar dead. AOC asked on the House floor what’s so hard about condemning violence; it’s hard because they SUPPORT violence so strongly it’s difficult to keep under wraps.
    AOC’s speech about this yesterday was really, really good…she was the target and she really got into why this was such a bad thing. It’s such a mismatch…you have people like her advocating to spend more money to help people at one extreme, and then you have people like Gosar advocating to kill her based on propaganda told about her.

    At some point someone is going to be attacked over this, Republicans are creating an atmosphere of violence purposefully to try to force everyone else to do their bidding…it’s working on Republican politicians who think this stuff is garbage but refuse to stand against it. The question is if it’s going to work on the rest of the nation and they do get to take over and suppress dissent with violence.

  31. says

    Travis McMichael admits during cross-examination that Ahmaud Arbery had not even threatened him

    The trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery began on Thursday with the cross-examination of defendant Travis McMichael, who testified a day earlier that he shot Arbery. Travis; his father, Gregory McMichael; and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan (who recorded the moments leading up to Arbery’s death) were indicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, attempt to commit a felony, and false imprisonment.

    Before the jury was seated, the defense attempted to ban the prosecution from asking if Travis called Arbery a “f—king n—-r,” a statement only Bryan heard. The issue is Bryan is not expected to testify. Judge Timothy Walmsley said he would not render a decision at the start of trial proceedings, but would decide before the end of testimony. […]

    Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, continued what has become a tradition of his in filing motions to ban high-profile Black pastors from attending the trial—a request the judge has denied time and time again. It didn’t hold up court proceedings for long on Thursday, and prosecutor Linda Dunikoski was able to continue her cross-examination of Travis.

    He admitted that he “assumed” Arbery was the same man who had recently caused trouble in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, including breaking into Travis’ truck and walking through a home under construction in the community. […]

    Travis repeated statements he made during the defense’s questioning on Wednesday. He said that when he encountered Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, the day of his death, Travis only wanted to question him and stop him for police. Dunikoski pointed out that Travis grabbed his shotgun before asking his father if he had called the police.

    She also asked Travis if it was correct that Arbery indicated three times—by running away—that he didn’t want to talk to Travis, and the defendant said that was true. She also asked if Arbery threatened Travis, and he testified that Arbery did not. […]

    Dunikoski spent several minutes asking Travis why he perceived Arbery as the threat in a situation in which Arbery was running away while two trucks were following him. Travis said it’s when Arbery started running toward him that he felt threatened and worried about his father’s safety because he was still in the pickup truck. Dunikoski pointed out that Travis never mentioned to police the day of Arbery’s death that he was worried about his father, and Travis said he guessed he didn’t. […]

    Dunikoski changed her focus at one point to Travis’ thoughts on vigilantism, which he had articulated in multiple Facebook posts. He said he had a recollection of writing “arm up” in one post. But when Dunikoski asked if Travis remembered telling another Facebook user that his “old man” was the same as her old man, “slap crazy, old as dirt, and not afraid of going to jail,” Travis said he didn’t remember. But when Dunikoski read more of the conversation, Travis said he did remember that conversation. […]

  32. says

    In September, Josh Mandel called the director of the Anti-Defamation League a “kapo.” The leading Republican candidate to replace retiring Ohio Senator Rob Portman was pissed that the ADL had condemned him for likening Biden’s mask mandate to the Nazi secret police.

    “I call on my fellow Americans: Do not comply,” Mandel tweeted over a video of himself standing in a corn field next to a Trump sign. “Do not comply with the tyranny, and when the Gestapo show up at your front door, you know what to do.”

    “These comparisons are beyond the pale and need to stop,” the ADL tweeted, demanding an apology.

    At which point, Mandel, both of whose maternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors, responded that it was the ADL and “kapo @JGreenblattADL that should apologize.”

    The term “kapo” refers to Jewish prisoners in concentration camps who were deputized to help Nazi guards. They horribly abused their fellow Jews, and were sometimes tasked with choosing who would be killed. It’s a deeply offensive term which has come to mean “Jews who would sacrifice other Jews’ well-being for their own advancement.” Or, if you’re a Republican, it’s a catch-all phrase for any Jew who votes with Democrats.

    “As you guys play footsie with Jew-haters, I will keep fighting alongside Patriots like @Cernovich and @JackPosobiec as we defend the Judeo-Christian bedrock of America,” Mandel continued, throwing his lot in with alt-Right shit-stirrers who routinely tweeted the (((Echo))) meme at Jewish journalists so their followers would know whom to harass.

    Not that there was ever any confusion on this score. Just last week Republican also-ran Mark Pukita ran a truly filthy ad about Mandel in which an actor asked, “Are we seriously supposed to believe the most Christian-values Senate candidate is Jewish? I am so sick of these phony caricatures.”

    Pukita defended himself at a candidate forum, saying, “In terms of antisemitism, all I did in an ad was pointed out that Josh is going around saying he’s got the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other. But he’s Jewish, everybody should know that though, right?”

    Not to be outdone, Mandel is now hitting the same anti-semitic hot buttons.

    “Liberal Jews and radical Muslims are irrelevant to our campaign,” he tweeted yesterday. “Evangelical Christians, Jewish conservatives and devout Catholics are our army.”

    […] We’re leaving aside for the moment the truly disgusting attack on Muslims, which is nothing new for a guy who ran ads in his 2010 campaign for state treasurer depicting his Black, Christian opponent as a Muslim.

    Mandel, who happily tosses around the term “kapo” to smear all critics, is now deciding who the “good Jews” are. […]

    And Josh Mandel is raising an “army” of like-minded Christian fundamentalists to attack us.

    Vey iz mir. […]


  33. says

    The jury in a federal courtroom listened as a longtime researcher of far-right movements parsed the style guide of the infamous neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer.

    “The tone of the site should be light. Most people are not comfortable with material that comes across as vitriolic, raging, nonironic hatred. The unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not,” according to a guide section titled “Lulz” — an acronym for laugh out loud. Continuing with a derogatory term for Jews, it read, “This is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas k—s. But that’s neither here nor there.”

    This evidence, introduced in an ongoing civil trial against organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, appeared to highlight a sinister strategy expert witness Pete Simi was trying to teach the jurors: the ways in which white supremacists employ humor to shield their calls for violence, in an effort to render them legally ambiguous.

    As jurors consider the plaintiffs’ accusation that the rally organizers conspired to foment racial violence, they have been presented with a trove of evidence that includes messages laced with slurs, memes of using cars to run over protesters and calls for cracking skulls. Over the past four weeks, plaintiffs’ attorneys have tried to make their case by carefully breaking down the jokes and catch-phrases favored by far-right extremists, in an effort to teach jurors how to decode white supremacists’ secret vocabulary of hate.

    Whether the jury takes this evidence literally or views it as exaggeration is the crux of many arguments in this trial.

    The plaintiffs’ attorneys have called in experts to help the jury understand what is sinister about the numbers 1488 — which refer to “14 words,” a popular white supremacist slogan, and “Heil Hitler,” because “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet. They have translated the phrase “RaHoWa,” which may sound like gibberish to outsiders but among hate groups stands for “racial holy war.” And they explained how a question that seems innocuous — “Did you see Kyle? — is actually a play-on-words for the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil.”

    White supremacist movements use “lots of insider language and codes and specific references that would require kind of an insider’s knowledge,” Simi said in the courtroom. “They can talk about violence, they can advocate for violence, and then say, ‘Well, it was just a joke.’” […]

    “I’m not even a Hitler-ite, but I’m like ‘Okay, let’s f—–g gas the k—s and have a race war,’” Cantwell said. He then laughed.

    “Can you explain, professor, what’s going on in that clip?” plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan asked Simi.

    Simi pointed to the eerie juxtaposition of Cantwell’s laughter after his call for mass murder: “I can’t tell you how many times over the last 25 years I’ve seen similar instances where violent references, violent rhetoric is … cloaked with some reference to humor.”

    […] Schoep replied: “So just keep in mind that we have ceased use of the swastika as of November 2016 so you will see swastikas in some of the videos which were filmed below before.”

    Simi said this was a straightforward example of that “front stage, backstage” behavior: The National Socialist Movement did not stop using a swastika as their symbol because they disavowed it, Simi testified, but because of the optics. […]

    Washington Post link

  34. stroppy says


    Judge bans MSNBC from court after police arrest man photographing jury

    “…The man allegedly claimed to be a producer with MSNBC.

    “Judge Bruce Schroeder responded by barring MSNBC from the courthouse for the remainder of the trial. NBC News responded by acknowledging that a freelancer received a traffic violation near the jury bus but had no intent to contact or photograph the jurors…”

  35. says

    Cowardly Republicans, a continuing series:

    Despite the majority of Republicans voting against his censure, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is reportedly, at minimum, annoying top Republicans, who supposedly complain that the Arizona congressman has “lost it.”

    Appearing on CNN on Wednesday night, ABC News’ Jon Karl said that top Republicans privately bashed the GOP lawmaker, who has ties to the far-right, while Karl was conducting reporting for his new book.

    “The way Republicans would talk about Gosar privately is entirely different from what you saw — the spectacle today of coming in and effectively defending him,” Karl said, likening Republicans’ private remarks on Gosar to the scathing criticism that some of the GOP lawmaker’s family members have publicly aired.

    Karl claimed that Republicans privately vented that Gosar has “lost it” long before most of them ultimately voted against his censure.

    “I’ve had top Republicans tell me about Gosar specifically before this episode, you know, ‘He’s not all there,’” Karl said.

    Asked whether these top Republicans are keeping their criticism of Gosar to themselves because of the fear of being primaried, Karl replied that it’s a “real fear,” citing the backlash received by the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump. During a speech at CPAC in February, Trump called out by name each of the 17 Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict him and urged Republicans to “get rid” of them. The GOP lawmakers who bucked Trump and are up for re-election next year have since been met with pro-Trump challengers and death threats.

    Karl then suggested that more Republicans may have been willing to come forward to support the censure resolution against Gosar if it didn’t strip him of his committee assignments.

    “I would have loved to have seen a vote that didn’t strip the committee assignments just to see how many Republicans would have refused to actually simply condemn his words,” Karl said. […]`

    Comments posted by readers of the article:

    The intended audience for this deliberately leaked message is the donor class. No money, no runney in 2022. This is why I think Gosar will be primaried in 2022.
    Gosar and the other deplorables are not afraid to say any manner of outrageous things about anyone including other Republicans. The so called “leadership of the Republican Party cannot say anything critical of Gosar or other deplorables for fear of being cast out of the Party.

  36. says

    Tweet from Aaron Rupar:

    the only thing that would make it more obvious that this judge is a right-wing troll would be if he wore a MAGA hat in court. we already know his ringtone is the Trump theme song

    This is in reference to what stroppy mentioned in comment 37.

    “No one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building.”

    — Judge Schroeder bans MSNBC journalists from the courthouse after reports that they followed the Rittenhouse jury bus, although he admits “I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is.”

    Video is available at the link.

  37. says

    Even Rupert Murdoch Is Telling Trump To Get Over It, Loser

    Know that thing about how, despite how godawful Fox News has been over the years about climate change, Rupert Murdoch is not actually a denier, which is one of the only times we’re aware of that Murdoch has been personally right about a thing? (We are not counting, of course, how Murdoch has been correct for years that if he creates a fake news network that only exists to make white racist misogynist homophobes shit their beds at night in fear, he will make gabillions of Australian ameros.)

    Well move over, climate change, because Murdoch’s brain has made room for a new correct fact, and it is that it’s time for Donald Trump to get the fuck over it, loser.

    According to the Guardian, Murdoch was doing the yearly News Corp stockholders meeting on Wednesday when he said a whole passel of mean words about Trump. “The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity,” said Murdoch, explaining that, “It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate.” However, he added that it “will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past. The past is the past, and the country is now in a contest to define the future.”

    In other words, you lost, loser, now get over it.

    As you’ll see, he did not say the actual words “loser” or “get over it.” (The Guardian reminds us that Murdoch has reportedly in the past called Trump a “fucking idiot,” in those very words, per Michael Wolff.) But he’s definitely saying that white conservatives are going to have a really hard time destroying America if Donald Trump is still the center of their attention and the object of their affection, as he whines and cries and whines and cries about how everything is so unfair and rigged.

    […] These comments will certainly anger the Grumpster of Mar-a-Lago, and we’re sure he’ll send out some weird shouty message from his untrafficked website in his trademark stunted English. We doubt we’ll hear about it, because that’s kind of how deplatforming works, but it’ll probably include Trump whining with his head buried up his ass and stuck in the past about that time Fox News correctly announced early and often that Trump lost Arizona like a common loser.

    […] As for other Rupert comments in the News Corp meeting, it apparently was largely about how Big Tech is doing cancel culture to Fox News and other wingnuts, and that Facebook and Google are trying to “silence conservative voices.” To which we reply GFY, Rupert, because Facebook is a catastrophic superspreader of conservative fake news, and it’s ruining the world, just like Rupert Murdoch is ruining the world when he allows Tucker Carlson to create January 6 Truther documentaries about how the Capitol terrorist attack was a false flag or a planned demolition or whatever the hell it was.

    In summary and in conclusion, Rupert Murdoch was right about a thing, but just one thing, the end.

  38. says

    Nicolle Wallace Performs Live Autopsy On Pathetic Gasbag Chris Christie

    Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is currently on a media rehabilitation tour as possible preparation for a second failed presidential run. CNN’s Dana Bash mostly treated him with kid gloves, but he wasn’t so lucky when he appeared on MSNBC’s “Deadline White House” Tuesday. Host Nicolle Wallace curb stomped Christie without breaking a nail. It was Must-See TV. [Video is available at the link.]

    Christie started the interview with his self-serving stump speech about restoring the party to the quiet, polite racism of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan. Wallace just sort of nodded and occasionally said “uh huh” with this unwavering “You ain’t shit” expression on her face.

    He tried to “both sides” the growing threat from white supremacists, which Donald Trump enabled, and Wallace wouldn’t have it.

    WALLACE: [FBI Director] Christopher Wray’s testimony though … is that [domestic terrorism] is the greatest threat to the homeland, and within that bucket, by far the largest group is white supremacy, so white supremacists didn’t threaten Portland and New York. What are you saying?

    Christie mentioned “extremist groups on the Right and the Left,” and like an actual journalist, Wallace asked him to name the so-called extremist groups on the Left. When he said “antifa,” Wallace laughed in his face … well, it was more a restrained chuckle, but still she clearly thought he was full of shit. She countered that FBI Director Christopher Wray had testified that antifa isn’t an actual organization, even if Republicans want to label every violent goofball in ninja gear “antifa.”

    […] Christie’s pushing his new book, Republican Rescue: Saving the Party from Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden. Wallace didn’t hesitate to point out that Christie, a noted coward, is very selective in which “truth deniers and conspiracy theorists” he targets. […]

    WALLACE: The book is about conspiracy and lies and you really don’t take on Fox News, why not?

    Oh, she knows why not, Chris. It’s a trap! He tried to stumble his way through an answer and she slams him with: “Have you seen the Tucker Carlson program?”

    CHRISTIE: No, I don’t watch it, but the book …

    WALLACE: Are you aware of what he does?

    CHRISTIE: Not really. I don’t pay a lot of attention to it.

    Christie wants us to believe he’s unaware of the most-watched show on cable news, as if it’s some low-rated prestige series no one’s actually seen except the Emmy Award judges. If that’s true, Christie’s book is doo doo that’s not worth anyone’s time. Wallace expertly worked Christie into a corner where he further reveals his moral cowardice. Then she put on her “I’m gonna fuck you up” glasses and just started whaling on him.

    WALLACE: It’s a book with “truth deniers, conspiracy theorists” on the cover and you attack CNN, the New York Times, and MSNBC but not Fox?

    CHRISTIE: I don’t attack them as being conspiracy theorists or truth deniers. I talk about bias.

    WALLACE: Is bias more dangerous to the country than conspiracy theorists?

    Christie sheepishly admitted that it’s not. She asked him point blank if he believes “Fox News in prime time is good for the country or not.” He said there are shows that he likes and shows that he doesn’t like, which presumably are hosted by white supremacists whose name he’s afraid to say out loud.

    CHRISTIE: I don’t consider Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham purveyors of …

    WALLACE: I didn’t say either of their names. I said Tucker Carlson.

    CHRISTIE: You said the evening news programs on Fox News.

    WALLACE: The 8 p.m. hour …

    CHRISTIE: I don’t watch the show. I don’t know what Tucker does from night to night. If I’m watching anything at night in news … most of the time I’m watching sports … I’m usually watching Sean and Laura.

    I’m not sure why Christie believes Laura Ingraham is significantly less of a racist conspiracy theorist than Tucker Carlson, but that’s what he’s going with, we guess. […]

    Christie thought he could rebrand himself as Trump without the insurrectionist baggage, but Wallace revealed the pathetic sycophant behind the curtain. He even refused to say he wouldn’t support Trump in 2024, because we all know he will.

  39. says

    The latest salvo in the debate on covid’s origins: A virologist argues the first case is tied to a Wuhan market, contradicting WHO.

    Washington Post link

    The location of early coronavirus infections in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, suggests the virus most likely spread to humans from a market where wild and domestically farmed animals were sold and butchered, according to a peer-reviewed article published Thursday in the journal Science that is the latest salvo in the debate over how the pandemic began.

    The article, by University of Arizona evolutionary virologist Michael Worobey — a specialist in the origins of viral epidemics — does not purport to answer all the questions about the pandemic’s origins […]

    Worobey has been open to the theory of a “lab leak.” He was one of the 18 scientists who wrote a much-publicized letter to Science in May calling for an investigation of all possible sources of the virus, including a laboratory accident. But he now contends the geographic pattern of early cases strongly supports the hypothesis that the virus came from an infected animal at the Huanan Seafood Market […]

    Worobey notes that more than half of the earliest documented illnesses from the virus were among people with a direct connection to the market, and argues this was not merely the result of the early focus on the market as a potential source of the outbreak. He concludes that the first patient known to fall ill with the virus was actually a female seafood vendor at the market who became symptomatic on Dec. 11, 2019.

    That contradicts a report earlier this year from investigators for the World Health Organization and China, who concluded that the first patient was a 41-year-old accountant with no connection to the market who became sick on Dec. 8. But Worobey said the accountant’s medical records reveal he visited the dentist that day to deal with retained baby teeth that needed to be pulled, but did not show symptoms from the coronavirus until Dec. 16, and was hospitalized six days after that.

    The stealthy nature of the virus, which can spread asymptomatically, makes it highly likely that the pathogen began to spread many weeks before any of the cases that were identified. Worobey said the locations and occupations of the first known patients point to a market origin, with the virus radiating outward into the sprawling city of 11 million.

    “It becomes almost impossible to explain that pattern if that epidemic didn’t start there,” Worobey said in an interview. […]

    More at the link, including additional links embedded in the Washington Post article to lead readers to more information.

  40. says

    There’s what John Eastman says … and then there’s reality:

    John Eastman, the conservative legal scholar who drew up a full scheme to have then-Vice President Mike Pence throw out certain states’ 2020 electoral votes to steal the election for Donald Trump, reportedly took his ideas straight to at least one Republican leader in a state Trump lost.

    According to the Arizona Republic’s latest report in its multi-part series on Trumpworld’s efforts to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, Eastman reached out to state House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) personally on Jan. 4 to pitch a legal theory on how Arizona’s electors ought to be tossed away before Congress certifies the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

    Eastman has claimed he was only ever offering hypotheticals and had no intention of overturning the election. But Jan. 4 — the day he spoke to Bowers — was also the day he presented his election-stealing scheme to Pence.

    Both reported examples show Eastman pressing Republicans to subvert the election, not simply offering disinterested legal advice.

    Bowers reportedly asked Eastman during their talk, “Has this ever been done before?”

    The lawyer said no, but told Bowers he ought to do it anyway and let Trump’s legal team deal with whatever litigation might arise from the gambit, the Arizona Republic reported.

    But the GOP leader reportedly wasn’t sold.

    “It’s never been done in the history of the country, and I’m going to do that in Arizona?” he asked, according to the Arizona Republic. “No.”

    Eastman’s reported conversation with Bowers fell on the same day as the attorney’s Oval Office meeting with Pence, during which Eastman laid out his now-infamous memo explaining how the vice president could hijack Congress’ certification process to keep Trump in power. Eastman proposed that Pence throw out electors from the swing states Biden had won, including Arizona, and let the GOP-controlled state legislatures or U.S. House Republicans choose new electors.

    Since details about Eastman’s blueprint for his proposed coup came out this September, the lawyer has publicly insisted that he never thought that the memo’s legal theories carried any weight and that it was only intended to detail “available scenarios that had been floated.”

    But Eastman’s denials utterly collapsed in late October, when the lawyer told an undercover progressive activist that he absolutely believed his reasoning in the memo was solid.

    The Arizona Republic’s new report on Eastman apparently trying to personally lobby an individual state Republican leader reveals the extent to which the lawyer tried to make his cloak-and-dagger scheme, which was fully backed by Trump, a reality.


  41. says

    Revenge! A major Republican theme.

    GOP rallying cry for 2022: We’re going to make Democrats pay for governing

    House Republicans have been previewing their midterm platform and, instead of hailing issues, it’s nothing but a sea of threats aimed at their Democratic colleagues over perceived grievances.

    No governing, no solutions. Just promises of retribution for Democrats seeking lawful, constitutional forms of accountability over things like death threats made by GOP members and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made it exceedingly clear on Tuesday that he not only won’t hold his caucus accountable for making violent threats against other members of Congress, but he will actively seek revenge against anyone who insists on the accountability he refuses to provide. […]

    these GOP threats of retribution are all par for the course now. The party is effectively filled with a bunch of lawless gang members who foment violence, flout the law, and trample the Constitution, and when anyone threatens to rein them in, the GOP’s knee-jerk responses are promises of revenge.

    Last week, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio pledged to get even with Democrats after the Justice Department indicted Trump henchman Steve Bannon on Friday.

    […] reality isn’t really at issue for Republicans. The game is all about training their voters to believe they have been slighted and disrespected, that Democrats have committed an unforgivable abuse of power, and that Republicans will make them pay for it. That is the GOP platform, and Republicans keep running that play over and over again because their low-information voters aren’t capable of seeing past it. In fact, the GOP’s politics of revenge are exactly what the base craves—it’s among their main reasons for living, breathing, and voting. […]

  42. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 44

    You see, this is what the Democrats and American liberals just can’t wrap their heads around: It’s not just their political opponents disagree with Democrats/liberals/leftists, but they violently HATE them. The Republicans fervently believe that Democratic policies are morally depraved, totalitarian, and in the case of the more religious ones, literally diabolical. Therefore anything that happens to the Dems is not only justified, but a moral imperative; a righteous blow against the forces of “evil.”

    Of course, my suggestion would be to hate them back and do onto others before. they do it on to you, but nooooooo. The Democrats and liberals still operate under the delusion they can reason with the Right, and if you just say “pretty please” enough they’ll see the light.

    This is not some genteel debate club. This is war, start acting like it.

  43. says

    It wasn’t easy, but House Dems passed their Build Back Better Act

    It is not an exaggeration to say that the benefits in this legislation will be life-changing for millions of families. It’s a transformative bill.

    […] after months of unglamourous and difficult negotiations, the [Democratic] party actually had some success. NBC News reported:

    The Democratic-controlled House passed sweeping legislation Friday aimed at expanding the social safety net and tackling climate change, a major step that moves a top legislative priority of President Joe Biden closer to his desk. The House voted 220 to 213 to pass Biden’s Build Back Better bill, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposing the measure.

    Oddly enough, this bill would’ve passed last night, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered the longest floor speech in recorded House history, which may have inadvertently done Democrats a favor: Instead of passing a big bill in the middle of the night, the governing majority was able to advance their popular legislation, live on television, in the light of day.

    Ha! McCarthy shot himself in the foot.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chaired the proceedings and banged the gavel at 9:46 a.m. eastern. As she exited the dais, the California Democrat was greeted by celebrating colleagues who chanted, “Nancy! Nancy!” as she walked through her assembled colleagues.

    The bill now heads to the Democratic-led Senate, where members are all but certain to make at least some changes to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intends to hold a final floor vote by Christmas, at which point the House will almost certainly have to vote again.

    Because the Build Back Better legislation is being pursued through the budget reconciliation process, it cannot be filibustered by the Republican minority. It can, however, be derailed by Democratic senators such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema.

    For now, however, Democrats have reason to feel good about today’s breakthrough success. Congress considers all kinds of legislation, ranging from awful to great, but it’s not at all common for lawmakers to take up transformative legislation.

    The Build Back Better Act — the largest part of President Joe Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda — qualifies for the label. Among its key provisions:
    Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds

    Funding for child care for roughly 20 million kids

    An extended and expanded Child Tax Credit

    Extended subsidies to make Affordable Care Act coverage more affordable

    Closes the Medicaid coverage gap in red states, pushing the country closer to universal coverage

    New benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including caps on annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs

    Housing aid, including rental assistance, public housing, and down-payment support

    A significant increase in Pell Grants

    A half-trillion-dollar investment to combat climate change, including massive clean energy tax credits

    This really is just a sampling. I could keep going, pointing to investments in child nutrition, V.A. facilities, recruiting and training school teachers, electric vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service, and on and on. […]

  44. says

    Louisiana’s Kennedy dabbles in modern-day McCarthyism

    If Sen. John Kennedy’s line of questioning against Saule Omarova sounded familiar, it’s probably because it echoed Joe McCarthy’s tactics.

    Senate fights over the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are not especially common, but the dispute over Saule Omarova’s nomination is proving to be unusual.

    At face value, Omarova’s story reads like a classic American story. She was born in Kazakhstan, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. She immigrated to the United States, studied law and business, became an American citizen, took on a role in the Bush administration’s Treasury Department, and ultimately became a law professor at Cornell University.

    President Joe Biden nominated her for a position in which she’d be responsible for regulating bank assets — she specializes in financial regulation — and yesterday, Omarova’s nomination arrived at the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing.

    Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana [total dunderhead] apparently thought it’d be entertaining to take aim at her personal background, starting with this question: “You used to be a member of a group called the Young Communists, didn’t you?” The Washington Post took it from there:

    But this isn’t where Kennedy was headed. Instead, he spent his designated time suggesting that Omarova was a communist sympathizer, beginning with that loaded question. Omarova indicated that she wasn’t sure what group he was referring to, a bit of caution that Kennedy wasn’t interested in. Kennedy, reading from handwritten notes, identified the group by name: “the Leninist Communist Young Union of the Russian Federation,” also known as the Komsomol.

    As a child in a USSR country, Omarova’s participation in Komsomol was not optional. The professor patiently tried to explain this to the Republican senator, who didn’t seem overly concerned about the relevant details.

    “I don’t mean any disrespect — I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade,” Kennedy said.

    Of course, why would anyone find such nonsense disrespectful?

    As part of the line of questioning, the Louisiana Republican sought proof that Omarova “resigned” from the school program as a child. She explained that participants didn’t have to formally quit the group, since they simply “grow out of it with age.”

    Kennedy, either confused or willfully ignorant, wasn’t satisfied, seeking some kind of letter of resignation. No such letter existed, because the question didn’t make sense.

    The Post’s analysis added, “It’s safe to assume that Kennedy, who attended Oxford University during the Cold War, is aware that Soviet youth were conscripted into party organizations and that socialist views are not communist ones. But he is a politician representing a deep-red state, and he clearly understands that it’s easier to submarine a presidential nominee using old-school Red scare tactics than it is to challenge her actual belief systems one by one.”

    It was notable in large part because contemporary examples of McCarthyism usually aren’t this literal. Kennedy was, for all intents and purposes, on the lookout for communists. If that meant unfairly smearing a qualified nominee — who is not, in reality, a communist — so be it.

    “My family suffered under the communist regime. I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime,” Omarova explained. “This is what’s seared in my mind. That’s who I am. I remember that history. I came to this country. I’m proud to be an American, and this is why I’m here today, senator. I’m here today because I’m ready for public service.”

    It was a good answer to a bad question.

    […] visitors to the Louisiana Republican’s website this morning were greeted with one prominent headline, splashed across the homepage near the top: “Kennedy questions Biden nominee on membership in communist organization.”

    It was cheap and ugly — and for Kennedy, a source of pride.

  45. says

    Biden To Take Key Step Toward Ousting Postmaster Louis DeJoy

    President Joe Biden is slated to announce on Friday that he won’t keep a top ally of controversial Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on the U.S. Postal Service board of governors next month, according to the Washington Post.

    The ally, USPS board chair Ron Bloom, reportedly will not be renominated to the nine-member board when his term ends next month. Though Bloom is a Democrat, he supports DeJoy, who was appointed by ex-President Donald Trump and has implemented USPS policies that have slowed down deliveries while hiking up prices.

    Bloom’s critics have pointed to a potential conflict of interest between the chair and DeJoy, who has bought more than $300,000 in bonds from Bloom’s asset management company.

    Removing Bloom from the board, the only institution that can oust a Postmaster General, allows Biden to appoint a governor who could provide another vote with the three other Democratic members to get rid of DeJoy. The President has filled three slots on the board since he entered office.

    The board currently holds four Democrats, four Republicans (all of whom were appointed by Trump), and one independent.

    Biden has faced deep pressure from progressives to clean up the board and have DeJoy, a Trump donor, removed after changes last year became an election flash-point, hampering mail-in voting as Trump repeatedly attacked voting by mail.

  46. says

    President Kamala Harris … briefly.

    The nation will have its first woman president on Friday, albeit for just a short while, when President Joe Biden visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Friday for a colonoscopy and routine physical.

    In a message distributed to the press corps Friday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Vice President Kamala Harris will have the powers of the presidency transferred to her for a “brief period of time” as Biden goes undergoes the procedure.

    “As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia. The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time,” Psaki said.

    The White House will also issue a written statement summarizing Biden’s physical later Friday.

    […] The president injured his foot playing with his dog last November, but a check-up in February determined the fracture had fully healed.

    As for Biden’s colonoscopy on Friday, the procedure is of critical importance.

    According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. In 2021 alone, 104,270 new cases of colon cancer were identified and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and about 1 in 25 for women.

    In America, colorectal cancer is not only the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women, but it is the second-most common cause of cancer death when men and women are combined. The American Cancer Society predicts that in 2021, colorectal cancer will have caused about 52,980 deaths.

    Biden is not overweight or obese and keeps fairly active, two elements key in preventing colorectal cancer.

    Though getting a colonoscopy can be somewhat anxiety-inducing given the preparation that goes into it, things have changed dramatically in recent years, making the process less harrowing and well worth the rewards of staying healthy and cancer-free.


  47. says

    Sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Last night, Americans were treated to the longest lunar eclipse in 500 years. Watching it required a good deal of patience as the orb floated slowly across the sky, apparently unchanging from moment to moment. However, eventually, there was real progress and beauty, as the full moon trimmed down to a tiny fingernail sliver, its shaded face barely visible in reflected Earth-light, then brightened against the pitch black of the sky before being dimmed by the rising sun.

    And at every stage, it was more lively, more interesting, and infinitely more attractive than the eight-hour-plus speech that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy delivered on the House floor overnight to delay the final House vote on the Build Back Better legislation.

    Goaded by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ suggestion earlier in the day that Donald Trump should be named speaker if Republicans win the House in 2022 because McCarthy fails to provide the party with any leadership, the House minority leader attempted to free his inner Trump. The result was a speech where “rambling” doesn’t begin to cover the incoherent and disconnected claims, stitched together by occasional arm waving and table-pounding designed to show that McCarthy is just as angry, vindictive, and nonsensical as Trump.

    As Rep. Jaime Raskin reported mid-way through this event, McCarthy managed to speak for over four hours without producing “a single memorable phrase, original insight, or even a joke.” And then he did it for four more hours. Which makes it even more … is there a word that means something is remarkable for being absolutely unremarkable?


    Yes, Republicans are using McCarthy’s stunt for fundraising, but for the most part everyone is just making fun of McCarthy.

    Given the “magic minute” to speak at any length desired, McCarthy set his sights on besting a record speech delivered by Nancy Pelosi in 2018 in which she spoke movingly and eloquently on the plight of “Dreamers” and the danger and stress they had been placed under by the anti-immigrant actions of Trump and the Republican Party.

    Breaking that record gave the GOP a kind of instant fundraiser in the form of emails streaming out to watch “McCarthy beat Pelosi.” But if McCarthy had any goal other than showing he could stay upright for the same period that Pelosi didn’t just speak, but stayed focused on a single topic, it didn’t show. The whole episode reeked of Stunt Politics in which the “McCarthy blocks bill” headline in right-wing media was the entire goal. The content of McCarthy’s looping tirade might as well have been random words fished from a Bingo barrel.

    […] sleep-deprived Republicans can pat themselves on the back for allowing America to start the day with the news that House Democrats have passed this bill.

  48. says

    On Wednesday, Jacob Chansley, the QAnon mascot, was sentenced to 41 months in jail. Chansley, sans painted face and buffalo headdress, told the courtroom that he was sorry for his actions: “I am not an insurrectionist. I am certainly not a domestic terrorist. I am a good man who broke the law.” U.S. District Senior Judge Royce Lamberth told Chansley during the steep sentencing: “What you did was terrible. You made yourself the epitome of the riot.”

    Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, argued throughout the proceedings that people like his client were easily fooled by Donald Trump. Watkins position was that Chansley’s ridiculous look was proof that he could not be taken seriously and therefore couldn’t be convicted of “leading” anything on Jan. 6. After the sentencing, Watkins spoke to the press outside of the courthouse, and boy did he have some things to say.

    I will preface this by saying that Watkins is a colorful speaker who likes to wear colorful ties. He has a style of talking that reminds me of New York City in the late 1970s and 1980s. Watkins was asked by one reporter what might be a proper level of “accountability for former president Donald Trump”? Watkins began by saying his “opinion is meaningless,” but that he would want to sit down “over a beer” with the disgraced president, at which point, “I’d tell him, you know what? You’ve got a few fucking things to do.”

    Just in case you hadn’t gotten the exclamation point on that first sentence, Watkins went on: “Including clearing this fucking mess up.” Got it yet? “And take care of a lot of the jackasses that you fucked up because of January 6.” Watkins ended by saying he might try to continue forward in a conversation with Trump about some of the “things I agree with him on, but my opinion doesn’t mean shit.”

    I couldn’t have cursed it better myself.


  49. says

    “Jesus Goat Cheese-Gobblin’ Christ, this shit is bonkers.”

    Representative Lauren BOEBERT [Republican and crackpot doofus extremis]: “Democrat policies are so pathetic and have done so poorly that the left has nothing else to do but troll the internet looking for ways to get offended, and then try to target members and strip them of their committees. This is a dumb waste of the House’s time. But since the speaker has designated the floor to discuss members’ inappropriate action, shall we? The jihad squad member from Minnesota has paid her husband—and not her brother-husband, the other one—over a million dollars in campaign funds. This member is allowed on the Foreign Affairs Committee while praising terrorists. A Democrat chairwoman incited further violence in the streets outside of a courthouse. And then the cherry on top. My colleague, and three-month presidential candidate from California [Eric Swalwell], who is on the Intelligence Committee, slept with Fang Fang, a Chinese spy. Let me say that again. A member of Congress who receives classified briefings was sleeping with the enemy. This is unacceptable and this would never see …”


    […] Dartagnan has already dispensed with the nonsense about Ilhan Omar (the “jihad squad member from Minnesota”) here, but there’s still plenty of mind detritus to sift through. Namely, the bit about Fang Fang.

    Here’s how The Washington Post characterized Rep. Eric Swalwell’s relationship, such as it was, with alleged Chinese spy Christine Fang, aka Fang Fang. (Swalwell is the “three-month presidential candidate from California” Boebert refers to in her rant.)

    Axios reports that U.S. officials don’t think Fang ever got classified information as she cozied up to politicians, including from Swalwell. He is not accused of any wrongdoing. After U.S. intelligence officials briefed him in 2015 on their concerns about Fang, he cut off ties with her. Swalwell said in a statement to Axios this week that he provided information to the FBI about her and that he hasn’t interacted with her in six years. Fang has left the country.

    So that’s not great, but it doesn’t appear as if Swalwell did anything wrong. He certainly didn’t tweet about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts during the violent siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, for instance. […]

    And, naturally, Rep. Swalwell took Boebert’s bilious eruptions as a teaching moment of sorts.

    Weird. If I had done anything wrong the FBI would have raided my house. They didn’t (and went as far to issue a statement saying I did nothing wrong). BUT yesterday they did raid the home of @laurenboebert’s campaign manager. They’re always projecting.

    […] Yes, that’s true. Boebert’s former campaign manager, Sherronna Bishop, saw her home raided by the FBI yesterday as part of a probe into an alleged security breach in Mesa County, Colorado’s voting system. (Bishop was whining about it last night on Pillow Man Mike Lindell’s sprawling glitch of a website.)

    […] Boebert isn’t talking to people with intelligence or common sense. She’s talking to people who think Donald Trump is going to alight from a cloud any day, retake the White House, and resume fucking up the country.

    […] Boebert isn’t exactly interested in making a cogent point. Nor can she.


  50. says

    Coronavirus in Norway:

    Norway’s government announced Friday that it would soon be implementing more measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including tighter border controls and advising people against handshakes as the country sees a fresh surge of cases.

    Beginning Nov. 26, both foreign travelers and citizens of Norway have to register online with the government at least three days prior to entering the country, The Associated Press reported. Officials at border checkpoints can ask for a person’s registration.

    Forbes noted the measure was being used to help with contact tracing, the practice of determining who an infected individual may have come in contact with.

    Norway’s health minister, Ingvild Kjerkol, also announced the country would also start testing people once they arrived. Exceptions would only be made to those who recovered from COVID-19 within the last year or have already received the vaccine […]

    The United States, where only 59 percent are fully vaccinated, has also been seeing an uptrend in cases in recent days. The U.S. saw more than 107,000 cases on Wednesday; comparatively it reported several days of cases above 20,000 in October and November.


  51. says

    Followup to comments 48 and 51.


    […] Eventually, McCarthy, apparently running out of anything to fearmonger about, was reduced to a bad excuse for observational comedy, wondering whether McDonalds still has its dollar menu, and then, somewhere around 3 a.m. explaining that there’s no such thing as baby carrots, because they’re “just big carrots they chop up and charge you more.” We swear we are not making this up.

    We’ll give the win to this tweet from Rep. Jamie Raskin of California:

    I must admit Kevin McCarthy has accomplished one thing. America is no longer woke.

    […] this morning, just before the vote, Nancy Pelosi began her own “magic minute” by saying, “As a courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief,” to applause from Democrats. […]


  52. says

    FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna boosters for all adults.

    Washington Post link

    Federal regulators on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccine boosters for all adults, a one-size-fits-all strategy designed to shore up Americans’ defenses against a tenacious virus and reduce confusion over guidelines that have varied based on people’s age, occupation and where they live.

    The Food and Drug Administration cleared the boosters for people 18 and older who are at least six months past their second shot of the two-dose vaccines. The move reflects an urgent effort to encourage millions of Americans to get the boosters to bolster waning immunity heading into the winter holiday season when millions will travel to see friends and family. It’s also an attempt to put in place a coherent federal approach as about a dozen states move ahead on their own to grant broad access to boosters. […]

  53. says

    As we previously discussed, the House censured Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, and stripped him of his committee assignments. Yesterday, Donald Trump issued a statement giving Gosar his “Complete and Total Endorsement!” Random capitalization is still a Trump thing.

    I guess Trump likes it when people threaten to kill AOC with a sword.

  54. says

    Nazis try to out-white supremacist each other in closing arguments

    The Nazis on trial in Charlottesville Thursday had three and a half hours between them to make the case as to why they shouldn’t be blamed for the violent “Unite the Right” rally they planned [in 2017]

    Instead, many of these white supremacists tried to make it seem as if they’re one of the “good” ones, unlike some of those other white supremacists. Literal Nazi attorney James Kolenich, who represents Nazis Jason Kessler and Nathan Damigo, and the Nazi group Identity Evropa, claimed that his clients only perpetrated acts of physical violence sans automobile, and said young people are spry enough to bounce back from being shoved around.

    He equated the Nazi groups and individuals he’s defending with a softball league in which alt-right assholes are the players, the police are the umpires, and Antifa inexplicably hates softball and came to protest their game. Oh, but for some reason, James Fields drove his car into the field while Antifa celebrated the dissolution of the softball game. Kolenich stressed that those bats and balls (i.e, the shields and flagpoles Nazis used to attack counter-protesters) are all part of the game. As if his defense wasn’t bad enough for his clients, Kolenich wrapped up his remarks by saying it was a pleasure to be a part of this case.

    David Campbell, attorney for James Fields, was up next. He argued that his client should be spared a civil judgment against him because he’s already serving multiple consecutive life sentences and, well, gestures vaguely at other Nazis. Campbell has honestly no good reason to pretend Fields’ brutal attack was a “lone wolf” incident, and actually may have made things worse for Fields’ fellow Nazis by citing Fields stomping around with a Vanguard America shield.

    After a lunch break, Richard Spencer began his ill-conceived closing arguments. He quoted a general who influenced Nazi policy in Germany, and whose name was used as a codeword when Nazi Germany attempted to defend Berlin as World War II entered its final stages. Spencer tried to pass off Carl Von Clausewitz as merely “a historian.”

    Spencer labeled the trial a form of “character assassination” yet doubled down on his white supremacist beliefs and claimed that the Unite the Right rally was supposed to be an extension of his 2017 tour. He flat-out told the jury he believes in the cause of white supremacy, but there’s really no such thing as pure intentions making for a goodly Nazi.

    Spencer really couldn’t stop himself as he cited Donald Trump’s infamous “good people on both sides” comment, before earning a scolding from Judge Norman Moon, who noted that Trump’s words weren’t entered into evidence. Nonetheless, Spencer does believe there are good people on both sides. Inspiring.

    The true highlight of Spencer’s Nazi-branded narcissism was an exchange in which he appeared close to comparing himself to Jesus before the judge once again reprimanded him. […]

    Spencer called for “Newtonian justice” and if that’s not a coded phrase to get someone to pelt you with apples, I don’t know what is.

    Attorney Bryan Jones, who represents Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs, and the League of the South, tried to do his job by claiming the racist organization Hill and Tubbs co-founded had nothing to do with the tiki torch march or the car attack but quickly lost the plot as he ranted about alleged conspiracy theories, blamed a counter-protester for being brutalized by his clients, then compared the whole rally to going fishing and reeling in a big catch. […]

    Chris “Crying Nazi” Cantwell closed things out on the defendants’ side with an incredible display of whiny obfuscation in which he was clearly still upset that counter-protesters crashed his members-only meet-and-greet in a Walmart parking lot, and that no one gives a shit about whatever bodycam footage he shot in said parking lot. Cantwell screamed his way into overtime as he continued quoting from his blogs and podcasts and condescending to the jury you’d think he’d try to win over.

    This is a slam-dunk case for Integrity First for America’s lawyers, who have masterfully exposed the Nazi defendants for who they are while successfully advocating on behalf of plaintiffs whose lives will never be the same after the 2017 “Unite the Right” event. It’s only right that the Nazis in the Sines vs. Kessler case pay up for all the damage they’ve caused.

  55. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 46

    Now, let’s watch as this “success” get’s tuened into bitter failure as Manchin and Sinema vote against it.

  56. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Jury finds Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges

    A jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who fatally shot two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., and wounded a third, of all charges on Friday, including intentional homicide.

    After three-and-a-half days of deliberation, the unanimous jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of all five counts that he had been facing, bringing an end to a controversial trial that has polarized the country.

    Rittenhouse, then 17, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded a third protester last year amid demonstrations against police brutality in Kenosha, where police had shot and paralyzed a Black man named Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse has maintained he shot the men in self defense.

    The teen would have faced the possibility of life in prison if he had been convicted on the intentional homicide count.

    Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said in a statement Friday that his office respects the jury’s verdict.

    “Certainly, issues regarding the privilege of self-defense remain highly contentious in our current times,” Graveley said. “We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence.”

    Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) had activated about 500 National Guard members this week in preparation for the verdict.

    The trial’s outcome is likely to further inflame national debates over civil rights. It comes less than a year after Kenosha County prosecutors chose not to charge the white police officer who shot Blake in August 2020. […]

  57. lotharloo says

    Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty. It was not surprising at all. He was following the law. The stupid law that allows him, a private citizen, to carry assault rifles and shoot people as soon as he feels a tiny with threatened.

  58. says

    Far-Right Groups See ‘Precedent’ In Rittenhouse Acquittal

    Groups like the Proud Boys and supporters of QAnon see the Rittenhouse verdict as a “precedent” for further acts of violence.

    Telegram channels affiliated with the Proud Boys lit up on Friday after the verdict was announced, with some seeing it as setting a precedent for future street violence.

    “Sets precedent for rioters this weekend in Kenosha, defend your lives citizens,” read a post on one Proud Boys-affiliated channel. Another message on Patriot Streetfighter, a right-wing Telegram channel with 174,000 followers, read, “it is all falling apart for the liberals/communist/socialists on every front. Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges!”

    See also:

    This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ. Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.

    That last paragraph/tweet is from Representative Jerry Nadler

  59. says


    Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two men and maimed another when he was scared they would kill him just because he was shooting them, has been acquitted by a Wisconsin jury on all charges.

    […] We have come to an era in our country, ushered in by the NRA, in which fear for your life is grounds to kill someone who is trying to defend themselves from you threatening their life. Two national trials explored that this week; Ahmaud Arbery’s killers in Georgia are insisting they did it in self defense (while standing over his body yelling the n-word) because he grabbed at the gun they were pointing at him.

    And the Supreme Court is presumably about to make it even worse, when it rules that any state regulation on who can carry lethal weapons, when, and how, are unconstitutional.

    Even Antonin Scalia, God rot his soul, when he found for the first time in Heller that there was a constitutional right to personal arms, insisted that states could still regulate them.

    Everyone knew in their bones Rittenhouse would be acquitted, after he crossed state lines with a semiautomatic weapon it was illegal for him to carry, and then shot the people who were trying to disarm him after he shot someone who threw a plastic bag at him.

    Everyone knew it, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. The Right has a new hero, one whose thirst to shoot people the jury was not allowed to see because it was prejudicial, one whose cold-cocking of a girl, just weeks before, the jury was not allowed to see because it was prejudicial, one whose new bosom friends the Proud Boys and gun maniacs are thirsting to shoot some leftists themselves.

    And it’s open season.

    We all knew it, but here’s a funny (“funny”) tidbit from the article below the verdict in the Washington Post’s stream:

    A man who caused a ruckus Wednesday when he showed up outside the Rittenhouse trial armed with a rifle and chanting against the Black Lives Matter movement is a former police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

    The man, identified as Jesse T. Kline, had been dismissed from the force several years ago, Ferguson Police Chief Frank McCall Jr. confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Thursday. Kline later confirmed his identity to the Washington Post.

    In recent days, reporters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse have reported seeing Kline acting bizarre as he mingled with the onlookers who awaited the Rittenhouse verdict. Then on Wednesday, Kline showed up to the courthouse with a long gun, prompting law enforcement officials to check his identification before requesting that he disarm himself.

    He was fired — from the Ferguson PD! — after he “allegedly stalked a woman, who he had been in a romantic relationship with, to another man’s home. Kline then allegedly threatened the man by poking his chest with the barrel of his gun, according to KSDK.” The charges were dropped when his ex and her boyfriend refused to testify.

    That man, with that record, can only be “requested to disarm himself” outside a public courthouse. That’s who’s carrying rifles around, to make a point about “self defense,” we guess.

  60. says

    […] In the Rittenhouse case, none of that was true. At every turn that night, Rittenhouse’s AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle made things worse, ratcheting up danger rather than quelling it. The gun transformed situations that might have ended in black eyes and broken bones into ones that ended with corpses in the street. And Rittenhouse’s gun was not just a danger to rival protesters. According to his own defense, the gun posed a grave threat to Rittenhouse himself — he said he feared being overpowered and then shot with his own weapon.

    This is self-defense as circular reasoning: Rittenhouse says he carried a rifle in order to guarantee his safety during a violent protest. He was forced to shoot at four people when his life and the lives of other people were threatened, he says. What was he protecting everyone from? The gun strapped to his own body, the one he’d brought to keep everyone safe. […]

    New York Times link

  61. says

    […] While that Kenosha, Wisconsin jury declared that Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, was not guilty of murdering Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, and other crimes in August 2020, their verdicts do not make that soulless, gun-toting disaster innocent. He’s just the latest killer to walk free, with a lot of help from Judge Bruce Schroeder.

    In a nation where horrific violence is increasingly acceptable to one part of the country—most visibly represented by white male Christian supremacists, and the white women who will do anything to remain adjacent to their desperate, angry, and declining power—sometimes we who know the right wing is very, very wrong need something to soothe and encourage us in the face of such hatred and refusal to evolve and embrace their neighbors.

    Nearly a decade ago, I got a tiny tattoo on my right wrist. Written in my own handwriting at the shop, and drilled into my skin in ink that only I can see, just two words hover over a hesitation scar I carved into my skin when I was 15: Keep going. I don’t know who needs to read that, but consider the words on my wrist to be yours today.

    In one of the most powerful clips to come out of reasonable media in the wake of this absolute failure of our legal system, comedian Amber Ruffin offers, in a brief but must-see monologue, two more important words we all need to hear right now, and perhaps every day.

    For those unfamiliar, Ruffin is the brilliant host of The Amber Ruffin Show, available on the NBC streamer Peacock. The Emmy-nominated show tackles the news with a comedic voice we don’t tend to see in the monochromatic world of late night television.

    Ruffin makes no secret of the responsibility that comes with such a platform, and works hard to use her reach to make the world a better place. With that in mind, let’s get right to Ruffin’s powerful words—which are clearly so hard for her to say—in the wake of the devastating news that an 18-year-old killer strolled out of that courtroom and into a lifetime as a folk hero for the worst of America. […]


    Video available at the link. Transcript:

    You guys, because I have my own show, I have a responsibility to say things that people need to know, that aren’t being said. It’s a cool opportunity that I don’t take lightly. There are very big, obvious truths that no one wants to say on TV, but I will.

    Now, just a few minutes before we started taping this show, Kyle Rittenhouse, the man accused of shooting three people during a Black Lives Matter protest, was declared not guilty on all charges. So, I can’t believe I have to say this, but …

    It’s not okay for a man to grab a rifle, travel across state lines, and shoot three people—and then walk free.

    It’s not okay for the judicial system to be blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color.

    It’s not okay for there to be an entirely different set of rules for white people, but I don’t care about Kyle Rittenhouse. I don’t care about that racist judge. And I don’t care about how fucked up that jury must be.

    White people have been getting away with murder since time began. I don’t care about that.

    I care about you. And I can’t believe I have to say this, but you matter.

    You matter.

    Every time one of these verdicts come out, it’s easy to feel like you don’t, but I’m here to tell you that you do, you matter. You matter so much, that the second you start to get a sense that you do, a man will grab a gun he shouldn’t have in the first place, and travel all the way to another state just to quiet you.

    That’s the power you have. So don’t forget it.

  62. tomh says

    As a coal plant fights for life, it could enrich Manchin
    By Scott Waldman / 11/20/2021

    A power plant that buys coal from a company controlled by Sen. Joe Manchin’s family is fighting to stay alive by generating electricity for superfast data computing, after being on the brink of financial collapse for years.

    If the proposal by the Grant Town power plant near Morgantown, W.Va., is successful, it would preserve the lucrative Manchin family business of selling coal waste to the power plant for generating electricity. The facility is the main customer of Manchin’s family company called Enersystems, which has paid the senator $5 million over the last decade, according to financial disclosures.

    The timing of the proposal collides with the apex of climate legislation on Capitol Hill. Manchin has scaled back the sprawling $1.7 trillion social spending package that Democrats are racing to pass as the pillar of President Joe Biden’s aggressive climate agenda. Manchin’s efforts to jettison a clean energy program that threatened the fossil fuel industry come as his family’s business continues to sell coal to the Grant Town power plant.

    The Grant Town facility….is one of the smallest plants in the state — and it’s the only one that still burns waste coal, some of the dirtiest fuel in the U.S.

    And it plans to stay that way.

    The plant’s owner revealed a proposal in state documents last Friday to continue burning a mix of discarded shale, clay and slurry dug out of nearby coal mines that closed years ago……

    Manchin, meanwhile, recently threatened to vote against the “Build Back Better” spending bill if one of its strongest climate provisions wasn’t removed. The Clean Electricity Performance Program in that legislation would have rewarded utilities for selling more clean energy, putting pressure on coal plants to close.

    “Why pay the utilities for something they’re going to do anyway, because we’re transitioning,” Manchin told reporters recently.

    That’s not happening at Grant Town.

    Its use of waste coal, also called gob, makes it one of the dirtiest plants of its size in West Virginia. Burning waste coal can be more expensive than using other forms of fuel, like natural gas, and keeping the plant running has driven up utility rates in one of the country’s poorest states.

    …..Dave Anderson, policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute said, “The continued reliance on coal waste is just costing ratepayers more money so it’s pretty hard to justify. Which makes the fact that he is still making money off of coal more concerning.”

    More on coal waste and the Manchin family at the link.

  63. says

    […] Mike German, a former F.B.I. special agent who once worked undercover to expose neo-Nazis and is now a fellow at N.Y.U.’s Brennan Center for Justice, told me that domestic extremists have learned that they can receive more “aboveground” support by calling themselves patriots and peacekeepers. Yet, German emphasized, “you can’t just nominate yourself as a security provider.” He compared this approach to tactics in prewar Germany, “when Nazi thugs rallied where they knew they had political opposition—they could attack and get media coverage, and gain a reputation for being tough and scary.”

    Militias often outfit themselves with variants of the AR-15, a high-velocity rifle that has become both a popular sporting gun and a favored weapon of mass shooters. Since 2017, such firearms have been used in at least thirteen mass-casualty incidents. Only a handful of states prohibit citizens from openly carrying AR-style weapons. Even the National Rifle Association once called it unsettling to “see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle.” This observation was published on the N.R.A.’s Web site in 2014, at a moment when Texans were ordering coffee at cafés while carrying battle-grade firearms. Two years later, a sniper in Dallas shot and killed five police officers during a B.L.M. demonstration. The city’s police chief publicly reiterated the reason that so many law-enforcement officials oppose open-carry laws: the profusion of visibly armed civilians complicated the task of quickly identifying the shooter.

    […] According to a theory of social psychology called the “weapons effect,” the mere sight of a gun inspires aggression. In 1967, the psychologists Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage wrote, “In essence, the gun helps pull the trigger.” Their methodology had flaws, but later studies verified their premise.[…] Brad Bushman, an Ohio State researcher who served on President Barack Obama’s committee on gun violence, told me, “We’ve found that it really doesn’t matter if a good guy or a bad guy is carrying the gun—it creates the bias to interpret things in a hostile way.” Citizens who openly carry firearms “think that they are making the situation safer, but they are making it much more dangerous.”

    […] Among the crowd was an agitated bald guy in his mid-thirties, with a ginger goatee and an earring. He was wearing a maroon T-shirt, and had brought a plastic shopping bag containing socks, underwear, and deodorant. The man, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had recently been charged with domestic violence, and then had attempted suicide. Hours before the protest, he had been discharged from a psychiatric hospital. He apparently had wandered into the melee on the street, where it was difficult to perceive anything but his rage. At the Ultimate Convenience Center, he confronted the armed men, screaming both “Don’t point no motherfucking gun at me!” and “Shoot me!”

    A man yelled, “Somebody control him!”

    During the chaos, Rittenhouse moved down the street toward Car Source’s second mechanic shop, where rioters had been smashing car windows. He crossed paths with the angry bald man, who chased him into the shop’s parking area. The man now wore his T-shirt as a head wrap and face mask, leaving his torso bare. Screaming “Fuck you!,” he threw his plastic bag at Rittenhouse’s back. Rittenhouse, holding his rifle, reached some parked cars just as a protester fired a warning shot into the sky. Rittenhouse whirled; the bald man lunged; Rittenhouse fired, four times. The man fell in front of a Buick, wounded in the groin, back, thigh, hand, and head.

    The nearest bystander was Richie McGinniss, the video chief at the Daily Caller, the online publication co-founded by Tucker Carlson. McGinniss, who had been covering protests all summer, had been following the chase so closely that he had nearly been shot himself. He removed his T-shirt and knelt to compress the man’s wounds. Dying, the man breathed in a horrifying growl.

    Rittenhouse stood over McGinniss for half a minute. Amid the sound of more gunfire, he didn’t stoop to check on the injured man or offer his first-aid kit. “Call 911!” McGinniss told him. Rittenhouse called a friend instead. Sprinting out of the parking lot, he said, “I just shot somebody!”

    Demonstrators were yelling: “What’d he do?” “Shot someone!” “Cranium that boy!” Rittenhouse ran down the street toward the whirring lights of police vehicles. To those who had heard only the gunfire and the shouting, he must have resembled a mass shooter: they tend to be heavily armed, white, and male.

    […] Two men were fatally shot. A third was maimed. Everyone involved in the shootings was white. The astonishing fact that Rittenhouse was allowed to leave the scene underscored the racial double standard that activists had sought to further expose: the police almost certainly wouldn’t have let a Black man pass.

    […] Carlson, on Fox News, declared, “How shocked are we that seventeen-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” […]

    The money angle:

    […] Pierce met with the Rittenhouses on the night of August 27th. Pierce Bainbridge drew up an agreement calling for a retainer of a hundred thousand dollars and an hourly billing rate of twelve hundred and seventy-five dollars—more than twice the average partner billing rate at top U.S. firms. Pierce would be paid through #FightBack, which, soliciting donations through its Web site, called the charges against Rittenhouse “a reactionary rush to appease the divisive, destructive forces currently roiling this country.”

    Wisconsin’s ethics laws restrict pretrial publicity, but Pierce began making media appearances on Rittenhouse’s behalf. He called Kenosha a “war zone” and claimed that a “mob” had been “relentlessly hunting him as prey.” He explicitly associated Rittenhouse with the militia movement, tweeting, “The unorganized ‘militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least seventeen years of age,’ ” and “Kyle was a Minuteman protecting his community when the government would not.”

    Wendy often appeared with Pierce as a “momma bear” defending her son. “He didn’t do nothing wrong,” she told an ABC affiliate. “He was attack by a mob.” She publicly threatened to sue Joe Biden for using a photograph of Rittenhouse in his campaign materials, promising, “I will take him down.”

    Such partisan rhetoric rallied support among conservatives convinced that liberals were destroying American cities with impunity. As donations streamed into #FightBack’s Web site, other contributions were offered directly to the family, for living expenses. Certain donors further yoked Rittenhouse to the militia movement: in September, the group American Wolf—self-appointed “peacekeepers” in Washington State—presented Wendy and Pierce with fifty-five thousand dollars in donations, after having taken a twenty-per-cent cut.

    […] Lin Wood, [Lin Wood!] who became #FightBack’s C.E.O. on September 2, 2020, attempted to turn Rittenhouse’s legal case into a cultural battle, calling him a “political prisoner” and comparing him to Paul Revere. He tweeted, “Kyle Rittenhouse at age 17 warned us to defend ourselves.” Wood implied that patriots were needed for an even bigger fight—a looming “second civil war.” His Twitter bio included the QAnon slogan #WWG1WGA—“Where we go one, we go all”—and he became a leading promoter of a conspiracy theory claiming that a secret group of cannibalistic pedophiles has taken control of the United States.

    […] The foundation paid Pierce and produced a publicity video, “Kyle Rittenhouse—The Truth in 11 Minutes,” which framed the case as one with “the power to negatively affect our lives for generations.” A narrator intoned, “This is the moment when the ‘home of the brave’ rise to defend ‘the land of the free.’ ” Wood called the case “a watershed moment” for self-defense; Pierce tweeted, “Kyle now has the best legal representation in the country.”

    […] In mid-November, Wood reported that Mike Lindell, the C.E.O. of MyPillow, had “committed $50K to Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund.” Lindell says that he thought his donation was going toward fighting “election fraud.” The actor Ricky Schroder contributed a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pierce finally paid Rittenhouse’s bail, with a check from Pierce Bainbridge, on November 20th—well over a month after #FightBack’s Web site indicated that the foundation had the necessary funds.

    The Rittenhouses had accepted #FightBack funds without hesitation, but they were growing uncomfortable with Pierce. They say that he drank excessively in front of Wendy’s kids; called Faith, who supported Bernie Sanders, a “raging liberal”; and billed the family for time spent shopping for a shirt to wear on Tucker Carlson’s show. Pierce also appeared determined to monetize Rittenhouse’s story, and had been exploring book and film deals. […]

    About “self-defense” and “stand your ground””

    […] Thirty states have adopted “stand your ground” laws, further institutionalizing civilian use of lethal force. Robyn Thomas, the Giffords Law Center’s executive director, told me that such laws urgently need to be repealed, because, among other things, they distort the notion of civic responsibility: “You have this misconception of a hero with a gun being the answer to public safety, when it’s exactly the opposite.” Armed civilians assume that they are “doing good” partly because “the system propagates that mythology, by passing laws that allow for it.”

    In Wisconsin, determining if someone acted in self-defense involves the question of who initiated the aggression. But, as in many states, there is no clear definition of provocation. As John D. Moore explained in a 2013 article in the Brooklyn Law Review, in some parts of the country a person forfeits the privilege of self-defense merely by having shown up at a “foreseeably dangerous situation.” Moore argued that the varying standards make it harder for citizens to “fairly distinguish between the vigilant and the vigilante.” Wisconsin’s law favors someone who “in good faith withdraws from the fight,” yet there is not always a duty to retreat. […]

    hanks to the opportunists who have seized on the Rittenhouse drama, the case has been framed as the broadest possible referendum on the Second Amendment. No other legal case presents such a vivid metaphor for the country’s polarization. Many of Rittenhouse’s supporters have described the shootings almost in cathartic terms, as if they were glad that he killed people […] With a jury [appearing] to sanction vigilantism, it seems likely that more altercations between protesters and counter-protesters will turn deadly.

    Thomas sees the case as “a bellwether,” putting “guns at the forefront of the stability of our democracy.” Protecting citizens’ safety “is a primary function of our government,” she said. “Yet it’s gotten to the point where this idea that you have a right to carry a loaded weapon is starting to literally overtake other rights—the right to express your vote, the right to assemble without fear.”

    New Yorker link

  64. blf says

    Nasa/JPL released two videos of the Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s 13th flight (on September 4th, prior to solar conjunction (apparently, the data has only recently been downloaded)), shot with the two-camera Mastcam Z on the Perseverance rover, NASA’s Perseverance Captures Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter (two videos). One is a relative close-up showing take-off, part of the flight, return, and landing; the other video is a wider-angle capturing most of the flight. The 13th flight did some additional surveying of Séítah, and the close-up Perseverance video was to observe the dust kicked up.

    The next flight (16) will occur any time “now”, possibly even today (Nov 20th).

  65. says

    tomh @67, that is very concerning. It looks like, to at least some degree, Joe Manchin is protecting his income instead of working to address climate change. That is so short sighted.

  66. says

    Followup to tomb’s comment #67.

    The fate of the Build Back Better legislation, including the future of U.S. participation in attempts to limit the impact of the climate crisis, may depend on one of the weirdest phenomena of the modern world. It’s a trend that crosses an outdated technology from a dying market with a still-growing craze which baffles much of the public. And it all comes down to putting money in the pocket of one man.

    The outdated industry is coal-powered electrical plants. The growing craze is cryptocurrency. And the man is, of course, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

    Stitch that all together, and you get a Politico report on how the Grant Town power plant near Morgantown, West Virginia has put forward a proposal to turn itself into a giant, coal-powered, cryptocurrency “mine.” If that proposal moves forward, it could ensure that the lone contract that defines Manchin’s “coal brokerage firm” will continue to hand him over $500,000 a year for doing very close to nothing. Then maybe we can all have nice things. Or, if the crypto-plant proposal fails, Manchin could still hold the entire bill hostage to his personal interest in fossil fuels.

    Not only does all of this represent a massive conflict of interest, the timing of events serves to showcase what may be the height of placing individual greed above the greater good.

    Cryptocurrency is a still a phenomenon that leaves many people scratching their heads. Whether it’s a Bitcoin or a Sol, cryptocurrency doesn’t exist as a block of gold in a vault, a physical coin in a drawer, or a promissory note backed by a government. It’s a series of numbers embedded in a blockchain, which is itself a kind of storage system for these numbers that makes it very difficult to falsify or alter information. The numbers can’t be guessed, and don’t follow a regular pattern. They can only be calculated using a laborious set of equations that can discover the next sequence in a process popularly called “mining.” Through mining, new “blocks” of verified transactions are added to the blockchain. Those blocks are owned by the miners.

    In the early days, discovering these sequences was relatively easy and could even be done on generic desktop computers. But finding new crypto “coins” rapidly becomes more difficult, and the equations aren’t really optimized to work on the kind of generic microprocessors at the heart of most laptops and desktops. Systems expanded to allow many computers to work together in discovering a block. Then computer gamers and graphic artists found that the dedicated graphics cards they needed were simply unavailable, because cryptocurrency miners had discovered that the type of processors on these cards was much better suited to digging up that next coin. That’s still true today to some extent, but in large part, crypto mining has moved on to even more specialized hardware, designed expressly to deal with the particular equations involved in uncovering a new transaction. This dedicated hardware has taken crypto mining well beyond the limits of what many early adherents of Bitcoin or other currencies thought to be practical.

    Over time, the real cost of mining a new block has become defined by one thing: power. Anyone trying to mine a Bitcoin at home these days is almost certain to spend more money on the power it costs to mine that coin than the coin is actually worth. At the other end of the mining spectrum, rooms full of specialized mining machines, all digging away at the blockchain, consume a lot of energy, but the cost of the power is still lower than the profit that can be returned—especially when the crypto market is surging.

    Rather than the cost of power, the availability of power has become a constraint on these high-end mining operations. There are systems out there that need more power than a mid-sized town to handle their ongoing search for that next transaction. So where do they get it? They buy a power plant.

    There are some rather ingenious alternatives being put forward—including solar-powered EV charging stations that would use all solar power to mine for cryptocurrency using any excess energy—but all too often, the easiest form of power for the crypto-hungry to find can be defined in one word: coal.

    Across the nation and in many parts of the world, coal power plants are closing for the simplest reason: They cost too much. The cost of operating a coal-powered plant is now so far above adding new power in the form of solar or wind, that systems are finding it cheaper to overbuild renewables and close down the aging coal plants. Some plants are being converted to burn natural gas instead. Others are just being shuttered.

    A plant that’s about to be written off and remaindered is a great target for a crypto operation. Using that dedicated hardware, they can afford the higher cost of the coal-based power. That’s led to crypto miners buying up multiple plants in Pennsylvania and in New York. That New York plant had been used as a “peaker” plant, filling in when there was high demand on the grid. Its continuous use in powering crypto mining has reportedly made a nearby glacial lake used to cool the plant “feel like a bathtub.”

    In the case of the Grant Town plant in West Virginia, operating it for power no longer makes any sense. It’s a relatively small power plant, only 80 megawatts. It’s also the only plant in the state that still burns “waste coal.”

    Coal mines often generate a spoil pile of mostly non-coal material that is picked off the conveyor belt, often by hand, and pitched aside. Before the coal is sent to the power plant, it is often sent through a “prep plant,” where the coal is crushed to a more uniform size and sent through a series of chemical baths in which the lighter coal floats, while heavier minerals—especially those rich in sulfur—sink. This leaves behind a second spoil pile of waste material.

    Producing waste coal requires going back through the spoil piles for coal that was missed the first time. That coal is worse in almost every way than what was produced on the first pass. It contains more non-coal material, lowering the energy output and increasing the amount of ash. It also contains more sulfur and heavy metals, creating toxins that either go up the smokestack or into the coal slurry at the plant.

    All coal is dirty, but waste coal is the dirtiest form of coal. Waste coal is what Joe Manchin sells.

    Using waste coal made a tiny amount of sense in 2008, when the coal market was at its peak and supply was having a hard time keeping up with demand. It makes no sense now, when a majority of mines have been idled and there is still enormous overcapacity. But Manchin has a contract, and that contract has netted him over $5 million in the last decade.

    The result of all this is that Grant Town isn’t just the dirtiest plant using the dirtiest fuel, it’s also the most expensive plant in the state, in terms of dollars per megawatt. That plant has lost $117 million in just the last five years while paying Manchin $500,000 a year—not even for the waste coal itself, but just to manage the contract that delivers the waste coal.

    Joe Manchin is almost singularly responsible for removing $1.8 trillion in funding from the Build Back Better legislation. Thanks to Sen. Manchin’s refusal to support the bill as it was originally proposed, dozens of major programs have already been reduced in scope or eliminated completely. Some of the things that were removed—including two years of free community college—seemed like complete no-brainers which would have not only decreased the debt students now face upon emerging from college, but given the U.S. a competitive advantage by creating a more educated work force.

    The funds for climate change included in the legislation that just passed the House are much smaller than those included in the original proposal that came from the White House. However, they do include over $500 billion in funds dedicated to expanding the use of renewable energy and electric vehicles. Funds for the creation of the Civilian Climate Corps are also still in there, which would create jobs dedicated to restoring and maintaining lost areas of forest and wetland.

    Also still included is a program that will give utilities a bonus for the switching production to renewable power. As Popular Science explains, that program could be a massive game-changer when it comes to transitioning not just coal plants, but also natural gas-powered plants, to solar or wind. Manchin has specifically opposed that program, saying, “Why pay the utilities for something they’re going to do anyway, because we’re transitioning?”

    This is why. Because the program supporting those increased payments is expected to speed the transition by 4% a year. And that adds up.

    A 4 percent yearly increase would get the energy mix to about 70 to 80 percent in 2030, whereas business as usual would put Americans around 48 percent by the same date.

    If the U.S. is even going to come close to meeting the goals that must be met to ward off the worst of the climate crisis, it needs Manchin to vote for inclusions of the Clean Energy Performance Program as part of Build Back Better.

    And getting that vote may depend on whether or not the Grant Town plant gets turned into a dedicated crypto mining plant … all so that Joe Manchin can continue to sell the dirtiest coal, to the dirtiest plant, to line his pocket with the dirtiest money.


  67. says

    Glenn Youngkin is already being rebuked by right-wingers for insufficient loyalty to MAGA madness

    Racism and bigotry were the jet fuel that launched Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin to his gubernatorial victory earlier this month. Somehow, he got the fuel mix right, adding just enough incendiary nonsense to his campaign speeches while keeping obvious, bona fide racists—such as [Trump]—at arm’s length. This cynical two-step allowed Youngkin to benefit from thinly veiled racism while also suppressing suburban voters’ all-too-fresh memories of Donald Trump’s infamous Hitler Goof rallies.

    It worked, and I could not be more depressed that it did. In what fucked-up world is a deadly virus that’s raged out of control for nearly two years—largely because of right-wing resistance to basic public health precautions—less frightening to parents than a course of study that’s pretty much only taught in graduate schools?

    Of course, Youngkin’s deft—and deeply dishonest—straddling of two worlds may eventually prove unsustainable. How does one man in a fleece vest keep a fractious coalition of suburban mothers and fire-breathing MAGA mites together for the long haul? […] judging by early reactions to some of Youngkin’s more “moderate” decisions, the MAGA crowd looks ready to pillory the man.

    The Daily Beast reports that many MAGA conservatives who helped put Youngkin in office are already experiencing “buyer’s remorse.”

    Over the past week, outrage has bubbled over among right-wingers and TrumpWorld allies alike, who are under the impression Youngkin has insufficient MAGA loyalty, citing his hiring of an LGBTQ staffer and his refusal to block COVID-related local mandates.

    Oh, do tell.

    […] he declared he would not attempt to block local vaccine and mask mandates across the Old Dominion—a break from more hardcore Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis.

    The death cult demands a sacrifice, Glenn. Did you really think you could govern as a Republican in the Year of Our Lord 2021 without genuflecting to fake phlegmy freedom?

    Right-wing media figures almost immediately began publicly bashing the governor-elect. Judicial Watch founder Tom Fitton railed against Youngkin for refusing to stand up against “abusive” mask mandates, while right-wing outlet The Federalist tossed him under the bus for not being a “strong conservative governor.”

    Ouch. Youngkin hasn’t even moved into the Executive Mansion yet and he’s being deemed a failure.

    […] John Fredericks, who hosts a radio show on Real America’s Voice (which also airs Steve Bannon’s War Room), recently stated, “Two weeks, post his election, here we go: Once again with another RINO alert.” It seems to me that someone who defers to local control vis-à-vis public health dictates would actually be a true Republican, but these folks stopped trying to make sense years ago.

    But it isn’t just insufficient fealty to the novel coronavirus that’s got Republicans in a lather. It’s also the fact that Youngkin hired a staffer “with pronouns” who (gasp!) appears to identify with LGBTQ causes. […]

    As shocking/not shocking as Youngkin’s victory was, it may be tough for him to hold his fragile voting base together. And if right-wingers are this suspicious of him before he even takes office, maybe Youngkin’s double-sided shtick isn’t the magic way for Republicans to sway purple state voters in the future. After all, if Republican candidates can’t be trusted to be little Despicable Him minions, what good are they?

  68. says

    Boston’s first woman, person of color, and Asian American mayor is wasting no time.

    On Tuesday, Michelle Wu made history in Boston when she was sworn in as the City on the Hill’s first woman, first person of color, and first Asian American popularly elected mayor. After she was sworn in, Mayor Wu told reporters, “We have so much work to do.” The Boston Globe pointed out that Wu is the “youngest mayor leading one of the nation’s 25 largest cities.”

    On Wednesday, Wu announced plans to “make Boston’s 23, 28 & 29 bus lines fare-free for a 2-year period” as part of an $8 million pilot program. The plan is to use some of the infrastructure funds and money allotted toward COVID-19 recovery to help make this happen. The general plan for more progressive city officials across the country is to make public transit more affordable, if not free, for everyone living in a major city. The three proposed bus lines are used predominantly by low-income people of color, according to the Globe.

    […] Mayor Wu says she is building off of the success of the fare-free pilot program and provided even more robust data she believes will build momentum toward a public transit system that everyone can afford. Worcester Mayor Joe Petty told the Globe, “I’m very pleased with this. I think people need to invest in public transportation whether it be the state or the federal government. As you see gas prices rise and the effects of climate change, this is important.”

    […] In January 2020, The New York Times estimated that “around 100 cities in the world offer free public transit, the vast majority of them in Europe, especially France and Poland.” And while the United States has lagged behind, the problem remains: Many people cannot afford public transportation, and many people with cars should use public transportation more as it would save municipalities and taxpayers in the long run via lowering carbon emissions, wear and tear on roads, and the medical and emotional costs of vehicular accidents.

    One of the things that most Americans don’t realize is that the funds generated by fares, even in cities like Boston, are usually not that much more in comparison to the costs of collecting and processing that money. […] the progressive movement is using these pilot programs to do two things: prove that the policies that most Americans want actually work, and give Americans a chance to know what they have been missing.

    Wu’s program is set to begin in January 2022.


  69. says

    OMG, Ted Cruz. Please just shut up.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Sunday that he hoped U.S. athletes “go over there and kick their commie asses” at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

    “I also think it’s important we do two things at the Olympics in China: Number one, that we actually show the courage the Women’s Tennis Association is showing to call out the murder, the genocide, the torture, the lies, the complicity in COVID-19 of the Chinese Communist government, to speak the truth,” Cruz said during “Face the Nation” on CBS.

    “And then number two, I really hope our young men and women – that they go over there and kick their commie asses – we need to win in the Olympics,” Cruz said. […]


  70. tomh says

    G.O.P. Donors Back Manchin and Sinema as They Reshape Biden’s Agenda
    Kenneth P. Vogel and Kate Kelly / November 21, 2021

    ….Even as Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin, both Democrats, have drawn fire from the left for their efforts to shrink and reshape Mr. Biden’s proposals, they have won growing financial support from conservative-leaning donors and business executives in a striking display of how party affiliation can prove secondary to special interests and ideological motivations when the stakes are high enough.

    Ms. Sinema is winning more financial backing from Wall Street and constituencies on the right in large part for her opposition to raising personal and corporate income tax rates. Mr. Manchin has attracted new Republican-leaning donors as he has fought against much of his own party to scale back the size of Mr. Biden’s legislation and limit new social welfare components.

    This month, the billionaire Wall Street investor Kenneth G. Langone, a longtime Republican megadonor who has not previously contributed to Mr. Manchin, effusively praised him for showing “guts and courage” and vowed to throw “one of the biggest fund-raisers I’ve ever had for him.”

    Cash has also poured in for Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema from political action committees and donors linked to the finance and pharmaceutical industries, which opposed proposals initially included in the domestic policy bill that the lawmakers helped scale back, including changes to Medicare and the tax-rate increases.

    Way too much detail to quote, but the bottom line is obvious. Millions are flowing to Manchin and Sinema. Obstructing the Democratic agenda is a very lucrative tactic.

  71. says

    Wonkette:” Pillow Guy, Kid Rock, Proud Boys: It’s A Big Weekend For Terrible Men Doing Weird Shit”

    Clearly, the combination of International Men’s Day and the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has shaken something loose in the conservative male psyche, because a whole bunch of these tools are going right off the goddamned deep end this weekend. It was hard to pick just one to write about this morning, so I figured I’d do a rundown.

    MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell announced during his “broadcast” last night that he plans on doing a demonstration outside of Fox News. It’s not clear what it is he wants to accomplish by doing this, if anyone will be joining him or if he will just be standing outside with a bullhorn, carrying a sign reading “The End Is Nigh.”

    Via The Daily Beast:

    MyPillow CEO and 2020 dead-ender Mike Lindell has announced plans to organize a protest outside Fox News’ New York City headquarters. “We are going to do something out in front of Fox News, I think we should have—you know, if people want to go down there, maybe we should give out Frank Speech signs,” Lindell stated on his Friday evening broadcast. “They [Fox News] are a big part of our country being taken from us,” he continued, before calling the network he built his pillow empire by advertising on “controlled opposition,” which he said is the “worst” he has “ever seen in history.”

    I swear. The number of people who are having “their country” taken from them gets smaller every day. Pretty soon it’s just gonna be Mike Lindell and a bunch of custom human shaped pillows. […]

    This Jan. 6 Rioter/Proud Boy Claims He Should Go Free, Because Of How He Is Just Like Kyle Rittenhouse […] We knew this was going to happen, right? Or something like it?

    Lawyers for Zachary Rehl, the leader of the Philadelphia Proud Boys, filed a nonsense motion a day after the Rittenhouse verdict claiming that charges against their client should be dropped because of how he is just like Kyle Rittenhouse and was in DC to “defend vulnerable demonstrators.” This, to be clear, was the exact opposite of what Kyle Rittenhouse did or even claimed to do. He was in Kenosha, supposedly, to defend a vulnerable used car lot. […]

    The motion, first reported by Scott MacFarlane, reads:

    Actually, the Proud Boys primarily came to Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, to patrol the perimeter of the crowds and the places where crowds were gathered to defend vulnerable demonstrators against violent attacks from ANTIFA, not unlike what Kyle Rittenhouse did in Kenosah(sic), Wisconsin. The Government argues that the best evidence of what these proud boys planned to do is what they actually did. What did they do? What they actually did, as shown in one 1:40 hour segment of the Eddie Block raw video for his documentary was stand around, smoke a cigarette, take pictures facing away with the Capitol over their shoulder and patrol around a large rectangle around Capitol Hill taunting Antifa and chanting once at D.C. police “DO YOUR JOB!”

    What they actually planned to do and did was make sure that the defenseless Trump supporters in the gun free zones of D.C. did not get jumped and stabbed by the rioters who had run amok all during 2020, as ANTIFA had stabbed people on December 12, 2020. However, within the terms of what the Indictment alleges, the Indictment admits that Zachary Rehl’s intentions with regard to the Joint Session of Congress was for Congress to debate and resolve disputes about the Electoral College votes from disputed votes.

    Well that last sentence is certainly something.

    Rehl has not only been charged with “conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, destruction of government property and aiding and abetting, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds,” for his actions on January 6, he is also one of the named defendants in a lawsuit brought by Capitol Police officers against those they blame for the injuries and trauma they sustained during the riots. He has not been charged, to anyone’s knowledge, with protecting “defenseless Trump supporters.”

    And Now, Kid Rock, Wearing A Very Large Fur Coat, Yelling About Snowflakes

    Conservatives love to whine about left-wing celebrities, crying “Just shut up and entertain us!” every time one voices an opinion they don’t care for. The Left doesn’t have that luxury with right-wing celebrities, as we would generally prefer they abstain from attempting to entertain us. […] they tend not to be very good at it. Unfortunately for all of us, going full wingnut has sustained (or semi-revived) a career that by all rights should have ended decades ago.

    Such is the case with Kid Rock, whose entire fanbase consists of people who are just glad to have anyone on their side that they are willing to pretend that obviously terrible songs are great.

    Like his latest song “Don’t Tell Me How To Live” (featuring Monster Truck), which is practically a parody of itself in both content and production value.

    It’s so bad. It’s just so, so bad. And they’re just pretending we all got totally owned by this terrible terrible song.

    “So glad the Bull God is back,” said some dude who apparently talks about wrestling for a living, “All you young millennials (a generation who by now are age 30 and above) can chew on this!” [video available at the link]

    I would not like to chew on that, as I have no interest in picking fake fur out of my teeth for the next week. Ew.

    The song — which also came highly recommended by Barstool Sports, if that tells you anything — hits pretty much all of the marks for a MAGA anthem. It included calling people snowflakes, yelling about participation trophies and, naturally, the phrase “soar like an eagle.” [video available at the link]

    They love it when eagles soar.

    It’s almost kind of cute that they think we’re all gonna be like “Oh no, we’re so owned! We have been read for filth by this man, despite the fact that we can’t even remember what the hell his one hit wonder even was! No one has talked to us like this before!” or something. Or it would be if they were not all raging sociopaths who never stop crying about other people being snowflakes and screaming for their own participation trophies. […]


  72. says

    Democracy scholars on voting rights: ‘Midnight is approaching’

    “To lose our democracy but preserve the filibuster in its current form would be a short-sighted blunder that future historians will forever puzzle over.”

    Over the summer, as Democrats debated how to approach the For the People Act, more than 100 American scholars who specialize in democracy studies unveiled a joint public statement. Their warning was unsubtle: The United States’ system of government, the experts said, is “now at risk.”

    As part of their efforts, the scholars, many of whom have devoted much of their lives to studying the breakdowns in democracies abroad, pleaded with lawmakers to act. “We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary — including suspending the filibuster — in order to pass national voting and election administration standards,” the experts wrote.

    […] West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin derailed the For the People Act soon after.

    […] Manchin and a sizable group of other Senate Democrats reached a compromise agreement on a legislative alternative called the Freedom to Vote Act.

    [Now] an even larger number of democracy scholars are effectively pleading with the governing majority to pass the bill. Axios reported over the weekend:

    “Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching,” according to more than 150 top scholars of U.S. democracy in a new push to temporarily suspend the Senate filibuster and pass voting rights protections on a simple majority vote.

    The full letter from the scholars is online, and it’s explicit in its endorsement of the Freedom to Vote Act, which they describe as “the most important piece of legislation to defend and strengthen American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

    The experts explained, “This is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy. It is a moment of great peril and risk. Though disputes over the legitimacy of America’s elections have been growing for two decades, they have taken a catastrophic turn since the 2020 election.” [snipped excerpt from the letter]

    The question, of course, is not whether Senate Republicans will act to protect our democracy — they’ve already said they will refuse — but rather whether Senate Democrats are prepared to carve out an exception to the chamber’s filibuster and pass the legislation through majority rule.

    […] A growing number of Democratic senators, including many centrists, have come to a similar conclusion. Delaware’s Tom Carper, for example, recently wrote, “No barrier — not even the filibuster — should stand in the way of our sacred obligation to protect our democracy.” Maine’s Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also said, “[I]f forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down.”

    What’s less clear is whether Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema are prepared to come down the same way. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Sinema supports the For the People Act, but she’s prepared to give the Republican minority veto power over the legislation, “signaling that a planned last-ditch voting rights push that party leaders and activists are planning for the closely divided Senate in the coming months is likely to fail.”

    Sinema specifically added that “bipartisan” changes are the ones that “stand the test of time” — despite the fact that the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved in a partisan fashion in 1869, and it’s stood the test of time just fine.

    The fight isn’t officially over just yet, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has signaled his intention to “restore” majority rule to the chamber, at least on this one fundamental issue. But if Sinema doesn’t budge, the For the People Act will die, and democracy’s midnight will draw even closer.

  73. says

    Over the course of 2021, there have been hundreds of arrests and dozens of trials involving defendants accused of attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6. In many instances, judges have condemned the seriousness of the insurrectionist violence in no uncertain terms, while taking rioters to task for participating in an attack against our democracy.

    What we haven’t heard are judges, as part of these legal proceedings, admonishing the former president who helped incite the violence.

    Late last week, a Donald Trump supporter named John Lolos conceded in court that he entered the Capitol through a broken window on Jan. 6, though he emphasized that he didn’t personally break the window. The defendant, against the advice of counsel, also told the judge about the many conspiracy theories he’d seen online about the 2020 election, which he apparently still believed as of Friday.

    Lolos’ misguided monologue did not work: He was sentenced to two weeks in prison. But just as notable was the degree to which the judge in the case argued that the rioters weren’t the only ones responsible for the attack. Politico reported:

    A federal judge on Friday squarely placed the blame for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Donald Trump, suggesting that the former president’s role in seeding lies about the 2020 election — and the effect it had on his followers — has been an underappreciated part of the entire episode. Judge Amit Mehta issued his commentary as he delivered a 14-day jail sentence to Jan. 6 rioter John Lolos — a sentence Mehta said he shortened in part to reflect the fact that Lolos was responding to Trump’s call.

    The federal judge made the case that that Lolos and others who participated in the Capitol assault “were called to Washington, D.C., by an elected official, prompted to walk to the Capitol by an elected official.”

    Mehta added, “People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, told falsehoods, told our election was stolen when it clearly was not. We’re here today deciding whether Mr. Lolos should spend 30 days in jail when those who created the conditions that led to Mr. Lolos’ conduct, led to the events of Jan. 6 [haven’t been] held to account for their actions and their word.” […]


  74. says

    Dunderheads encouraging more violence: GOP congressman urges supporters to be ‘armed’ and ‘dangerous’

    Following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, Rep. Madison Cawthorn told his allies, “Be armed, be dangerous and be moral.”

    When many of us hear the words “armed” and “dangerous,” we think of criminal activity: Police officers are often told to be on the lookout for suspects — accused of serious felonies — who are armed and dangerous, and are therefore threats to public safety.

    What’s far less common are instances in which elected officials suggest being armed and dangerous is a good thing. The Charlotte Observer reported:

    Following a not-guilty verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn offered the 18-year-old an internship and told people on Instagram to “be armed, be dangerous and be moral.” … On Instagram, Cawthorn said in a video: “Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my friends. You have a right to defend yourselves. Be armed, be dangerous and be moral.”

    To be sure, Cawthorn was not the only GOP official in a celebratory mood after a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on Friday. He was, however, the only member of Congress who thought it’d be a good idea to encourage his allies to be both “armed” and “dangerous.”

    The fact that the congressman added “moral” to the mix did not negate the importance of the other adjectives.

    What’s more, this wasn’t the first example of Cawthorn raising eyebrows with the language of violence. […]

  75. says

    Fox News Contributors Call It Quits Over Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 Propaganda

    […] Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, two longtime contributors on Fox News who were fine with the misinformation the network has peddled up until now, announced yesterday on their right-wing media site that they’re leaving Fox because “the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible.”

    Hayes and Goldberg pointed directly at Tucker Carlson’s Fox Nation “documentary” on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that fully aims to whitewash the events of that day. The ex-contributors called it a “collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions.”

    Carlson’s documentary is just the worst example of a “longstanding trend” of Fox twisting facts to suit Trump’s agenda, Hayes and Goldberg wrote.

  76. says

    Donald Trump Jr. Promoted Giving a New AR-15 to Kyle Rittenhouse

    […] Trump Jr. wasted no time following the verdict, going on Twitter to amplify a far-right gun group’s campaign to send Rittenhouse a free rifle as a sort of congratulatory award.

    “Gun Owners of America is sending Kyle Rittenhouse an AR-15. Sign the card in support of Kyle,” Trump Jr. wrote in a since-deleted tweet, urging his 7.1 million followers to add their name to a virtual card showing their appreciation of Rittenhouse. The gun lobbying group had stated that the AR-15 was a “thank you” gift to Rittenhouse “for being a warrior for gun owners and self defense rights across the country!” In another tweet, Trump Jr. shared an article that referred to Rittenhouse as a “badass” for the “near flawless” way he handled his gun on the night he shot three people. “Worth the read,” Trump Jr. wrote. […]

  77. says

    Coronavirus update:

    […] Daily COVID-19 cases rose by 29 percent in the past 14 days with the country reporting more than 93,000 cases per day.

    White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned of a possible spike in coronavirus cases as the U.S. heads into the winter months.

    Fauci told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that people moving indoors, waning vaccine-born immunity, and millions of unvaccinated Americans creates a potentially dangerous situation.

    “And that results in the dynamic of virus in the community that not only is dangerous and makes people who are unvaccinated vulnerable, but it also spills over into the vaccinated people, because no vaccine is 100 percent effective,” Fauci said. […]


  78. says

    Followup to comment 82.

    Poll shows Sinema’s popularity dropping further among Arizona Democrats

    Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) could be in serious trouble with Democratic voters when she goes up for reelection in 2024.

    Too fucking late to save our democracy.

    A new Arizona Public Opinion Pulse conducted by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights found that nearly three-quarters of Arizona Democratic voters — 72 percent — want a Democrat other than Sinema as their U.S. senator. Only 26 percent say they would prefer Sinema.

    That finding bears out when Sinema’s strength is tested against a handful of potential primary rivals.

    In a hypothetical primary match-up, Sinema trails Rep. Ruben Gallego 24 percent to 47 percent, according to the poll. Rep. Greg Stanton leads Sinema by a similar margin, while state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman holds a 20-point edge over Sinema.

    “Sen. Sinema’s growing unpopularity with voters from within her own party could prove fatal in 2024 when she will have to ask for Democrats’ support for re-nomination,” Mike Noble, the chief of research at OH Predictive Insights, said. […]

  79. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 82

    It’s already well past midnight, and dawn is rising on our new, hellish, fascist future.

  80. stroppy says

    Lynna, OM @85

    IOW, “responsible” propaganda is 1% less obvious than 100%, unadulterated Fox-pucky. Such discriminating taste rises to the level of true connoisseurship.

  81. says

    Trump wants to hide pandemic information from Congress, too

    Team Trump isn’t just trying to hide Jan. 6 information from Congress, it’s also trying to hide information about the federal response to Covid-19.

    […] There’s also a House select panel investigating the Covid-19 crisis and the government’s response to the pandemic. […] Bloomberg News reported over the weekend:

    Former President Donald Trump told his former White House trade adviser to defy a House committee that subpoenaed him in a probe into the Trump administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “The Communist Democrats are engaging in yet another Witch Hunt, this time going after my Administration’s unprecedented and incredible coronavirus response,” the former president said in a strange written statement. “I’m telling Peter Navarro to protect executive privilege and not let these unhinged Democrats discredit our great accomplishments.”

    For now, let’s not dwell on the fact that Team Trump’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, in reality, was neither “incredible” nor “great.” Let’s also skip past the points that Democrats aren’t communists and examining how well officials responded to a pandemic is not a “witch hunt.”

    […] Vanity Fair reported a few years ago that in 2016, then-candidate Trump directed Jared Kushner to help bolster his views on China. His son-in-law went to, where he was struck by the title of one book, ‘Death by China,’ co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro, a well-known trade-deficit hawk, who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser.”

    […] for reasons that went unexplained, Trump tapped Navarro to serve on the White House Coronavirus Taskforce — where he picked strange fights in the Situation Room over hydroxychloroquine.

    Not surprisingly, the panel investigating the response to the pandemic wants to chat with Navarro. When he refused to cooperate voluntarily, the select subcommittee, chaired by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, subpoenaed the former trade adviser, directing him to produce relevant materials and appear for a deposition in December.

    Navarro said late last week that he intended to defy the subpoena and would instead provide congressional investigators a copy of his book. It was a day later when Trump directed his former adviser to “protect executive privilege.”

    […] It’s possible that Navarro believes congressional subpoenas are optional and there are no consequences for ignoring them. The example of Steve Bannon, however, should probably give the former White House adviser pause.

  82. says

    Oh, shit.

    Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, formally approved his state’s partisan congressional district map on Saturday. Thanks to GOP abuses, Republican state policymakers are likely to win 12 of Ohio’s 15 seats — 80 percent of the power — despite receiving roughly 54 percent of the statewide vote.

    Associated Press link

  83. says

    Yes, some of the January 6 insurrectionists were armed with guns:

    A Jan. 6 defendant who’s been charged with illegally possessing a loaded firearm at the Capitol gave a chilling portrait of his intentions when he allegedly broke into the building that day, according to a newly unsealed filing in the case.

    A complaint by a special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police stated that a USCP officer spotted a gun fall out of the waistband of an insurrectionist who allegedly attacked him at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The gun was traced to Mark Mazza of Shelbyville, Indiana, who had reported the firearm as stolen to local authorities three days after the attack, according to the complaint.

    Mazza admitted during an interview in March that he had lied in his initial report, and that he had omitted the fact that he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, the complaint stated.

    During the interview, Mazza mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), saying he “never did get to talk to Nancy … I thought Nan and I would hit it off.”

    “And I was glad I didn’t because you’d be here for another reason,” Mazza added.

    Then he insisted he wasn’t violent.

    “I’m nonviolent,” Mazza said. “I’m a patriot, and it pisses me off to see where we’re at.”

    Mazza also told investigators that he had attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.

    The complaint included several images from Mazza’s social media accounts and Capitol surveillance cameras that purportedly show him attempting to break into the Capitol with the rest of the mob of Trump supporters and attacking police officers.

    Mazza has been charged with disrupting Congress, obstructing the grand jury investigation into the insurrection, assaulting federal officers and carrying a firearm in D.C. without a license. […]


    Sure, “nonviolent,” … not so much. He wanted to shoot Nancy Pelosi.

  84. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Supreme Court leaves unconstitutional Texas abortion ban in place for at least another week

    The Supreme Court issued one ruling Monday, a unanimous decision in an interstate groundwater dispute, and nothing else. That means one more week will pass in which pregnant Texans are denied their constitutional right to a safe, legal medical procedure. The Court is still leaving SB8, the Texas law that bans the procedure after six weeks of gestation for all but the most limited of cases—a medical emergency, in place. Another week will pass in which desperate Texans will have to figure out how to scrape up the resources and time to travel out of state to get an abortion and have to figure out where to go.

    Some have the resources and the help, and it’s still a gut-wrenching experience. Like the woman who wrote an open letter, as yet unpublished, “To the Male Politicians Controlling My Uterus.” The 30-year old Texan talked about her ordeal to the Austin American-Statesman, about finding out the fetus she was carrying and wanted had an aggressive case of a rare chromosomal disorder, Turner’s Syndrome. Fluid was filling its vital organs, and by 20 weeks, its heart would be filled and stopped. If she carried it, she would have a stillbirth. Or she could travel out of state and have the abortion.

    Out of compassion for the fetus inside her body, out of compassion for herself, she decided to have the abortion. She had to leave her home, her state, to get the health care she needed and has a constitutional right to.

    “We had gotten four doctors to confirm that if I had continued with the pregnancy, it would have caused suffering for the baby,” she told the paper. “I don’t understand in what world that would be okay.” At 12 weeks, fluid was already building up in the fetus’ neck, reaching the brain and lungs. She and her husband talked to a genetic counselor. “She said at this phase, about 12 weeks, it was the most intense case that she’d ever seen,” she said of the counselor. “In retrospect, I do feel really grateful for the clarity that we got there. … She said, ‘I’m going to help you, and we’re going to talk about every option possible […]

    None of her doctors were willing to attest that she was experiencing a medical emergency, the one exception to SB8. They are too concerned about being taken to court by a bounty hunter, a “concerned citizen” who would sue them for “aiding and abetting” what the state has unilaterally deemed an illegal procedure. “It felt like everyone was supportive of my decision, all of the medical personnel that we worked with, but they didn’t want to get involved. They didn’t even want to potentially open the conversation of, ‘Is this something we can file as an exemption?’”

    […] She was lucky in that she has no other children to worry about caring for on a trip out of state, the resources to secure the procedure, and family to stay with in California, where she got the abortion. She, and others who have taken the same path know how privileged they are.

    A Texas woman who suspected she was pregnant early, but not early enough, traveled 1,500 miles for her abortion. She told People magazine that she felt she had an “immense privilege.”

    “I have the luxury of time and a job that was understanding. That played a huge role in making this possible. […] I have the resources and ability to travel out of state to get an abortion, and a lot of people will not. […]

    Kathaleen Pittman, the clinic administrator [in Shreveport, Louisiana], said that before the law was enacted in Texas, about 20% of her clients were from the state, but now it’s 60%. She told AP she had recently spoken to a Texas mother whose 13-year-old daughter had been raped and was pregnant. There isn’t an exception for that in the law. “She’s a child,” Pittman said. “She should not have to be on the road for hours getting here. It is absolutely heartbreaking.”

    […] population size is the issue—Texas had something like 56,000 abortions provided in 2019, compared to 10,000 in Colorado and 2,700 in New Mexico. “That’s an order of magnitude difference … that’s a tall order to absorb all of that patient volume. We’re all working every day to try to meet that need, but it certainly is impacting wait time and availability.” Vicki Cowart, the president and CEO of PPRM, said, “I want to be clear, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains will do everything we can to serve the patients who turn to our region for care.”

    “We are working overtime to do this. But with numbers like these, that won’t be enough. There will be patients who simply cannot access care, and that is the core of the injustice created by Senate Bill 8.”

    It’s an injustice perpetuated by the Supreme Court.

    […] This Supreme Court has already taken abortion away from tens of thousands of people, and they’re not finished yet. Republicans aren’t going to play nice.

  85. says


    “[…] CBS gave Ted Cruz time to spew 2020 election denial and bullshit talking points without pushback from Margaret Brennan. […]

    On NBC’s Meet The Press, Chuck Todd gave North Dakota GOP Senator Kevin Cramer space to make excuses for Kyle Rittenhouse.

    […] On “Fox News Sunday,” Bret Baier took his turn in the “rehabilitate Chris Christie” tour. ”

    Dana Bash is trending, I’d like to weigh in on this pathetic excuse for journalism. It’s the kind of crap that makes my blood boil. She’s letting that con rebrand himself from former guy flunky, to “cool, tough, Jersey fighter”. And that’s bullsh*t.



    See also:

    Ted Cruz, a literal insurrectionist, was invited on @FaceTheNation yesterday to face the super accountable questions like “will you run for president” and “sounds like you’ve got a good campaign slogan”

  86. says

    Followup to comments 80 and 81.

    Five killed at Wisconsin parade by driver allegedly fleeing a knife fight are identified.

    Washington Post link

    Law enforcement identified a suspect who allegedly drove through a Christmas parade after fleeing from a knife fight in Waukesha, Wis., on Sunday, killing at least five people and injuring at least 48 — a violent end to a festive scene where children danced in the street and a marching band played “Jingle Bells.”

    A law enforcement official told The Washington Post that suspect Darrell E. Brooks, Jr., 39, was at the scene of a reported knife fight, then sped away in the red SUV when police arrived at that scene. Brooks was allegedly behind the wheel when it drove into the parade route. Authorities identified Brooks as the “lone subject” during a Monday afternoon news conference, adding he “drove right through the barricades and the officers” at the scene.

    Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson identified the four women and one man killed as 52-year-olds Tamara Durand and Jane Kulich; LeAnna Owen, 71; Virginia Sorenson, 79; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.

    […] Police are referring five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, with additional charges possible “based on the investigation. But those will come in time,” Thompson said during a Monday afternoon news conference.

    He said 48 people were injured, including 2 children in critical condition — but that number could still rise.

    Officials did not comment on a possible motive. The FBI said it was assisting local authorities in the investigation.

    The law enforcement official told The Post that Brooks has a number of prior criminal arrests, but investigators have not yet found anything tying the vehicular violence to any sort of terrorism or ideology. So far, it appears his main intent was to escape the police at the prior incident, the official said.

    […] Officials said that 22 patients were transported by fire crews to six area hospitals. Additional people were transported to medical facilities by the police and bystanders. One hospital said Monday that 18 children had been brought to its emergency department alone.

    […] By the morning after the parade, only some of the prior night’s chaos had been cleared. The trail of stray gloves, overturned chairs and abandoned drinkware grew denser the closer to Barstow Street, while Lollipops and wrapped candy were still scattered on the grassy parkway where families had gathered hours earlier for the parade themed “Comfort and Joy.” An image from the aftermath showed a jogging stroller, decorated with red and silver tinsel, now abandoned and missing a wheel.

    […] Court records appear to show that Brooks had a lengthy criminal record, including a case filed earlier this month alleging battery, domestic abuse and recklessly endangering safety. According to the court records, he pleaded not guilty and posted cash bond. He was ordered not to possess any dangerous weapons, including firearms. […]

    injuries ranged from facial abrasions and broken bones to “serious head injuries,” the hospital said. Hospital officials said 10 patients were admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.

    Three sets of siblings are currently hospitalized at the facility. […]

  87. says

    Associated Press:

    More than 90% of federal workers received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday’s deadline set by President Joe Biden…. In all, more than 95% of federal workers are in compliance with the Biden mandate, the official said, either by being vaccinated or having requested an exemption.

  88. says

    Washington Post:

    While Trump administration officials argued that moving the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] West would put employees closer to the lands they manage — primarily located in 12 Western states — current and former employees have described how, in fact, the move derailed the agency by breaking up teams that once worked closely together and scattered people across several Western cities. Most of those ordered to move West chose to quit or retire rather than accept new jobs.

  89. says


    Now, as Covid cases climb once again, more companies are putting aside carrots and turning to sticks in an effort to protect their workers. From Utah grocery chain Harmons to Wall Street banking giant JPMorgan Chase, companies are telling their unvaccinated workers to get the shots or pay more for health insurance.

  90. says

    Followup to comment 96.

    […] earlier this month Brooks was arrested for intentionally running over a woman in a gas station parking lot after chasing her to the gas station after a fight. Brooks posted a $1,000 bond for the attack at the gas station and was released from the Milwaukee County Jail on November 16th, last Tuesday.

    And just to confirm that you did read that right: Brooks was released on bail less than a week earlier for intentionally running over someone else.

    The Milwaukee County DA released a statement today in which he called the $1,000 bail “inappropriately low.” […]

  91. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 96 & 100

    The fascists over at the Washington Examiner are claiming that a “BLM activist” says that the Waukesha incident was retaliation for the Rittenhouse verdict.

  92. says

    Trump said the Jan. 6 rioters posed “zero threat.” Ron Johnson said they weren’t really “armed.” Reality tells a different story.

    When much of the Republican Party decided to rewrite the history of the Jan. 6 attack, partisans tried to recast the rioters as harmless “tourists.” It’s a foundational claim: If the insurrectionists weren’t dangerous, then the assault on the Capitol was little more than a messy spectacle. And if the assault was unimportant, then there’s no need for investigations, indictments, and so on.

    It’s why Donald Trump insisted in late March that the rioters posed “zero threat” to anyone on Jan. 6. A month earlier, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin dismissed the idea that the attackers were part of an “armed insurrection,” because as far as he was concerned, the rioters weren’t actually “armed.”

    Reality tells a different story.

    Even when folks like Trump and Johnson made these claims, they were clearly mistaken. Not only was the mob armed with bats, clubs, and flag poles, The Associated Press pointed to court filings in February that said rioters were caught with guns, bombs, stun guns, and other weapons.

    But as the year progressed, similar reports came to the fore. We learned in May, for example, about a Justice Department indictment alleging that Christopher Alberts carried a semi-automatic handgun onto the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. As Politico reported yesterday, new allegations are among the most serious to date.

    An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm to the Capitol on Jan. 6 told investigators that if he had found Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “you’d be here for another reason,” according to court documents posted over the weekend…. In this case, [Mark Mazza] allegedly carried a Taurus revolver known as “The Judge,” which is capable of firing shotgun shells — two of which were in the chamber, along with three hollow-point bullets. A Capitol Police sergeant obtained the weapon after allegedly fending off an assault from Mazza.

    And what did this 56-year-old Indiana man intend to do with the handgun capable of firing shotgun shells? According to the newly filed court documents, Mazza was apparently prepared to shoot the Speaker of the House.

    In fact, the accused seems to have been quite forthcoming about his intentions. When Capitol Police investigators visited Mazza at his home in March, he not only acknowledged his attendance on Jan. 6, he also said he intended to have a confrontation with Nancy Pelosi.

    “I thought Nan and I would hit it off,” Mazza said. “I was glad I didn’t because you’d be here for another reason and I told my kids that if they show up, I’m surrendering, nope they can have me, because I may go down a hero.”

    As Rachel emphasized on last night’s show, the accused didn’t say this in some encrypted forum that law enforcement just gained access to — this guy apparently said it out loud to investigators who showed up at his house.

    This is the same man who also allegedly assaulted a police officer during the assault on the Capitol. Politico’s report noted that it was during the violence that a Capitol Police sergeant “obtained the weapon after allegedly fending off an assault from Mazza.” Law enforcement then used the gun and traced it back to its owner.

    The article added:

    Though reports of rioters charged with carrying firearms have been limited, the number has been steadily climbing. A former DEA agent brandished his service weapon outside the Capitol. A Texas man was charged with bringing a handgun as well. Leaders of the Oath Keepers charged with conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 election aren’t facing firearms charges, but prosecutors have pieced together evidence suggesting they kept a stockpile of weapons at a hotel in nearby Arlington, Va.

    It’s against this backdrop that Trump told the public that the rioters posed “zero threat” and Ron Johnson questioned whether the attackers were “armed.”


  93. says

    Some of the attorneys who wasted everyone’s time with baseless pro-Trump, anti-election litigation are now facing meaningful consequences.

    It’s no secret that in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat, conspiracy-minded lawyers filed misguided lawsuits, hoping to help the former president. It’s also no secret that those cases failed spectacularly.

    What’s less known is the fact that the demise of those cases was not the final word on the subject. On the contrary, some of the attorneys who wasted everyone’s time with baseless litigation are now facing meaningful consequences.

    In Michigan, for example, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and the city of Detroit sought penalties against nine attorneys — a group that includes prominent Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood — who filed an absurd anti-election case last December. A few months ago, a federal judge agreed and sanctioned the conspiratorial lawyers.

    U.S. District Judge Linda Parker concluded in August, “[D]espite the haze of confusion, commotion and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: Plaintiffs’ attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way. As such, the court is duty-bound to grant the motions for sanctions.”

    As The Washington Post reported, there’s a similar story unfolding in Colorado.

    A federal judge has ordered two Colorado lawyers who filed a lawsuit late last year challenging the 2020 election results to pay nearly $187,000 to defray the legal fees of groups they sued, arguing that the hefty penalty was proper to deter others from using frivolous suits to undermine the democratic system.

    Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter wrote, “As officers of the Court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government.”

    He added, “They are experienced lawyers who should have known better. They need to take responsibility for their misconduct.”

    […] Yesterday, as the Post’s report explained, the federal jurist went further, ordering the Colorado lawyers to pay nearly $187,000. Neureiter defended the severity of the penalties by pointing to “the severity of the violation” and because the lawyers had solicited donations from the “arguably innocent and gullible public” to fund their suit.

    […] There may very well be some who believe there’s no harm in filing frivolous anti-election litigation. Even if they expect the cases to fail, lawyers may assume they’ll raise some money, get some exposure in conservative media, and take their chances before a judge.

    The more attorneys face serious sanctions for such efforts, the fewer cases we’re likely to see.


  94. says

    As Texas’ Louie Gohmert eyes a new office, it’s as if he’s passing the torch to a new generation of outlandish members of Congress.

    The state attorney general’s race in Texas was already generating national attention. Incumbent Republican Ken Paxton is seeking a third term, despite the fact that he was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him.

    His leading primary rival is George P. Bush, who embarrassed himself trying to curry favor with Donald Trump, despite the former president’s attacks against the Bush family, only to see Trump endorse Paxton anyway.

    Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the contest became even more complicated.

    Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert announced Monday that he is running for attorney general of Texas, throwing his hat in the ring for what’s expected to be one of the most closely watched state races in 2022.

    […] Time will tell, of course, who emerges from the crowded primary in Texas, but yesterday’s news appears to carry a larger significance: Louie Gohmert, a ridiculous congressional fixture for the last 17 years, is apparently ready to exit Capitol Hill.

    For those of us who’ve marveled at the Republican lawmaker’s capacity for making utterly bonkers comments, this is no small development. Capitol Hill watchers have come to expect “Gohmert Hour” on a regular basis: The congressman is known for giving strange special-order speeches on the House floor after legislative business for the day has wrapped up, and those speeches have repeatedly featured Gohmert’s often laughable ideas on a great many subjects.

    As a result, the Texas Republican has earned an unfortunate reputation as one of Congress’ least respected members. His greatest hits package is far too lengthy to reference here, but just off the top of my head, I’m reminded of the time he suggested addressing climate change by moving Earth’s moon. And his fear of “terror babies.” And the time he compared opponents of marriage equality to the victims of Nazi atrocities.

    And his willingness to raise the prospect of violence in response to his conspiracy theories about Donald Trump’s defeat. […] As Gohmert eyes a new office, it’s as if he’s passing the torch to a new generation of outlandish members of Congress.

  95. says

    Jim Jordan Still Isn’t Sure How Many Times He Spoke To Trump On Jan. 6

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) continues to act like he’s being ambushed anytime he’s pressed on details of his conversations with […] Trump on Jan. 6.

    In an interview with Spectrum News last week, Jordan was asked whether he had checked exactly how many times he spoke with Trump that day and when those conversations occurred, as the timing could be a crucial component of congressional investigators’ interest in their insurrection day interactions.

    “Nope,” Jordan said.

    Jordan also wouldn’t commit to cooperating with the Jan. 6 select committee if the panel subpoenaed or requested anything from him.

    “Depends what it is,” Jordan said. “I mean, I’m not going to answer hypothetical questions, but I just think this is a complete sham, what these guys are doing.”

    Jordan also dismissed the possibility of sharing phone records with the committee if asked.

    “Same response I gave you before,” Jordan said. “This is a total political committee.”

    This isn’t the first time Jordan — a top Trump ally who helped challenge Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Jan. 6 — has done anything but clear up lingering questions about his whereabouts and conversations on the day of the Capitol insurrection.

    In the past several months, Jordan has gotten attention for his noncommittal responses when asked about how many times and when he had spoken to Trump on Jan. 6.

    During an interview on Fox News in July, Jordan gave a meandering response to questions about his conversations with Trump and struggled to answer how many times he was in touch with the former president on that day.

    “I mean — I’ve talked to the President so many — I can’t remember all the days I’ve talked to him, but I’ve certainly talked to the President,” Jordan told Fox News in July.

    A month later, Jordan wouldn’t confirm to Politico whether he had at least one additional phone call with Trump as the deadly Capitol insurrection unfolded. Last August, Politico reported that after a group of lawmakers evacuated the House chamber and took shelter in a safe room on Jan. 6, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) joined Jordan on a call with Trump to urge the then-President to tell his supporters to stand down.

    Jordan told Politico at the time that he’d “have to think about it” when asked to confirm the call he shared with Gaetz, citing many conversations he had on Jan. 6. Jordan reportedly said phone calls to Trump occurred more than once on the day that a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol as Trump refused to concede the election.

    “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 Playbook.

    Fast forward to last month, when during a House Rules Committee hearing Jordan still couldn’t get his story straight about whether he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6 and when that might have happened.

    “I talked to the President after the attack,” Jordan said during the hearing last month, with exasperation: “I’ve been clear about that.”

    Jordan also refuted Politico’s report on him speaking to Trump during the insurrection.

    “During?” Jordan said last month. “No, I did not speak to the President during the attack.” […]

  96. says

    Donors to the Republican National Committee (RNC) might believe that their dollars are going to support congressional campaigns in 2022 or creating a war chest for the next GOP presidential candidate in 2024. But a lot of those dollars are being spent right now on something that most contributors might not expect: Donald Trump’s legal costs. Trump, who is neither a holder of any office nor an announced candidate for any race, is collecting six-figure payments from the RNC to cover the cost of legal fees.

    That’s a highly unusual, and possibly unique, situation all on its own. However, as The Washington Post reports, the payments being made to Trump aren’t even connected to his ongoing efforts to withhold information from the House Select Committee on Jan. 6. The payments aren’t even in connection to Trump’s long-running effort to block the House Ways and Means Committee’s legal right to see his tax returns. The RNC has actually paid out at least $121,670 to a law firm trying to protect Trump from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James in their criminal investigation of Trump’s financial activities in New York.

    It’s astounding evidence of how the Republican Party currently serves as a front for Trump—and it comes as The Washington Post is also reporting an expansion into the investigation of Trump’s endless grifting.

    In 2018, Donald Trump was forced to fold his family foundation for “persistent illegal activity.” Included in that activity was repeated use of the foundation to act as a slush fund for Trump’s legal issues, including paying off a suit related to a lost golf bet. That same foundation was also used as a source of funds for Trump’s campaign, as well as a means of funneling money back to Trump through payments to one of his 500+ companies.

    Now it appears that the RNC has replaced the foundation as Trump’s all-purpose source of cash. In an interview with Bloomberg, the attorney involved made it clear he was being paid “to represent Donald Trump,” not in any official capacity, but as an individual. Bloomberg calls these payments “likely legal under FEC precedents.” That’s because while the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has enforced rules against candidates using their own campaign funds for personal expenses, there is no history of such payments coming from a party committee.

    The job of that attorney is only getting bigger as it’s now clear Trump is being investigated for one of his most conspicuous abuses of the system: inflating the price of his properties when reporting their worth to obtain loans and investments, then drastically reducing their reported worth when paying his taxes. […]


    The RNC is paying Trump’s personal legal fees for crimes he allegedly committed before he was even a candidate for president. Trump has thoroughly conned the RNC.

  97. blf says

    To just about nobody’s surprise, in teh “U”K, Post-Brexit scheme to lure Nobel winners to UK fails to attract single applicant:

    Programme to allow those with prestigious global prizes to get fast-track visas dismissed as ‘elitist’ and a ‘joke’

    A post-Brexit scheme to draw the world’s most celebrated academics and other leading figures to the UK has failed to attract a single applicant in the six months since it opened, it has been reported.

    The visa route open to Nobel laureates and other prestigious global prize winners in the fields of science, engineering, humanities and medicine — among others — was described as a joke by experts after ministers admitted its failure to garner any interest.

    “Chances that a single Nobel or Turing laureate would move to the UK to work are zero for the next decade or so,” the Nobel prize winner Andre Geim told New Scientist magazine, which first reported the news.

    The University of Manchester academic, who was awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 2010 for his work on graphene, added: “The scheme itself is a joke — it cannot be discussed seriously. The government thinks if you pump up UK science with a verbal diarrhoea of optimism — it can somehow become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”


    “Frankly, having precisely zero people apply for this elitist scheme doesn’t surprise me at all,” the magazine quoted Jessica Wade, a leading scientist at Imperial College London, as saying. “UK scientists’ access to European funding is uncertain, we’re not very attractive to European students as they have to pay international fees, our pensions are being cut and scientific positions in the UK are both rare and precarious.”


    For comparison, France also has a(? several?) scheme to attract scientists, but it’s neither elitist nor a joke — and has worked, French president’s climate talent search nabs 18 foreign scientists (December 2017):

    [… M]ore than 1800 scientists to express initial interest in applying. “I think it’s hard to find too many downsides to living in Paris for a little while,” [Cornell University’s Louis Derry] says.

    Ultimately, 450 researchers were deemed eligible to apply for the grants, and 255 submitted applications. Ninety were then invited to submit proposals in collaboration with a French institution. The French National Research Agency ultimately received 57 proposals, which were reviewed by a nine-member international panel chaired by Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, UK. The proposals were “high quality and in cutting-edge fields,” Le Quéré says.

    That particular French scheme was set-up in response to hair furor’s tantrum at the Paris Climate Accord, and was largely targeting environmental / climate scientists in the States. I do not know if the scheme is still running, or how many in total have been accepted to-date (the 18 quoted above was the very first tranche).

  98. blf says

    Queue the nanoviolin (singular, and preferably out of tune), Seven doctors contract Covid after attending Florida anti-vaccine summit:

    Seven anti-vaccine doctors fell sick after gathering earlier this month for a Florida “summit” at which alternative treatments [sic] for Covid-19 were discussed.

    I have been on ivermectin for 16 months, my wife and I, Dr[quack] Bruce Boros told the audience at the event held at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, adding: I have never felt healthier in my life.

    The 71-year-old cardiologist and staunch anti-vaccine advocate contracted Covid-19 two days later, according to the head event organizer, Dr[quack] John Littell.

    Littell, an Ocala family physician, also told the Daily Beast six other doctors among 800 to 900 participants at the event also tested positive or developed Covid-19 symptoms “within days of the conference”.

    Littell raised the suggestion the conference was therefore a super-spreader event but rejected it, vehemently saying: No.

    I think they had gotten it from New York or Michigan or wherever they were from, he told the Beast. It was really the people who flew in from other places.

    [… S]ources close to Boros said he was gravely ill at his Key West home.


    Boros has claimed ivermectin is working where it’s being used around the world as a Covid treatment.

    In the same Facebook post, he condemned Dr Anthony Fauci […] as a fraud and said big pharma is playing us for suckers.

    In a July interview with Florida Keys Weekly, Boros responded to criticisms of his post, saying: It breaks my heart that a town like this has made something so political and hateful. What’s wrong with people? I just want to help patients and keep them from dying[make lots of money, which you cannot do with a free vaccine that is safe and effective].

    He also claimed that he gave a seriously ill Covid-19 patient ivermectin and within six hours he was talking without coughing.

    At the summit in Ocala, Boros criticized his 97-year-old father for getting a Covid vaccine, saying: He had been brainwashed … He got it. He didn’t tell me. I was very upset. I wanted to give him a spanking. He got both jabs.


    Full congratulations to quack Boros’ father for being double-jabbed (presuming teh quack isn’t lying).

  99. blf says

    In Germany, Carnival photos add to woe of coach accused of faking Covid pass:

    A German football [soccer] coach who resigned over allegations that he forged his vaccine certificate has drawn condemnation and derision after it emerged that he attended a carnival party this month that was exclusive to people who had received the jab or recovered from the virus.

    Markus Anfang announced his resignation as the head coach of German second division club Werder Bremen on Saturday morning after the state prosecutor in the northern city revealed there were doubts about the authenticity of the document supposedly proving the 47-year-old had received two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.


    When Anfang joined Werder Bremen in the summer, he said he had not yet had the chance to be vaccinated but would soon do so. In August the club checked on his vaccination status after one of its players tested positive for Covid, and told him to quarantine after it emerged he had not yet received a jab.

    When another Bremen player tested positive in November, Anfang was suddenly able to brandish a certificate supposedly proving he had been vaccinated twice — first in April and then in June.

    The location and timing in the document aroused suspicion. Anfang claimed to have received his first dose in Cologne on the same day his then club Darmstadt played a match in Würzburg, 200 miles south-east of the city.

    The batch number on the certificate could not be matched to the central database, and the vaccination centre in Cologne said it had no records of Anfang’s visit, the senior public prosecutor Frank Passade told the Werder Bremen news portal DeichStube.


    Shortly after the Bremen coach’s resignation on Saturday morning, football fans reacted with mockery. At that afternoon’s match against Schalke 04, visiting supporters chanted “Markus Anfang no longer has a vaccine pass” to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s song Heaven is a Place on Earth.

    However, the mood changed on Monday when several German media outlets published pictures showing Anfang at a carnival party on 11 November wearing a chef’s costume. In keeping with new restrictions in several regions around Germany, the Cologne carnival event was held under so-called “2G” rules, meaning only those who had been vaccinated or recovered from the virus could attend.

    “His visit to the carnival in the middle of the pandemic is absolutely irresponsible”, wrote the tabloid Bild. “It doesn’t get more brazen that that, Mr Anfang!”


  100. says

    The ironic spectacle of Kyle Rittenhouse’s Tucker Carlson interview

    Days after his acquittal and as protests continued, he likened his jail cell to “a one-star hotel” and lashed out at the American legal system.

    Ever since Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two men and injured a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during racial justice demonstrations last year, legions of conservatives and far-right extremists have celebrated an 18-year-old as both a hero and a victim. Soon after receiving a “not guilty” verdict last Friday, Rittenhouse attempted to take part in his own beatification.

    […] Rittenhouse appeared in his first national television interview on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight after a Wisconsin jury acquitted him on all charges in the August 2020 shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injury of Gaige Grosskreutz. […]

    the court proceedings were often deeply unserious, starting with Judge Bruce Schroeder declaring that the attorneys in the case were not allowed to refer to Rittenhouse’s victims as “victims.” […]

    Contrary to that weepy court testimony, Rittenhouse mostly spoke with a calm voice as he swung at Carlson’s softballs. The host did his utmost to center Rittenhouse’s trauma and pain, teeing him up to lash out at President Joe Biden and invoke incorporeal forces like a “mob mentality” that he blamed for his legal plight.

    His guest also said that he supported Black Lives Matter and that those committing violence during the demonstrations following Jacob Blake’s shooting by Kenosha police were “opportunist, taking advantage of the BLM movement.”

    It was odd to hear Rittenhouse say that, particularly in the middle of a Fox News interview. Stating one’s social-justice bonafides serves, for white liberals, to signify allyship. But for conservatives or people playing to that audience’s sympathies, doing so is often a move to seek cover from charges of racism. The resurgence of extremist, white supremacist violence and intimidation during the last several years has been, in their view, an act of self-defense.

    How, then, in that context, are we to take it when we see Rittenhouse argue to Carlson, “It wasn’t Kyle Rittenhouse on trial in Wisconsin; it was the right of self-defense on trial”? When the same people who support Rittenhouse believe the country needs defending from people who aren’t white and don’t believe in defending Black lives, he can say he supports Black Lives Matter all he wants.

    […] True to his program’s formula, Carlson’s hour was devoted to stoking misguided cultural grievances on Rittenhouse’s behalf. Known for its reckless demagoguery and fabulism, Tucker Carlson Tonight regularly focuses on convincing his heavily white audience that they’re right to fear a society supposedly out to get them (and only them). Throughout the broadcast, the host promoted a forthcoming documentary about Rittenhouse’s trial […]

    Acquittal, in the Fox News arena, became absolution. “What a sweet boy,” Carlson remarked about the 18-year-old before a commercial break.

    It was the seventh anniversary of the day that an actual boy, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, was mistaken for a man by Cleveland police before an officer shot him dead. […]

    “I’m not a racist person,” Rittenhouse said […] He likely won’t dissuade his critics in the press and elsewhere who have labeled him a white supremacist, nor the self-identifying neo-Nazis celebrating his acquittal. More interesting, however, was how Rittenhouse described being affected by his time spent within American jurisprudence.

    Rittenhouse had already twice stated his support for the Black Lives Matter movement (which strongly rebuked him in a tweet about the interview) when he took note of the inequities and degradation he experienced while in jail.

    “I believe there needs to be change,” Rittenhouse said, “I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct — not just in my case, but in other cases. And it’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of somebody. If they did this to me, imagine what they could have done to a person of color who doesn’t maybe have the resources I do or isn’t widely publicized, like my case.”

    Rittenhouse spoke of a jail cell he likened to “a one-star hotel,” where he had a mobile phone and tablet, but allegedly no running water. He didn’t shower for nearly a month, he told Carlson. Though he complained of being pepper-sprayed in Kenosha, Rittenhouse spoke glowingly of law enforcement — even thanking the guards at his first jail and praising their professionalism. But he also detailed how he spent more than 80 days in jail due to a problem too many defendants have: incompetent counsel. His allies at the time included QAnon conspiracy theorist Lin Wood; Rittenhouse alleged Wood exploited his case after Wood sought to claw back money raised for Rittenhouse’s bail. […]

    […] Carlson’s only reference to the man whose shooting prompted the Kenosha protests where Rittenhouse fired on the three men was a baseless claim that “the media lies about the shooting of Jacob Blake.”

    […] it’s foolish to expect Carlson, known for his openly racist appeals to white grievances, to recognize what’s wrong with America without peering through the lens of victimhood.

    […] For all of Rittenhouse’s recognition of America’s faulty system of criminal punishment, the two still failed to acknowledge that it was the AR-15-style rifle he wielded that instigated the intimidation and harassment. Had they, the ridiculous spectacle on Fox News might have come close to having some worth.

  101. says

    Wonkette: “Seven Magnificent COVID Deniers Somehow Get COVID After Florida COVID Denial Conference”

    Earlier this month, a few hundred [people], including a number of actual MDs who should know better, held a gathering in Ocala, Florida, to gripe about how the COVID-19 virus is no reason to get all worried about things, because vaccines are useless and you should take the horse dewormer ivermectin instead.

    Do we need to repeat to you that it’s still useless in prevention or treatment of COVID? (Yes, yes, it’s used in humans to fight parasites and head lice. It’s also used against mange, so you can at least die with a glossy pelt.) They called the gathering the “Florida COVID Summit,” and because they either have no sense of irony at all, or the grimmest sense of humor, the confab was held at Ocala’s “World Equestrian Center.” [lol]

    Surprise, surprise! Dr. Bruce Boros, a retired cardiologist and one of the docs who proclaimed ivermectin a miracle preventative and cure at the conference, is now seriously ill with COVID-19, as are at least six others who attended it, the Daily Beast reports in the sort of follow-up to CovidCon that only seems inevitable. Boros, 71, fell ill just two days after the one-day conference.

    Also too, CovidPalooza ’21 organizer Dr. John Littell told reporter Michael Daly that while “people are considering if it was a superspreader event,” his own opinion is that it absolutely was not, and the only possible explanation is that all seven of the attendees who got sick must have been infected sometime before they arrived, for reasons. […]

    Fortunately, the people who got sick are taking extra doses of the useless miracle drug, and “Everybody so far has responded to treatment with ivermectin… Bruce is doing well.”

    At the conference, Boros explained that “I have been on ivermectin for 16 months, my wife and I, [and] I have never felt healthier in my life.”

    Daly reports that, as of his reporting, “Boros remained seriously ill at his Key West home, according to people who know him but who asked not to be identified.” The doctor didn’t return phone messages or emails, not even by tapping one hoof.

    […] The local paper said Boros had created a “Category 5 social media storm” with a post proclaiming Anthony Fauci a “fraud.”

    […] at the gathering of the Horse-alos this month, masks and social distancing were pretty much nonexistent.

    […] Boros was so convinced that ivermectin was a brilliant alternative to actually proven vaccines that he put his 97-year-old father, Carl Arfa, on it along with himself. His father, sensibly, then decided to get something proven to work against COVID: the vaccine.

    “He had been brainwashed,” Boros said at the summit. He recalled, “He got it. He didn’t tell me. I was very upset. I wanted to give him a spanking. He got both jabs.”

    Arfa caught the virus, which officials say is still spreading because so many people refused to get the vaccine. While the shot has proven to prevent serious illness and death in the overwhelming majority of those who get infected, Arfa—like some elderly patients or those with underlying health problems—became critically ill from COVID.

    Shortly before the Doctors Who Should Know Better summit began, Boros’s father died from the disease, so like any great clinician and son, Boros worried at the conference that it was the vaccine, not the virus, that killed him, and that maybe Arfa might have survived if Boros hadn’t stopped giving him useless deworming treatments when he found out Arfa had been vaccinated. […]

    “We’re seeing astronomical numbers of deaths in people that have been vaccinated, particularly the older people,” he said.

    In conclusion, this is all very sad and we’re glad that Mr. Arfa at least took the smartest course available to him, because it gave him a far better chance of survival than his weirdo son’s cockeyed ministrations would have, the end.

  102. blf says

    In Ozland, Liberal[LNP (Lunatic nazi party)] MP Gerard Rennick’s Facebook reposts on Covid vaccines could be dangerous, health expert says (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}; my added emboldening):

    Senator Gerard Rennick’s use of Facebook to push unverified stories about vaccine side-effects is potentially dangerous, a top health expert has warned, as fresh doubt is cast on the legitimacy of a story he helped promote.

    Rennick, an LNP senator, has vastly increased his Facebook following in recent months after posting a deluge of stories about the Covid-19 vaccine, which he concedes he does not know are true.

    On Tuesday Guardian Australia revealed that in one now deleted post, he boosted a letter falsely linking vaccines with still births from a “retired GP” as a credible source of information, despite her calling for the execution of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern over her government’s vaccination program four weeks earlier. Rennick said he was unaware of the woman’s comments about Ardern, and conceded he “should have” checked the source of the letter before sharing it.

    Rennick also conceded to Guardian Australia that he does not verify the accuracy of the dozens of third-party claims he has published about severe vaccine side-effects before publishing them, despite the posts being shared thousands of times among vaccine-hesitant groups online.

    In one example earlier this month, Rennick published an account from a woman which claimed she had developed severe neurological side-effects “caused” by her Pfizer vaccination.

    [… weird claims about this alleged case of side-effects…]

    [… T]he post has been cast in serious doubt thanks to a “clarification” from an online fundraising platform.


    “{Her} symptoms did start after receiving the Covid vaccine however her doctors have not yet conclusively determined if all her symptoms are a reaction to the vaccine or not — it was previously stated on the page that doctors had confirmed this,” the post from the company stated.

    The clarification raises serious questions about the claim in the post that the woman’s illness was caused by the vaccine, although there is no suggestion that the woman, her mother or the fundraisers have deliberately posted false information.

    [… Rennick’s] posts — which have variously linked vaccines to appendicitis, stutters, seizures, among other things — have frustrated health experts, who warn they are without evidence and threaten to undermine public confidence in the vaccine.


    The AusVaxSafety program conducts surveillance for vaccine injuries or side-effects in the Australian population. It has surveyed four million recipients.

    There was no evidence of vaccines causing appendicitis or stutters.


    West Australian president of the Australian Medical Association, Mark Duncan-Smith, the said posts about vaccination side-effects should be left up to the experts.

    He said it was crucial to remember that just because something happened after a vaccine, it was not necessarily caused by it.


    Asked whether his posts were dangerous, Rennick said it was his duty as a politician to present two sides of the story.


    Rennick said he accepted that not everything that happened after a vaccine was caused by it.

    But he said he was operating on the balance of probabilities, unlike the medical indemnity scheme.

    Medical doctors are saying you’ve got to conclusively prove that it was the vaccine, where I’m saying it should be the balance of probabilities, he said.

  103. blf says

    For fecks sake, Canadians End Up In ICU After Attending ‘Covid Party’ (Forbes edits in {curly braces}):

    Originally reported by City News Edmonton, partygoers at the event held around two weeks ago had supposedly attended the gathering with the specific intention of contracting Covid-19 to achieve natural immunity against the SARS-CoV2 virus, with “several” of them ending up in hospital including some in ICU in Edmonton.

    “I am demoralized and infuriated that people would intentionally add fuel to the inferno, risking onward transmission to others, and potentially landing in the ICU at a time when we have literally a handful of beds left for the entire province,” said Dr Ilan Schwartz, MD, PhD, an infectious diseases physician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta.

    For what should be obvious reasons, it is not recommended to achieve ‘immunity’ to the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus via natural infection. These reasons include the risk of being hospitalized with Covid-19, dying from Covid-19, experiencing the menagerie of chronic symptoms associated with “long Covid” and also transmitting the virus to others. None of these are a risk with immunity acquired via immunization with Covid-19 vaccines, which are widely available all over Canada and are free.


    A recent study [36% Of Those Who Had Covid-19 Didn’t Develop Antibodies, Study Says] found that over a third of people who recovered from Covid-19 did not have any detectable levels of antibodies in their blood with immunity gained after vaccination widely believed to be superior to than following infection with the virus.


    Although clearly unwise at any time, the timing of the misguided gathering could not be any worse for Alberta, which is experiencing a significant surge in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths after relaxing many pandemic control measures during the summer months. With the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in Canada, a state of public health emergency has been declared, with healthcare authorities creating extra spaces for ICU beds and freeing up extra staff by cancelling all other elective surgeries to cope, but this ‘surge capacity’ is quickly being depleted.

    “People’s cancer surgeries are being canceled because we cannot cope with the volume of patients needing ICU care, and they {the Covid party participants} are intentionally putting themselves and others in a position to use up those precious resources. Its unforgivable,” said Dr Schwartz.

    The province has recently brought in some further public health restrictions such as a ban on private gatherings for unvaccinated people with other households, vaccine passes to access non-essential businesses and the closure of the inside of bars and restaurants, irrespective of patron vaccination status. […]

    A snipped from the 5th September Forbes article about the lack of antibodies in people who have recovered from Covid-19 (link embedded in above excerpt):

    [… R]elying solely on supposed immune protection from a previous Covid-19 coronavirus infection could be like relying solely on a thong when going on a date or a job interview. The bottom line is that both can still leave you quite exposed, and the amount of exposure can vary quite a lot from person to person. [… A]nother reason to get vaccinated is that natural immunity differs from a smartphone. You don’t know how long it may last. In the case of the smartphone, the answer may be “one day after the warranty expires,” whereas the duration of protection offered by natural immunity may be all over the place. Even if you do have antibodies today, it is difficult to say how long such antibodies will remain present.

    By contrast, the Covid-19 vaccines offer a much more controlled and consistent amount of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. While person-to-person immune responses to the vaccine may vary as well, clinical trials are following thousands of people who have gotten the vaccines. Therefore, researchers can get a better idea of what kind of immune protection the vaccines may offer you and how long this may last. If you want to hold a rabbit rave, it may be much more effective to go to a pet store than to go to the woods with sign that says, “have carrots, let’s party.” Similarly, if you want immune protection against Covid-19, vaccination may be much more likely to give you what natural infection may or may not be able to offer.

  104. blf says

    More for feck’s sake, 2 Out Of 3 Americans Want A Vaccine Mandate For Domestic Air Travel, But Buttigieg Says It’s Not Going To Happen:

    Support for a domestic air travel vaccine mandate has remained strong and steady since summer, and has even ticked upward. In an early-August Harris Poll survey, 64% [now 66% –blf] of Americans supported introducing a vaccine passport for flying on an airplane. Those who “strongly supported” such an initiative outnumbered those who “somewhat supported” it by more than two to one.


    But over the weekend, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg threw cold water on such a mandate during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” When asked why there wasn’t a vaccine mandate for passengers flying domestically in the US, Buttigieg said that other strategies were highly effective, including mask requirements and vaccine mandates for travel industry workers, which is creating a very safe travel environment for Americans.

    WHO is advising a “vaccine-plus” strategy, that is, vaccines plus other measures (especially masks), not vague handwaving.

    What we’re doing right now is working to make air travel safe, insisted Buttigieg. Between the masking and the other mitigations, we’re very confident in the safety of air travel.

    Throughout much of the pandemic, US airline executives and airline union leaders[biological war advocates] argued that any additional Covid-19 restrictions for domestic flyers would be bad for business, resulting in fewer people willing to fly, and ultimately putting jobs at risk.

    Back in August, United CEO Scott Kirby told MSNBC that a mandate for domestic travel was logistically impractical […].

    Yet since November 8, US airlines have been vetting the Covid-19 vaccine credentials of travelers flying into the country.

    There is no national contact tracing program in place for airline passengers flying within the United States, and no way for Americans flying domestically to know whether they may have been exposed to a fellow passenger infected with Covid-19.

    Here in France, there is a national track-and-trace app, which is also the famous Health Pass, showing proof of full-vaccination (soon to include boosters). You must show it for many things, including long-distance travel (trains and all(?) flights). Vistors to France are not exempt (some foreign proof-of-vaccination is easy to convert into a Health Pass, others… not so much; the French Health Pass is compatible with the EU(-wide?) scheme).

    That is in stark contrast to Canada, where contact tracing information for travelers is readily available on a public database run by the Canadian government since the beginning of the pandemic. The data includes inbound and outbound international flights and all domestic flights within Canada.

    When Canadian health authorities receive a report that a recent traveler tested positive, the flight is entered into the database. This allows recent travelers to look up whether anyone on their flight tested positive so they can watch for symptoms. (Canadians can also check cruises and trains, too.)

    Currently, the Canadian database for international flights shows that during the five-day period from November 8 through November 12, at least eight flights originating in the United States carried passengers to Canada who later tested positive for Covid-19. These flights flew out of an array of US airports […] and were operated by [multiple airlines].

  105. says

    In an urgent measure to combat surging gas prices, President Biden has authorized the emergency release of oil from Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida.

    According to oil-industry experts, Gaetz has the third-largest supply of petroleum reserves in the world, less than Saudi Arabia but more than Canada.

    After tapping the oleaginous Gaetz, Biden said that crude from the Florida congressman could start flowing throughout the United States by the end of the week.

    Speaking at the White House, the President said that he regretted not authorizing the release of oil from Gaetz earlier. “This could solve our energy needs for decades,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  106. says

    Remember the headlines about the Build Back Better bill lowering taxes on millionaires? That was based on an analysis that turned out to be wrong.

    Sometimes, people make mathematical mistakes that reverberate in important ways. About a decade ago, for example, then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan used a prominent economic analysis to make the case for austerity measures. What the Wisconsin Republican didn’t realize is that the authors of the report made a coding error in an Excel spreadsheet.

    At the time, Kevin Drum called it the “Excel Error Heard Round the World.”

    Last year, members of Donald Trump’s White House team made projections about Covid-19 fatalities based on a “cubic fit” model they clearly did not understand.

    This year, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation recently released an analysis of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package and concluded that the Democrats’ plan would lower taxes on millionaires. It led to quite a bit of negative press for the legislation, with critics — including Republican lawmakers — pointing at the JCT findings as proof that the bill went too far to help those who didn’t need another tax break.

    Today, as NBC News reported, the Joint Committee on Taxation issued a correction.

    President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package would raise, not lower, taxes for millionaires, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation in a major correction from the group’s original analysis. The JCT, an official scorekeeper of tax-related legislation, originally estimated that the $1.7 trillion safety net and climate change bill would give millionaires’ a net tax cut in 2022, but the revised estimates released Tuesday shows millionaires’ average tax rate going up by 3.2 percentage points next year.

    In other words, the original criticisms got it backwards, because the JCT made a mistake.

    When the House narrowly passed the Build Back Better Act last week, every Democrat in the chamber voted for it, except one: Maine’s Jared Golden, who represents a relatively conservative New England district, which twice supported Donald Trump, broke ranks and opposed the legislation.

    Pressed for an explanation, Golden’s office issued a written statement explaining that the Maine Democrat opposes, among other things, “tax giveaways to the wealthy” and “tax breaks for millionaires.”

    But that was before the Joint Committee on Taxation issued its correction — which concluded that the Build Back Better package would raise, not lower, taxes for millionaires. […]


  107. says

    Proud Boys march again by attaching themselves to New York, Los Angeles anti-vaccine rallies

    The Proud Boys continued to deploy their post-Jan. 6 strategy—that is, focusing their organizing around local right-wing protests and attaching their neofascist presence by providing “security”—this week by showing up to anti-vaccination marches in New York City and Los Angeles. They also turned up at a local school board meeting in a suburban Illinois village to intimidate officials over LGBTQ-friendly books in their school library.

    Their presence, as always, was intended to send a message of intimidation. […]

    The march in New York, which called itself the Worldwide Freedom Rally, attracted several hundred marchers, with a large contingent of Proud Boys in their black-and-gold garb and carrying various anti-vaccine and pro-Trump banners. Some of them could be seen flashing the white-nationalist “OK” symbol. At one point, a contingent of Proud Boys stopped to pose for photos in front of Donald Trump’s hotel in Manhattan.

    Another video showed Proud Boys entering New York subways through an unlocked emergency exit, thereby evading fares. A Proud Boys group from Miami boasted afterward on Twitter that the exit door had been held open for them by New York Police Department officers: “It’s a good thing that the New York City Police open the door for us, so we don’t have to pay the subway tolls,” he said, adding “not only do we live rent-free in antifas head we also ride free in New York City subways courtesy of the blue.”

    The march in Los Angeles also was an anti-vaccine-mandate protest, though the Proud Boys’ presence, while noticeable, was not as dominant. Among them were at least one Jan. 6 insurrectionist and a videographer who was present among the rioters that day.

    Marchers carried Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flags, “Fuck Biden” banners, and other so-called Patriot Movement and Proud Boys symbols, along with signs with slogans like “No Vaxx” and “No Jabs 4 Jobs,” as well as others demanding “End Child Porn” and “Stop Human Trafficking,” both references to QAnon conspiracy theories. One, an apparent reference to Rittenhouse, read “Support Our Heroes.”

    These local COVID-denialist rallies are only one of the multiple ways that Proud Boys are insinuating themselves, following the same blueprint. Others have been showing up increasingly to school board meetings to intimidate local officials discussing racial education, LGBTQ-friendly library offerings, and vaccine mandates and masking measures.

    […] One student told the Sun-Times that a man he identified as Kramer began harassing him after he addressed the board. He said Kraemer repeatedly told him, “You’re a pedophile. You promote pedophilia,” and threatened to call police. He said Kraemer later accosted him in the parking lot.

    This is part of a repeated pattern manifesting the Proud Boys’ current strategy for recruitment and organizing. They already had marched and engaged in street violence in Los Angeles as part of an anti-transgender protest outside a local spa. Earlier this month in Beloit, Wisconsin, their plans to protest a local school masking policy led to the local district shutting down all schools that day out of “security concerns.”

    Proud Boys also showed up at a meeting of the Portland Public School board in Oregon in late October at which a vaccine mandate was being discussed.

    And in New Hanover County, North Carolina, a group of ten Proud Boys—all of them masked—turned up at a meeting to discuss mask mandates and stood threateningly in the back of the meeting room, arms crossed. One of them, who identified himself as “Johnny Ringo,” chastised the board for failing to open the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Afterward, the Cape Fear Proud Boys who had attended the meeting explained that their presence was part of a larger strategy to “ramp up the pressure.”

    “If our presence escalates that pressure and makes it to the point where we become a distraction to conducting business, and they just change the mask mandate so we go away, that’s a win,” said one of the members.

  108. KG says

    The leaders of the German Social Democrats, Greens and “Free Democrats” (neoliberals) have reached a coalition agreement. This has to be approved by the SPD and FDP party conferences, and a vote of the Green membership. Supposedly combating climate change will be central to the coalition programme, but since the FDP, who oppose both tax rises and increasing government debt, have secured the finance ministry, it’s not clear where the money for any serious attempt to do this would come from.

  109. says

    It was six months ago when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the [2020] presidential election.” During a brief Q&A in front of the White House, the House GOP leader added, “I think that is all over with.” [raised eyebrows]

    […] Donald Trump’s latest written statement about his defeat from last year:

    “Whatever happened to the Rigged and Stolen Arizona Presidential Election that is being investigated, or maybe the words should properly be ‘looked at,’ by Attorney General Mark Brnovich? When will the legislature vote to decertify? People are very upset in Arizona that it is all taking so long, especially when the findings of the State Senate’s Forensic Audit were so conclusive, not even including the recent revelation of 35,000 fictitious votes in Pima County, and precincts with over 100 percent turnout (how do you like that one?). The people of Arizona are anxiously awaiting the decision of the Attorney General. They know what really went on during that Election!”

    Obviously, the sheer volume of nonsense over the course of the former president’s 109-word statement is amazing. In reality, for example, the election was neither “rigged” nor “stolen.” The Arizona state Senate’s sham “audit” was an absurd fiasco that actually made things worse for Trump and his party. The idea that there were 35,000 “fictitious votes” in Pima County is a ridiculous claim that has already been examined and discredited.

    But the part of the Republican’s weird written rant was the question packed amidst the nonsense: “When will the legislature vote to decertify?”

    In case anyone’s forgotten, there has never been any reason to question the election results out of Arizona. There was an official count of the state’s ballots, followed by an official recount. There was an independent audit, which found literally nothing untoward. Then there was a not-at-all-independent audit, which backfired on the GOP.

    The facts are unambiguous: President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the Grand Canyon State 12 months ago.

    […] in September Trump said, “Arizona must immediately decertify their 2020 Presidential Election Results.” Two months later, he’s still pushing the idea.

    Trump also recently wrote to Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, urging him to “start the process of decertifying the 2020 Election.”

    […] This is utterly bonkers — and according to the Department of Homeland Security, potentially dangerous — but the problem clearly isn’t improving as Election Day 2020 gets further away.


  110. says

    The new tallies on initial unemployment claims aren’t just better now than before the pandemic, they’ve actually improved to a 52-year low.

    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 since before I was born.

    The ranks of those submitting jobless claims tumbled to their lowest level in more than 52 years last week, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. New filings totaled 199,000, a number not seen since Nov. 15, 1969, when claims totaled 197,000. The report easily beat Dow Jones estimates of 260,000 and was well below the previous week’s 270,000.

    […] 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.

    Thankfully, all of that appears to be behind us.

    […] When unemployment claims finally dipped below 1 million last August, it was a step in the right direction. When they fell below 800,000 in February, it offered similar evidence of slow, gradual progress. Fortunately, the pattern continued: Totals fell below 700,000 in March, below 600,000 in April, below 500,000 in early May, and below 400,000 in late May.

    In early October, jobless claims finally dipped below 300,000 — putting us within shouting distance of the levels seen before the Covid-19 crisis began in earnest — and now, finally, we’ve dipped below 200,000, which hardly seemed possible in the recent past.

    […] As a political matter, it’s also a reminder that the economic conditions that are acting against Democrats now are improving in ways that are likely to help the incumbent governing majority.


  111. says

    […] Some congressional Republicans not only saw Rittenhouse’s acquittal as validation of a conservative worldview, they wanted to be personally and directly associated with the defendant. Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, for example, invited the Wisconsinite to become one of his interns. (In the same video, the GOP lawmaker urged his allies to be “armed” and “dangerous.”)

    Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida also offered Rittenhouse an internship, at which point Rep. Paul Gosar published a tweet that read, “I will arm wrestle [Gaetz] to get dibs for Kyle as an intern.”

    […] as the HuffPost noted, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado took this to a new level yesterday during an interview on Newsmax.

    “Now I do have some colleagues on the Hill who have, just like me, offered Kyle Rittenhouse an internship in their office,” she told host Sebastian Gorka, a former aide to Donald Trump. “And Madison Cawthorn, he said that he would arm wrestle me for this Kyle Rittenhouse internship. But Madison Cawthorn has some pretty big guns, and so I would like to challenge him to a sprint instead.”

    Boebert, laughing, added, “Let’s make this fair.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, Cawthorn uses a wheelchair. Competing in a sprint isn’t much of an option.

    Given his attorney’s recent comments, it seems unlikely that Rittenhouse will intern for any of these GOP officials. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s unsettling to see them compete for his affection in increasingly bizarre ways.


  112. says

    Misinformation that doesn’t come from Fox News:

    […] Two weeks ago, CNN ran a segment that was supposedly about how families are “constrained by inflation” and that this is putting “a burden” on their lives. In the segment, CNN’s Brianna Keilar throws over to reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro with an expression of deep concern about how inflation is affecting how families “feed their kids.” McMorris-Santoro, handily standing in front of a gas station sign, moves directly into how gas is “up by more than a dollar since last year” without noting that the prices in 2020 were heavily depressed by the pandemic. He then goes on to interview his typical American family in Texas—who have nine kids and buy 12 gallons of milk each week.

    Most of the criticism about the story has focused on that astounding number. Any family that buys 48 gallons of milk each month is pretty far from typical in our 1.23 children per family on average society. But that’s not the problem. And it’s not just CNN.

    The problem with that original report on CNN isn’t the family, and it’s not their fondness for milk. The problem is how McMorris-Santoro enthusiastically passes along misinformation without correction.

    “I think that probably in June, a dollar was worth a dollar,” says the mother in the interview. “And now that dollar is worth about seventy cents.”

    The inflation rate over the last few months may have been higher than Americans are used to over the last decade, but a dollar in June is actually worth about $0.97. The actual rate of inflation is 10 times smaller than the number that was passed along with comment. McMorris-Santoro doesn’t make that correction.

    Then comes that citation for a gallon of milk, with a claim that it was $1.99 at some unstated time in the past, but is now $2.79. Both of those prices are not only well below the average cost of a gallon of milk in America, the lower value hasn’t been seen since around 1994.

    The truth is that milk prices are almost completely divorced from inflation. That’s because they are set by Federal Milk Marketing Orders that were last revised in 2000. That system generates a complex, regional pricing system that results in milk being extremely cheap in the Upper Midwest, with prices increasing as you move away from that area—to sites such as Texas. Stores can, and do, advertise and sell milk at lower prices. They do this as a loss leader to bring people into the store. But the actual cost of milk now is lower than it has been for most of the last two decades.

    None of this gets explained. Instead, the segment goes to lengths to point out the large consumption of this exceptionally large family. If the numbers provided are accurate, all that milk works out to about $10 a week in extra expense. Or $40 a month.

    However, the segment completely fails to mention that, even if the one child the family is fostering isn’t included, they would still be receiving at least $2,000 a month in new child tax credits that President Joe Biden began issuing in July. That’s right. June, the month that is set up in the interview as the Last Good Month before things went to hell, was actually the last month before they began getting monthly benefits as large as their family.

    Inflation over that period wasn’t 30%. It was 3%. Milk prices over that period didn’t increase $0.80 nationally, they went up by just $0.11. And all of that was a blip compared to the $2,000 check that began rolling out to the family in the interview every single month. But that’s not how it got presented.

    […] The remainder of the piece focuses on how the family has to clip coupons, look for bargains, and bypass things they’d like to have. That’s before the final statement in which we’re told that their total bill—$310—would have been “$150 or $200” back in March. In other words, the CNN story is now pushing the idea that there has been 107% inflation since March. No one corrects this. In fact, The CNN segment doubles down, saying that the family is “feeling the inflation squeeze to a tune of an extra hundred dollars a week.”

    They’re not. But even if they were, they would be coming out $400 a week ahead thanks to those child tax credits. […]

    The reason this interview became infamous may be for the 12 gallons of milk, but it should be disdained for using the Big Two distortions when it comes to selling Americans on a disaster that didn’t happen.

    It treats the exceptional as if it’s average.
    It passes along gross exaggerations without correction.
    And all that would be true even if the child tax credit is ignored. Which it shouldn’t be.

    So … here’s a story from The New York Times that ran on Saturday, written by Emma Goldberg, Coral Murphy Marcos, and Kellen Browning. See how it lines up on those points.

    That story starts out just like the CNN piece, by telling us that, “The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.41, which is $1.29 more than it was a year ago, according to AAA.” But it fails to point out that those low prices in 2020 were actually the cheapest gas has been in any November since 2008. The article, like many others, starts off by comparing current prices to prices that were depressed by the worst impacts of the pandemic, generating the maximum apparent increase. That’s step one.

    But that’s just a baby step compared to what comes next.

    While consumers are seeing a steady rise in the prices of many goods and services, the cost of gas is especially visible. It is displayed along highways across the country, including in areas where a gallon has climbed as high as $7.59.

    Where is gas $7.59 a gallon? Not in any state listed by AAA. The most expensive grade in the most expensive state is $5 a gallon. Where does the $7.59 number come from? Who knows. The Times article certainly doesn’t bother to provide that information.

    But hang on, we’re not done.

    Aldo McCoy, who owns an auto repair shop in Toms River, watched the numbers on a gas pump flash higher Wednesday as he filled up the tank of his 1963 Chevrolet Impala. He recalled recently filling his 2003 Cadillac Escalade and seeing the price go above $100, where it used to be $45.

    This paragraph manages to check both of the Big Two in as many sentences. It not only treats an absolutely exceptional circumstance—a guy who owns a 58-year-old muscle car and a massive 18-year-old SUV as if this makes him a great example, but it also passes along something this driver “recalls” that simply can’t be true.

    Even assuming that Mr. McCoy’s Escalade topped off at exactly $100, that would make his $45 fill up 222% more expensive than whenever “used to be” might be. How far back do we need to go to get that number? Try 2002. Which would be a year before that Escalade rolled into the showroom.

    You might think that a claim that gas prices have increased by 222% might merit at least some incredulity on the part of the Times. Or that such a claim might at least require some definition of how far back “used to be” might be. It does not. Instead, they get right into the burden that this incredible, amazing, increase in price has placed on McCoy and his cohorts.

    […] Just like the family in the CNN story, here’s an ordinary American, in a typical situation, facing a huge and unreasonable burden because of massive inflation. Except it’s absolutely none of those things.

    Instead, it’s the Times article passing along unverified numbers, all of which are clearly exaggerated, in the way that generates maximum drama, without bothering to ever check for reasonableness.

    […] In both cases, CNN and the TImes avoid directly making false claims themselves. They just let the people they’re interviewing make those claims, and let them go uncorrected.

    Which makes you wonder how many interviews they went through until they came up with someone who gave them the kind of scare quotes they wanted. […]


  113. Akira MacKenzie says


    Once again, neoliberalism will likely destroy us all. It’s a damn good thing we don’t have to worry about that here is Ameri… Wait a minute.

  114. says

    All Three Defendants Were Just Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery

    A jury in Brunswick, Georgia, on Wednesday afternoon found all three defendants involved in the 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery guilty of murder. Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., were all convicted on multiple felony homicide counts.
    Likened by some to a modern-day lynching, Arbery’s shooting was one of several high-profile killings of Black Americans that triggered nationwide protests for racial justice across the 2020 summer.

    On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery, a 25-year-old former high school football star, was jogging in the rural town of Satilla Shores when the three men began to pursue him in two trucks, one of which was decorated with a confederate flag vanity plate. After Arbery was boxed in by the vehicles, a struggle ensued, and Travis McMichael shot him three times, once at point-blank range.

    It took 74 days for Bryan and the McMichaels to be charged and arrested. The first prosecutor to handle the case, Jackie Johnson, recused herself over her connections to Gregory McMichael, who had previously worked as an investigator in the Brunswick district attorney’s office and as a police officer. Shortly after the shooting, McMichael allegedly called Johnson and left a voicemail asking for her advice, although it’s not clear whether or not she responded. In September 2021, Johnson was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly “showing favor and affection” to McMichael and directing police officers not to arrest his son. (Her case has yet to go to trail.) Johnson’s replacement also advised police not to arrest the three men before recusing himself over his son’s ties to Gregory McMichael, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.

    Two months after the shooting, as graphic video of the killing began to spread on social media platforms, the three men were finally arrested. The harrowing footage, which Bryan filmed on a cellphone, shows Arbery being confronted by the McMichaels. Arbery begins to wrestle with Travis McMichael over a shotgun when a shot goes off and the two men leave the frame. Two more gunshots are heard, and Arbery staggers and falls while trying to flee. […]

  115. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This is GOOD

    The three white men who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery after chasing down the 25-year-old Black man as he was running along a two-lane Georgia road were found guilty of felony murder on Wednesday.
    Arbery was killed in February 2020, just months before the nation experienced a reckoning on police violence against Black men and women, and his death prompted protest of another aspect of racial inequality in the justice system. Though the unarmed man was gunned down in broad daylight, the men who admitted they had chased him in their trucks and killed him were not immediately arrested.
    It wasn’t until video of the shooting became public, drawing sharp questions about how local authorities handled the investigation that the three men were charged with murder.


  116. says

    Followup to KG @119 and Akira @124.

    Olaf Scholz to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor.

    Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, will serve as Germany’s new chancellor, replacing Angela Merkel and marking the first time in 16 years that the country will have center-left leadership.

    In the time since the Sept. 26 election, Scholz has worked alongside the progressive Greens and pro-business Free Democrats in secrecy on a 177-page governing agreement. The three party leaders announced the deal on Wednesday, according to The New York Times.

    “We are united in a belief in progress and that politics can do good,” Scholz said, according to the Times. “We are united in the will to make the country better, to move it forward and to keep it together.” […]


  117. says

    Wonkette: “Stupid White Murderers Who Murdered Ahmaud Arbery Almost All Guilty On Almost All Counts!”

    We interrupt some dumb Thanksgiving recipe posts to bring you welcome, excellent news: The three white men who chased down Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and murdered him for the crime of jogging have been found guilty on almost all counts. The piece of shit son was guilty on all; the piece of shit father was guilty of all except “malice murder,” as he was not the one standing over Arbery shouting the n-word; and the third guy was guilty of a significant number of murder charges, although he was clearly less culpable than Bigot and Son. Still, he helped, and he’s guilty.

    While their defense attorneys tried to call their trial a “modern-day lynching,” an almost-all-white jury refused to have their intelligence insulted, or insult ours. Seems to me like it might be a New Georgia these days.

    There was absolutely no question of “self defense,” though they tried to play that too: Chasing him down in a truck as he jogged, holding him at gunpoint, they tried to claim that Arbery defending himself by grabbing at their long gun was reason to defend themselves from him defending himself. It worked for Kyle Rittenhouse, sure, but … fuck it. It didn’t work this time, is what we are saying.

    This has been a day when criminal justice has gone some way toward criminal justice.


  118. says

    Toxic workplace:

    In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, it became common to hear from members of Congress who shared an uncommon emotion: fear. […]

    The deadly insurrectionist riot left many members afraid of another attack. And of some of their extremist colleagues. And of weapons possibly being carried onto the floor of the U.S. House. And possible violence targeting their families.

    The environment on Capitol Hill was unlike anything any living members have ever seen — as CNN reported yesterday, conditions have not improved.

    Many members within the House of Representatives have told CNN in recent days that they find themselves in a toxic work environment, wrought with bitter exchanges, threats and fears about what the erosion of decorum in the chamber will mean for a body that has still not recovered 10 months after the Capitol Hill riot. In interviews with more than a dozen members, CNN heard from Democrats and some Republicans who say things are as bad as they can remember, with no sign things will get better soon, and the fears and concerns aren’t just coming from members, but their families as well.

    Clearly, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona releasing a video depicting himself killing one of his Democratic colleagues — something that led to his censure — only made matters worse.

    Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois said, “January 6th made things so much worse. I was on the floor that day. That was a forever life-changing moment on a personal level, but it was also a moment that changed Congress. It started with the incessant lies that weren’t challenged and were amplified to January 6th to a member of Congress threatening lives of friends and colleagues.”

    What struck me as amazing, though, was a quote from Rep. Chip Roy. The Texas Republican told CNN that part of the problem is that members have not moved on from January 6th.

    “People here need to get thicker skin,” Roy said. “At some point here, you gotta let some things roll.”

    This is a difficult perspective to understand, and it helps explain why the toxicity on Capitol Hill continues to linger.

    One can imagine, in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, Democrats and Republicans putting aside their differences and agreeing that the assault on the Capitol was an indefensible attack on democracy. In this hypothetical scenario, officials from both parties also agreed to denounce those responsible for inciting the riot, and reject the anti-election lies that fueled the rioters.

    […] Except, none of that happened. The imagined hypothetical is a foolish mirage.

    Chip Roy wants his colleagues to “let some things roll,” which might be a more credible appeal if much of his party hadn’t spent 2021 defending Jan. 6 rioters, undermining public confidence in their own country’s electoral system, convincing the Republican base that Biden’s presidency is suspect, failing to take governing seriously, and genuflecting towards the corrupt former president whose Big Lie has corroded our politics.

    People on Capitol Hill “need to get thicker skin”? That’s certainly one way of looking at the problem. An alternative is for some people on Capitol Hill to show some genuine contrition over what created the toxic work environment in the first place.


  119. says

    News summarized from a Wall Street Journal article:

    Roughly 30 election officials in Pennsylvania have quit this year. Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt, who serves as vice chairman of the city’s election board, recently explained, “What was once a fairly obscure administrative job is now one where lunatics are threatening to murder your children.”

  120. says

    President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he’s chosen Shalanda Young to direct the Office of Management, and Nani Coloretti as Deputy Director. Young has been serving as Acting Director since March. “Both Young and Coloretti have been confirmed by the Senate in the past,” the White House statement says.

    “If they are confirmed again, OMB would be led by two history-making women of color who are experienced and highly qualified. Young, who has served as Acting Director since being confirmed as Deputy Director by the Senate in a bipartisan 63-37 vote on March 23, 2021, would be the first Black woman to lead OMB. Coloretti would be one of the highest-ranking Asian American, Native Hawaiians, or Pacific Islanders serving in government.”

    In a a video announcement of the nominations, Biden said “The Office of Management and Budget has been called the nerve center of our government. This is an agency that not only helps me create the budget, but also makes sure that your tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively and exactly as the law requires.”

    […] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn issued a statement at the time, citing Young’s “intellect, deep expertise on the federal budget and her determination to ensure that our budget reflects our values as a nation.” Her nomination Wednesday brought praise from Pelosi. […]


  121. says

    The legal headache Trump’s RNC-financed lawyers are tackling

    Among the most serious of the former president’s potential legal liabilities has to do with — of all things — property valuations.

    Though much of the political world is no longer capable of being surprised when it comes to Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, new reporting this week on the RNC helping pay the former president’s legal bills raised a few eyebrows.

    After all, not only is Trump out of office, he’s also dealing with legal troubles that are unrelated — and in fact, predate — his White House tenure. The RNC is nevertheless helping pick up the former president’s legal tab for matters related to, as The Washington Post put it, “investigations into his financial practices in New York.”

    And what financial practices might those be?

    To be sure, the list of Trump’s legal troubles is not short. He is, after all, facing a criminal inquiry, multiple civil suits, and criminal charges against his private business. […] among the most serious […]— property valuations.

    The New York Times reported today that a New York criminal investigation into Trump and his business operation has led investigators to issue “new subpoenas for records about Mr. Trump’s hotels, golf clubs and office buildings.” The article added:

    The developments […] show that the Manhattan prosecutors have shifted away from investigating those tax issues and returned to an original focus of their three-year investigation: Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets. In particular, the people said, the prosecutors are zeroing in on whether Mr. Trump or his company inflated the value of some of his properties while trying to secure financing from potential lenders. If [outgoing Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., the prosecutor overseeing the inquiry] concludes that Mr. Trump intentionally submitted false values to potential lenders, prosecutors could argue that he engaged in a pattern of fraud.

    As Trump controversies go, this one may not seem nearly as provocative as inciting an insurrectionist riot, trying to leverage aid to get a foreign country to help him cheat in an election, or paying illegal hush money to a porn star, but it might nevertheless be among the most serious legal headaches the former president has ever had.

    The Washington Post reported this week, for example, on the Trump Organization’s office building in Manhattan, which the company told lenders in 2012 was worth $527 million. A few months later, when listing the same building’s value for property tax officials, the Trump Organization said it was worth just $16.7 million.

    The stunt was transparent: When trying to impress potential lenders, the business tried to make its assets look valuable, but when trying to avoid hefty tax bills, the Trump Organization did the opposite — to a dramatic degree.

    What’s more, there’s a larger pattern of accusations that extend well beyond this property in Manhattan. The Post’s report added, “Investigators seem focused on the valuations of at least four Trump properties,” including a golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes, the Seven Springs estate in New York, and the Trump National Golf Club Westchester […]

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

    That said, no charges have been filed against the Trump Organization […] given the available details, there’s a reason the former president has hired several attorneys for the RNC to pay.

  122. says

    […] The subpoenas issued this week […] reveal where Congress is looking next. In this case, it’s the assortment of far-right provocateurs like Alex Jones and Roger Stone that breathed life into the Big Lie, MAGA operatives who helped stage the rally on the ellipse on Jan. 6 at which Trump spoke, and organizations like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys whose members were willing to use violence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

    Here’s what the committee wants to learn from each.

    Alex Jones
    The panel wants to learn about Jones’s role in organizing the Jan. 6 Women for America First rally at which then-President Trump spoke.

    The organizers reportedly denied Jones a slot at the Jan. 6 event, but, at Trump’s request, he spoke at an event at Freedom Plaza held the previous day.

    The panel wants to know about planning for both events, and any involvement that Jones may have had in raising funds for them. He reportedly facilitated a large contribution from Publix heiress Julie Fancelli to the events.

    Jones also used his Infowars platform to promote the Big Lie, memorably describing Trump’s tweet that Jan. 6 would “be wild” as “one of the most historic events in American history.” […]

    Roger Stone
    According to the subpoena, the committee is interested in Stone’s activities in D.C. on Jan. 5 and 6.

    The GOP provocateur was in Washington and attended the Jan. 5 Freedom Plaza rally, and had been scheduled to speak at the Jan. 6 ellipse rally.

    Of interest to investigators is Stone’s participation in those two events, but also that he reportedly used Oath Keeper members as security guards while in the Capitol. Stone also said that he was invited to “lead a march to the Capitol” on Jan. 6 — another statement of interest to the panel.

    Taylor Budowich
    Budowich, who is now Trump’s spokesman, played a behind-the-scenes role in organizing the Jan. 6 ellipse rally, according to the subpoena.

    The panel is interested in a $200,000 contribution that Budowich allegedly steered to an unnamed 501(c)4 non-profit, in service of a “social media and radio advertising campaign” promoting the Jan. 6 rally.

    The money could help answer questions about who funded the rally and the effort to promote it.

    Dustin Stockton
    Stockton, a We Build The Wall member who helped organize rallies in support of the Big Lie after the 2020 election, spoke with the committee earlier this month.

    According to the subpoena, the panel wants records from Stockton as well as a deposition about his involvement in planning the rallies, which included Women for America First’s ellipse event.

    Stockton had an inside look at how Women For America First officials may have communicated with the White House, and how the same WFAF officials may have also been in touch with event speakers like Roger Stone and Alex Jones; themselves, in turn, potentially in touch with members of the crowd on Jan. 6 who breached the Capitol.

    Stockton himself reportedly warned that the rally could turn unsafe before Jan. 6, a warning that one WFAF leader said she would communicate to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

    Jennifer Lawrence
    The panel is also interested in Stockton’s fiance, Jennifer Lawrence.

    Along with Stockton, Lawrence worked on post-election rallies aimed at subverting the result. Three days before the insurrection, Lawrence tweeted that “we have been marching all around the country for you Mr. President.”

    “Now we will bring it to DC on Jan 6 and PROUDLY stand beside you!” the tweet read.

    Proud Boys
    Video of the insurrection showed Proud Boys members taking the initiative in storming the Capitol, attacking Capitol police officers and breaching the building itself.

    […] The subpoena notes that 34 members of the group have been charged in connection with the riot, and that indictments have noted extensive efforts at “prior planning and coordination.”

    Enrique Tarrio
    Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, never made it to the fight on Jan. 6 itself.

    Rather, he was arrested on a federal indictment on Jan. 4, related to his burning of a Black Lives Matter flag from a D.C. church at a pro-Big Lie rally in December 2020.

    His subpoena mentions this, and alludes to the fact that “Proud Boys leaders advanced pointed, specific calls to violence related to the November 3, 2020 election leading up to January 6, 2021.”

    It also quotes from a December 29 Parler message that Tarrio posted, as lawmakers continue to search for evidence of pre-planning and coordination with others.

    “We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow,” Tarrio wrote. “We will be incognito and will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams….who knows…we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.”

    Oath Keepers
    The committee is focusing on the Oath Keepers as a source of evidence that the attack was planned and coordinated in advance.

    Oath Keepers traveled to the Capitol with firearms, body armor, and radio equipment […]

    The subpoena describes statements from Oath Keeper leaders that the group would use violence to help Trump stay in office, and also notes that members of the group were bodyguards for Roger Stone. […]

    Stewart Rhodes
    It’s Stewart Rhodes who helmed the Oath Keepers throughout the Big Lie and Jan. 6, and it’s he who repeated that the group would “engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome.”

    Rhodes stated multiple times during the run-up to Jan. 6 that violence would be necessary to ensure Biden would be prevented from taking office. In December, he called for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act — an idea under discussion in the White House at the time.

    And, on Jan. 4, Rhodes called on Oath Keepers to “fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup, through the massive vote fraud and related attacks on our Republic,” saying that they should come to D.C. on Jan. 6. […]

    Rhodes stayed in contact with group members as they breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6. In one exchange cited by prosecutors, he posted a photo taken by a group member at the Capitol doors that was sent to him.

    First Amendment Praetorian
    Last but not least is First Amendment Praetorian. Founded in 2020 by veteran and author Robert Patrick Lewis, the group aims to provide muscle […], to provide security for those at risk of what they see as leftist attacks.

    According to a permit, the group provided security for the Jan. 5 rally at Freedom Plaza, where Alex Jones spoke.

    The panel wants to learn what relationship the group had with the Oath Keepers. Lewis said on Jan. 7 that his group’s members wear body cameras — the House mentions that fact in its subpoena.

    The panel also expressed interest in the group’s apparent foreknowledge of violence on Jan. 6, and how it reacted once that violence began.

    “Today is the day that true battles begin,” the group tweeted on Jan. 6, as people were first breaching the Capitol.

  123. says

    Followup to comment 133.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    You have to just laugh at the idiots referring to themselves as the personal bodyguards of an emperor while subverting a Republic to try to install one.
    Assuming committee ultimately gets responses to its subpoenas, think it has two challenges:

    Complete its report before this Congress ends in December 2022.

    Write a report with a crystal clear storyline and unambiguous conclusions—not the bafflegab Mueller gave us hoping everyone would see what he meant.
    There is no right to counsel when appearing before congress. Letting you bring a pet lawyer making faces while sitting behind you is merely a courtesy.

  124. says

    Burner phones: more details that reveal coordination behind the January 6th insurrection:

    A new scoop at Rolling Stone adds to what we know about coordination between Jan. 6 “rally” organizers and the Trump White House—and it might be a very big deal. Hunter Walker reports that “March for Trump” planners purchased and used so-called “burner phones” to communicate with those close to Trump just days before Jan. 6; those contacted include Eric Trump, Laura Trump, Katrina Pierson, and, significantly, Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

    Organizers Kylie Kremer, Amy Kremer, and an unknown third person received the phones, and they were specifically purchased “to communicate with high-level people,” according to an anonymous March for Trump team member: “Any conversation [Kylie] had with the White House or Trump family took place on those phones.”

    The link between the Trump White House and organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that led to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in the precise minutes lawmakers were assembled to formally recognize Donald Trump’s election loss is one of the most significant points of inquiry for the House select committee investigating the attempted coup. We already know, as fact, that Donald Trump aggressively promoted the rally, calling it a “march.” We know as fact that it was planned to exactly coincide with the joint session of Congress’ formal counting of the electoral votes, and that the speaking program on the day was timed, almost to the minute, in such a way as to allow those assembled to demand nullification of Trump’s election loss to arrive at the Capitol immediately before the process began.

    We know as fact that Trump himself specifically told the assembled crowd to “march” on the Capitol, and that when the violent attack was underway, Trump watched it on television but did nothing, despite pleas from staff and those inside the building to stop it.

    What is still unknown is the extent to which the members of the Trump White House, including Meadows, were themselves involved in gathering up a crowd that day and setting it loose on the Capitol, but this new evidence adds to a significant pile suggesting that Trump’s staff played an active role in planning the event so it would provide a crowd of bodies at the precise hour and place needed to threaten lawmakers directly. All evidence suggests that Trump himself saw the crowd as a militia, and that he promoted the gathering and rallied the crowd for the explicit purpose of intimidating or outright threatening the gathered lawmakers.

    […] he had already confronted multiple state officials with demands that they alter vote totals on his behalf and, clearly, sought to use the gathered crowd to intimidate national lawmakers into doing the same.

    Trump intended the event as the gathering point for a coup. He truly intended to topple government with a show of force […]r. One of the most pressing questions for the House select committee is pinning down who, among his advisers and top members of his administration, assisted that effort.

    We now know that Meadows was in communication with “rally” organizers in the days before the violence. There is no privilege claim that can shield him from testifying as to what conversations he had with political operatives planning a pro-Trump event, and attempts to claim so would be asinine. He can, however, invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if he sees fit. The same goes for Trump’s family members. The same goes for Steve Bannon, who was promoting the day as something that could successfully alter the election’s result.

    Which of these figures assisted Trump in gathering a crowd specifically for the purpose of interfering with the peaceful transfer of power between administrations? It was a crowd radicalized by election hoaxes spread by the Trump White House, Trump allies, the Republican Party, and many of the specific Republican lawmakers assembled that day—lawmakers who themselves told crowds that the election should be challenged.

    […] Some may have been gullible. Others appear to have gathered the crowd specifically as weapon in a would-be political coup. It is an unforgivable betrayal, and those figures should be exposed and punished not as bad political actors but as seditionists—to be held responsible for every death.


  125. says

    Followup to comment 135:

    […] Multiple sources told Rolling Stone that Kylie Kremer, an organizer for the rally that took place at D.C.’s Ellipse park, had an aide buy three burner phones a few days before Jan. 6. Kremer said that it was “of the utmost importance” that the phones be purchased with cash, one source, who was a member of the March for Trump team, told the magazine.

    Kremer kept one of the phones herself, while another was reportedly given to her mother, Amy Kremer, who was also an organizer of the rally. Sources could not say who the third was given to.

    According to Rolling Stone, the phones were used to communicate with high-ranking members of Trump’s inner circle, including his son Eric Trump, daughter-in-law and former campaign official Lara Trump, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump surrogate Katrina Pierson.

    Speaking of when Kylie Kremer bought the phones, the March for Trump member said, “That was when the planning for the event on the Ellipse was happening, she needed burner phones in order to communicate with high-level people is how she put it.” […]


  126. blf says

    “European authorities” (broadly speaking) are fed up with anti-vaxxers, Italy to tighten Covid rules for unvaccinated with ‘super green pass’:

    Italy is to bar unvaccinated people from popular social and sports activities, as governments across Europe scramble to tighten Covid-19 restrictions amid record-breaking numbers of infections in parts of the continent.

    The Italian “super green pass” will take effect from 6 December and require people to prove they are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid to access cinemas, theatres, gyms, nightclubs, ski lifts and stadiums, as well as to be served indoors at bars and restaurants.

    Current rules in Italy and many other EU countries with health passes also allow people who provide proof of a negative test taken within the previous 48 hours to use recreational venues, a regime that has become known as 3G, but the Italian “super green pass” removes that third option.

    The Netherlands and France are among those thought likely to also adopt a stricter so-called 2G regime within days. 3G refers to the German words geimpft (vaccinated), getestet (tested) and genesen (recovered); 2G is vaccinated or recovered.

    I hadn’t heard that Franc was perhaps about to (mostly?) abolish the getestet loophole — in principle, I approve (concern here is about those who cannot be vaccinated for a valid medical reasion (or who are not eligible)) — but on the other hand, France24’s journalists (in France?) are apparently on strike…

    France will announce new Covid containment measures on Thursday, a government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, said. While aiming to avoid “major curbs on public life”, the government has said stricter social distancing requirements and tougher health pass rules are inevitable.

    “We must protect the French people by building on what we have, to save the end-of-year festivities and get through the winter as well as possible,” Attal said. The president, Emmanuel Macron, has said the pass, which currently applies 3G rules, is a key reason why France is doing better than some of its neighbours.

    Locally, I’ve noticed that after a considerable slacking-off in checking my Health Pass, many establishments are checking it again. I’ve no idea precisely why (I fully approve, however); my guess is the police have gone round and had a word in their ear… Mask-wearing continues to be erratic, and proper mask-wearing rare, with social distancing all-but-absent…

    It occurs to me one possible “new” (actually, renewed) restriction is a requirement to wear masks except when seated (to eat / drink); apparently, that requirement was dropped sometime ago.

    Italy introduced its green pass in August and made it mandatory for workplaces in October. The workplace mandate intensified protests across Italy, especially in the northern city of Trieste, where there has been a sharp rise in infections and hospital admissions in recent weeks. Calls for tighter rules have been led by Massimiliano Fedriga, the president of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the region surrounding Trieste.

    This month Fedriga, a politician with the far-right League, described the anti-vaccination and anti-green pass protests as “idiocy”. He said on Sunday the super green pass was not discriminatory and the only alternative would be another lockdown.

    Umberto Lucangelo, the head of an intensive care unit at a hospital in Trieste, recently said 90% of Covid patients were unvaccinated and many had been involved in the protests.

    The tougher rules have been supported by regional presidents from across the political spectrum. Stefano Bonaccini, the centre-left Democratic party president of Emilia-Romagna, told Ansa: “I think people who are vaccinated should have a preferential path in those places of social and cultural life, in particular, in order to prevent them from having to close.”

    Giovanni Toti, the Forza Italia president of the Liguria region, said any further restrictions should apply to “people who have not had the vaccine, not to people who have done so correctly”.

    As of Wednesday just over 84% of Italy’s population over the age of 12 were vaccinated.

    Note that even teh nazis have gotten fed up…

  127. blf says

    France faces Christmas cheese shortage (possibly paywalled; The Local’s edits in {cheese braces}):

    Unseasonably grim weather over the summer has limited cheese production in France with a potentially disastrous effect for end-of-year festivities.

    Heavy rains over the summer have lead to a particularly poor hay harvest, meaning that cows – who usually get extra nutrition from hay — have produced less milk than usual.

    “So far, in terms of collected volume {of milk}, we have seen a decrease of 15 to 20 percent,” said Arnauld Dischamp, vice president of Dischamp cheese makers.

    Dischamp is concerned over getting enough milk to make the cheese usually ordered in bulk for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

    “All winter, we risk having a lack of volume and availability,” he warned […]

    What this really means — according to the mildly deranged penguin — is that brexit, and possibly Covid-related restrictions, have interfered with the cheeses’s migratory patterns.

  128. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    As an event dreaded by millions draws near, Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging all Americans to use COVID-19 as an excuse to skip Thanksgiving with horrible relatives.

    Speaking from his office at the National Institutes of Health, Fauci said that the COVID-19 excuse could help prevent a seasonal surge in exasperation and seething rage associated with the Thanksgiving holiday.

    “COVID-19 could get you off the hook this year,” Fauci said. “Consider this a doctor’s note from me.”

    By using the pandemic as justification for skipping Thanksgiving, Americans can spare the feelings of relatives they despise, the esteemed virologist said.

    “Tell your aunt from West Virginia that you’ll miss her, but you’ll look forward to reading her QAnon theories on Facebook,” he advised.

    For his part, Fauci said that he intends to employ COVID-19 as an excuse to exempt himself from other unpleasant activities. “I plan to use it to avoid seeing Rand Paul,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  129. blf says

    US libraries report spike in organised attempts to ban books in schools:

    The American Library Association, which monitors ‘challenges’ to books, says social media have amplified protests to the highest number for decades

    [… T]he American Library Association is charting an unprecedented rise in attempts to ban books in libraries — many of which it believes are fuelled by organised conservative campaigns.

    “It’s a volume of challenges I’ve never seen in my time at the ALA &mdsh; the last 20 years. We’ve never had a time when we’ve gotten four or five reports a day for days on end, sometimes as many as eight in a day,” says ALA director Deborah Caldwell-Stone. “Social media is amplifying local challenges and they’re going viral, but we’ve also been observing a number of organisations activating local members to go to school board meetings and challenge books. We’re seeing what appears to be a campaign to remove books, particularly books dealing with LGBTQIA themes and books dealing with racism.”

    [… multiple examples, such as] a southern Pennsylvania district banned a lengthy list of titles almost entirely by or about people of colour, by acclaimed authors including Jacqueline Woodson, Ijeoma Oluo and Ibram X Kendi. (The all-white school board said it was coincidence that almost all the material banned was by or about people of colour. [ha!])


    In Spotsylvania in Fredericksburg, Virginia, meanwhile, parents have protested about the availability of LGBTQIA fiction to children. One school board member called for the offending books to be burned. I think we should throw those books in a fire, he said. I guess we live in a world now that our public schools would rather have kids read about gay pornography than Christ. The school board subsequently ordered that sexually explicit books be removed from district libraries.

    Caldwell-Stone pointed to conservative grassroots organisations such as Heritage Action and the Heritage Foundation, which she said were driving the attempts to censor materials dealing with racism and Black American history, as well as materials “they deem to be inappropriate for minors, which seems to encompass the entire canon of books dealing with LGBTQIA themes”.

    “We’ve seen a number of these parents’ rights groups that have arisen in the last year get involved in these challenges, and their local chapters are turning out to attend school board meetings and challenge books. It really has sparked a rise in challenges,” she said.

    “When you have organisations like Heritage Foundation and Family Policy Alliance publishing materials that instruct parents on how to challenge books in the school library or the public library, right down to a challenge form enclosed in the booklet so they can just fill it out, you’re seeing a challenge to our democratic values of free speech, freedom of thought, freedom of belief.”

    Caldwell-Stone said she was particularly concerned about the fact that elected officials were now pursuing the same agenda — “officials who in theory are bound by first amendment, who are forbidden from engaging in official government censorship of ideas or viewpoints, but you have the governors of Texas and South Carolina declaring that they’re going to scrub school libraries of pornography without defining what they mean by that.”

    Librarians are fighting back against challenges. The Spotsylvania school board last week voted to rescind its order […]

    Don’t mess with the librarians. Oook.

    “We’re seeing a disregard for policy and a kind of a moral panic over a number of novels and graphic novels that are in school libraries that are intended for adolescents to access and read, without regard for the agency or first amendment rights of the young adults involved, or the choices of parents who may make different choices about what books they would like students to be able to read and access in libraries,” said Caldwell-Stone. “We’re seeing censorship to impose particular agendas, representing particular political or religious beliefs. It’s really disheartening.”

  130. blf says

    Last Sunday (21st November), Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity made its 16th(!) flight as it heads back to the original on-Mars testing ground (Wright Brothers Field) to rendezvous with the Perseverance rover, whence both will head north and, eventually, west, to the Jezero ancient river delta. This latest flight was a shot hop (just over 100 metres in about as many seconds), but it did take some colour images, which haven’t yet(?) been returned to Earth.

  131. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current pandemic live blog:

    EU regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11
    The European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug regulator, has approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine on children aged five to 11. […]

    And here in France, France to roll out Covid-19 booster jabs for all adults

    France will make Covid-19 booster jabs available to all adults and reduce the gap from the last jab to five months, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Thursday, ruling out curfews and lockdowns to curb a fifth wave of infections.

    So I only have to wait until December, rather than January, to become eligible for a booster.

    The health minister said booster jabs would be available to all people aged 18 or above “as of Saturday”, adding that France had sufficient supplies of vaccines.

    From January 15, Véran added, booster shots will become a requirement for a valid health pass, which is required in France to enter restaurants, cafés, cinemas and museums, among other public venues.

    The minister said health regulators will examine whether or not children aged five to 11 should have the Covid-19 vaccine, though adding that no decision will be made before 2022.

    The minister’s press conference was before the EMA’s announcement.

    The seven-day moving average of daily new cases […] stands at a three-month high of 21,761 and has almost quadrupled in a month.

    The number of people treated in intensive care for Covid-19 is nearly 1,500, a figure last seen at the end of September.

    France, along with Spain, Portugal, and Italy, is one of the “safer” EU countries, in that the fifth wave doesn’t seem to as bad as it is in, say, Germany or Austria — two countries with notably lower vaccination rates than the beforementioned four.

    (And it appears the strike at France24 is over?)

  132. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current pandemic live blog:

    Scientists in South Africa are working “overtime” to understand the new Covid variant, B.1.1.529 [Scientists warn of new Covid variant with high number of mutations], the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has said.

    South Africa has confirmed around 100 specimens as B.1.1.529, but the variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case a traveller from South Africa, reports Reuters. As many as 90% of new cases in Gauteng could be B.1.1.529, scientists believe.

    Gauteng is the smallest, but also most populated, province in S.Africa, containing the cites of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

    The country has requested an urgent sitting of a [WHO] working group on virus evolution on Friday to talk about the new variant.

    From the earlier article about the new variant (link embedded in above excerpt):

    Scientists have said a new Covid variant that carries an “extremely high number” of mutations may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defences.

    Only 10 cases in three countries have been confirmed by genomic sequencing, but the variant has sparked serious concern among some researchers because a number of the mutations may help the virus evade immunity.

    The B.1.1.529 variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against Covid. Mutations in the spike protein can affect the virus’s ability to infect cells and spread, but also make it harder for immune cells to attack the pathogen.

    The variant was first spotted in Botswana, where three cases have now been sequenced. Six more have been confirmed in South Africa, and one in Hong Kong in a traveller returning from South Africa.

    Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, posted details of the new variant on a genome-sharing website, noting that the “incredibly high amount of spike mutations suggest this could be of real concern”.

    In a series of tweets, Peacock said it “very, very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile”, but added that it may turn out to be an “odd cluster” that is not very transmissible. “I hope that’s the case,” he wrote.


    The first cases of the variant were collected in Botswana on 11 November, and the earliest in South Africa was recorded three days later. The case found in Hong Kong was a 36-year-old man who had a negative PCR test before flying from Hong Kong to South Africa, where he stayed from 22 October to 11 November. He tested negative on his return to Hong Kong, but tested positive on 13 November while in quarantine.


    Scientists will be watching the new variant for any sign that it is gaining momentum and spreading more widely. Some virologists in South Africa are already concerned, particularly given the recent rise in cases in Gauteng […], where B.1.1.529 cases have been detected.

    Ravi Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at Cambridge University, said work in his lab found that two of the mutations on B.1.1.529 increased infectivity and reduced antibody recognition. “It does certainly look a significant concern based on the mutations present,” he said. “However, a key property of the virus that is unknown is its infectiousness, as that is what appears to have primarily driven the Delta variant. Immune escape is only part of the picture of what may happen.”

    Prof Francois Balloux, the director of the UCL Genetics Institute, said the large number of mutations in the variant apparently accumulated in a “single burst”, suggesting it may have evolved during a chronic infection in a person with a weakened immune system, possibly an untreated HIV/Aids patient.

    “I would definitely expect it to be poorly recognised by neutralising antibodies relative to Alpha or Delta,” he said. “It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage. For the time being it should be closely monitored and analysed, but there is no reason to get overly concerned unless it starts going up in frequency in the near future.”

  133. blf says

    Quack Scott Atlas, the “neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s rightwing Hoover Institution, where he works on healthcare policy [… but despite having] no expertise or experience in infectious diseases or epidemiology” was hair furor’s special “advisor” on the pandemic, “attack[ing] public health measures such as masks, stay-at-home orders and social distancing [and] called on residents of Michigan to rise up against restrictions put in place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer” — remember that loon (quack Atlas, not Gov Whitmer)? — is about to release a lie-fest, Former Trump adviser claims to expose unvarnished truth of Covid in new book:

    In a new book, former Trump adviser Scott Atlas [who resigned after four months] blames Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci for headline-dominating debacles about quack cures for Covid-19 — but omits to mention the chief proponent of snake-oil treatments, including hydroxychloroquine and disinfectant, was the US president he loyally served[Wacko House squatter whose boots he loyally licked].

    […] Its publisher is Bombardier Books, an imprint of PostHill Press, a conservative outlet that will also publish a memoir by Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s fourth press secretary.

    [… Atlas bellowed there was] a shocking lack of critical thinking about the science … a reckless abuse of public health and a moral failure in what should be expected from public health leaders. […]

    Projection for the win!

      † All introductory quotes from Scott Atlas resigns as Trump pandemic adviser after controversial tenure (December 2020). There are further reminders of just how odious quack Atlas is in that older article.

  134. says

    A GoFundMe Page for the man suspected of driving an SUV through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisc., was removed on Wednesday, and its creator was banned from the platform.

    A GoFundMe page was started for Darrell Brooks, who is charged with five counts of first degree intentional homicide. The fundraiser was first reported by Law Enforcement Today.

    Brooks allegedly drove into the parade on Sunday, injuring at least 40 people and killing six.

    […] The person who started the GoFundMe is banned from the platform. The company says it does not allow money to be raised for suspects of a violent crime. […]


  135. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congressional Gold Medal to Rittenhouse

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced a bill on Tuesday to award Kyle Rittenhouse the Congressional Gold Medal for “protecting the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) riot on August 25, 2020.”

    The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can award an individual or institution. It is highly unlikely the bill will go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, and it has no co-sponsors.

    Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two protesters in Kenosha and wounded a third, was acquitted last week by a jury of all charges, including intentional homicide.

    “Kyle Rittenhouse deserves to be remembered as a hero who defended his community, protected businesses, and acted lawfully in the face of lawlessness. I’m proud to file this legislation to award Kyle Rittenhouse a Congressional Gold Medal,” Greene said in a statement to The Hill. […]

  136. says

    France and Britain spar over illegal migration, after at least 27 drown in English Channel.

    Washington Post link

    Less than 24 hours after at least 27 migrants died while trying to cross from France to Britain by boat, in the worst migrant tragedy in the English Channel in years, the two countries were sparring on Thursday over who was to blame and what should be done going forward.

    Britain, for its part, reiterated calls for joint patrols along the French coast in hopes of stopping migrants from making a perilous journey across the English Channel, while France just demanded more support from its neighbors.

    […] Similar proposals had already raised concerns over sovereignty in France, where the government blames Britain for its lack of action against traffickers and businesses employing migrants. On Thursday, the French called for more European and British support for their efforts to combat human trafficking along the channel.

    In a phone call with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron “underlined the shared responsibility” and urged the British to “refrain from exploiting a dramatic situation for political purposes,” the Élysée presidential palace said early Thursday.

    Speaking on French radio on Thursday morning, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said “pregnant women, children died” in the incident. A local prosecutor told the Agence France-Presse news agency that 17 men, seven women and three presumed minors were among the victims. An investigation to identify the victims and their countries of origin was still ongoing.

    Two people, from Iraq and Somalia, survived and were being treated for hypothermia, according to Darmanin.

    […] charities and aid agencies on both sides of the channel have long called on the British government to open safe routes to the country for asylum seekers. Currently, the migrants who are in France can only apply for asylum in Britain if they are physically there — meaning they have to take deadly risks in rickety boats with people smugglers. […]

  137. says

    For Thanksgiving Day, a story about turkeys:

    When the asteroid struck the ocean off the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, a rain of molten glass and flaming rocks spread around the planet. The last day of the dinosaurs that populate childhood imaginations, and adult fascination, didn’t drag things out. They were dead in hours. Maybe minutes.

    But some time after the ash settled and the fires went out, a small dinosaur stepped from the wreckage. With feathers and a toothless beak, this dinosaur was already a solid member of the surviving dinosaurs that we call “birds.” More than that, this was a heavy-bodied, stout-limbed bird that was more at home on the ground than in the trees. The kind of bird that can fly, but would really just prefer to walk. It was a Galliformes, the group that contains the modern turkey. And that group was already at least 20 million years old.

    That’s right. The group that includes the bird on your Thanksgiving plate was around not just before the asteroid fell, but long before Tyrannosaurus rex evolved.

    […] The Galliformes survived. So did the ratites, another group of mostly ground-loving birds like ostriches, emus, and other big flightless birds today. […]

    Galliformes pretty much had their role down from the beginning. Think about this lineup: quail, partridge, pheasant, chicken, guinea fowl, turkey, peafowl. From medium-small to medium-large, they’re all birds that stalk around forest and grasslands on foot, taking to wing mostly as a means of escaping predators. They’re all Galliformes.

    One of these, the Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus), better known to your local colonel as a chicken, is now the most common bird on the planet. At last count, there are about 24 billion of them — all but a tiny handful of which are caged up for human consumption. […]

    Thanks to a tough disposition, an omnivorous appetite (turkeys will eat seeds and berries, but also insects and snakes), and a surprising ability to get their heavy bodies up and out of there when need be, they’ve been one of the more successful large species across America for better than 2 million years. Turkey bones are even one of the most common finds in the La Brea tar pits, though that particular species, Meleagris californica, is now extinct.

    […] Starting around 2,000 years ago—and maybe a good deal earlier—turkeys were domesticated in Mexico. And that is where your turkey comes from. Mexico. Indirectly, every single grocery store turkey found chilling in the freezer today is descended not from a wild turkey someone cooped up in New England, but from a group of domesticated birds that Spanish conquistadors took from the Aztecs and shipped back to Europe.

    […] There’s one slight variant on this. Narragansett turkeys are said to be the result of cross-breeding one of these spoils-of-war turkeys with wild relatives.

    […] The turkeys pardoned by President Joe Biden this year—named Peanut Butter and Jelly—are of the currently most common Broad Breasted White variety. By weight, they’re about twice as heavy as their wild relatives, topping out at around 40 pounds. They’re also structurally different, with breast bones that are proportionally shorter supporting breast muscle that is considerably larger.

    […] They’ve gone from a few million birds walking around one continent to numbering in the billions and having a world-wide presence. On a planet where 96% of all large animals are either humans or the animals they have domesticated for consumption, that’s a win. The world is populated by the things we eat. Everything else, from antelope to lions to blue whales, has to squeeze into the remaining 4%.

    […] A note to the one of you who is preparing to slap me for mixing up clades, families, and orders in laying out those evolutionary connections: slap away. But I already know.


    In my travels around Idaho I have seen dozens of wild turkeys.

  138. Paul K says

    blf @ 140: My wife is a children’s librarian, and I’m on our local school board. It’s weird to think we’re on the front-lines of defending democracy, but here we are.

  139. says

    Barbados Abandons Monarchy and Its Colonial Past

    On November 30th, Barbados will become a republic. Queen Elizabeth II will cease to the Queen of Barbados and the country’s head of state. She will be succeeded by the current Governor-General, Sandra Mason, who will herself transition into the country’s first elected President. Prime Minister Mia Mottley will remain Prime Minister in the transition to republican government. Barbados gained its independence in 1966. Prince Charles will represent Queen Elizabeth at the transition ceremonies which will kick off on the evening of the 29th.


  140. says

    Taking time to thank the people who have to work on Thanksgiving Day:

    […] take a moment to think about people who have to work on the holiday. This year, the pandemic has altered that landscape […]

    A number of retail chains that in recent years just couldn’t wait until Black Friday, and had opened on Thanksgiving, will be closed on Thursday this year. They didn’t necessarily do it out of the goodness of their hearts—many of those companies are struggling to find workers and burning out the ones they have probably won’t help them with staffing. […]

    Some jobs need to be worked 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without regard to holidays. Nurses. Doctors. Paramedics and EMTs. Firefighters. This year, many of those workers have spent more than a year and a half working through a pandemic that has made their jobs more difficult, more dangerous, more relentless. More than 3,600 health care workers died of COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, and while vaccines have done a lot to protect them from serious illness and death over the past eight months or so, they have still been forced to preside over enormous amounts of suffering and death, most of it preventable.

    So on this day of giving thanks, remember to thank the people who’ve gotten us this far, who’ve put their health and their lives on the line to care for our sick or make sure there are groceries on the shelves. But remember how much of that risk and brutal work shouldn’t have been necessary—or should have been done in the context of employers and a society that valued the workers and the work more highly.


  141. blf says

    Nordea Retracts Research Note Citing Conspiracy Theories and Nazi References:

    ● Bank starts probe on analyst note questioning Covid-vaccines
    ● Analysis published on Sunday also contained a Nazi reference

    Nordea Bank Abp retracted a controversial research note where senior analysts referred to governments battling Covid-19 as lockdownistas and questioned the efficacy of the vaccines.

    The Nordic region’s biggest bank on Wednesday said it’s starting an investigation into a note, Nordea weekly: Papers please, and how to trade them! after taking it down from its website. The analysis, published on Sunday, caused a stir on Twitter after a member of the Finnish parliament, Mikko Karna, questioned its contents.

    It used to be ‘two weeks to flatten the curve,’ but somehow it has developed to ‘imprison the unvaccinated (or worse)’, Chief Analyst Martin Enlund and Global Chief Strategist Andreas Steno Larsen wrote in the note. The vaccine is apparently so good that you need to force people into taking it.

    They also made a Nazi reference and suggested booster shots actually increase transmission of the coronavirus. […]

    The Bank and its two “analysts” have gone silent, “No further comment was available from a Nordea spokesman contacted by Bloomberg and the bank declined to say whether the analysts are still employed at the bank.”

  142. blf says

    For feck’s sake, why are these eejits still employed or licensed? COVID-19: 30% of healthcare personnel in US hospitals remain unvaccinated:

    Following the initial peak of COVID-19 vaccine uptake among healthcare personnel (HCP) in the U.S. hospital system in early 2021, rates quickly decreased in the second half of the year. Currently, as much as 30% of HCP remain unvaccinated.

    Data analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Unified Hospital Data Surveillance System from January–September 2021, collected from over 3.3&bsp;million HCP across 2,086 hospitals, found that as many as 30% of workers were unvaccinated.

    [… The] analysis included children’s hospitals, short- and long-term acute care hospitals (ACH), and critical access hospitals. […] HCP working in children’s hospitals had the highest vaccination rates at 77%, followed by short- and long-term care ACHs at 70.1% and 68.8%, respectively. Critical access hospitals had vaccination rates of 64%.


    While the researchers did not delve into the reasons individual HCP remain unvaccinated, they echoed previous research that cites several factors. Reses outlined to Medical News Today the four primary concerns:

    ● COVID-19 vaccine efficacy
    ● adverse reactions after vaccination
    ● the speed of vaccine development
    ● lack of trust in regulatory authorities and the government [I understand this one — the authorities are allowing these fools to treat / be near patients! –blf]

    Due to the higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission within hospitals […] experts continue to explore measures to increase uptake.

    [… Lead researcher and an epidemiologist in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC, Hannah] Reses cited “vaccine mandates and investments in educational and promotional activities” as effective means of achieving this goal.

    The study also notes that vaccinated HCP could help influence other HCP and communities to have the vaccine. They were more likely to recommend it to patients, friends, and family.

    The researchers found that reluctant HCP placed greater trust in the recommendations of medical professionals versus regulatory authorities or the government. This collegial approach might enhance compliance while dispelling misinformation.

    [… Professor of medicine from the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Dr William] Schaffner then described the resolutions Vanderbilt put in place to overcome the stalled uptake. This included vaccine mandates and intensive educational outreach with a strong focus on diversity inclusion.

    He emphasized several points:

    There is no perfect vaccine that is risk-free. Yet, the safety standard for any vaccine is already much higher than it is for pharmaceuticals that receive FDA approval. And risk must always be put into context. Yes, COVID-19 vaccines do have small cardiac and clotting risk in the 3-to-5 per 1 million range, but in the face of a pandemic that was causing over 2,000 deaths worldwide on a daily basis, there is almost no comparison.


  143. blf says

    Head banging on deskturkey time… 28 percent of Americans surveyed believe the truth about harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately hidden from the public:

    The findings are part of global research conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, which looks at how different countries perceive a variety of conspiracy theories. According to the research, at least one-fifth to one-third of respondents said they were convinced that the truth about vaccines was being withheld from the public in 20 of 23 countries surveyed.

    “Taken together, these findings emphasize the extent to which conspiracism has entered the mainstream politics of numerous electorates around the world,” Dr Joel Rogers de Waal, YouGov’s academic director, said in a statement. “The same research also points to a new and deeper form of partisan antipathy, where people are divided not merely by policy preference or political identity but also by their fundamental perceptions of reality. Overall, 43 percent of adults surveyed in the US said they did not believe that the harmful effects of vaccines were being withheld from the public. A closer look at the breakdown of responses within the US shows that attitudes toward vaccines are clearly divided along partisan lines: just 9 percent of people who voted for President Biden in the last election said they believe the public is being misled about the dangers of vaccines, while 47 percent of Donald Trump voters said they believed this to be true.[” there’s a closing-quotemark missing, and I’m unsure if this is the correct place –blf]

    [… T]he recent survey conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project found that “Nearly all countries demonstrated significantly lower willingness to believe that COVID is a myth than to believe in a cover-up about vaccines in general.”


    One notable data point that seems to offer a measurement of a particular group’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories is their ability to say for certain that something is not true. For example, in Denmark, where vaccine skepticism is less common, 42 percent of people said it is “definitely false” that the harmful effects of vaccines are being deliberately hidden from the public, compared to just 8 percent of people in Kenya who said the same.

    This same disparity also exists between different political factions in the US. On the question of whether the harmful effects of vaccines are being hidden from the public, 60 percent of Biden voters said this statement is “definitely false” compared to just nine percent of Trump voters who said the same.

    A closer look at the results of the survey in the US suggests that people’s political affiliations are directly linked to their willingness to believe certain conspiracy theories but not others.

    In addition to showing more of a tendency toward vaccine skepticism, large portions of Trump supporters also said they believed in other conspiracy theories, such as the idea that the world is run by a hidden cabal who secretly control events and run the world together (42 percent) and that man-made global warming is hoax that was invented to deceive people (45 percent). Support for these theories was much smaller among Biden voters […]

    Not all of the responses were split along partisan lines, however. Support for several other theories were similarly low across the political spectrum: 15 percent of Trump voters and 14 percent of Biden voters said they think it’s definitely or probably true the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks; 9 percent of Trump supporters and 8 percent who voted for Biden were similarly inclined to believe that the official account of the Nazi Holocaust is a lie and the number of Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II has been exaggerated on purpose; and the notion that the moon landings were faked resonated with 9 percent of Trump voters and 6 percent who backed Biden.

    More details at the link.

  144. quotetheunquote says

    @Lynna OM #151
    Go, them! Congratulations, Bajans.

    Wish Canada could do that. We’ve even graduated to having a G-G who’s First Nations, she’d make an excellent President.


  145. says

    Lying liars try to troll Representative Ilhan Omar … again:

    Another day, another desperate crusade for outrage: Far-right extremist Lauren Boebert (R-CO) proudly tells a Totally Real Story in a viral video about her calling Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) “the jihad squad” to her face in a Capitol elevator earlier this week.

    Omar responded to the clip on Thanksgiving via Twitter saying that Boebert is 1) making the whole thing up and 2) is actually terrified of even looking at her in the halls of Congress.


    See also:

    Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout.

    Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.

  146. says

    Dr. Fauci speaking the truth:

    […] During an interview with MSNBC this week, Fauci went after his critics, accusing them of “killing people” as they “weaponize lies” about basic public health measures needed to pull the U.S. out of this pandemic. He named Carlson specifically.

    “I’m trying to save lives and the people who weaponize lies are killing people. … So the only question I have is that when you show Tucker Carlson and Peter Navarro criticizing me, I consider that a badge of honor.

    “They always throw up those people that make those ridiculous statements, you know, they’re telling people to do things that they’re going to die from and they’re telling me I should go to jail. As they say in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, ‘Give me a break will you?’”

    Talking about the differing vaccination rates in counties where Biden won versus counties where Trump won:

    “You should never have, looking at a map, and seeing that people who are vaccinated fall heavily into one group and people who are unvaccinated fall heavily into another group,” Fauci said. “That is so antithetical with what public health should be, which should be a concerted effort on the part of the entire population.”

    And earlier this month, Fauci told CBS that he’s not planning to leave his position until he feels he’s done his job, again going after pundits who have painted him as some sort of COVID-19 boogeyman.

    “I’m going to keep doing that until this COVID-19 outbreak is in the rearview mirror, regardless of what anybody says about me, or wants to lie and create crazy fabrications because of political motivations,” he said, pouring cold water on any speculation he might soon retire.


  147. tomh says

    G.O.P. Cements Hold on Legislatures in Battleground States
    Democrats were once able to count on wave elections to win back key statehouses. Republican gerrymandering is making that all but impossible.
    Nick Corasaniti / November 25, 2021

    Republicans are locking in newly gerrymandered maps for the legislatures in four battleground states that are set to secure the party’s control in the statehouse chambers over the next decade, fortifying the G.O.P. against even the most sweeping potential Democratic wave elections.

    In Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia, Republican state lawmakers have either created supermajorities capable of overriding a governor’s veto or whittled down competitive districts so significantly that Republicans’ advantage is virtually impenetrable — leaving voters in narrowly divided states powerless to change the leadership of their legislatures.

    Although much of the attention on this year’s redistricting process has focused on gerrymandered congressional maps, the new maps being drafted in state legislatures have been just as distorted.

    And statehouses have taken on towering importance: With the federal government gridlocked, these legislatures now serve as the country’s policy laboratory, crafting bills on abortion, guns, voting restrictions and other issues that shape the national political debate.

  148. says

    I’m thankful for this 94-year-old Polish antifa veteran who continues to slam neo-fascists

    Wanda Traczyk-Stawska is an outspoken 94-year-old Polish freedom fighter. She is a veteran of the Warsaw uprising, joining the resistance when she was 17 years old. Her youth and small stature earned her the nickname “Doughnut” within the resistance. She was a hardcore anti-fascist. She still is a hardcore anti-fascist. That fight extends today to the rights of women, migrants, and refugees.

    Earlier in November, Wanda was given the title of Warsaw Citizen of the Year, voted on by citizens of Warsaw. According to the mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, Traczyk-Stawska received the most votes of any awardee ever. During her acceptance speech, Traczyk-Stawska called on women to reclaim the rights that have been whittled away by conservatives over the past decades:

    “I accept this honor to tell you that we women by the 31st Order were granted the same rights as men. We had military ranks and decorations. We were treated the same as men. And now, in free Poland, this right has been taken away from us, so that we would have a decision that belongs to us, whether we want to be mothers or not.”

    And she isn’t done.

    In October, as Poland struggles like the rest of Europe (and the world) with rising neo-fascism in its forever cloak of “nationalism,” Traczyk-Stawska appeared during a rally in support of Poland’s continuing membership in the European Union (EU). Speaking in front of tens of thousands of people to strengthen the fight against the nationalist ruling party’s attempts to pull Poland back into 1939’s blatant bigotry and evil, Traczyk-Stawska is a reminder of the human spirit’s resilience. […]

  149. says

    Followup to blf’s comment 144.

    Announcement of new virus variant alarms world, crashing stocks and banning flights.

    Washington Post link

    A new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant, with an unusual number of mutations, had scientists sounding the alarm, countries moving to impose travel bans and financial markets tumbling on Friday, as the world feared another setback on the long road out of the pandemic.

    Major questions remain about the variant’s transmissibility, whether it might make people sicker and whether it might be able to evade vaccines, but Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to Britain’s Health and Security Agency, warned that the new variant found in southern Africa is the “most worrying we’ve seen.”

    The variant, known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana, but scientists in South Africa convened a news conference Thursday and said they had linked it to an exponential rise of infections in their country. Cases have also been identified in Hong Kong and Belgium.

    By the next morning, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged about 800 points or 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 1.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index was off 1.1 percent. Crude oil prices tumbled as well.

    France, Britain, Japan and Israel began to ban or order quarantines for air passengers arriving from the southern African region. The European Union is also expected to also propose a ban on air travel arriving from southern Africa.

    “Our view is very clear,” Dana Spinant, deputy chief spokeswoman for the European Commission, said at a news conference Friday. “We need to act very fast, we need to be vigilant, and we need to take all measures that are appropriate at this stage to prevent this virus from entering Europe.”

    Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility,” but that a decision has not been made yet.

    “There is always the possibility of doing what the U.K. has done, namely block travel from South Africa and related countries,” Fauci said Friday morning in an interview on CNN. “That’s certainly something you think about and get prepared to do … But you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that.”

    Top South African health officials said they began researching the possibility of a new variant when they discovered a fast-growing cluster of cases in Gauteng, the country’s biggest province. Officials said they do not yet know where it originated
    “Unfortunately, we have now detected a new variant, which is a reason for concern in South Africa. What we have done is to act very quick,” Tulio de Oliveira, a scientist in South Africa, said at the news conference. “We are trying to identify what we are facing. The main message today is that we have to know the enemy that we fight.” […]

  150. says

    Biden has delivered a wealth of accomplishments in one year.

    […] Democrats have positive things to sell concerning the economy: wages are up […] and Biden has posted record job growth in the first year of his presidency.

    The problem is, every time someone fills up their gas tank or runs to the grocery store, they are reminded that something is still very wrong with this pandemic economy. This coming winter will likely only exacerbate that perception as home heating costs are expected to spike.

    Some of these issues—gas prices, in particular—are mostly out of a president’s control. That said, Democrats could develop a message along the lines of: We understand you are hurting and the pandemic is still squeezing people’s pocket books, which is exactly why we passed the American Rescue Plan, cut $1,400 checks to people, gave parents and families a big tax cut through the child tax credit, and delivered a major jobs growth package.

    […] the notion that Biden isn’t delivering seems almost purely a product of anemic messaging after Democrats spent months trying to coalesce around the infrastructure bill and Biden’s family/climate plan. However, passage of the infrastructure bill has already given the president an opportunity to move past the dysfunction narrative and rally around a giant job-creation measure that is good for families, the economy, and American competitiveness.

    […] the notion that Biden hasn’t delivered anything is entirely fixable as job growth booms, nearly 230 million Americans have gotten the jab, and Democrats have enacted two separate trillion-dollar stimulus packages during Biden’s first year in office.

    President Biden and his allies have already hit the road to sell his latest accomplishment, but congressional Democrats must spend the lion’s share of next year wrapping up their entire package of goods in a bow for voters.


  151. says

    Biden admin reversing termination of programs that could reunite some Haitian and Filipino families

    The Biden administration has reversed the termination of two little-discussed but very significant immigration programs, including a policy that allowed Filipino World War II veterans to petition to bring loved ones to the U.S. while they wait for their visas.

    Both the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program and Haitian Family Reunification Parole were terminated by the previous administration in 2019. But in recent announcements, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said both programs will come back.

    “The FWVP program was established in June 2016 to allow certain Filipino World War II veterans and their U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident spouses to apply for parole for certain family members,” USCIS said. “If approved for parole, family members could come to the United States before their immigrant visas became available.” […]

    Meanwhile, legislators had urged the Biden administration to reinstate Haitian Family Reunification Parole, as part of a response to the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the small nation this past summer. […]

    “The reinstatement of these programs is an important step in the right direction,” Cruz concluded in her post. “The Biden administration should do all it can to ensure these programs are operating at full capacity so families can be reunited in the shortest amount of time possible.”

  152. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One way to disrupt the supply chain:

    Hundreds of FedEx packages are found in Alabama woods
    11/26/2021 17:04 -0500
    HAYDEN, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama sheriff is trying to figure out how hundreds of FedEx packages ended up dumped in the woods.

    An estimated 300 to 400 packages of various sizes were found in a ravine near the small town of Hayden on Wednesday, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

    Deputies were sent to guard the scene until FedEx workers could arrive to pick up the packages, Sheriff Mark Moon said. FedEx sent multiple trucks and drivers from across the South to load up the packages, Moon said.

    Photos posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page show the packages strewn about the forest and piled at the bottom of a wooded hillside.

    Natasha Abney told WBMA-TV that her neighbor found the boxes on his property.

    “I mean it was just a river of boxes,” Abney said. “Some busted open, some not.”

    It wasn’t clear why the packages were in the ravine, the sheriff said, but he hoped to have some answers soon.

    “The security of our customers’ shipments is a top priority and we are committed to treating our customers’ packages with the utmost care,” Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx said in a statement provided Friday.

    “We are taking steps to recover and transport the affected packages as quickly as possible,” the company said. “In addition to cooperating with law enforcement, we are conducting a review of this situation and will take the appropriate action.”

    The site where the packages were found is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Birmingham.


  153. says

    About that “Nu” COVID variant:

    […] there is no evidence that vaccine immunity is seriously threatened.

    To start with, it appears that while “Nu” is outcompeting Delta, it is doing so in regions where Delta is more dormant and with low vaccination rates. […] Concerned, evaluating, and being responsible, but we are not to the “send in the HAZMAT suits and lock the town down” stage. […]

    the bottom line is your ability to defeat a variant is multi-pronged, so panic about vaccine escape, while it is possible, is not warranted. We also have no firm evidence it is able to outcompete Delta, as it is spreading in areas where, like I said, Delta does not seem to be competing with it. All of this is subject to change with new data, however.

    There is other good news, in a sense. I have several sources of confirmation that the six cases of breakthrough transmission with the Nu Variant, all are said to be asymptomatic. […] the travelers, Pfizer vaccinated, tested positive for it. […]

    These travelers have a high viral load but as previously mentioned, are said to be asymptomatic. This could be seen as positive-if you are vaccinated, and you have no comorbidities. Vaccinated people will get variant infections, it will happen, so if Pfizer is working to prevent severe disease, that is a key “Can we sleep tonight?” question.

    It is not the only “Can we sleep tonight?” question. One of the things that gets overlooked are the aforementioned comorbidities. These can have the practical effect of being unvaccinated, so a highly transmissible variant with similar virulence, that does little to prevent transmission from the vaccinated is a noteworthy concern.

    So far we have uncovered no symptomatic cases of the new variant among those who are vaccinated. With enough volume, that will almost certainly change, but if breakthrough is not drastically different than Delta this is still something the current game plan can handle.

    […] the variant may not seriously sicken the vast majority of the vaccinated, but the vaccine may do next to nothing with this one to prevent transmission from the vaccinated. Again, a lot we don’t know. […]

    the early signs seem to imply solid protection if you are vaxxed. Again, very early in this discovery process. […]

    I suppose the easiest way to describe this post, is think of the virus as knocking on doors, looking for a party. The virus might sneak into the vaxxed, but will quickly get thrown out. Eventually it will find its way into unsecured (unvaxxed) doorways and tear up your house. […] the bulk of concern is focused on the health risk to the unvaccinated or immunosuppressed. […]

    We have entered another wave as it is, and it is likely this variant will have an impact, but it is just as likely that you will be protected by being fully vaxxed, from severe disease. And that is the best we can hope for. While there is a lot of talk about “breakthrough” infections, this misses the point. The point is at some point all of us are likely to be exposed to a variant that we would show positivity for. This does not mean the vaccine is not working.

    Keeping us alive is the vaccine’s job. It was never realistic to expect perfect immunity, and the media did a grave disservice in hinting at that possibility.

    The ultimate goal is not to expect to never get Covid, but to survive it with reasonably minimal effects. But that goal is only feasible long term-If you are vaccinated.


  154. says

    Unvaccinated people causing severe stress on Michigan’s hospital system:

    At Spectrum Health, a major health-care system here, officials spent part of last week debating whether to move to “red status” in a show of how strained hospitals had become.

    A flood of mostly unvaccinated covid-19 patients was arriving at emergency departments already packed with people suffering other medical issues, sending capacity to unprecedented levels. The only hesitation for Spectrum’s decision-makers? Data suggested the covid surge was not over.

    “We don’t have a darker color,” said Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “So if we’re red now, what are we in two weeks?”

    He and other leaders ultimately decided Thursday to make the change, upgrading the health-care system to the most serious tier for the first time since the pandemic began. In recent days, the state had emerged as a new covid hot spot, leading the nation in new infections and hospitalizations. By the end of last week, its seven-day average of new cases had hit a pandemic high. State leaders asked the U.S. Department of Defense to provide emergency hospital staffing to handle the surge — a request granted Wednesday. […]

    Washington Post link

  155. says

    Siberian mine explosion kills more than 50, another tragedy in an industry plagued with safety lapses.

    Washington Post link

    One rescuer was found alive at a Siberian coal mine Friday after an explosion that killed 51 coal miners and rescuers the previous day.

    The man found alive, Alexander Zakovryashin, 51, was a doctor on a rescue team sent into the mine Thursday, […] He was in serious condition and had no memory of what had happened, doctors told journalists Friday.

    […] In video aired by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, the weeping widow of one of the dead miners, Boris Piyalkin, said alarms on methane detectors that miners are required to wear were ignored. Her name was not given.

    She said a fire broke out in the mine last week, a complaint that other miners have made to local media.

    “On the 15th, they [the miners] didn’t hesitate and extinguished the fire in the mine themselves, by their own efforts. A few days went by, and now my husband is gone. And everyone knew it,” she told local media, wiping away tears.

    Recent safety checks by authorities achieved nothing, she said. Her husband and others had to keep working, even as methane detectors warned of high gas levels.

    […] The Listvazhnaya coal mine in Belovo in southwestern Siberia, which started operating in 1956, had been through a period of strife over the last year. It was inspected by multiple agencies for safety and fire violations, forced to shut down nine times and fined more than $55,000 […]

    Russian authorities have launched a criminal case against the mine director, his deputy and the foreman over suspected negligence and breach of safety procedures.

    […] The blast underscored the difficulties Russia has faced in imposing modern safety standards in a dangerous sector in which fatal blasts have been common and are often blamed on lax safety standards or outmoded equipment.

    In 2016, Russian authorities weighed the closure of 20 dangerous coal mines but ruled it out because of cost and the risk of coal shortages.

    […] there were few other well-paid jobs available in the region.

    Under Russian safety rules, mines are supposed to stop work if methane concentrations get too high, but miners, declining to be named, told local media that work at the mine often continued. […]

    miners are not paid when they have to stop because of high methane levels, local media reported. […]

  156. says

    Nerd @165, Yikes! We have enough problems with the supply chain. We don’t need people dumping packages into a ravine.

    I need to have some repairs done in my bathroom. I had to put down a deposit with the plumbers just in order to get on a waiting list for repairs in March.

  157. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@166, “About that ‘Nu’ COVID variant”… It’s been named Omicron, and designated a Variant-of-Concern (VOC), joining Delta, Gamma, Beta, and Alpha. A snippet from the BBC, Omicron: Mutations prompt new coronavirus variant concern from WHO:

    A “variant of concern” is the World Health Organization’s top category of worrying Covid variants.

    The decision adds weight to the mounting scientific worry about the potential of this new variant, but it doesn’t change any of the facts.

    The variant has an astounding collection of mutations which are thought to increase its ability to spread and bypass some, but not all, of the protection from vaccines.

    However, we still don’t have the clear real-world data.

    We don’t know for sure that it spreads faster, makes vaccines or drugs less effective or whether it leads to more severe disease.

    The WHO have also given it a name and ended days of speculation that we would end up in the slightly ridiculous position of calling the new variant the “Nu variant”.

    There have even been arguments about the correct pronunciation of the Greek letter Nu (it’s technically a “Nee”).

  158. blf says

    It occurs to me the WHO’s skipping of (to quote the BBC (see @170)) “the slightly ridiculous position of calling the new variant the ‘Nu variant'” to call it Omicron will fuel — if it hasn’t already — some “entertaining” conspiracy theories. The mildly deranged penguin has, therefore, decided to start her own: WHO promised it would name so-called variants after consecutive letters of the Greek alphabet — but “skipped” Nu to call the latest scare-mongering Omicron. So what is the Nu ? If must exist as promised !

    Obviously, Nu’s a stealth so-called ‘variant’, clearly polluting your precious bodily fluids by the so-called ‘booster’ injections — so widely rejected around the world by the now-clewed-in sheeple They are having to use FEMA concentration camps to forcibly inject teh kids & other brave resistors! Nu contains not only 5G nanobots, but 6G picobranz, able to act without GPS contact nor instructions from Bill Gates.

    The picobranz are tied to the Reptilian spider hive, as their plan to enslave all sheeple progresses with the aid of traitors like “Dr” Fakci and “President” Bidelection continues to block our only true savi(message ends in slobbering and burps)

    Actually, I distracted her with a piece of cheese…

  159. says

    Good news from Idaho, for a change:

    Back in 2018, a group of determined Idahoans hit the road in a couple of old RVs they painted green, taking on the herculean task of getting a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in the state. […] the Republican legislature here created what they thought would be an insurmountable barrier to getting an initiative onto the ballot. They didn’t expect Reclaim Idaho, who figured out all of those hurdles and organized their way around them.

    Medicaid expansion did get on the 2018 ballot, and it absolutely crushed with 61% of the vote. The legislature, of course, came back the next year with two more attempts to kill the initiative process in the state, both surprisingly vetoed by Republican Gov. Brad Little. When they came back in 2020 with yet another effort, Little signed this one, fruitlessly hoping to stave off a primary challenge from his right. Reclaim Idaho, working on a new initiative to fund education through tax increases on the wealthiest residents, sued the state and won.

    Now their volunteers are out in Idaho neighborhoods collecting signatures for that effort. And here’s where we get to the really great stuff.

    “I don’t even know his name, but I’m alive because of him and his friends,” a Boise resident posted on Nextdoor. ”I was working in my yard a couple weeks ago when a man approached with a clipboard asking for signatures for Idaho education funding. He asked did I know about Medicaid expansion and what ‘they’ had done to get Idahoans covered in 2018. I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Yes. I am alive today because of it.’”

    She goes on to tell her harrowing story: “I have a rare condition known as Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure. It is terminal: without frequent ongoing surgeries scar tissue cuts off my airway and I suffocate to death slowly.” It very nearly did kill the single mom of four, uninsured after leaving an abusive partner, and put her deeply in debt. “And then … Idaho passed Medicaid Expansion. The day my best friend told me I called. Surely, it was too good to be true. The woman on the other end joyfully informed me 5 mins into the call that yes I was now enrolled and had free health care. Free. Health care.” In her words:

    I explained this story briefly to this man with his clipboard. He told me he and his friend, Luke, were the ones who fought for it. I stood there dumbfounded. What is the protocol for suddenly finding that the human in front of you, a stranger, saved your life? I stammered thanks, I told him I wouldn’t be alive without them… and he said he would tell Luke, and I signed his petition for Idaho education, and… he walked away. And I just stood there, in my flowerbed, in awe.

    She continued, “I really love being alive. And I am incredibly thankful that some privileged white men used their voice when I didn’t have one, to keep me alive.”


  160. says

    Good news: The former prosecutor charged with misconduct for her handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case was booked at a Georgia jail on Wednesday.

  161. says

    Omicron update:

    The first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been identified in the United Kingdom, the country’s health officials announced Saturday.

    Two Omicron coronavirus cases have been found in the U.K., according to the country’s Health Security Agency.

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the two cases were found in Chelmsford and in Nottingham, and both patients as well as their households are under quarantine, BBC reported. Further testing and contract tracing will be done to determine if more cases have entered the U.K.

    The newly identified cases make the United Kingdom the latest in a growing list of countries that have known Omicron variant cases. […]

    Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel have had cases of the new variant as of Saturday morning. […]


  162. says

    Followup to comments 166, 172 (blf), and 176.

    NY governor declares state of emergency to prepare for omicron

    New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) declared a state of emergency to prepare for a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.

    Hochul’s declaration on Friday is one of the first emergency steps taken by a state in the U.S. against the new variant, known as omicron, whose discovery was announced Thursday.

    The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said in an interview Friday with CNN that there have been no omicron cases detected in the U.S., although he acknowledged that doesn’t rule out the possibility the variant could be in the country.

    “We continue to see warning signs of spikes in COVID this winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming,” Hochul said in a tweet. […]

    The executive order, in effect until at least Jan. 15, allows nonessential procedures to be postponed in hospitals in order to increase hospital capacity.

    Hochul is urging residents to wear a mask, get vaccinated and get a booster shot to combat the new variant. […] scientists and medical professionals are racing to study the new strain […]

  163. says

    North Korea bans leather coats after Kim starts new fashion trend

    North Korea has banned leather coats that copy the style of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, multiple sources told Radio Free Asia.

    Kim popularized the leather jacket in 2019. It was initially worn by rich people who could afford the pricey item.

    However, fake leather was soon imported so the jacket could be worn by those with less money, which frustrated the North Korean leader.

    “When these leather coats became popular, the law enforcement authorities went after the companies that made the coats that look too much like the Highest Dignity’s,” one source said.

    A military parade in North Korea in January showed all the high-ranking officials wearing leather jackets, sparking even more interest in the material. However, literal fashion police have worked to confiscate the fake leather jackets in markets and from people wearing them.

    Citizens have complained, saying it is not fair to take a jacket they paid for.

    “The police respond to the complaints, saying that wearing clothes designed to look like the Highest Dignity’s is an ‘impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity,'” another source said. “They instructed the public not to wear leather coats, because it is part of the party’s directive to decide who can wear them.”

    The leather jacket has also been worn by Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, who is speculated to be his chosen successor, according to the outlet.

    “So now the leather coat has become a symbol for powerful women too,” the first source said.

  164. says

    Wonkette: “Right-Wing Conspiracists Come Up With Most Moronic Theory Yet”

    [Image showing Greek alphabet is available at the link] One of the main things that make conspiracies “work” for those who believe them is a fervent belief that everything those who are conspiring against them in whatever capacity do is symbolism. That way, everything those people so or say is “proof” of whatever evil think you think they are doing. In fact, almost no conspiracies make sense unless you think that “they” are literally sitting around all day Herman Melville-ing it up in hopes of making the sheeple look foolish. One of the big Q sayings, even, is “Their need for symbolism will be their downfall.”

    The idea is that the whole evil cabal either gets together at Bohemian Grove and decides “OK! So here’s what we’re gonna do — we’re gonna wear red shoes to symbolize our love of eating babies in Satanic rituals and then laugh and laugh and laugh about how we are rubbing our love of eating babies in everyone’s face and they don’t even know it! Because that is a good time for adults.” It’s like a never-ending game of updog. […]

    […] Now that the latest COVID variant has dropped, all of the aspiring Robert Langdons out there cannot believe how blatant the cabal is getting … by calling it the Omicron variant. And why are they doing this? Because omicron is an anagram for moronic and literally no other reason. They just want to laugh at the idiots going along believing that this is a real pandemic that is happening, just because people keep dying of an easily transmissible virus. […]

    But not everyone fell for their evil wordplay tricks. [At the link there are several examples of conservations posting something similar to “Omicron is an anagram for Moronic.”]

    This one is my favorite, as it gets real deep, noting that the Omicron variant dropped 666 days after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global threat. 666 being Satan’s favorite number and all. [details shown at the link]

    That’s not exactly true. COVID-19 was actually declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, but whatever that number is is probably not good for symbolism purposes. And you know how we Satanists love our symbolism […]

    It’s also not exactly true that the evil cabal chose Omicron because it is an anagram for “moronic” so much as it is the Greek letter “O,” and all of the variants have been Greek letters. The WHO skipped over Nu because it sounds like New and skipped over Xi to avoid confusion with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. […]

    Of course, it is entirely possible that the Ancient Greeks were up to some shit in calling the letter O omicron, in anticipation of Henry H. Goddard coining the word “moron” in 1910 and also in anticipation of a fake pandemic naming variants of the fake virus after letters in the Greek alphabet, because they too wanted to troll people three thousand years in the future. It does make a certain amount of sense. […]


  165. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 180

    The concept is called “predictive programming” where the conspiracy implant symbolism into the media to get the benighted masses to subconsciously accept their imminent tyranny.

    Alex Jones takes it further by claiming that the universe operate on some sort of spiritual contract law. In order for Satan to triumph, humans must willinglyreject Gawd. Therefore, the satanic globalists “promote” witchcraft and pedophilia in the media to make the people reject Christianity and agree to allow Satan to oppress them.

    Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but that’s to be expected from these loons,

  166. says

    As you probably all know by now, Stephen Sondheim died. Here are some excerpts from a remembrance written by Michael Schulman:

    My family was watching old home movies, in a post-Thanksgiving time warp, when I found out that Stephen Sondheim had died, at ninety-one. In the jump from one VHS tape to another, I had just seen myself go from seven to fourteen: the years in which Sondheim taught me how to be a person. First, it was “Into the Woods,” the gateway Sondheim musical for most people born after 1980—a gateway to adulthood, really, just as its characters Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of the beanstalk) go into the woods as wishful storybook characters and come out understanding disappointment, regret, compromise, loss. “Isn’t it nice to know a lot?” Little Red Riding Hood sings, having survived ingestion by a wolf. “And a little bit not.” It was the apple from the tree of knowledge, that show. You couldn’t unbite it.

    Then “Merrily We Roll Along,” which charts the same journey in reverse: three friends go from jaded, wounded adults to hopeful college kids, gazing up at Sputnik. A lesson in broken promises, in holding on to yourself, in callow phonies. (“It’s called letting go your illusions,” one character advises.) Then “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”: a gleaming razor, a rolling pin, revenge, lust, murder. (“How delectable!”) “Company”: a woman with a vodka stinger, sizing up all the women she loathes, including herself. (“Another chance to disapprove, another brilliant zinger.”) “A Little Night Music”: love and sex, ill-timed. (“Isn’t it rich?”) Feeding my brain, I borrowed those cast albums from my school library so many times that the librarians finally let me keep them.

    In his great, long life, Sondheim did for the Broadway musical what he did for me: brought the art form from adolescence into maturity, infusing it with complicated, sometimes curdled emotions that Broadway hadn’t dared to sing about before. This was, in large part, his way of honoring and overthrowing his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, whom Sondheim met as a child, around when his parents divorced. “If he’d been a geologist,” Sondheim liked to say, “I would have been a geologist.” Hammerstein was, in fact, the lyricist of such genre-defining musicals as “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel,” and “South Pacific,” in which he rhymed “dope” and “hope.” Decades later, in “Company,” Sondheim rhymed “personable” and “coercin’ a bull.” That time jump, not coincidentally, spans America’s loss of innocence, from the postwar era to Vietnam: Hammerstein’s bright golden haze on the meadow had become a miasma.

    By then, Sondheim had already written the lyrics for two classics, “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” both before he was thirty, […] But “Company,” which opened in 1970, was his break from linear plot, tidy resolutions, and romantic platitudes: it’s about a man who wants to be single and in love at the same time. […]

    His characters were imbued with panoramic intelligence, a self-awareness that played out in dazzling internal rhymes that landed like triple axels […] As he rewrote the Broadway landscape, in shows as different as “Follies” and “Pacific Overtures,” Sondheim was sometimes criticized as cold and cerebral, a better lyricist than he was a musician. But it’s hard to contemplate a song more passionate or more melodic than “Johanna,” “Losing My Mind,” or “Unworthy of Your Love,” all of which are sung by characters making some lovestruck, wrongheaded move. […]

    Uncertainty, self-delusion, disillusionment: Sondheim knew that they could be as deeply felt as the primary-color emotions. His characters sang to think and to feel at the same time.

    There are too many lyrics with which to eulogize him: on art, on show biz, on mothers, on grief. […]

    No wonder performers loved him. Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Zero Mostel, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Ethel Merman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Driver, and Madonna are just a few who’ve famously sung Sondheim, and his songs seemed to give them trickier, more rewarding assignments than they’d had elsewhere. […]

    In “Sunday in the Park with George,” the Sondheim musical that perhaps most directly explained Sondheim, he wrote about how art isn’t easy, about how pretty isn’t beautiful, about how artists are always “standing by, mapping out the sky,” often at their personal expense. […]

    New Yorker link

  167. says

    A researcher from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University has published data at LA Progressive Newsletter detailing the vast sums of cash that private prison profiteers like GEO Group, CoreCivic, and Management and Training Corporation sunk into the 2020 campaign.

    […] the vast majority went to Republicans. “During the 2020 election cycle, GEO gave $818,100 to Republican candidates and affiliated PACs and organizations, and $46,978 to Democratic candidates and affiliated PACs and organizations.”

    Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University’s Dr. Austin Kocher, a researcher working with Peca, pointed out the individual recipients of GEO Group’s donations during the election season. […]

    Trump Victory Fund $180,000 […]

    “Campaign finance can have a massive impact on the accountability of public officials and the transparency of campaigns,” Peca said. “As constituents, we have the right—arguably the responsibility—to scrutinize not only our public officials but also those that believe that they can buy power and influence through massive campaign donations.”


    One private prison profiteer, MTC, donated to a PAC associated with Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema (a Democrat). She has not explained why she is getting so much money from for-profit immigrant detention contractors.

  168. KG says

    Lynna, OM@180,

    The real question is how to pronounce “Omicron”. The image at your link has “o-me-cron”, but that itself is ambiguous: is the “o” pronounced as in “mole” or as in “troll”? Is the stress on “o” or on “me”, or even on “cron”? This link gives different pronunciations for American and British English. Until we know the correct pronunciation, how can vaccination against it possibly work???

    I also note that your link explains that “Xi” was omitted from the roster of variants in order to avoid confusion with Xi Jinping. Could there be any clearer proof that Covid-19 was personally developed and unleashed on an unsuspecting world by Xi, who no doubt grew a moustache to twirl for the occasion?!?!?!!

  169. says

    Cruelty … during the holiday season. Unethical money-making schemes … during the holiday season. This time the emphasis is on prisons.

    Nancy DeNike remembers one of the few uplifting moments during her five-year sentence at Homestead Correctional Institution in Florida’s Miami-Dade County: hearing her name announced at mail call. For her, and for other incarcerated people, it was a moment of connection to the outside world, to hold a picture of loved ones or feel the indentations of a handwritten letter. But across the nation, that tactile connection is becoming a thing of the past. On Oct. 11, Florida became the most recent in a growing number of states to ban physical routine mail. The decision, which will go into effect Nov. 29, is right in time for the holidays, when the desire and need for communication is critical for incarcerated people’s mental health.

    […] Under the new system, incarcerated people will have to pay $0.25 a page for black-and-white scanned printouts of their mail and $1.00 a page for color printouts, or $0.39 per email to access electronic formats available on provided tablets or kiosks. The system is operated by JPay, the prison industry’s largest financial services company,

    While the Florida Department of Corrections claims the move will be beneficial for incarcerated people since the price per email is $0.16 less than the cost of a first-class stamp, the decision will only add to an already growing revenue stream for Aventiv, JPay’s parent company, which controls three of the largest telecommunications, media, and money-wiring companies that profit directly off of over a million incarcerated people in over 3,500 correctional facilities across North America.

    The push to ban physical letters has been ongoing since 2013 when jails began experimenting with a postcard-only policy that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court. The Prison Policy report found that physical mail bans hurt the efforts to reduce recidivism and go against correctional best practices.

    In 2020,[…] Trump started a pilot program for mail scanning in federal prisons through the telecom company Smart Communications’ “MailGuard” service. The Biden administration has yet to reverse the program, despite criticism that the program raises privacy and surveillance concerns for incarcerated people, as well as exorbitant price gouging. Now, states like Pennsylvania and Florida have followed suit with similar mail-scanning programs in prisons.

    The Florida Department of Corrections claims the push to digitize mail prevents contraband materials, including sprayed drugs, from being delivered, but there is little evidence to back this claim. In fact, reports since 2003 confirm that corrections officers are the main source of contraband in prisons.

    “Contraband materials are always going to find their way in,” says Fletcher Everett, a formerly incarcerated organizer with Beyond the Bars Miami, a grassroots organization that supports people impacted by incarceration and advocates for prison reform. “It’s all about the market. Because if they did care, they wouldn’t take away the letters.”

    Everett similarly recalls hearing his name called at mail time as the one time a day he could be distracted from the tension and suffering around him.

    “In prison, all you have is your mail, everything else they own,” he says.

    Kathie Klarreich, the executive director of Exchange for Change, a nonprofit that offers semester-long writing classes in South Florida correctional institutions, relies on the provided JPay tablets to work with her students. In her experience, the JPay tablets have frequently not worked, leaving program participants without access to the program’s materials for months at a time. […]

    As the Department of Corrections in Florida and others across the country transition from receiving mail in person to scanning the mail on tablets, nonfunctioning tablets and broken kiosks would mean a complete lack of connection to the outside world. […]

    Additionally, scanned mail quality can be very low resolution, making it illegible for people with visual disabilities. In one example of a scanned photo, the darkened shadows render the image unrecognizable. When a piece of paper is all an incarcerated person has to connect them to the outside world, holding the original makes all the difference.


    So the scans are low quality, and the tablets on which digital mail is supposedly displayed often don’t work. Worse and worse.

  170. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Moderna says an omicron variant vaccine could be ready in early 2022

    Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said Sunday the vaccine maker could roll out a reformulated vaccine against the omicron coronavirus variant early next year.

    It’s not clear whether new formulations will be needed, or if current Covid vaccinations will provide protection against the new variant that has begun to spread around the globe.

    “We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks, but the remarkable thing about the MRNA vaccines, Moderna platform is that we can move very fast,” Burton said on BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show.”

    “If we have to make a brand new vaccine I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities,” the Moderna chief added.

    Omicron has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, meaning it is more contagious, more virulent or more skilled at evading public health measures, vaccines and therapeutics. The variant contains 30 mutations to the spike protein that allows the virus to enter the body. Officials have warned that many of these mutations could lead to increased antibody resistance and transmissibility, which could limit the effectiveness of existing Covid vaccines.

    The vaccine maker “mobilized hundreds” of workers starting early Thursday morning, on Thanksgiving, to start studying the new variant, the company said in a statement.

    Current vaccines could provide some protection, depending on how long ago a person was injected, Burton said. Still, he said unvaccinated people should get vaccinated or receive their booster shots, if eligible.

    It’s so nice having mRNA technology.

  171. says

    Update on what Dr. Fauci is saying regarding Omicron:

    Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that the omicron COVID-19 variant will “inevitably” hit the United States, noting that it has already been detected in several other countries.

    During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Fauci if the newly detected variant had been detected by officials in the U.S.

    “No, we have not, George, and we have a pretty good surveillance system. But as we all know, when you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, inevitably it will be here,” Fauci, who serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, answered. […]

    Fauci also argued during the interview that travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration and other countries could buy nations time to better respond to omicron, which the World Health Organization called a “variant of concern” last week.

    “Travel bans, when you have a highly transmissible virus, never completely would … prevent it from coming into the country. No way that’s going to happen,” Fauci said.

    “But what you can do is you can delay it enough to get us better prepared. And that’s the thing that people need to understand. If you’re going to do the travel ban the way we’ve done now and that we’re implementing right now, utilize the time that you’re buying to fill in the gaps,” he added. […]


  172. says

    tomh @188, I am going to be watching that closely.

    In other news: As Congress returns to work, a daunting to-do list awaits

    Capitol Hill was quiet last week, as members returned home for their Thanksgiving break. As NBC News reported, that tranquility is poised to come to a rather dramatic end, as Congress confronts a series of deadlines.

    Congress will confront a packed agenda when it returns from Thanksgiving recess, from facing hard deadlines to keep the federal government running to passing President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion safety net and climate legislation.

    […] the next five weeks will be among the most hectic of the year. Consider lawmakers’ to-do list:

    Government funding: […] funding for government operations expires this Friday at midnight. That’s the bad news. The good news is that no one seems to think a government shutdown is likely, and we’ll likely see a stopgap spending measure (called a “continuing resolution” or “CR”).

    Debt ceiling: Originally, officials agreed to a debt-ceiling extension through Dec. 3, but the strength of the economic recovery ended up pushing the default deadline to Dec. 15. No one seems able to say with confidence what’ll happen between now and then, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told reporters, “[W]e’ll figure out how to avoid default. We always do.”

    The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): Over the course of the last six decades, Congress has passed a defense package every year. The NDAA is partly a spending bill, but it also includes a great many policy provisions, including how the military addresses sexual assault allegations. The House passed its version in September, but the bill has been delayed in the Senate for a variety of reasons, including efforts to link it to the US Innovation and Competition Act, questions about repealing earlier war resolutions, and the overall size of military spending. Senators expect the bill to pass before end of the calendar year.

    Build Back Better: The Democratic domestic investment package recently passed the House, and Senate leaders intend to pass their revised version of the legislation by Christmas. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia recently said he was on board with that schedule, but he’s reportedly planning to push the debate into the new year.

    Nominations: The United States still has only four ambassadors to foreign countries, and key national security posts throughout the executive branch don’t have Senate-confirmed nominees. Don’t be surprised if Democratic leaders try to force the issue in the coming weeks.

    Freedom to Vote Act: As democracy scholars plead with senators to rescue democracy, the Freedom to Vote Act faces an uncertain future. On the one hand, it has 50 votes and a vice president who would gladly break a tie in its favor. On the other hand, a small handful of Senate Democrats are prioritizing the filibuster rule over democracy itself, indifferent to the consequences. Despite the crowded calendar, some kind of resolution on this issue is still a possibility before year’s end. […]

  173. says

    Probably wise:

    In Texas, actor Matthew McConaughey has decided not to run for governor. The political neophyte, who said in the spring that he was “absolutely” considering the statewide race, said yesterday that politics is “a path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment.”

    Other news:

    The Associated Press had a striking report over the weekend, noting the bizarre misinformation campaign targeting Latino voters, including a conspiracy theory pushed via Spanish-language radio warning that a brooch worn by Lady Gaga during President Joe Biden’s inauguration signaled that the Democrat “was working with shadowy, leftist figures abroad.”

  174. says

    Why Michael Flynn’s weird ideas about the ‘global elite’ matter

    If Trump were to reclaim power, he’d consider rehiring his former national security advisor.

    Michael Flynn has had quite a year. It was the day before Thanksgiving 2020, for example, when the former White House national security advisor received an extraordinarily corrupt presidential pardon from Donald Trump.

    Less than a month later, Flynn plotted with the outgoing president in the Oval Office, exploring ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The retired general reportedly raised the prospect of seizing voting machines, deploying U.S. troops, and declaring martial law as part of the anti-election scheme.

    […] In the late summer, Flynn suggested people may be exposed to Covid-19 vaccines by way of salad dressing.

    A couple of weeks ago, he made the case that the United States should have a single religion. Presumably, Flynn’s faith tradition would be the one receiving special recognition.

    And as the HuffPost noted, the retired general is still at it:

    Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and pardoned felon, Michael Flynn, has offered up his latest batch of conspiracy nonsense, this time suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic was orchestrated by unnamed “global elites” who could be preparing to unleash a new virus on humanity.

    Sitting down with Alex Jones, Flynn said unnamed nefarious forces had a “little plan with Covid,” which was thwarted by “digital warriors.” He added that he’s nevertheless concerned about the possibility of conspirators unleashing “another type of virus” that he fears might be “imposed on the public.”

    […] Every time I see reports like these, my first instinct is to look back and marvel at the fact that, just four years ago, this guy had access to the nation’s most important and sensitive secrets — before he became a convicted felon for lying about his secret communications with Russia.

    But we need not be entirely retrospective about the retired general. It was just last year when Trump — during his re-election campaign — told reporters that he was open to re-hiring Flynn. Asked specifically if he might invite Flynn back into the executive branch, the then-president replied, “I would certainly consider it, yeah. I would. I think he’s a fine man.”

    Chances are, Flynn’s days in a position of authority are over. But as he goes over the edge, and descends deeper into the political fringe, it’s worth remembering that if Trump were to reclaim power, the Republican may yet want to find a place for his disgraced former White House national security adviser.

    Beware. If Trump returns to power, so will all the best people, like Michael Flynn.

  175. says

    Followup to comment 107.

    [S]ome RNC members and donors accused the party of running afoul of its own neutrality rules and misplacing its priorities. Some of these same officials who spoke to CNN also questioned why the party would foot the legal bills of a self-professed billionaire who was sitting on a $102 million war chest as recently as July and has previously used his various political committees to cover legal costs.

    CNN link


    […] A former top RNC official said, “This is not normal. Nothing about this is normal, especially since he’s not only a former president but a billionaire. What does any of this have to do with assisting Republicans in 2022 or preparing for the 2024 primary?”

    Another questioned why the RNC is “having to pay for this when you have these super PACs taking in unlimited money for Trump.”

    One RNC official told CNN the relationship between Trump and the national party is effectively “a hostage situation”: The RNC simply can’t afford to make the former president unhappy, so it pays these bills to prevent Trump from retaliating against the party.

    One Republican official even went on the record:

    Bill Palatucci, a national committeeman from New Jersey, said the fact that the RNC made the payments to Trump’s attorneys in October was particularly frustrating given his own plea to party officials that same month for additional resources as the New Jersey GOP sought to push Republican Jack Ciattarelli over the finish line in his challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

    Palatucci noted that New Jersey Republicans “sure as heck could have used” the money the RNC instead sent to law firms representing Trump. […]


  176. says

    The more Republicans succeed in extending the Covid-19 crisis, the more the party blames the president for the fact that the pandemic isn’t over.

    Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming appeared on Fox News yesterday morning and eagerly reminded viewers that “more people have died of Covid under President Biden than did in all of 2020.” During his eight-hour speech two weeks ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pushed the same talking point.

    “I took President Biden at his word; I took him at his word when he said he was going to get Covid under control,” the California Republican said. “Unfortunately, more Americans have died this year than last year under Covid.”

    It’s an exasperating argument that’s part of a larger, bewildering scheme. On the one hand, President Joe Biden is doing everything possible to address the pandemic through vaccinations, mandates, and an aggressive public health campaign. On the other hand, Republicans have pushed back aggressively, taking steps to undermine the administration’s campaign on several fronts, from undermining public confidence in vaccines to filing lawsuits against White House policies to paying people who make dangerous and irresponsible decisions.

    […] Making matters worse is the degree to which some GOP officials continue to give the public bad information. Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina appeared on Fox News yesterday morning and said, “In some studies that I have read, natural immunity gives you 27 times more protection against future covid infection than a vaccination. And so we need to take all of the science into account and not selectively choosing what science to follow when we are making policy decisions.”


    The Washington Post explained why the congresswoman’s argument was such a mess.

    Mace is likely referring to one Israeli study (not “studies”), which did indeed find what she claimed. But speaking of “selectively choosing what science to follow,” Mace didn’t mention that other studies have found the opposite. More broadly, pitting natural immunity against vaccination is itself misleading Americans. As The Post recently reported, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of more than 90 studies and papers found that “for people who have been infected … vaccination provides a boost in the immune response and further reduces the risk of a repeat infection.” To imply that people should become infected rather than getting a shot is dangerous — especially when the former comes with a massive death toll.

    […] The more the public receives misguided information from those in positions of authority, the more many Americans will make the wrong choices. To blame this on the White House, instead of those pushing the misguided information, is ridiculous.


    Wyoming’s Barrasso also complained about booster shots.

  177. says

    Representative Ronny Jackson is pushing COVID misinformation:

    The former White House doctor who raved about Donald Trump’s “excellent” health to a skeptical public is now claiming that the disturbing new COVID-19 variant omicron is nothing but a midterm election ploy by the Democrats. Dr. Ronny Jackson, now a Republican MAGA congressman from Texas, scoffed at the variant the World Health Organization has deemed “highly transmissible” and “concerning.”

    (Text above is from HuffPost).

    More: In a tweet published over the weekend, Jackson wrote, “Here comes the MEV – the Midterm Election Variant! They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election – but we’re not going to let them!”


    […] how exactly did Democrats manage to coordinate this amazing conspiracy with the World Health Organization and public health networks across the planet? Are nations around the globe shutting down flights and scrambling to prepare because they’re focused on mail-in balloting in the United States 11 months from now?

    As the world learned of the omicron variant, responsible figures considered the strain’s transmissibility, severity, and strength relative to existing vaccines. The congressman from Texas’ 13th district skipped these concerns and went straight to voter suppression.

    The fear, of course, is that there will be some Americans who don’t realize that Jackson’s conspiracy theory is absurd. They’ll see his background, consider him credible, and believe his bonkers ideas about elections and viral variants have merit.

    They do not. What they instead do is perpetuate a problem that leads too many people to make dangerous choices related to public health and democracy.


  178. says

    Ex-CIA Officer Details Trump’s Paranoid [interactions] With Intel Community: Most ‘Difficult’ Transition Since Nixon

    A new […] book details former President Trump’s “difficult” transition after winning the 2016 presidential election, a tension the bureau largely attributed to Trump’s fraught relationship with the intelligence community that he derided publicly throughout his campaign and presidency.

    In a newly released chapter, John Helgerson, a former intelligence officer, writes that Trump’s administration was ill-prepared for the presidential transition from Barack Obama because the former president apparently did “not expect to win the election.” The book is part of a broader CIA publication called, “Getting To Know the President,” which was first published in 1996. (The new chapter on Trump is included in the fourth edition of the tome.)

    Even when the transition process began, Trump notably took an unprecedented approach with his interactions with intelligence officials and agencies.

    Here are some key takeaways from the Helgerson chapter:

    Trump publicly bashed the intel community (IC) while privately walking back his remarks
    During a briefing on Sept. 2, 2016:

    “Trump told the briefers that he valued the first session in August and their expertise. They were surprised when he assured them that “the nasty things he was saying” publicly about the Intelligence Community “don’t apply to you.”

    Trump drew outrage from IC even before he won the election
    Trump sparked outrage among former intelligence officers during a debate on Sept. 7, 2016, when Trump referenced intelligence briefers’ “body language” in suggesting that they were “not happy” with policies of the Obama administration, according to an excerpt.

    With Presidential Daily Briefings, Trump ‘doesn’t read much’
    Asked how closely Trump read the daily briefing itself, CIA analyst Ted Gistaro recalled: “He touched it. He doesn’t really read anything.”

    Then-DNI head James Clapper agreed: “Trump doesn’t read much; he likes bullets.” […]

    […] Trump sought to discredit CIA after it determined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election
    After the press reported in early Dec. 2016 that the CIA determined that Russia had intervened in the election to boost Trump’s candidacy:

    In response, Trump sought to discredit the competence of the Agency. “I don’t believe it. These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” In a press interview, he also stated that, as president, he would not take the intelligence briefing on a daily basis, as his predecessors had. He said he would take it when he needed it, adding, “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.… If something should change…I’m available on a one-minute’s notice.”

    Trump accused the IC of being ‘out to destroy him’ after Steele dossier leaked to the press
    Trump vented to Gisaro during a PDB briefing session that the IC was “out to destroy him,” despite the intel community’s denial of responsibility for the dossier:

    […] Separately, in a social media tweet, Trump wrote, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” After the news conference, Clapper promptly telephoned Trump to explain that the offending document was not a product of US Intelligence and that he did not think the leak came from the IC. He said the IC had not made any judgment about the reliability of the information contained in the dossier and did not rely on it in any way in reaching its own conclusions about Russia’s actions.

    […] Trump was prone to ‘fly off on tangents’ around IC officials,
    Trump’s visit to the CIA headquarters on first full day of office was a doozy:

    The president made no mention of the sacrifices of those whose stars were on the wall. Rather, he devoted most of his speech to attacking the media for allegedly creating the myth of his feud with the IC. Trump also dwelled on the size of the crowd at his inauguration the previous day and said, incorrectly, that he had been on the cover of Time magazine more often than anyone else. Those in attendance were puzzled by these remarks and, according to one senior officer, returned to their offices shaking their heads.

    Despite Trump’s occasional praise of the IC and its personnel, then-DNI Clapper said that Trump was prone to rambling about irrelevant topics during intelligence briefings:

    On some occasions, Trump praised the IC and its personnel, thanking them for their service to the nation. DNI Clapper found that Trump could be courteous, affable, and complimentary of the IC—he praised the briefers and twice thanked Clapper for a handwritten note the DNI had sent congratulating the president-elect on his election victory and offering the continued services of the IC. At the same time, Clapper recalled, Trump was prone to “fly off on tangents; there might be eight or nine minutes of real intelligence in an hour’s discussion.” The irreconcilable difference, in Clapper’s view, was that the IC worked with evidence. Trump “was ‘fact-free’—evidence doesn’t cut it with him.”

    Conclusion: Trump transition was ‘most difficult’ since Nixon
    Helgerson concluded the chapter by writing that the most comparable presidential transition to Trump’s was that of former President Nixon:

    For the Intelligence Community, the Trump transition was far and away the most difficult in its historical experience with briefing new presidents. The only (and imperfect) analogue was the Nixon transition, when the president-elect effectively declined to work with the IC, electing, instead, to receive intelligence information through an intermediary, National Security Advisor-designate Henry Kissinger. Trump was like Nixon, suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process, but unlike Nixon in the way he reacted. Rather than shut the IC out, Trump engaged with it, but attacked it publicly.

  179. says

    House Republican comes out and says it: Forcing tax cheats to pay up would ‘cost’ them billions

    Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, inflicted on us by the state of South Carolina, has been running a bold new online ad condemning Democratic plans to boost funding for the Internal Revenue Service. Why, you might ask?

    “Biden’s policy will double the size of the IRS at the cost of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. We should stabilize our nation’s economy first.” […]

    At the … cost? But going after tax cheats is widely recognized as being a net federal win, because just a little money allocated to investigating the most prolific tax-dodgers results in much larger revenues when the dodged taxes actually get paid, so—ooh. Ooooooh. […]

    What the House Republican is saying here is, of course, boosting IRS capabilities will “cost” the wealthiest tax dodgers in the country billions of dollars, and forcing rich tax cheats to pay what they owe will harm the economy so very much that we shouldn’t even think about it until we’ve “stabilized” everything else first.

    You’ve heard of trickle-down economics? This is trickle-down tax fraud. If we don’t let rich Americans who have more offshore bank accounts than you have spoons get away with their current level of financial crimes it is all of you who will suffer, because that money being paid in taxes won’t be going to buying new yacht chandeliers, or underwater television sets, […]

    Instead, that money will be going to the government, and the government will probably waste it on stupid things like rebuilding roads in places you don’t live, or saving coastlines you don’t visit, or giving you better childcare options […]

    In any event, what Mace is suggesting is that American financial criminals have been hiding so very damn much money that attempting to collect it could destabilize our nation’s very economy. Shouldn’t be done! Too dangerous!


    See, our problem here is that we’re taking a Republican message literally instead of treating as the propagandistic word salad it is intended as. It’s not meant to make sense. Mace may or may not distance herself from the premise of her own self-promoted statement after she’s gotten sufficient mockery for it, but it was crafted not to make an actual argument but to burp scary-sounding words at Republican base members primed to react to them without thought. “At the cost of billions” is meant to invoke the notion that it will be costing the nation money, rather than bringing it in. “Stabilize” is meant to invoke the notion that the nation’s economy is currently not stable, when all the facts and figures suggest that the economy is now actually in pretty darn good shape.

    […] The “Biden’s policy” bit is also rote party schtick: While nigh-on everybody who is not personally evading taxes or being lobbied by people who do all agree that returning IRS funding to something approaching normal is both necessary to curb now-rampant tax dodging by the wealthy and an enormous government gain, calling it “Biden’s policy” is intended to portray the move as partisan rancor, or spreading socialism, or otherwise controversial.

    […] All that said, we’re not going to get anywhere if we ignore it all and let the Maces of new Republicanism fire off chaff meant to invoke primal reaction while breezily evading the part where nothing they said made any actual sense. So we’re all ears, Rep. Nancy Mace.

    You say going after tax cheats will “cost billions”—who ya aiming that statement at, representative?

    Because the only people who will see a “cost” when going after prolific tax fraud are the folks doing the actual crimes. Is that who you’re going to bat for here? Did they send someone to your office to make that case?

    And you’re saying American tax cheats are costing the rest of us so much money that making them actually pay it would threaten to destabilize the entire economy?

    […] Please explain, representative. Give it your best shot.

  180. says

    Powerful Variant of Stupidity Identified in Texas.

    What is being called a “troubling variant of stupidity” has been identified in Texas, Dr. Anthony Fauci has confirmed.

    Although the powerful variant of stupidity is not new, it has recently displayed alarming virulence, the esteemed physician said.

    “What’s concerning about this variant is that it appears to have developed immunity to all information,” Fauci said. “Of the many mutations of stupidity found in Texas, this one stands out.”

    The immunologist urged that steps be taken to prevent this variant of stupidity from spreading. “We know that it has travelled as far as Cancun,” Fauci said.

    New Yorker link

    Illustrated with a photo of Ted Cruz.

  181. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden urged vaccinated Americans to get their Covid booster shots and once again pleaded with those who have yet to be vaccinated to get their first dose in remarks Monday amid growing concerns about the potential threat posed by the new omicron variant.

    NBC News:

    Administration officials have said it could be several weeks before they know whether the variant has the ability to erode the protection offered by the vaccine and what level of severity and transmissibility it has. In the meantime, public health officials have said they believe the surge in antibodies created by a booster shot could offer one of the best defenses for the time being.

    Kansas City News:

    A federal judge in St. Louis halted enforcement Monday of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for most health care workers in Kansas and Missouri, a week before the deadline for staff to get their first shot under the rules.

    That judge was appointed by Trump.

    NY Times:

    The pharmaceutical company Merck said on Friday that in a final analysis of a clinical trial, its antiviral pill reduced the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk Covid patients by 30 percent, down from an earlier estimate of 50 percent.

  182. says

    ‘You guys got the wrong guy’: Black man accused of stealing his own Jeep

    A Black man is suing Miami police after body-camera footage the agency released showed officers handcuffing the man and accusing him of stealing his own 2006 Jeep Compass, according to Miami New Times. “Imma read you your rights real quick,” an officer in the video can be seen telling Samuel Scott Jr. on Jun. 1, 2018.

    “I’m telling you, you guys got the wrong guy,” Scott responded. “I can confirm where I was, and I can even confirm my activities.” He explained that before calling the police, he had just logged off of the VPN, which stands for virtual private network, at his job. At that point, an officer can be heard telling Scott that “the description of the guy that took off in your car is just like yours.” Scott responded: “But that’s half of Miami, bald-headed with a beard?”

    The officers named in the suit filed in federal court on Nov. 13 are Jonathan Guzman, Michael Bloom, Brandon Williams, Miguel Hernandez, and Randy Carriel, Miami New Times reported.

    Guzman first encountered Scott’s Jeep being driven 20 mph over the speed limit, according to an arrest report New Times obtained. Guzman accused the driver of attempting to flee on foot after the Jeep crashed with another vehicle. The driver was described in the report as a heavy-set “Black male, bald, about 6’2″, wearing a white tank top.”

    Officers encountered Scott, who is four inches shorter than the height listed in the suspect description, at his aunt’s house about two miles away from the crash site. At that point, one of the officers warned Scott of the consequences of making a false report, Scott claims in the lawsuit. Another officer asked if Scott’s car was repossessed, and another later pulled a Taser out, according to the lawsuit.

    Officers said in the arrest report that they found a gun and four plastic bags in Scott’s car that contained “green spots with suspected marijuana.” Scott was charged with falsely reporting a crime, possession of marijuana, failure to provide a concealed-weapon license, and leaving the scene of an accident, but the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped all charges against Scott, Miami New Times reported.

    Scott accused the cops of unlawfully searching him, falsely imprisoning him, and maliciously prosecuting him. Faudlin Pierre, Scott’s attorney, told New Times they are seeking $500,000 in damages. “He reported to the cops because he believed that the cops were actually going to assist him,” Pierre said. “And then it turns out that they racially profiled him.”

    Pierre said that, while he did have a gun in his vehicle, his client has a concealed-weapon permit. The attorney said he doesn’t know how the marijuana charge came about. “That was just adding to the fantasy we call this arrest,” Pierre told New Times.

    Another unexplained element in the case is where Scott’s wallet and cellphone ended up. Attorney Bradley Pepper, who represented Scott in the criminal case against him, told Atlanta Black Star Guzman was shown in body-camera footage to be in possession of Scott’s items but they were never turned in. “I filed a motion to return property, which still hasn’t yielded any results because there’s really no record of those items, as far as what the police did with them or what happened to them,” Pepper said.

    Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel found in February of 2020 that Guzman was negligent in the line of duty and had turned off his body camera repeatedly during the incident with Scott, Atlanta Black Star reported. “It all seemed very suspicious,” Pepper said. “To this date, we don’t really know what the answer is or why the officer even turned it off in the first place.”

  183. says

    Followup to comment 199.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    The article above is misleading. Mr Scott was not driving the vehicle when arrested. According to Mr. Scott:
    – cops saw car driving 20 mph over speed limit, and gave chase.
    – car crashed. Suspect fled on foot. Suspect was black, male. bald, wearing white tank top.
    – Scott was at his aunts house, came out, saw his car missing.
    – called 911 and reported car missing.
    – cops ran plates on the car they were chasing showed up at Scott’s aunt’s house and arrested him for allegedly filing false police report and fleeing the scene of an accident.
    – Scott is black, bald, was wearing a black shirt over white tank but shorter than suspect and claimed he could prove he was working via company VPN at the time of the alleged accident.
    The story is very confusing. The headline is clickbait, insinuating that Scott was arrested while driving his own car. It also makes it sound as if this just happened. The only thing that just happened is the lawsuit. This needs to be completely rewritten.
    Now we have “calling 911 while black” to all of the other “…while black” notions
    someone else stole the man’s car, crashed it after being spotted by police, and ran away on foot. Meanwhile the car’s owner found the car missing, reported it to 911, and then was arrested and charged with multiple crimes that were later dropped.
    He wasn’t driving while black because his car had been stolen. He was reporting a crime while black.
    Someone stole Scott’s car. By the time Scott reported it, the guy who stole the car had already crashed it and ran off on foot. When the cops showed up at Scott’s house, they assumed that it had been him driving the car and that he made up the theft to try to get off. But the reality is he didn’t make up the theft, and it was not him speeding in the car and crashing it.

  184. says

    Former GOP Michigan elections canvasser and big lie supporter spent Thanksgiving in ICU with COVID

    William Hartmann made headlines when he, along with fellow canvasser Monica Palmer, voted to block the certification of Wayne County, Michigan’s 2020 election results. Wayne County encompasses the predominantly Black city of Detroit. Hartmann, an overtly racist MAGA supporter with a social media presence populated by equally racist propaganda, only seemed to have a problem with Black votes but said he was fine with certifying white, more conservative areas. After being pressured by everybody to do the right thing, Hartmann and Palmer relented; and then, like any pair of MAGA narcissists, having realized that deplorables everywhere were thrilled with their racism, they attempted to fight to have hundreds of thousands of the votes of Michigan’s Black voters nullified.

    Hartmann has gone on to continue his fight against good sense, promoting the big lie, and questioning the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Detroit Metro Times, Hartmann is now fighting for his life as a result of contracting … COVID-19. The media outlet says Hartmann’s sister Elizabeth told them that her brother, the former vice chairman of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, has been in ICU on a ventilator since Nov. 6. The outlet was reportedly also able to locate other sources who confirmed Hartmann has been in the ICU since “the beginning of November.”

    […] Since the beginning of the pandemic, Wayne County has had at least 224,000 cases of COVID-19 with almost 6,000 deaths. As with many places across the country, Michigan has seen a steady rise in COVID cases. As the delta variant has spread, schools and workplaces have returned to full-time operation, and vaccination rates are still below what we hoped they would be (in no small part due to people like Hartmann). Over the last two weeks, Wayne County has reported 131 deaths due to COVID-19. […]

  185. blf says

    Presumably, we’ll be hearing more of this nutter now — he’s been mentioned a few times already in this series of poopyhead threads — French far-right TV pundit Zemmour announces bid for presidency (possibly paywalled):

    Far-right pundit Éric Zemmour — twice convicted for hate speech — announced on Tuesday that he would run for the French presidency in the 2022 election, in a YouTube video heavy on anti-immigrant warnings and pledges to restore the country’s grandeur on the world stage.

    It is no longer the time to reform France, but to save it, Zemmour said, claiming that many voters no longer recognise your country.

    The man sometimes described as “France’s Trump”, 63, made a dramatic entrance into politics in September when he began a nationwide book tour that served as thinly disguised campaigning.

    Acid-tongued[Delusional and rude], intense[wobbly-eyed loon] and with two convictions for hate speech, Zemmour is hoping his radical pitch to voters on curbing immigration and Islam in France will appeal to conservatives in a country riven with racial and religious tensions [eh? riven? teh le penazis and others have been attempting to stir things for a long time now, with ultimately almost no electoral success… which is not to say there isn’t vitriolic bigotry — just ask the Roma, as one example — and I could be mistaken, but the racial and religious tensions don’t dominate political discourse or actions… policing is another matter, however… –blf].


    Pundits have speculated for months about the impact of Zemmour’s decision to give up his lucrative career as a media pundit and author in favour of becoming a wildcard in the presidential race.

    One possibility is that he and Le Pen eliminate each other by splitting the far-right vote in the first round on April 10, although no polls currently indicate this is likely to happen.

    Le Pen is sounding newly confident, claiming that the dust is starting to settle after an early media blitz by her rival, who is the son of Algerian Jewish migrant parents.

    I think he’ll end up below 10 percent,[] she told AFP on November 20th.

    Zemmour might end up being a stroke of luck, she said. With the violence and brutality that he expresses, he makes my project seem more reasonable and implementable.

    As well as facing softening polling numbers, the amateur historian has been plagued by difficulties in recent weeks.

    At the weekend, he was photographed giving a middle finger to a protester who approached his car.

    Real deep! he was overheard saying in a gesture that made headlines around the country and led to suggestions he might have alienated some of the elderly, conservative Catholic voters who form his core support.

    Celebrity magazine Closer also reported last week that the married father-of-three was expecting a baby with his 28-year-old chief advisor Sarah Knafo — which he denounced as an invasion of privacy, but did not deny.

    Other influential far-right figures have distanced themselves from him in recent weeks, and his campaign team is said to be riven with infighting and dominated by young activists with little political experience.

    He is one of France’s best-known[loudest] and most controversial commentators who has made his name by warning about the colonisation of the country by Muslims whose religion he views as incompatible with French values.

    He has also popularised a conspiracy theory backed by white supremacists known as “the great replacement theory” which posits that native Europeans are being deliberately replaced by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.

    The great replacement is neither a myth, nor a conspiracy, but a relentless process, he wrote in his latest book entitled France Has Not Said Its Final Word.


    Some snippets from the more-reliable France24, Far-right pundit Éric Zemmour launches 2022 bid for French presidency:

    French far-right pundit Éric Zemmour announced on Tuesday that he will run for president in next year’s election, staking his claim in a video peppered with anti-immigrant rhetoric and warnings France must be saved from decline.

    Zemmour, 63, is the most stridently anti-Islam and anti-migrant of the challengers seeking to unseat President Emmanuel Macron […]

    He said he had joined the race so that our daughters don’t have to wear headscarves and our sons don’t have to be submissive.

    He added that, if elected, he would banish gender studies from French schools, slash the public debt and win back France’s sovereignty from European technocrats and judges.

    Both The Local and France24 misspelled the nutters name; I’ve corrected it (no markings).

      † It is Le Pen, hence an automatic eejit quotes, even if she might be expressing a plausibility.

  186. blf says

    Good grief, there is, quite possibly, are eejits using hair furor’s bleach nonsense… from is this, Johann Biacsics, 65, Kottingbrunn, AT [Austria], Self-employed anti-vaxxer. Dead from COVID, and stupidity:

    According to this article [Coronavirus in Austria. Johann Biacsics is dead. The anti-vaccine movement leader has died from COVID-19] Johann died due to complications from COVID and possibly bleach poisoning. Seems Johann didn’t understand the basics of virology. Johann got COVID in October. He was admitted into the Hospital in November but checked himself out because he wanted to be treated by Chlorine Dioxide (CDL), enema style. He died two days later. Johann was one of Austria’s best known anti-vaxx campaigners. […]

    Some snippets from the referenced article (link embedded in above except; reliably uncertain):

    […] Johann Biacsics had been ill since October, and his condition worsened – he had diarrhea, fever and cough. He was hospitalized in early November. Despite testing positive for the coronavirus, Biacsics told doctors that it has already beaten COVID-19. Although he had trouble breathing, and his condition worsened and was life-threatening, he was discharged home from the hospital.

    According to (first excerpt), teh eejit discharged himself, which strikes me as highly plausible (see the eejit’s posts, etc., I’ve elucidated from that first excerpt).

    Despite the positive test results, the man’s family does not believe that he died from the coronavirus. Officially, he will be included in the statistics as a victim of the crown. But I know better, wrote the deceased’s son […]

    I have absolutely no idea what is meant by the (presumably coded) phrase victim of the crown.

    A relevant twittering thead… this eejit is a shoo-in for the Darwin Award. Supposedly, some other eejits hallucinate he was purposely poisoned, which the thread’s commentators point out he did it himself.

  187. says

    As Iran talks resume, Trump’s failure starts to look even worse

    As international nuclear talks with Iran continue, Donald Trump’s spectacular failure in this area is coming into sharper focus.

    Two and a half years after the Trump administration abandoned the international nuclear agreement with Iran, diplomats returned to the negotiating table yesterday in Vienna, hoping to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    The odds of success aren’t great. When the historic agreement was reached in 2015, Iran was led by a government that was ready to reach a deal. More than six years later, Tehran is led by a more conservative government, which began making unrealistic demands before yesterday’s talks even got underway.

    What’s more, as The New York Times reported, the Iranian negotiator has indicated that Tehran is prepared to “further escalate its nuclear program” if its demands go unmet.

    All of which is to say, it’s probably best to keep expectations low.

    That said, as the latest round of diplomatic talks continue, Axios reported that Israel has shared intelligence with Western powers that suggested Iran “is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon.”

    […] There is no civilian use for 90%-enriched uranium. In case this isn’t obvious, it’s worth emphasizing that it takes more than enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb, and by most accounts, Iran is still a year or two away from having the technical wherewithal to produce such a weapon.

    […] it’s difficult to say with any confidence whether the intelligence from Israel is reliable. What’s far easier to say is that we wouldn’t be in this position at all if Donald Trump hadn’t failed so spectacularly.

    […]. As we’ve discussed, the Iran deal did exactly what it set out to do: The agreement dramatically curtailed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and established a rigorous system of monitoring and verification. Once the policy was in place, each of the parties agreed that the participants were holding up their end of the bargain, and Iran’s nuclear program was, at the time, on indefinite hold.

    And then Trump took office.

    One of my favorite stories about the Iran deal came a few months into Trump’s term, when the then-president held a lengthy White House meeting with top members of his national security team. Each of the officials told Trump the same thing: It was in the United States’ interest to preserve the existing JCPOA policy.

    The Republican expected his team to tell him how to get out of the international agreement, not how to stick with it. When his own foreign policy and national security advisers told him the policy was working, Trump “had a bit of a meltdown.”

    Soon after, he abandoned the deal anyway, not because it was failing, but because Trump was indifferent to its success. The effective policy was soon replaced by a new strategy known as the “maximum pressure” campaign.

    Iran almost immediately became more dangerous, not less. If Axios’ report is accurate, the threat — which had been contained — is even more serious now.

    In Republican circles, it’s simply assumed that the Obama-era Iran deal “failed.” That gets reality backwards: The real failure is the policy Trump tried to implement, not the policy he tried to replace.

    Restoring what worked may prove impossible, but there should be no question as to who’s responsible for making this mess in the first place.

  188. says

    Not wise: Red states appear ready to reject funds for universal pre-K.

    Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans at the state level had a curious habit: Federal officials would offer considerable resources that would create jobs and boost state economies, at which point red states would say they didn’t want the money.

    This happened at the height of the Great Recession, for example, with some GOP governors saying they didn’t want Recovery Act resources. It happened again when the Obama administration made money available for high-speed rail, at which point Republicans like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker said no. It happened once again after the Affordable Care Act became law, and red states refused to accept the funds for Medicaid expansion.

    More than a decade later, we’re starting to see evidence of a similar phenomenon. In March, for example, Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida thought it’d be a good idea to urge state and local governments to reject Covid-relief funds available through the American Rescue Plan.

    Now, Democrats are moving forward with plans to pass the Build Back Better package, which includes funds for universal pre-kindergarten. As The Washington Post reported, several red states have already indicated they plan to reject this money, too.

    Republican lawmakers in Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Minnesota told The Post that they will reject or are troubled by aspects of Biden’s proposed pre-K expansion. GOP state lawmakers in Texas and Arizona have also strongly criticized the plan, according to conservative advocacy groups working closely with officials in those states.

    The article added that Republican lawmakers “expressed concern” about the federal education standards, as well as fears that Congress may eventually scrap pre-K funding.

    All things considered, much of this is premature. We don’t know whether conservative Democrats will let the Build Back Better Act pass, or how the Biden administration would implement the policy even if the bill is signed into law. Some of the Republican resistance to the idea seems more like posturing than policy.

    But if the debate continues on this path, I don’t imagine Democrats in these red states will hesitate to tell voters, “President Biden and I offered funds for universal pre-K, but local Republicans refused.”


  189. blf says

    Amazon workers in Alabama will get another shot to unionise:

    But even with a second election, labour experts say a union victory is a long shot as Amazon will likely appeal and try to delay another vote.


    The rare call for a do-over was first announced Monday by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which spearheaded the union organising movement. A National Labor Relations Board spokeswoman confirmed the decision but did not yet provide details.

    The RWDSU charged Amazon with illegal misconduct during the first vote. In August, the hearing officer at NLRB who presided over the case determined that Amazon violated labour law and recommended that the regional director set aside the results and direct another election.

    The main reason for the determination was a US Postal Service mailbox that Amazon installed in the parking lot ahead of the election, which could have left the false impression that the company was running the election. Security cameras in the parking lot could have scared off workers who thought Amazon may have been watching workers vote. About 53 percent of the nearly 6,000 workers cast ballots during the first election.


    This is the second unionising attempt by Amazon workers in the past year.

    A group of Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York withdrew its petition to hold a vote to unionise early in November. The workers, however, can refile a petition.

    The organising effort in New York City is working without the help of a national sponsor and is being spearheaded by a former Amazon employee, Christian Smalls. He said he was fired just hours after he organised a walkout last year to protest working conditions at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

  190. blf says

    Good grief, Outrage as Fox News commentator likens Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor[mass-murdering quack]:

    Lara Logan, a host on the Fox Nation streaming service, was discussing Omicron on Fox News Prime Time on Monday night.

    [… Logan burbled:] You just have to look at Africa. They didn’t have the death rates from Covid that were predicted. And what is happening over time, is that the entire response to Covid and everything that we were told about it from the beginning, is being exposed and it’s falling apart, the lies are coming apart.

    And really now there’s no justification for putting people out of their jobs or forcing vaccine mandates for a disease that ultimately is very treatable … and has death rates that compare very much to seasonal flu.

    And so in that moment, what you see on Dr Fauci, this is what people say to me, that he doesn’t represent science to them. He represents Josef Mengele […] who did experiments on Jews during the second world war and in the concentration camps, and I am talking about people all across the world are saying this.


    Logan’s baseless claim that the Omicron variant is made-up echoed a rightwing talking point voiced, in varying forms, by figures including the former White House doctor[quack] turned Texas congressman Ronny Jackson.


  191. blf says

    Authorities here in the EU (and probably Europe more generally) are extremely fed-up with anti-vaxxers. Austria will make vaccination mandatory, Greece will now apparently fine (older) unvaccinated people 100€ / month (the Grauniad’s pandemic live blog), apparently Germany’s chancellor-to-be Olaf Scholz ‘backs mandatory Covid jabs’, and so on… Here in France, the highly-successful Health Pass has been tweaked so that once a person becomes eligible, they have a reasonable amount of time to get a booster or else the Pass becomes invalid (I believe my own “Pass booster clock” starts ticking in about a week’s time?). Most of the beforementioned measures predate Omicron, but I am aware there are additional measures being added in response to concerns about Omicron (e.g., in teh “U”K (or at least England), MPs vote for stricter Covid rules on mask-wearing and isolation in England, and ‘If it prevents lockdown, I’ve no problem’: England wakes to mask mandate).

  192. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine on teh “U”K’s recent Covid / Omicron rules (see links in @208), Let’s not pretend the anti-mask babies would have lasted a minute in the blitz:

    It’s funny that so many of those who bang on about the ‘war effort’ seem unable to do something minor for the public good

    While the scientists work out how bad the Omicron variant is or isn’t, the government has reimposed mask-wearing in shops and on public transport for at least the next three weeks. Consequently, a number of prams have been swiftly emptied of all toys. Across the airwaves — and up and down the train carriages and the supermarket aisles — you can find multiple refuseniks who suffer from the pandemic version of that old sexual problem: being “too big for condoms”.

    […] This really isn’t the attitude that won us the war.

    As for mentioning the war, forgive me. Around 70,000 Britons died in second world war bombing raids, most of them in the blitz, while 145,000 have thus far perished from Covid. Yet somehow there does seem to be a large intersection between the Venn diagram sets “People who bang on endlessly about WW2” and “People who cannot cope with having to take a relatively minor public health measure for the greater good”.

    Of course, in London, both positions have links with the tube. In December 1940, you’d have been snatching a couple of hours’ troubled sleep on the underground platform while Hitler blew up your house. In December 2021, you’d be on your way to Oxford Street on the Central line to sample the pre-Christmas enticements of JD Sports. Yet still, somehow, managing to see a few minutes of mask-wearing in a non-ventilated space as an outrageous imposition on your personage, with which you — a stone-cold hero — simply shouldn’t be involved.


    As they shout — or type in capitals — the words THE BRITISH PEOPLE HAVE HAD ENOUGH, it’s intriguing to remember that chaps like this really fancy their chances at having been able to cope with the blitz. Picture this person, this person who wets their pants and goes full online Braveheart over being asked to wear a mask between Liverpool Street and Holborn. Assuming they didn’t think air raid sirens were part of some “great reset” and ignored them (fatally), try to imagine this person trudging out of the tube station after the air raid. Try to imagine them discovering they didn’t have a street any more, having to remake their lives and those of their family in an anguished instant, by migrating somewhere else in the country in the clothes they stood in. Or try to imagine them having been taken in by friends or relatives, and turning straight back up to the bomb site with a broom to assist in clearing the rubble. [… I]f you lose your mind over being asked to pop on a face covering in Boots, I honestly don’t think you’d be up to a whole lot of the above.

    […] I appreciate that many people would prefer to hear public safety advice from Winston Churchill rather than Boris Johnson. […] How would these people have coped with rationing, for years and years on end? Being told by the state how many ounces of basic ingredients you were allowed per week feels a bit more of a pisser than being told to wear a mask while you load up your trolley with pounds and pounds of the stuff in Asda. (I know it’s kilos these days, but I didn’t want to send them really off the dial.)


    As one commentator put it, “I’m not switching MY lights off during this air-raid. I’ve got rights!

  193. blf says

    Wobbly-eyed loons, again (partially the so-called war on man-tortured-to-death-by-being-nailed-to-a-tree-invented-“birthday”-day), EU advice on inclusive language withdrawn after rightwing outcry (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    An internal European Commission document advising officials to use inclusive language such as “holiday season” rather than Christmas and avoid terms such as “man-made” has been withdrawn after an outcry from rightwing politicians.

    The EU executive’s volte-face over the guidelines, launched by the commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli, at the end of October, was prompted by an article in the Italian tabloid il Giornale, which claimed it amounted to an attempt to cancel Christmas.

    A series of politicians on the right […] subsequently jumped on the issue to voice their opposition to the absurd advice.

    Inclusion does not mean denying the Christian roots of {the EU}, [a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Antonio] Tajani tweeted.


    Officials […] were advised to avoid assuming that everyone is Christian, white and married. Rather than refer to Christmas, officials should say “the holiday season”, the document suggested.

    Officials were advised to avoid gender-specific pronouns and gendered words and phrases such as “chairman”, “ladies and gentleman” or “man-made”.

    It was suggested that officials ask people what their pronouns are and to be careful using terms such as “gay” and “lesbians” as a noun. “Transgender, bi or intersex are not nouns.” … “Say trans people, gay person, etc or refer to the person explicitly,” it was suggested.


    Sadly, the commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli, didn’t tell teh nazis to feck off, but instead withdrew the advice. (A revised version might be issued in the future, albeit I don’t see anything objectionable in the recommendations quoted in the excerpt.)

  194. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 205

    THIS is why the Left’s dismissal of “culture war” issues in favor of economic reform to win over the Red States is foolish. They don’t want pre-K education, they want to end abortion rights. They don’t want national health care, they want to end same-sex marriage. They don’t want infrastructure improvements, they want to put mandatory prayer back in public schools and Creationism into the biology classes. If anything the progressive reforms are just as much a part of the culture wars as the moral and religious issuers because the right associates those policies with “godless communism.”

    It’s not that the citizens of the Red States are “voting against their best interests.” It’s that they have a very different idea of what is in their best interests in the first place.

  195. says

    Trump has already lost the debate:

    […] Biologists don’t “debate” creationists because there’s no value in elevating anti-science voices with actual experts. Astronauts do not “debate” those who don’t believe in the Moon landing. Historians don’t “debate” Holocaust deniers. Nonsense and ugly lies are simply unworthy of serious people’s time.

    All of this came to mind this week after Donald Trump issued a statement welcoming a televised debate with “the heads of the various papers or even far left politicians” over his anti-election conspiracy theories.

    When his desperate plea for attention went ignored — the “heads of the various papers” apparently didn’t see the point of giving the former president a forum to spew discredited garbage — the Republican claimed victory in a follow-up statement, marveling that there were “no takers” to his challenge.

    “[T]hink of it, zero takers for the so-called ‘ratings machine,'” Trump added. “The reason is, they know they can’t win. All I have to do is lay out the facts — they are irrefutable.”

    Of course, the former president hasn’t laid out these facts yet. He’s had a year to substantiate his conspiracy theories and back up his attacks on the elections, but he’s done nothing of the kind. The political world has effectively endured a 12-month public “debate,” unveiled in slow motion, during which time Trump has offered literally nothing to bolster his ridiculous anti-election assertions.

    In other words, we’ve already had the debate. Trump […] lost.

    A Washington Post analysis summarized the Republican’s misguided motivations.

    [T]here are two obvious advantages for Trump. The first is that it gets him back on TV, something he’s been itching for ever since he left the White House — or, more accurately, since he got booted from social media in the wake of that violence on Jan. 6. The other is that it gets TV to treat his claims about the election seriously, as a serious subject worthy of debate, which it is not.

    […] such a “debate” shouldn’t happen.


    Akira @211, good points.

    blf @207, Sheesh! Lara Logan is a dangerous, whacky, lie-spewing loony person.

  196. says

    In Texas, Mark Middleton was indicted earlier this year for allegedly assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that Middleton has launched a Republican state legislative campaign.

  197. says

    Appeals Court Didn’t Signal Anything Positive For Trump

    Former President Donald Trump took his effort to block a Jan. 6 committee subpoena of his presidential records to a federal appeals court Tuesday. Oral arguments began at 9:30 a.m. ET and lasted for more than three hours. […]

    One persistent theme in the hearing was the court’s skepticism of Donald Trump’s power as an ex-president. In particular, their ears perked when Trump lawyer Justin Clark said that incumbent and former presidents should be given equal deference in disputes before the court.

    “There’s no deference given to the current president because he’s current?” Judge Jackson asked Clark. When Clark agreed, Judge Millett noted Nixon v. GSA, in which the Supreme Court found that the former president’s interests, in Millett’s words, are “diminished.”

    “It sounds to me like that counts for something,” she said, describing the Nixon case. She added later: “We have one president at a time under our constitution.”

    If the court moves past Trump’s statutory objections — such as his assertion that Congress doesn’t have a good reason for seeking the records — and simply evaluates the competing claims of the current and former presidents, “you lose,” Millett told Clark.

    “Not you,” the judge chuckled to the lawyer. “The former president loses.”

    […] That was a meandering hearing, full of asides and hypotheticals lobbed by the three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

    But at the end of the day, there wasn’t a lot of good news for the former President: During his legal team’s extended argument before the court, the judges repeatedly noted that Trump hadn’t put forth any specific objections to individual records being released.

    They also pressed Trump’s team on their interpretation of the Presidential Records Act, with Judge Jackson saying at one point, “It makes me worried that the circumstance that you are trying to have the statute give you a cause of action to proceed under really is not what’s going on here at all.”

  198. says

    As many suspected from the outset, travel bans against South Africa and neighboring countries could turn out to be little more than a case of punishing the whistleblower. […] Dutch health authorities are now reporting that the omicron variant was found in the Netherlands as far back as November 19, well before scientists in South Africa and Botswana first sounded the alarm about the highly-divergent new form of COVID-19. Similar tests in Belgium and Germany have also indicated the presence of the variant in those nations previous to the announcement out of South Africa.

    This news is not likely to generate an immediate lift of the travel ban. That’s because the significant number of omicron cases in the area around Johannesburg represents the largest known outbreak of this new variant, and limiting travel to and from that region may hold some value. But the news out of Europe is another demonstration that South Africa is paying the price both for having one of the best systems for conducting genetic analysis, and for being transparent about the results of its analysis. The reaction to that transparency is troubling in terms of what happens the next time someone detects a particularly interesting variant — or a wholly new infectious agent.

    In some ways, the not-unexpected news that omicron has been around longer than we thought could be good; because it could indicate that when it comes to outcompeting delta to become the dominate variant, omicron is not moving as quickly as some feared. On the other hand, the fact that is has now turned up in at least 20 nations (as of Tuesday morning), is a strong indicator that this variant can be easily transmitted through casual contact.

    When it comes to the three big questions: How contagious is it? How evasive is it? How virulent is it? The answer to all three is the same. We still don’t know. But we are getting a few clues.

    As of Tuesday morning, there’s some bad news and some potential good news on omicron.

    The bad news, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, is absolutely expected. Early tests of monoclonal antibody treatments, like the one manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, appear to be significantly less effective against the omicron variant. The same thing applies to a similar treatment from Eli Lilly.

    Scientists expected this as soon as the high level of mutations in the omicron variant, and particularly the changes in the critical spike protein, became clear. Antibody treatments like those from Regeneron and Eli Lilly are, in a sense, frozen in time, targeting the version of the virus first sequenced by Chinese scientists in January 2020. The Emergency Use Authorization from Eli Lilly’s antibody cocktail, bamlanivimab, was suspended in the fall after it proved to be relatively ineffective in fighting delta.

    Unlike these treatments, vaccines produce a much broader series of immune responses. That’s part of why vaccines have a much better efficiency rate of preventing hospitalization and deaths than antibody treatments. States like Texas and Florida, where governor’s Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis have been heavily leaning on antibody treatments while fighting against vaccine mandates, are going to see their already bad policies made worse

    […] However, there’s also a ray of sunshine amidst all the gloom. Bloomberg reports that at least one physician dealing with omicron patients in South Africa is seeing radically different symptoms.

    Patients who contracted it complain of fatigue, head and body aches and occasional sore throats and coughs, said Angelique Coetzee, who is also chairwoman of the South African Medical Association. Delta infections, by comparison, caused elevated pulse rates, resulted in low oxygen levels and a loss of smell and taste, she said.

    So far, the cases of omicron have been described as less life-threatening than delta. “I don’t think it will blow over,” said Dr. Coetzee, “but I think it will be a mild disease hopefully. For now, we are confident we can handle it.”

    This is still extremely early. Most patients who die from COVID-19 do so after a struggle of weeks, and right now South Africa is looking at what seems to be a small number of verified omicron patients who had been symptomatic only for a few days. That said, it’s a hopeful sign. It’s certainly better than signals that omicron could be worse.

    As omicron begins its spread, there’s been a resurgence of the myth that, over time, viruses decline in virulence until they become “just colds.” On the surface, this seems to make a kind of sense. After all, viruses need a host to replicate, and if that host is dead, their ability to spread is limited. So keeping the host alive and relatively healthy seems like a competitive advantage for the virus.

    In the real world, there are multiple reasons why keeping the host around long term is such a minor factor as to be completely unimportant. The only evolutionary pressure present on a virus is reproduction. In a sense, that’s the only pressure on any organism, but in complex organisms, other behaviors can disguise that basic fact. In viruses, replication is all they do, and they can’t even do that without the help of a host organism.

    In the case of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, what makes it so successful when compared to close relatives SARS and MERS is that SARS-CoV-2 is contagious even before symptoms appear.

    SARS hits peak levels of virus in the respiratory system a couple of days after cough, fever, and other symptoms appear. So does MERS. When it comes to stopping an epidemic, the early presence of symptoms allows health care workers, as well as the infected, to make decisions that limit exposure of others.

    But SARS-CoV-2 has “front-loaded” the period of contagion. The peak levels of infection for COVID-19 come right around the point of first symptoms. That includes a day or two before symptoms appear. The delta variant improved on this by significantly increasing the level of virus present in the respiratory tract. So people infected with delta literally walk around leaving plumes of virus particles, often at a point when they feel just fine. That’s the recipe for the mess we’re in right now.

    Maximizing the period of contagion into the first few days of infection makes it possible for COVID-19 to spread not just before people are aware they are sick—and before the body can mount a successful counteroffensive. That front-loading of contagion also means that what happens next has almost no value to the virus. COVID-19 spreads fast and early. Patients could go on to completely recover. They could experience spontaneous combustion. Either result would have only a tiny effect on the overall level of spread. […]

    In any case, there is such a small evolutionary pressure on the “get milder” side of the scale that it might as well not exist. An effect that can be seen in decades of dealing with HIV, centuries of battling polio, and thousands of years of smallpox. Despite appearing sometime around 10,000 BCE, smallpox still killed 300 million in the 20th century alone. How contagious is smallpox? Its rate of transmission is almost identical to that of the delta variant. How much did it decline in potency over a period of 12,000 years? Not at all. […]


    More at the link, including a detailed debunking of the idea that we can simple wait COVID-19 out until it doesn’t matter, or becomes a mild flu-like illness.

  199. says

    Wonkette: “Crap Words From Dr. Oz’s Senate Announcement, Or Crap Medical Advice He Gave On His Show? A QUIZ!”

    […] “How can we acknowledge that Dr. Oz is running for Senate in Pennsylvania,” we asked ourselves, “without actually giving that fucking clownfuck any more of our time than he deserves?” And the answer we arrived at was to make you a quiz.

    The rules are simple: We will type a line of text, and you have to decide whether it was some dumb shit he said in his Senate announcement, or some dumb medical advice shit he actually told people on his show, or maybe on Fox News, because of how he’s such a quack.

    It’s going to be extra hard, because a lot of the things from his Senate announcement are Oz whining and bitching about lockdowns and whining his mouth off about “elites.” But HELPFUL HINT THAT MIGHT HELP YOU, the odd numbers are from the Senate announcement, and the evens are his shit “medical” advice.

    1. COVID-19 became an excuse for the government and elite thinkers who controlled the means of communication to suspend debate.

    2. One time Dr. Oz scared people with news that suggested that mouthwash causes high blood pressure.

    3. Dissenting opinions from leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated.

    4. Then there was the time he said the “magic weight-loss cure for every body type” was “this little bean,” which was green coffee extract. Who doesn’t love Dr. Oz’s little bean!

    5. Instead, the government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered. We were told to lock down quietly and let those in charge take care of the rest. When we tested positive for the virus, we were also told to wait at home until our lips turned blue and we got sick enough to warrant hospitalization.

    6. Hydroxybonercream is his FAAAAAAAVORITE treatment for COVID, he loves it soooooo much, he wants to marrrrrrrrrry it.

    7. Elites with yards told those without yards to stay inside, where the virus was more likely to spread. And the arrogant, closed-minded people in charge closed our parks, shuttered our schools, shut down our businesses, and took away our freedom.

    Hold on, what the fuck is he talking about? You have no idea either? OK just checking. Moving on.

    8. Know what cures restless leg syndrome? Some lavender soap under your covers […]

    9. Although we had some moments of brilliance, such as the gift to the world of mRNA vaccines made possible by President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed …

    10. MAYBE “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat” is something called “raspberry ketones,” sure why not, it had never been tested on humans, but that’s just a detail.

    11. Equally concerning, we cannot even say what we see anymore, which is a suffocating feeling. Doctors are trained to tell it like it is because you deserve to hear our best advice and make your own decisions. It’s why I have fought the establishment my whole career.

    12. Can your astrological sign tell you a whole bunch about your health? Yes, or ZOMGYES?

    In a now-deleted tweet, Oz said astrology could help people understand their personal health.

    “For centuries, we have used astrological signs to examine our personality and how we interact with those around us,” he said. “However, these signs may reveal a great deal about our health as well.”

    13. We must confront those who want to change the very soul of America and reimagine it with their toxic ideology. We need to fight for the benefit of our descendants. We have fumbled the baton we’re supposed to pass to our children. And I want to pick up that baton and start racing toward our promising future.

    Well, this has been a terrifying exercise.


  200. says

    Crap Words From Dr. Oz’s Senate Announcement, Or Crap Medical Advice He Gave On His Show? A QUIZ!

    That’s from Wonkette, which tends to trigger PZ’s word filters. Hence, no excerpts posted here.

  201. says

    Fox News hosts can’t seem to keep their metaphors straight as they fulminate about the untold horrors the government may impose on Americans in response to the newly recognized Omicron variant of the SARS CoV-2 virus. In mere reality, the nation’s public health experts are saying it’s concerning, but we need to know more about Omicron (particularly how transmissible it is, and how well current vaccines work against it) before we make any policies to deal with it. There’s a hell of a lot we don’t know yet, but we do know for certain that the Delta variant is still killing people, so the best thing people can do is get vaccinated or get their booster shots.

    Fortunately, wingnut media is happy to fill the current lack of certainty with extra-large helpings of speculation and conspiracy theories, like the loony notion that there is no new variant of the virus at all, it’s all just an excuse to steal the 2022 midterms, because somehow South Africa and the world medical community are secretly run by Nancy Pelosi.

    So now Fox News faces a bit of a rhetorical dilemma. The network gets its highest ratings when people are terrified, but since it’s also committed to insisting that COVID-19 is a big nothingburger (but the vaccines are scary), Fox can’t go the easy way and hype the potential threat of Omicron. Instead, Fox is back to its usual game of hyping the threat that the government is just itching to use Omicron as an excuse to impose lockdowns, force everyone to wear a mask in their own homes, take your guns, and have Taylor Swift write a new woke national anthem. For starters.

    As usual, Fox has gone in for another round of demonizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, who just might be the greatest threat to America since Critical Race Theory and the War on Christmas combined! Monday evening, Fox Nation host Lara Logan carefully explained that Fauci was exactly like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi who carried out horrifying experiments at Auschwitz (and was also involved in deciding which arriving Jews would be sent to slave labor, and who would go straight to the gas chambers). Not to be outdone, Tucker Carlson, in a long rant that was incoherent even for him, kept up his insistence that people who refuse to be vaccinated are now being targeted for extermination, just like the Kulaks were in Soviet Russia. Unable to stick with a simile for more than a fruit fly’s heartbeat, Carlson then proclaimed Fauci to be not like Joseph Stalin, but instead “an even shorter version of Benito Mussolini,” even though Mussolini was 5′ 7″ and Stalin more around 5′ 4″ (or 5′ 5″, or even 5′ 6″, according to the googles).

    Fauci is 5′ 7″, in case you were wondering. No, Carlson didn’t explain what exactly made Fauci into Mussolini, except for pointing out that in a “60 Minutes” interview, Fauci referred to himself in the third person and pointed out that rightwing media have an easier time attacking people than science, so the attacks on science tend to come in the form of attacks on Fauci. The nerve of that guy, saying that he personifies science! [video available at the link]

    “Clearly, something deep inside Tony Fauci has changed. The man now believes he’s a deity, accountable to no one,” Carlson outgassed very convincingly.

    Why, Fauci even laughed at Ted Cruz for saying Fauci should be prosecuted, even though Cruz was elected to office and therefore is much more of an authority about things. Fauci brushed off the comment (with, yes, a tu quoque fallacy, shame on him) by suggesting that if anyone should worry, maybe it’s members of Congress who egged on the January 6th insurrection. Carlson pretended that wasn’t Fauci’s point, possibly because Latin confuses Tucker even more than logic, and claimed that Fauci believes that anyone who questions Mad King Fauci is trying to bring down the government.

    Sorry, got all rhetoric-y there. TL;DR: Tucker Carlson is a asshole whose dishonest distortions might make for a dandy dissertation, provided the poor grad student managed not to be driven mad by pondering them, like a character in Lovecraft.

    Lara Logan, that great war correspondent who was shitcanned by “parted ways with” CBS News after a fake Benghazi story that embarrassed “60 Minutes,” brought her great knowledge of world history to an appearance on Fox’s “Prime Time” in which she explained that Fauci was actually a lot more like Josef Mengele, what with all the choosing who lives and dies, the obscene medical experimentation on humans, and the telling Americans to get a free, safe, effective vaccine to protect against serious infection or death. The parallels between Mengele and Fauci really are astonishing! Everyone tells her so, […] [See blf’s comment 207]


  202. KG says

    That’s an excellent refutation of the “viruses evolve towards mildness” fallacy so favoured by the pseudo-sophisticated. Smallpox is always my go-to counterexample. Meanwhile Nigeria’s CDC has identified the Omicron variant in a sample taken in October – also apparently from a traveller to the country, but where from is unspecified.

    That’s good news! Less good news a week or so ago, when the fascist candidate narrowly came top in the first round of Chile’s Presidential election. He’s in a run-off with a progressive this month.

  203. says

    Guardian – “Trump tested positive for Covid few days before Biden debate, chief of staff says in new book”:

    Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden, the former president’s fourth and last chief of staff has revealed in a new book.

    Mark Meadows also writes that though he knew each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within seventy two hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there”.

    Trump, Meadows says in the book, returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive.

    Nonetheless, the stunning revelation of an unreported positive test follows a year of speculation about whether Trump, then 74 years old, had the potentially deadly virus when he faced Biden, 77, in Cleveland on 29 September – and what danger that might have presented….

    He was symptomatic!

    Also, amusingly, “A colossal flop — fawning media can’t save Chris Christie’s new book.” (Link is to Eric Boehlert’s PressRun.)

  204. says

    While I’m here… Politico – “Amazon ordered to hold new union election at Alabama facility”:

    A federal labor relations official has ordered a second union election at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Ala., after finding that the tech giant interfered and violated workers’ labor rights during a high-profile, but unsuccessful, union drive earlier this year.

    The decision by National Labor Relations Board Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson largely rests on the e-commerce giant’s decision to install a mailbox in front of the fulfillment center to collect employees’ mail-in ballots for the union election.

    “By causing the Postal Service to install a cluster mailbox unit, communicating and encouraging employees to cast their ballots using the mailbox, wrapping the mailbox with its slogan, and placing the mailbox at a location where employees could reasonably believe they were being surveilled, the Employer engaged in objectionable conduct that warrants setting aside the election,” Henderson wrote in the order Monday directing a new election.

    “The Employer’s flagrant disregard for the Board’s typical mail-ballot procedure compromised the authority of the Board and made a free and fair election impossible,” Henderson said.

    The union lauded the move, saying it confirmed the objections they raised about Amazon’s behavior throughout the union drive.

    “Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace — and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the union, said in a statement. “Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union.”…

    Amazon still has options to challenge this. At the same time, unionization efforts at Amazon facilities in the US are gaining steam.

  205. raven says

    NBC News
    Anti-vaccine Christian broadcaster Marcus Lamb dies at 64 after contracting Covid
    Tim Fitzsimons Tue, November 30, 2021, 9:49 PM

    Marcus Lamb, a co-founder and the CEO of the conservative Christian Daystar Television Network who vocally opposed Covid-19 vaccines, has died at 64, weeks after he contracted Covid-19, the network said.


    There is no doubt that this is a spiritual attack from the enemy, Lamb’s son Jonathan said…
    As much as my parents have gone on here to kind of inform people about everything that is going on with this pandemic and some of the ways to treat Covid-there’s no doubt that the enemy is not happy about that.

    Another antivaxxer dies from Covid-19 virus.
    Marcus Lamb was one of the worst of a bad lot.
    One of the most prominent televangelists with his own broadcasting company, he spent huge amounts of time lying about the pandemic and promoting ineffective quack cures.

    And, his family didn’t learn one single thing about watching him take several weeks to die on a ventilator. They still don’t believe in modern medicine.
    The xian babble about the “enemy” is just pure Dark Ages superstition.

    Marcus Lamb killed himself by his own stupidity by drinking his own Kool-aid.
    No, satan doesn’t invent pandemics and no he doesn’t care about you one bit. Satan doesn’t even exist and if he did, you would be on his side anyway.

  206. raven says

    I’d never heard of this guy, Marcus Lamb.
    He is the CEO of Daystar Television Network, the second largest xian TV network in the world.
    Lamb is also what an inept lizard person trying to imitate a human would look like.
    The world is a better place with him gone.

    As the pandemic goes on and on, the patients who end up in the ICU are getting dumber and more ignorant. They are frequently hostile and combative, accuse the health care workers of trying to kill them etc.., and sometimes attack them.
    Most of them have been treating their illness with Ivermectin horse paste and are surprised that it didn’t work like they read on Deathbook.
    Quite a few of them don’t even make it to the hospital any more and are found dead at home with their supply of…horse dewormer.

  207. says

    Ah, so great to see raven and SC posting here today. I am having a difficult and busy time with my work-for-actual-money, so I haven’t been able to give this thread as much attention as I’d like.

    KG @219, you’re right. And it has become increasingly important to debunk the “viruses evolve towards mildness” fallacy.

  208. says

    Schadenfreude moment: Sidney Powell’s group reportedly facing criminal investigation

    After a difficult year of defeats, Team Trump’s Sidney Powell has a new problem: Her non-profit is reportedly facing a federal criminal investigation.

    About a year ago, Sidney Powell’s bizarre legal antics in support of Donald Trump reached an extraordinary point: Rudy Giuliani, of all people, concluded that Powell had become a little too ridiculous, even for Team Trump.

    First, Powell was fired for pushing conspiracy theories considered so hysterically ridiculous that the then-president’s other attorneys showed her the door. Soon after, Giuliani went so far as to say her ideas exceeded “the bounds of rationality.”

    This, however, was not the low point for Powell’s career trajectory. Over the summer, a federal judge concluded that an anti-election lawsuit that Powell helped file was so patently absurd that the conduct from the lawyer and her colleagues warranted “a referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.”

    But as embarrassing as that must’ve been for Powell, things may yet get even worse. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post.

    […] At issue is an apparent federal investigation into a collection of groups, including Defending the Republic — a 501(c)4 non-profit organization founded by Powell — and a political action committee of the same name.

    According to the Post’s reporting about the subpoena, Powell is accused of creating a non-profit group that solicited funds to file anti-election lawsuits, but as Rachel noted on last night’s show, federal prosecutors appear to be looking into whether she, in fact, used a lot of those donations for herself.

    If so, it would mean Powell allegedly defrauded her donors and potentially even defrauded the government by possibly misrepresenting the nature of the work conducted by her non-profit organization. […]

    Of course. They all defraud their donors for the most part. Trump is still defrauding his donors. It’s past time for the donors to wise up. Would love to see Sidney Powell do some jail time.

  209. says

    We’re not just seeing House Republicans go after one another, we’re also seeing evidence of Kevin McCarthy being too weak to do anything about it.

    As the current Congress got underway earlier this year, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stressed the importance of Republican unity. As far as the California congressman is concerned, having a unified GOP conference is critical to winning back the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

    With this in mind, in early February, McCarthy’s office declared with pride, “Our conference is united.”

    […] As 2021 has unfolded, GOP lawmakers have spent much of the year going after one another. Wyoming’s Liz Cheney has been a popular target for her Republican colleagues, as has Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger. There’s been some intra-party grumbling about Arizona’s Paul Gosar, too. More recently, the 13 House Republicans who voted for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package faced an intense backlash from their ostensible partisan allies.

    But by most measures, this week’s feud between two first-year GOP members — Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene and South Carolina’s Nancy Mace — is qualitatively different.

    The dispute stems from Rep. Lauren Boebert and her bigoted rhetoric directed at a Democratic colleague. Mace denounced the Coloradan’s anti-Muslim smear, and Greene denounced Mace for having criticized Boebert.

    The dispute took an unfortunate turn yesterday, as Greene described Mace as “the trash of the GOP Conference,” adding a personal attack related to abortion, while the South Carolinian responded with a tweet that used emojis to call Greene a “bats— clown.” The right-wing Georgian took her concerns to Donald Trump, as if he were the grown-up.

    OMFG. All the children are in the sandbox throwing shit at each other. And … Trump as “the grownup” …. LOL.

    […] this may seem like a pointless political spat, but it took on greater significance when Kevin McCarthy personally intervened, tried to lower the temperature, and failed. Politico reported overnight:

    The California Republican implored Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), in separate private meetings, to stop attacking one another after their back-and-forth online spat dragged on for hours earlier Tuesday. After speaking with the GOP leader, Greene said she told McCarthy that she would quit attacking Mace. But as she was leaving the meeting, Greene suggested to CNN that she was interested in seeing Mace get a Republican primary challenger, something former President Donald Trump has called for.

    Around the same time, as the day wrapped up, Mace told reporters, “All I can say to Marjorie Taylor Greene is, ‘Bless her f—ing heart.'” The South Carolinian added that Greene is a “grifter,” who has “nothing going on in her life,” and someone who “takes advantage of vulnerable Americans and vulnerable conservatives.”

    Meanwhile, other Republicans started taking sides, with Kinzinger coming to Mace’s defense, while Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida promoted online content referring to Mace as a “scam artist.”

    The New York Times added, “The carnival-like behavior would amount to little more than a sideshow if it did not have real implications for midterm campaigns and, possibly, a fractured Republican majority in 2023.”

    […] when McCarthy tried to show some leadership yesterday, and spoke directly to Greene and Mace about calming the waters, they proceeded to largely ignore his plea, as if the minority leader’s wishes were irrelevant.

    The result isn’t just a messy intra-party feud, it’s also fresh evidence of McCarthy’s weakness, even among his own members.


  210. says

    The Supreme Court takes up the future of U.S. reproductive rights

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 and for nearly a half-century this decision has served as a central pillar of politics in the United States.

    The question now is whether a very different Supreme Court, now dominated by Republican-appointed conservative justices, will knock that pillar down. NBC News reported this morning:

    The Supreme Court will take up the most direct challenge to Roe v. Wade in nearly three decades when it hears oral arguments Wednesday over a Mississippi abortion law. The showdown, which centers on whether the Constitution provides a right to seek an abortion, focuses on a 2018 Mississippi law, blocked by lower federal courts, that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, allowing them only in medical emergencies or cases of severe fetal abnormality.

    […] After Donald Trump and GOP senators added new conservatives to the Supreme Court, several Republican-led state governments started advancing new abortion bans. Mississippi Republicans were especially aggressive on this front, approving the “Gestational Age Act,” which banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

    […] The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of the state measure; a district court agreed and struck down Mississippi’s policy; and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.

    In May, the high court announced it would hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, creating the first reproductive rights showdown since conservatives gained a dominant, six-member majority on the nine-member bench.

    Note, the Supreme Court actually struck down abortion restrictions in Louisiana last summer, in a 5-4 ruling in which Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the more progressive justices. But since then, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed and been replaced by Barrett, who hasn’t been shy in her condemnations of abortion.

    All of which suggests the Roe v. Wade precedent is facing a serious threat.

    […] the Supreme Court often takes up cases when there are divisions among appellate courts on the same issue. That doesn’t apply here: At least four justices agreed to take up this case because they wanted to, which probably shouldn’t ease the minds of reproductive rights advocates.

    There’s also a political context to all of this. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case this morning and will likely issue a ruling in the early summer. Or put another way, we’re faced with the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — in part or in its entirety — just in time for the 2022 midterm elections.

    […] What happens if/when Republicans become the dog that catches the car? In an election year? With polls showing broad support for the Roe v. Wade precedent?

    Postscript: Oral arguments began this morning around 10 a.m. eastern. The cab listen to the proceedings live through the Supreme Court’s website, by clicking on the “live audio” link.

    Lawyers arguing for the Mississippi abortion law have, so far, spent a lot of time decrying the “damage” done since 1973 when all of those “human lives were ended.”

  211. raven says

    Lynna lives in Idaho.
    I’m not sure how she does it though.
    An Idaho professor at Boise State wants women to be kicked out of engineering, medical, and law schools so they can bake cookies and push out babies.
    BTW, more than half of all medical school (50.5%) and law school (52.4%) students are…women.
    It is amusing that the Idaho lieutenant governor is Janice McGeachin, a far right wingnut kook.

    The Daily Beast:

    A political-science professor at one of Idaho’s top universities has sparked outrage after openly calling for women to be kept out of engineering, medical school, and law so that they can instead focus on “feminine goals” such as “homemaking and having children.”

    Boise State University professor Scott Yenor, who previously served on far-right Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s task force investigating right-wing claims of “indoctrination” in schools, made the bizarre declaration during the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando in late October, the Idaho Statesman reports.

    After his comments went viral on social media this week, female students and female lawmakers alike in Idaho said they are utterly freaked out.

    “He has power. He has power to issue a grade. It’s disgusting. He needs to come into the current century, but it doesn’t sound like he will,” Boise State MBA student Emily Walton told the Statesman.

    Yenor’s comments at the Oct. 31 event went well beyond sexist stereotypes, with the professor suggesting a nation could only be “great” if men and women were kept apart in their respective spheres.

    “Young men must be respectable and responsible to inspire young women to be secure with feminine goals of homemaking and having children,” he told the crowd. “Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade,” he said.

  212. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 228

    Yes, religion-spawned sentimentality for fetuses is going to help bring an end to freedom in this shitty country.

  213. says

    raven @229:

    Lynna lives in Idaho.
    I’m not sure how she does it though.

    Living here can be very disconcerting at times. Yenor sounds über Mormon.

    For the most part, I survive by limiting my interactions with my fellow human beings in Idaho. Not all Idahoans are like Yenor or McGeachin … just too many of them.

  214. raven says

    Living here can be very disconcerting at times. Yenor sounds über Mormon.

    Well, on the bright side, when Idaho gets to be a bit much, you can always cross over the border into…Utah.
    I can well imagine, having spent a fair amount of time in Utah. It’s one of my favorite places but the Mormons are not the best part of it.

    Yenor sounds Mormon and I would expect that at BYU Rexburg. Actually he is Lutheran.
    My first reaction was that Boise State should fire him. I don’t think even tenure will protect him here.
    Then, that is clearly what he wants. If you read further on The Beast, he even gets worse as he goes along.

    He wants to be a martyr to misogyny and get into the big money with talk radio or Fox NoNews. I would simply take away all his real classes, assign him to xian extremism 101, non-credit, pay him his salary, and ignore him until he retires and dies.
    The Universities always have some way far gone old guy with tenure stuck away somewhere, that they ignore, and wait for them to die. I knew at least three at my undergraduate university.

  215. says

    Followup to comment 226.

    Commentary from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

    With all the rush of new news and information I wanted to flag something for your attention that is at least slightly under the media radar. All signs point to a strong Republican midterm election in 2022, with the House the better prospect for Republican control. That means Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy becomes Speaker. Or actually maybe it doesn’t. A bunch of Republicans have started making clear that’s not at all a sure thing.

    Needless to say they’re Trumpers, various versions of the ex-President’s men. And because of that they’re using the tactics of their movement: a mix of taunts and ‘jokes’ meant to add menace with nominal deniability, put McCarthy off balance and simply make clear who’s boss.

    Former Rep. Mark Meadows was Trump’s last Chief of Staff. He’s teetering on the edge of a criminal contempt citation from the Jan 6th Committee. He remains very close to Trump, acting as something like his cat’s paw . A few weeks ago Meadows suggested that Trump should become Speaker of the House if Republicans take power in January 2023. (Remember, the Speaker does not technically have to be a member of the House.) This was half joking, or presented as such. But that is the style. Just joking. But not joking.

    Over the same few weeks there’s been a rising chorus of support for an alternative candidate for Speaker. Maybe Jim Jordan of Ohio. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, notionally a half-defrocked member of the caucus but in fact one of its leaders, has been pushing the idea that McCarthy won’t cut it.

    Then on Monday Meadows showed up on a rightwing talk radio show in Bakersfield, California taking the ‘GOP congressional leadership’ to task for being RINOs and weaklings.

    “I think probably the biggest thing is, is that a lot of times we legislate to the middle and we think that we’ve got to go to our least common denominator and and appease the most moderate Republican member in the House … What I’ve often said is, ‘Listen, let’s start with who we are as conservatives and as constitutional lovers of freedom. And let’s start there and then we work towards the middle,’” Meadows told host Terry Maxwell, according to Punchbowl News. “It does take leadership, sometimes it takes boldness, other times, it takes a willingness to go home [and] do what your constituents want you to do.”

    The two discussed Jordan, Meadows and even Trump as potential Speakers in 2023, just not McCarthy.

    […] part of two broader processes. One is McCarthy’s on-going process of dignity loss which has been a feature of his House tenure almost from the beginning. This isn’t the first time McCarthy was supposed to become Speaker.

    […] when Boehner retired [in 2016], House Republicans balked at McCarthy’s succession to the Speakership. Part of it was a mini-controversy in which McCarthy went on Hannity and said the Benghazi committee had succeeded in damaging Hillary Clinton. He said what was obvious too openly […] the House Freedom Caucus – Meadows and Jordan’s group – withheld their support. McCarthy ended his own campaign for the Speakership before it came to a vote. […] Ouch.

    McCarthy has been an absolute stalwart supporter of Donald Trump. But remember that there’s no elected official of any standing in the United States, in either party, who’s said something about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia even close to what McCarthy has. In a GOP leadership meeting in June 2016 McCarthy told colleagues “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Speaker Ryan immediately jumped in and cut off the conversation and swore the rest in the meeting to secrecy. (The whole thing was caught on tape.)

    My point here isn’t that this is proof that McCarthy was right. It’s more evidence of his endless ability to swallow his words, swallow his dignity and swallow whatever else might be required in the service of getting a promotion or maintaining his status as bestest friend of Donald Trump. There’s even a minor echo of this in the fact that during the January 6th insurrection McCarthy was apparently one of the few GOP leaders in Washington to tell Trump in real time to F off and call off his goons. But he quickly got right with Trump, proceeding to become the most dutiful Jan 6th downplayer running point to prevent Republicans from supporting any efforts to investigate the incident or the former President.

    Kevin McCarthy leaves no dignity on the field. He’s dedicated that way.

    This brings us to the other part of the equation: Trump’s desire not just for a loyalist as Speaker but one who is powerless in the face of Trump. Trump knows his marks. He’s always sought out those who don’t fight back against his humiliations and treats them to yet more humiliations for their loyalty. That’s Kevin McCarthy. Trump himself being Speaker seems too absurd. It would be more work than he’d want in any case. […]

    It all seems like a [recipe for] an arrangement in which purportedly mainstream Republicans had nominal leadership while in fact the House was governed from the Freedom Caucus, a group which was cofounded by Mark Meadows.

    […] John Boehner, whatever his other faults, eventually tired of this, said F it and went off to sell weed and drive the great American open highway. I don’t get the sense Kevin McCarthy ever will. I don’t know if he’ll ever be Speaker, even with a strong 2022.

  216. blf says

    This is hilarious, Jesus Christ Superstar actor “Judas” Believes The Election Was Stolen (video). I must emphasise the actor / singer arrested was not the famous Carl Anderson (who played the role in the first movie (which the video is based on), and sadly died in 2004), but some qanonsene nutter & probable sovereign-citizen loon, James Beeks. From the BBC, Capitol riot: Michael Jackson imitator clashes with judge in court:

    A Michael Jackson impersonator who is accused of participating in the US Capitol riot has clashed with a judge after rejecting the court’s authority.

    James Beeks was accused of “gobbledygook” by the judge after claiming he had divine authority.

    Also an actor, Mr Beeks was arrested after FBI agents went to several of his performances of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.


    Prosecutors were not seeking pre-trial detention for him at Monday’s hearing in Washington DC, but he was nearly remanded in custody after a courtroom outburst.

    The defendant, of Orlando, Florida, argued that he had divine authority, and that he could not serve as his own lawyer in a trial.

    I cannot represent myself because I am myself, he said.

    After Mr Beeks claimed to be exempt from the US legal system, the judge told him: “That’s all gobbledygook.”

    “A defendant who rejects the jurisdiction of the court, rejects being subject to the laws of the United States, rejects the rule of law is not typically released pre-trial because that person cannot be trusted to comply with the conditions of pre-trial release,” Chief US District Judge Beryl Howell warned him.

    Mr Beeks denied being an adherent of the so-called sovereign citizen movement, rejecting the label as an “insult”.

    The judge eventually allowed him to be released on condition that he wear a GPS tracking device, does not possess firearms, and avoids all contact with Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia of which he is alleged to be a member.


    He was among the first rioters to enter the Capitol building, according to an FBI affidavit[, and brought a homemade shield].

    Several other alleged Capitol rioters have also argued that the sovereign citizen movement makes them immune from prosecution.


    Pauline Bauer, who is acting as her own lawyer, quoted Bible verses in court and interrupted the judge while claiming that she was a free living soul not subject to US laws.

    She also argued that she does not legally qualify as a “person” and is instead a vessel or living embodiment of God’s creation.

    Um… if not subject to US laws then why travel to DC and invade the building / institution which produces those laws?

  217. says

    Would congressional Republicans shut down the government to derail vaccine requirements during a pandemic? For some in the GOP, the answer is yes.

    Eight years ago, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz had a provocative idea. The Texan, just nine months into his congressional career, believed he and his party could derail implementation of the Affordable Care Act by shutting down the federal government.

    […] GOP lawmakers embraced [the plan] and shut down federal operations for about two weeks. Eventually, Republicans realized that Cruz’s strategy didn’t really make any sense, and the party ended the crisis.

    The senator’s chief of staff at the time was Chip Roy, who “served as the conductor behind the scenes,” helping steer Cruz’s doomed gambit.

    Eight years later, Roy is now an elected member of the U.S. House, where he apparently wants to borrow a page from his 2013 playbook. Here’s the message the Texas congressman pushed on Fox News this morning:

    “Congress needs to man-up, stand up, and fight for the American people — and that means, don’t fund a government that is tyrannically forcing people to get a vaccine that they don’t want to get.”

    First, there’s nothing “tyrannical” about the Biden administration’s vaccine policy. Second, people who don’t want to get the free, safe, and effective vaccine can instead get regular testing.

    But it was Roy’s rhetoric about not funding the government that mattered most.

    […] Congress is facing a shutdown deadline this week: Without a stopgap spending measure by Friday night — roughly 60 hours from right now — there will be the latest in a series of Republican-imposed shutdowns. Up until very recently, the assumption has been that members will avert a crisis; the only disagreement was over how long the stopgap measure would last.

    But Roy’s rhetoric signaled a new partisan strategy. Politico reported this morning:

    Conservatives on both sides of the Capitol are privately plotting to force a government shutdown Friday in an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on the private sector…. Capitalizing on a last-minute scramble to fund the government, a group of Senate conservatives is planning to object to quick consideration of a stopgap measure to extend funding into early 2022 unless Democratic leaders agree to deny money to enforce the mandate. Because of the tight schedule — and Senate rules that require unanimous consent to move quickly — the senators believe they’ll be able to drag out the process well past midnight Friday, when funding officially expires.

    Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah acknowledged the plan, telling Politico, “I’m sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the [continuing resolution], but I can’t facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates.” Roy added that Lee and allied senators have “leverage.”

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hinted yesterday that there may be a problem. “To avoid a needless shutdown, Republicans will have to cooperate and approve the government funding legislation without delay,” the New York Democrat told reporters. “If Republicans choose obstruction, there will be a shutdown entirely because of their own dysfunction.”

    […] the legislative arithmetic matters: Passing a temporary spending measure will require 60 votes in the upper chamber, which means at least 10 Senate Republicans would need to side with the Democratic majority on a clean stopgap bill (known as a “continuing resolution” or “CR”).

    Will those votes be there before Friday’s deadline?


  218. tomh says

    @ #228

    Listening to the oral arguments this morning was seriously depressing. I long for the days when Thomas kept silent. And I feel dumber for listening to Kavanaugh (who got Susan Collins to vote for him by assuring her that Roe v. Wade was “settled law.”)

    There seems little doubt that the decision will limit abortion, probably not by overturning Roe this time, but by allowing states to put and keep severe restrictions on it, such as the Texas six week limit. Down the road Roe will disappear, though it won’t matter much by then.

  219. says

    ‘How will we survive?’ Sonia Sotomayor calls out threat to SCOTUS in Mississippi abortion law case

    […] Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a consistent supporter of reproductive rights, challenged Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart late Wednesday morning about even taking up and overturning precedents that have been set by both Roe and the 1992 landmark Supreme Court case Casey vs. Planned Parenthood in which the court reaffirmed the 1973 Roe ruling. She then set her sights on just how damaging the present case could be to not just the court itself, but to the constitution and the country, as well.

    “What hasn’t been at issue in the last 30 years is the line that Casey drew of viability. There has been some difference of opinion with respect to undue burden, but the right of a woman to choose, the right to control her own body, has been clearly set since Casey and never challenged. You want us to reject that line of viability and adopt something different. Fifteen justices over 50 years have, or, I should say, 30 since Casey, have reaffirmed that basic viability line. Four had said no, two of them members of this court, but 15 justices have said yes, of varying political backgrounds. Now, the sponsors of this bill, the house bill in Mississippi, said we’re doing it because we have new justices,” Sotomayor said. […]

    Audio recording is available at the link.

    […] Once again, Sotomayor noted that the bill’s sponsor said they pushed the legislation through because “we have new justices on the Supreme Court.”

    “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible. It’s what Casey talked about when they talked about watershed decisions. Some of them, Brown vs. Board of Education it mentioned and this one, have such an entrenched set of expectations in our society: If this is what the court decided, this is what we will follow. That we won’t be able to survive if people believe that everything, including New York vs. Sullivan,” Sotomayor noted, referring to a 1964 First Amendment case that restricted defamation lawsuits from being filed by public officials. “I could name any other set of rights, including the Second Amendment by the way.”

    […] “If people actually believe that this is all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?”

  220. says

    Followup to comment 237.

    More from Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

    “How is your interest anything but a religious view?” Sotomayor asked of the state’s attempt to define when life begins. Sotomayor also fought back against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s comments on precedent. And she asked Stewart when the life of a woman and the risk she endures come into the calculus: “The state is saying to these women that we can choose to not only physically complicate your existence, put you at medical risk, make you poorer by the choice, because we believe…what?”

    Akira made the same point in comment 230.

  221. says

    Democratic senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, calls out Republican hypocrisy:

    […] “You care about life?” Murphy continued. “Then get these dangerous military-style weapons off the streets, out of schools.” He told Republicans it’s also time to require that everyone buying a gun goes through a background check.

    Murphy went on to stress that tragedies like this happen in the United States because we “choose to let it happen.” He stressed that we as a nation are not “lucky” but rather that this is a “purposeful” choice made b the nation to “sit on our hands and do nothing.” He said his peers send a “silent message of endorsement” by not doing more to prevent gun violence.

    “When Congress, the highest, most important, most powerful leaders in the land do nothing shooting after shooting,” he said. “You can understand why those broken brains imply that as an endorsement.”

    “If you’re going to come down here and talk about the sanctity of life,” he continued, “explain to the American people why the gun lobby matters more than the safety of our children who are walking into school every day fearing for their life.”

    Murphy shared a clip of his remarks on Twitter, where it’s been viewed more than 2.3 million times. […]


    See also:

  222. says

    Wonkette: “Democracy Had Good Run, But Trumpy Ratf*kers Now Taking Over Running Local Elections”

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our Republican electoral ratfuckers learning? At first you might think they aren’t, since so many believers of Donald Trump’s Big Lie are still insisting on holding Arizona-style “audits” of elections in states where the votes have been tallied and retallied and there’s still no proof of fraud. But while Republican ratfuckers may be idiots who are disconnected from reality, they also know that the attempt to throw out the results of the 2020 election was thwarted in part because state and local election officials insisted on doing their jobs and running clean elections, which is why it’s so important to harass them until they resign in fear for their lives. […]

    As the Washington Post reports, Republican ratfuck enthusiasts are also working like crazy to take over the machinery of running elections wherever they can. Most noticeably, a lot of committed Trumpers are running for statewide office; WaPo has tallied up “10 running for secretary of state and eight running for attorney general” across the country. Beyond that, Republicans are also working to get Trump loyalists and Big Lie advocates working at the local level in administering elections and counting and certifying the votes.

    Citing the need to make elections more secure, Trump allies are also seeking to replace officials across the nation, including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general, according to state and local officials, as well as rally speeches, social media posts and campaign appearances by those seeking the positions.

    Now, such jobs have traditionally been seen as nonpartisan, technocratic positions. But that might mean Democrats still win elections by getting more votes […] so it’s only fair that Republicans balance things out by making sure only legal Republican votes count.

    […] It’s also the same “logic” that drives a lot of rightwing media: The mainstream press has a liberal bias, so of course news needs to be given a rightward slant, even if it’s dishonest. […]

    “The attacks right now are no longer about 2020,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D). “They’re about 2022 and 2024. It’s about chipping away at confidence and chipping away at the reality of safe and secure elections. And the next time there’s a close election, it will be easier to achieve their goals.”

    And so you have states like Michigan, where Republicans are dedicated to not allowing any more of that nonpartisan independent crap in vote counting ever again. You’ve got Matthew DePerno, one of the leaders of the failed lawsuit to overturn the election results in Antrim County (where Trump won) running for attorney general. Another Trumpenloon, Kristina Karamo, who claimed she saw absolutely true but unprovable fraud in the vote count in Detroit, is running for secretary of state. Both have been endorsed by Trump.

    But Republicans are also pushing to get loyalists on local canvassing boards, which count and certify the vote. […] Count your blessings, Detroit; they didn’t go with the lady who attended the January 6 rally or the other lady who was a “witness” at Rudy Giuliani’s bizarre post-election parade of people telling a Michigan state Senate committee they all saw something nasty in the vote shed.

    But wait, there’s more!

    In Michigan’s third-largest county, Macomb, Republican officials appointed to the canvassing board a former Republican poll challenger, Nancy Tiseo, who tweeted shortly after the 2020 election that Trump should suspend meetings of the electoral college and have “military tribunals” investigate claims about election fraud.

    Thank heaven serious people will be doing serious things with the 2022 and 2024 votes.

    There’s plenty more where that came from, in plenty of other states, too […]

    For instance, while a Steve Bannon fan shared an opening for an “IT Technical Project Manager” in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on a Let’s Audit Everything channel on Telegram, Griswold reassured WaPo that

    she was “aware that election conspiracists are encouraging people to apply for jobs in our office.” But she added that safeguards are in place that will screen out such applicants.

    “Many of the positions require a high level of expertise or skill that just can’t be falsified,” she said. “Positions are available only to Colorado residents. You have to pass reference checks and background checks.”

    So hooray, those jobs will only be available to highly skilled computer users, and what are the chance of them being Trumpist whackaloons?

    Everything should be just fine.


  223. blf says

    According to France24’s live pandemic blog, First confirmed case of new Omicron variant identified in America[the States]:

    20:00 Paris time [about ten minutes ago]: First confirmed US case of Omicron identified

    The first confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been detected in a person in California, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

    “The individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on November 22, 2021,” the agency said.

    “The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative.”

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Anthony Fauci said this person had not had a booster shot yet. […]

  224. tomh says

    En banc Ninth Circuit upholds California ban on large-capacity gun magazines
    BIANCA BRUNO / November 30, 2021

    (CN) — California’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition “interferes only minimally” with the Second Amendment right to self-defense, an en banc Ninth Circuit panel found Tuesday in upholding the voter-approved Proposition 63.

    While the law which amended California penal code to prohibit possession of large-capacity magazines frequently used in mass shootings has been hotly debated since voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2016, one thing is for certain: it aimed to save lives.

    “The statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms. Accordingly, the ban on legal possession of large-capacity magazines reasonably supports California’s effort to reduce the devastating damage wrought by mass shootings,” U.S. Circuit Judge Susan P. Graber, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote in the 35-page order upholding the law.

    Graber noted the case record showed “there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine” ….

    The 7-4 en banc decision was split among party lines, with Democrat-appointed judges upholding the large-capacity magazine ban….

    In his dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke suggested the appellate court was “possessed … by a single-minded focus on ensuring that any panel opinions actually enforcing the Second Amendment are quickly reversed.”

    In his own opinion concurring with the majority’s ruling upholding Proposition 63, U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz — a Barack Obama appointee — said VanDyke “has no basis for attacking the personal motives of his sisters and brothers on this court.”

    “The people of California should not be precluded from attempting to prevent mass murders simply because they don’t occur regularly enough in the eyes of an unelected Article III judge.”

    California Rifle & Pistol Association [one of the plaintiffs in the case] president Chuck Michel said in a statement. “We will be appealing to the Supreme Court for a final determination because gun owners deserve to have someone fighting for them and their rights. The Second Amendment is a fundamental right, and it is time that courts stop treating that right like a second-class gift from government.”

  225. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 240

    Giving sole responsibility to the states to run elections. Just one of the many stupid fuck-ups or our beatified “Founding Fathers.”

  226. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 220.

    “Trump didn’t just fail to deal responsibly with the national public health crisis, he also failed to deal responsibly with his own personal health crisis.”

    It was on Oct. 2, 2020, when the public first learned that Donald Trump had contracted Covid-19. Later that day, the then-president was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center.

    It was entirely unclear, however, even at the time, exactly when the Republican tested positive for the virus. According to a new report in The Guardian, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote in his new book that Trump first tested positive on Sept. 26 — three days before his first presidential debate against Joe Biden.

    Mark Meadows also writes that though he knew each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within seventy two hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there.” … The public, however, was not told of the president’s tests.

    Before digging in on this, let’s note a few things. Right off the bat, I should mention that The Guardian’s report on Meadows’ as-yet-unreleased book has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News. That said, The New York Times ran a related report this morning, quoting two former officials who also said the then-president first tested positive on Sept. 26.

    What’s more, according to Meadows’ telling, Trump tested negative shortly after testing positive. At that point, the then-president almost certainly should’ve taken a PCR test. That apparently didn’t happen.

    Let’s also note that the former president denied the accuracy of the story this morning. That said, Trump lies uncontrollably, and he’s denied plenty of claims that proved to be true.

    […] what’s the significance of the new revelations, assuming they’re true?

    It’s extraordinary to realize just how many people Trump knowingly put at serious risk at the first 2020 presidential debate, including his own staff, his own Secret Service detail, and the man who would soon succeed him in the Oval Office.

    The Guardian report added that Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who moderated the event, “later said Trump was not tested before the debate because he arrived late. Organizers, Wallace said, relied on the honor system.”

    Those counting on Donald Trump to be honorable are almost always going to be disappointed.

    They’re not the only ones the Republican put at risk. The evening after the apparent positive test, Trump headlined a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. The next day, he also met with military families at the White House. The then-president actually complained last fall that the grieving Gold Star families got too close to him — he effectively accused them of infecting him — but it now appears Trump endangered them, not the other way around.

    Indeed, the list of people he put at risk just keeps growing.

    Finally, there was also something odd last fall about the timeline. Trump acknowledged the infection the morning of Oct. 2, only to be hospitalized that afternoon? I won’t pretend to be an epidemiologist, but for most people, a patient’s condition doesn’t deteriorate nearly that quickly.

    If, however, Trump first tested positive on Sept. 26, then he was hospitalized six days later, which makes far more sense.

    As for the bigger picture, at the risk of making a reductive observation, these revelations suggest that the former president didn’t just fail spectacularly to deal responsibly with the national public health crisis, he also failed to deal responsibly with his own personal health crisis.


  227. says

    15-year-old Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult

    The suspected shooter at a Michigan high school has been identified as 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, according to officials.

    Crumbley will face charges including a count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to commit murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said on Wednesday at a press conference.

    McDonald added that she intended to charge Crumbley as an adult.

    “This is unspeakable. We send our kids to school. We think that they’re going to be safe, so the only thing that I can do as the prosecutor is ensure that I will do everything I can to prosecute this case and pursue justice for these victims but also to speak out and say that we need better gun laws,” McDonald said.

    Crumbley is suspected of killing four students and injuring seven other people in a shooting at Oxford High School on Tuesday. He was a sophomore at the school.

    The victims in the shooting included 17-year-old Justin Shilling, who died Wednesday, as well as 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 16-year-old Tate Myre, all of whom died Tuesday.

    […] She went on to say that she could not comment on Crumbley’s potential motive at this time, but referenced a “mountain” of evidence in the case.

    Other news outlets are reporting that the shooter’s parent bought the gun during a Black Friday sale. There is some discussion of charging parents who do not properly store firearms in the home. State laws regarding proper, locked storage vary state by state.

  228. johnson catman says

    re tomh @243:

    We will be appealing to the Supreme Court for a final determination because gun owners deserve to have someone fighting for them and their rights. The Second Amendment is a fundamental right, and it is time that courts stop treating that right like a second-class gift from government.

    The second amendment was ratified in 1791. At the time, the vast majority of firearms were of the single-shot variety. The contention that huge magazine capacity must be legal is a stretch for second amendment fanatics.

  229. says

    Here are two interesting, related podcast episodes:

    Maintenance Phase – “Is Being Fat Bad For You?”:

    For nearly four decades, Americans have heard a simple story about health, longevity and obesity. This week, we learn it’s a little more complicated….

    Citations Needed – “Episode 149: How Fatness Became a Cheap Joke and Proxy for Moral Deficiency in Pop Culture”:

    A character played by an actor in a fat suit shovels food in his face, unable to restrain himself in a fit of rage. Another falls, too lazy and out-of-shape to get up without the aid of others. And yet another loses weight and avenges the anti-fat bullying she faced growing up, finally earning respect as a thin person.

    We see all of these tropes ad nauseam in film, television, literature, and other forms of arts and pop culture. They’re a manifestation of a deep cultural hostility toward fat people – one that perpetuates a centuries-long stigma that both reduces them to their size and their eating habits, with little curiosity about any other facets of their lives, and equates their bodies with the sins of sloth, greed, and gluttony.

    The results: degradation, dehumanization, and a constant, unrelenting message that fatness is a moral failure. Whether in 19th Century sideshows and cartoons presenting fat people as the object of humiliation and scorn, sitcoms and movies of the 1990s using fat suits for a cheap laugh, or new dramedies that continue to miss the mark, the characterization of fat people as sin incarnate has hardly changed, thanks to a virulent and complex nexus of racism, classism, and misogyny.

    On this episode, we explore how mass media perpetuate anti-fatness in Western, and especially American, culture, examining the ways in which imperial conquest and capitalist development laid the foundation for hostility toward fat people; how even supposedly enlightened liberals use the thin patina of public health to mask routine anti-fat bullying; and the methods Hollywood and other sources of cultural products use to present fat characters as punchlines and nuisances who can only be kooky best friends or degenerate villains.

    Our guest is Professor Amy Erdman Farrell, author of Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture.

  230. says

    GOP’s Greene: ‘We are not the fringe; we are the base of the party’

    […] when describing politicians such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, it seems fair to use words like “radical” and “extremist.” After all, the Georgia Republican, even before taking office, was recognized as a supporter of the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory.

    […] Earlier this year, the public learned of Greene’s record of dismissing 9/11 and school massacres as hoaxes. And harassing at least one survivor of a school shooting. And targeting religious minorities. And peddling bizarre claims about fire-causing space lasers.

    Perhaps most importantly, in 2018 and 2019, the Georgia Republican expressed support for violence against Democratic elected officials. This included an instance in which she liked a social-media comment about removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from office by way of “a bullet to the head.”

    If anyone in American public life deserves to be seen as a radical figure on the political fringe, it’s Greene. And yet, the GOP congresswoman published this tweet this week:

    “There are a lot of people that need to hear this. We Conservatives in the [House Republican conference] aren’t the fringe. We actually represent the base of Republican voters, which is approximately 70%. And when the party learns to represent Conservative Americans, we will never lose again.”

    She took a nearly identical message to Steve Bannon’s podcast, boasting, “We are not the fringe; we are the base of the party.”

    […] What if Greene’s right? […]

    The Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago that Donald Trump — by most measures, the leader of the contemporary Republican Party — maintains close contact with several congressional loyalists, but he’s spoken with Greene the most.

    […] A national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll produced similar findings, with 75 percent of Republican voters embracing the Big Lie as if it were true. Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, nearly two-thirds of GOP voters said they won’t trust the results if their preferred candidate loses.

    […] These are utterly bonkers ideas, embraced by outlandish figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, but they’re also accepted by most Republican voters, suggesting the line between the GOP mainstream and the GOP fringe has grown awfully blurry.

  231. says

    WTF? Meadows Calls His Own Book ‘Fake News’ After Trump Attack

    Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who revealed in his upcoming book that Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his presidential debate with Biden, tried to moonwalk away from his bombshell report last night after his ex-boss called it “fake news.”

    “The president’s right, it’s fake news,” Meadows told Newsmax.

    Meadows accused the media of ignoring how his book had also reported that Trump gotten a negative test result after receiving the positive one–except the media isn’t ignoring that part at all.

    Two former Trump officials subsequently confirmed Meadows’ account to the New York Times.

    Meadows also not-so-subtly tried to temper Trump’s fury, making it a point to tell Newsmax that his book has “a lot of great stories” that “candidly talk about the miraculous work, the historic work that Donald Trump did.”

    From Justin Baragona’s Twitter feed:

    Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt: “I believe the president said it’s fake news. What’s the story here?”

    Mark Meadows: “Well, the president’s right, it’s fake news.”
    Video is available at the link.

  232. says

    House And Senate Leaders Say They’ve Reached Deal To Avert Shutdown

    Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have settled on an agreement on a spending bill that would keep the government open through mid-February, according to party leaders.

    House Appropriations Committee chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said on Thursday morning that the deal “allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people.”

    Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) signaled his approval. “I’m pleased that we have finally reached an agreement on the continuing resolution,” Shelby said, adding that now lawmakers “must get serious” about completing the bills for fiscal year 2022.

    Now the proposal can be brought to the House floor on Thursday as the Friday deadline looms closer. However, the bill faces serious turbulence in the Senate, where several Republicans threaten to hold it hostage to force Democrats to defund President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate. While such a move would not block the plan indefinitely, it could delay its passing for days.

  233. says

    Followup to comment 252.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Republican senators want to force a shutdown of the government because Joe Biden is trying to save the lives of their constituents. So much for being pro-life.
    Don’t we have to look at this through the lens of Republicans delaying everything they can to delay the BBB vote?
    The Republican party has staked out its pro-covid position. They want their constituents to have the right to get sick and die.
    The problem with a continuing resolution is it freezes spending at current levels.
    The Republicans have to pander to the anti-vaxxers. But becoming the Covid party is hardly a popular stance.

  234. says

    Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and … Joe Manchin threaten government shutdown over vaccine mandates

    House and Senate negotiators have moved closer to averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday—close enough that the House will vote Thursday on the continuing resolution. The agreement between House and Senate appropriators will extend funding until Feb. 18. That’s a minor win for Republicans who want to deny President Joe Biden and majority Democrats the ability to spend money on the programs they prioritize, forcing them to continue to operate on 2021’s budget, approved in 2020 and therefore a “Trump budget.” […]

    House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro announced the agreement with Senate appropriators Thursday morning, saying it “includes virtually no changes to existing funding or policy,” but does include $7 billion for resettling Afghanistan refugees. As to the Feb. 18 deadline, she said: “While I wish it were earlier, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people.”

    […] Speaking of assholes, there’s the gang still trying to force a government shutdown, egged on by Trump surrogate and former Trump budget official Russ Vought since [Trump] is still banned on Twitter.

    @SenMikeLee @RogerMarshallMD & @SenTedCruz are courageously fighting to defund the vaccine mandate in the Senate. They should not be so alone. Thank you senators! More later on why those calling for use of the congressional review act are wrong and engaged in a fake fight.

    Those guys have little support from other Republicans in the Senate, who have seen the results of this game before and don’t want to go there again. “I think shutdowns almost never work out very well,” Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt told The Hill Wednesday following a lunch when Republicans fought this out. “There was not full agreement, that’s for sure,” he said on whether to try to force a shutdown.

    McConnell, who didn’t bother to engage in that debate, insists the shutdown isn’t going to happen. “We’re not going to shut the government down,” he said on Fox Thursday. “That makes no sense for anyone. Almost no one on either side thinks it’s a good idea.”

    The handful of Republicans are holding out the threat of blocking a quick vote on government funding, trying to get a simple majority vote on an amendment to end the vaccine mandate on private companies, and the assholes are getting encouragement from somewhere. Gee, wonder how that could be. Oh right, the Democratic asshole.

    New – Manchin doesn’t rule out supporting amendment to DEFUND vaccine mandate on businesses. This is why Republican Sens. Marshall and Lee are demanding a 51-vote threshold. Says he backs mandate on feds but tells us he’s “less enthused” with business mandate

    Once again, Joe Manchin is screwing his Democratic colleagues and his president, apparently just because he can. His enabling of the Republicans makes it that much more likely the bill doesn’t pass by Friday at midnight, and ensures that there’s at least a short shutdown over the weekend

  235. says

    The Biden administration plans to distribute an additional 25 million free tests to community sites in order to expand access to at-home tests in underserved communities.

    “The fact is that people should wind up getting vaccinated and boosted if they’re eligible for a boost. I keep coming back to that because that’s really the solution to this problem,” Fauci said.

    Biden will announce today that the U.S. is extending the mask requirement for domestic flights, rail travel and public transportation through March 18.

  236. says

    The religious right wants states’ tax dollars, and the Supreme Court is likely to agree

    An emboldened religious right wants the public to pay for its schools.

    The plaintiffs in Carson v. Makin, a case being heard next Wednesday, December 8, begin their brief to the Supreme Court with an absolutely ridiculous historical comparison.

    “In the 19th century, Maine’s public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith,” they claim, citing one example of a Catholic student expelled for not completing lessons off a Protestant bible. Now, according to the brief, Maine is committing a similarly repugnant sin against religious people by refusing to pay state residents’ tuition at private religious schools.

    Under this reasoning, there is no relevant difference between denying a public education to a Catholic student and refusing to pay for private religious education. […]

    Carson […] moves the battleground from whether religious conservatives can seek exemptions from individual laws to whether they can also demand that the public actively fund their faith.

    […] Carson claims the state of Maine must spend existing tax revenue from its secular residents to pay the private school tuition of some religious students. No one in Maine is prohibited from sending their children to a religious private school. The plaintiffs in Carson already send at least one child to such schools. The question is whether the Constitution requires the government — and, by extension, anyone who pays taxes to that government — to subsidize religious education.

    Notably, the state could also wind up having to pay for hate speech in the process. According to Maine’s brief, both of the plaintiff families in Carson want the state to pay for tuition at schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers. […]

    Carson also involves Maine’s fairly unusual public school vouchers program, so it’s unclear what immediate impact a victory for the plaintiffs in this case would have in other states. Although much of Maine operates ordinary public schools run by local school districts, some students — predominantly those who live in sparsely populated areas where there is no local school — are not assigned to a particular school. Instead, the state offers to pay the private school tuition of those nearly 5,000 students, who would otherwise have no access to a free education.

    Only “nonsectarian” schools are eligible for this subsidy. Parents can still choose to send their children to an institution that seeks to inculcate those children into a particular religious faith, but they won’t receive state funds to do so.

    […] Just last year, the Court took a significant step toward tearing down the distinction between laws that impose unwanted obligations on people of faith and laws that merely deny taxpayer dollars to religious institutions. In a worst-case scenario for the separation of church and state, Carson could obliterate that distinction.

    […] Barely two decades ago, there was a serious constitutional debate about whether states are even permitted to fund religious education. As established in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), longstanding precedent holds that “no tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” In 2002, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris asked the court to consider a school voucher program that primarily benefited religious schools. Though a majority of the Court abandoned Everson’s strict approach in this case, four justices dissented and would have applied the stricter rule.

    Yet even after Zelman, the Court largely viewed the question of whether to subsidize religious education as a matter within lawmakers’ discretion.

    Until the Roberts Court.

    Most notably, in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020), the Court held that states must subsidize religiously affiliated schools under certain circumstances. Espinoza held that a state may not deny a subsidy to a religious institution “simply because of what it is” — that is, simply because the institution identifies with a particular faith.

    […] Suppose, for example, a state provides grants to help set up food banks and soup kitchens. If a church wishes to set up a soup kitchen and is otherwise eligible for the grant, it can’t be denied the grant solely because it is a religious institution. Its “status” as a Christian-affiliated entity is not a valid basis to deny a grant under Espinoza.

    Now imagine a slightly different church, that wishes to use the state-funded grant to purchase Bibles that will be distributed to people at the soup kitchen. In this scenario, the church is no longer just providing a secular service, food for the hungry. It’s providing an inherently religious service, the distribution of a holy text. This kind of inherently religious activity is what the Court meant by religious “use,” and Espinoza suggests states may still be allowed to deny funding to such activities […]

    And this distinction between religious “status” and religious “use” is now front and center in the Carson case.

    Although the tuition program at the heart of the Carson case predates Espinoza, it might as well have been designed specifically to survive judicial review after that decision. As the state explains in its brief, Maine determines whether a particular school is “sectarian,” and therefore ineligible for state subsidies, by asking if it “promotes the faith or belief system with which it is associated and/or presents the material taught through the lens of this faith.”

    [Carson claims] that policies which require religious families to “choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit” are unconstitutional — and that Maine’s tuition program forces these families to choose between “their right to tuition assistance or their right to freely exercise their religion.”

    It’s a deeply radical argument, […] if the Constitution does not permit states to force families to choose between receiving a free education and a religious one, then any public school system is potentially at risk.

    […] Espinoza was also a 5-4 decision, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death gave Republican appointees a supermajority on the Court. […]

    it’s hard to draw a principled line between a school voucher program that excludes religious education and a traditional public school system that excludes religious education. In the likely event the Carson plaintiffs prevail before the Supreme Court, it is probably inevitable that someone in a traditional public school district will file a new lawsuit claiming they are also entitled to have their private school tuition paid for by their state’s taxpayers.

  237. says

    Minnesota becomes the second state to confirm omicron infection.

    Washington Post link

    Minnesota on Thursday became the second U.S. state to confirm a case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

    The variant was discovered in an adult male resident who had recently visited New York for the Anime NYC convention, the Minnesota Health Department said in a news release. He is fully vaccinated and developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22, one day after the conclusion of the convention, which was held at the Javits Center from Nov. 19 to 21. He was tested Nov. 24 and advised to isolate from others; his symptoms have since resolved.

    Gov. Tim Walz (D) called on Minnesotans to get vaccines and boosters and to get tested and wear masks indoors.
    “This news is concerning, but it is not a surprise,” he said. “We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world.”

    Because of the Minnesota patient’s presence at the convention, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said in a statement that New Yorkers should “assume there is community spread of the variant in our city.” He noted that the event required masks and vaccination. Attendees should get tested and take additional social-distancing precautions, the mayor said, adding that contact tracers would be reaching out.

    A day earlier, the nation’s first case was discovered in a San Francisco resident who had returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, began feeling ill around Nov. 25 and got tested Nov. 28. The patient, who is in self-isolation, has mild symptoms that are improving.

    The Minnesota Health Department said its omicron case was found through its variant surveillance program, adding that the program “allowed MDH to quickly identify omicron once it entered the state and made it more likely that Minnesota would be among the first states to find the variant.”

    Minnesota epidemiologists are continuing to investigate the case alongside New York City and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […]

  238. says

    Trump as a spreader of infectious disease:

    […] Multiple news organizations, including The Post, have now confirmed from former Trump aides that he tested positive for coronavirus on Sept. 26, 2020, three days before his Sept. 29 debate with Joe Biden. So he had reason to believe he might have been infected heading into the debate.

    Trump was informed of the positive test on Air Force One on Sept. 26, en route to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, the book says. But the White House concealed this from the public and from debate organizers, even though he was “tired” and had a “slight cold.” [Lies. Trump had coronavirus symptoms, as SC pointed out in comment 220.]

    Instead, Trump took a second test that came back negative, and Meadows called Trump to inform him of it. The Guardian reports that the book then relays the following:

    Meadows says Trump took that call as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.” His chief of staff, however, “instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive” throughout the Pennsylvania trip.

    In other words, everyone around Trump was apparently told he was potentially contagious, and he even appeared potentially symptomatic […] If this is right, then what happened at the debate is even worse than you thought.

    That’s because multiple people around Trump, including his wife, Melania Trump, and his kids Donald Jr. and Eric, all sat maskless at the Sept. 29 debate, according to contemporaneous reports, despite the fact that debate attendees were required to wear masks.

    As numerous reporters personally witnessed at the time, Trump’s family members did this after rebuffing a direct request to mask up from a doctor with the Cleveland Clinic, which helped organize the debate. That doctor even offered them masks, and they declined. […]

    Indeed, Melania Trump and numerous other people in Trump’s inner circle were both with Trump in the days after he tested positive and then subsequently tested positive themselves […]

    And on the same day Trump tested positive, he held a reception announcing Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett — with Melania Trump in attendance — after which numerous people present then tested positive.

    It’s hard to know which of Trump’s family members and top aides might have been told at the time of Trump’s positive test. But it’s extremely likely that some or all of them knew about it, especially since Meadows apparently put out word that Trump should be treated as positive.

    Also note that the Cleveland Clinic required all attendees to test negative before the debate, but the campaigns were responsible for testing their own candidates and their entourages. As Eric Boehlert notes, this neatly demonstrated how our institutions utterly failed to treat Trump as the malevolent force that he was — and remains. […]

  239. says

    Stacey Abrams Says She’s Running for Georgia Governor.

    New York times link

    Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat whose narrow loss in the governor’s race in 2018 catapulted her to national prominence as a voting rights advocate, said Wednesday that she would run again for governor in 2022, setting up a high-profile potential rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican.

    Three years after Ms. Abrams lost to Mr. Kemp — a longtime political rival — by about 55,000 votes, her candidacy ensures that voting rights will remain at the center of the political conversation in Democratic circles and in Georgia, where Republicans enacted a sweeping law of voting restrictions this year.

    Ms. Abrams’s campaign also carries historic significance: If she is successful, she would become the first Black governor of Georgia and the first Black woman to serve as governor of any state. […]

  240. says

    Followup to comment 259: In related news, Donald Trump responded to Abrams’ announcement by saying he intended to defeat her: “I beat her single-handedly, without much of a candidate, in 2018. I’ll beat her again.” The former president added, however, that he won’t support Kemp’s re-election campaign, because the GOP governor didn’t help him overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

  241. says

    JFC. Arizona Republican urges people to ‘be more like’ Joe McCarthy

    Between 2010 and 2018, Arizona’s Wendy Rogers ran for elected office in every election cycle. It didn’t go well: After five attempts, she lost five times.

    But in 2020, the far-right Republican was elected to Arizona’s state Senate, where she helped champion the state’s utterly bonkers election “audit” and became one of Donald Trump’s favorite allies.

    […] Mediaite noted this week:

    Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers tweeted a photo of late U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy on Saturday, with text encouraging people to follow in his footsteps of getting, “rid of the communists.”

    The Republican legislator specifically urged people to “be more like” Joe McCarthy, which is a phrase that was quite uncommon in American politics up until recent years.

    Indeed, this is the latest reminder that for much of the right, McCarthyism isn’t a bad thing, and seeing McCarthy as a villain is a mistake.

    Steve Bannon, for example, has praised McCarthy’s radical campaign against communist infiltration, and as we’ve discussed, he’s not alone.

    A reporter from the Dallas Morning News told Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2013 that he’d been compared at times to McCarthy. The Texan said the criticism might be “a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right,” which seemed like a curious response given the context.

    Asked specifically, “Is McCarthy someone you admire?” Cruz wouldn’t answer.

    A few years earlier, conservative activists rewriting Texas’ state’s curriculum briefly recommended telling students that McCarthy was a hero who’d been “vindicated” by history.

    When thinking about the differences between the contemporary Republican Party and how much it’s changed over the last generation, look no further than those who’ve decided McCarthyism wasn’t so bad after all.

  242. tomh says

    Mary Murguia becomes chief judge of Ninth Circuit
    MARIA DINZEO / December 1, 2021

    SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — There’s a new chief judge at the helm of the nation’s largest federal appeals court as Chief Judge Emeritus Sidney Thomas passed the gavel on Wednesday to Mary Murguia.

    Murguia is the second woman, and first Latina, to hold the position, which she takes by virtue of seniority and will hold for a seven-year term….

    A Kansas native, Murguia is one of seven children born to Mexican immigrants. Her brother Carlos is a former federal judge and her twin sister Janet is president of the civil rights organization UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza.

    As a circuit judge, Murguia penned several noteworthy opinions centered around immigration, including Grigoryan v. Barr in 2019, where she and three colleagues held that the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals deprived three Armenian asylum seekers of their due process rights by revoking their asylum and ordering their deportation without allowing them to rebut accusations of fraud.

    She recently sat alongside her predecessor Thomas on an 11-judge “en banc” tribunal that on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines…..

  243. blf says

    Two videos that are very French; first, French chef Éric Pras whips up a storm for a festive Michelin-starred meal (video) (Trigger warning: Some individuals (vegans?) may find the initial sequence about chickens distressing). The mildly deranged chicken, I mean penguin, complains there’s no mention of cheese.

    Second, A big fuss over a little word? New French pronoun « iel » sparks debate (video):

    France’s prominent Le Petit Robert dictionary, considered a linguistic authority in the country, recently added a new pronoun to its online edition. The word is « iel », a gender-neutral merging of the masculine « il » (he) and the feminine « elle » (she). This new pronoun, intended for those who identify as neither male nor female, is already used online and by younger generations. But the move to include it in the dictionary provoked a backlash from politicians and linguists. One vocal critic of the new pronoun is French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. He says it’s the latest expression of “wokism” which, he claims, threatens France’s universalist model[fiction]. […]

    As the video notes, and something people (including myself) have been pointing out for years, it’s illegal in France to gather statistics related to (as one example) racism. That means what data which does exist about the problem is largely inferences and proxy-measurements. So it’s rather like asserting vaccines don’t look by only examining data from countries where few are vaccinated… there is no racism because none has been measured.

  244. blf says

    me@263, Oops! it’s rather like asserting vaccines don’t look → it’s rather like asserting vaccines don’t work…

  245. blf says

    Today’s date, 20211202, is also a palindrome (when either multiplying out The Chigau Primes, or writing it in that ISO-like notation).

  246. chigau (違う) says

    I noted the palindrome so I started by dividing by 11, and carried on from there.

  247. says

    […] Dale Ho is a civil rights lawyer nominated by President Biden to the federal bench in New York. Until his nomination, Ho was the ACLU’s lead lawyer on voting rights. He’s been a central figure in many of our voting rights stories over the past few years. Here Ho is taking on Kris Kobach over his controversial proof-of-citizenship voter registration law, in a case where Kobach was sanctioned and ordered to take legal education classes. Here is Ho taking Trump’s citizenship question on the census all the way to the Supreme Court, and winning. You get the idea. Ho is smart, effective, and a prime target for Republican senators considering his nomination.

    Enter Ted Cruz.

    Ho’s confirmation hearing was Wednesday. And Cruz took his best shot. By his own comms guy’s telling, Cruz mopped the floor with Ho.

    But give the exchange a look. I found the whole thing amusing. Cruz is throwing punches like windmill, but Ho calmly keeps him at arm’s length and the punches don’t land. Cruz at first seems perplexed, then starts to seem intimidated, like he’s bitten off more than he intended. The most Cruz can muster is harrumphs. Ho remains unperturbed. That’s my sense of it. You can decide for yourself: […]

    Video is available at the link.

  248. says

    Study turns up amazing evidence of how mask mandates save lives and is immediately covered up.

    At the request of Gov. Mike Parson, the Missouri Department of Health conducted an analysis of COVID-19 infections and deaths in those cities and counties that implemented mask mandates compared to the rest of the state. As The Missouri Independent reports, the results of that analysis were clear: During every part of the pandemic, mask mandates worked to reduce rates of infections and prevent deaths.

    The department then sent an email to Parson’s office reporting that the mandates worked, complete with a pair of graphs showing the results of their analysis. From of April through October, areas with mask mandates averaged 15.8 cases per day for every 100,000 residents. Those areas without a mask mandate had 21.7 cases per day over the same period. The difference in the rate of deaths is even more stark. Deaths in areas without mask mandates occurred at a rate three times higher than in those areas with masks.

    The difference between the results is consistent over the course of the entire pandemic, through both peaks and valleys of infection in the state. The mask-gap is there before vaccines become available, after vaccines become available, and right through the period in which delta becomes dominant. At the very end of the study period, mandates are saving lives more effectively than ever, with a death rate in masked areas that’s literally fifteen times lower than in unmasked areas.

    So naturally, Parsons did what any good Republican governor would do when confronted with information that could save thousands of lives in his state—he buried it.

    Despite being instructed to collect this information the results were not made public. It took a Sunshine Law request from the Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project to obtain charts and emails connected to the analysis. Those emails show that the analysis was actually performed by Assistant Bureau Chief Nathan Koffarnus, who forwards the results back to Department of Health Director Donald Kauerauf. While acknowledging that other variables are to be considered, Kaurauf makes this statement in his response.

    “I think we can say with great confidence reviewing the public health literature and then looking at the results in your study that communities where masks were required had a lower positivity rate per 100,000 and experienced lower death rates.” […]


    Charts and more details are available at the link.

  249. says

    UFC head reveals he has COVID-19 and asked Joe Rogan for medical advice

    The head of popular mixed martial arts organization UFC said he tested positive for COVID-19 and that he’s turning to a controversial figure for advice.

    Dana White, president of UFC, spoke on “The Jim Rome Podcast” on Wednesday and revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19. White confirmed that he was vaccinated and he temporarily experienced a loss of smell, which he regained within 48 hours.

    White also said that he consulted with Joe Rogan, host of the popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” for advice on what to do about his diagnosis.

    Rogan has been known to spread controversial ideas about the COVID-19 vaccines, like how young people don’t need to get vaccinated against the virus.

    That prompted the White House to respond, with communications director Kate Bedingfield telling CNN in April, “I guess my first question would be, did Joe Rogan become a medical doctor while we weren’t looking? I’m not sure that taking scientific and medical advice from Joe Rogan is perhaps the most productive way for people to get their information.”

    Rogan himself contracted COVID-19 in September and said he tried a variety of treatments, including ivermectin, despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saying the drug should not be used to treat or prevent COVID-19.

    Now White has tested positive for the virus and, according to ESPN, told “The Jim Rome Podcast” that he called Rogan immediately after his positive test. He has taken a monocular antibody treatment, NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) drip, vitamin drip and ivermectin.

    […] The UFC president hopes to test negative very soon so he can attend the UFC Fight Night event on Saturday in Las Vegas.

    According to ESPN, White was one of the most aggressive commissioners in sports during the coronavirus pandemic. UFC was able to keep its events going on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi during the pandemic in 2020 by working with the United Arab Emirates government. It also managed to continue hosting events in Las Vegas at its Apex facility.

  250. says

    Wonkette: “Laura Ingraham Just Gently Threatening Conservative Justices If They Refuse To Overturn Roe”

    Wow, who knew Laura Ingraham was so vehemently against women’s rights, hahahahaha just kidding everyone did.

    After yesterday, when Mississippi’s douchebro solicitor general Scott Stewart told the six conservative partisan hacks on the Supreme Court why fascist white men should be in charge of all the uteruses in Mississippi, Ingraham’s show last night was a doozy, especially when she started gently threatening the Court’s conservative justices.

    Media Matters, as usual, with some transcript and video: [video available at the link]

    Ingraham’s long-winded rant was long and winded, but the really good part came at the end:

    INGRAHAM: The left claims to care about democracy, so let’s let the people decide the important questions presented by abortion and if a court with the majority of six Republican appointees fails to put Roe to rest, then it should expect a conservative-led movement to shrink the court’s power. Oh, and it would also mean adios to The Federalist Society. And that’s the angle.

    That’s right, if the partisan hack judges fail to do what they were partisan hack-ily hired to do, then conservatives will take away the Supreme Court’s power. And destroy the Federalist Society, because what is it even for if the judges who make it to the Court don’t follow orders? What do they think they are, some kind of independent judiciary?

    Ingraham really underlined this point during an interview with Senator Ted Cruz, seditionist of Texas, saying, “Senator, if we have six Republican appointees on this court, after all the money that has been raised, the Federalist Society and all these fat cat dinners, I’m sorry, I’m pissed about this.” She’s pissed, y’all! After ALL THIS MONEY!

    So that was the quiet part loud.

    But really, the entire clip above is so bizarre, if you want to waste seven minutes of your life.

    Ingraham was really upset that Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the Mississippi douchebro to have several seats when he started barfing out unscientific conspiracy theories about fetal pain. […]

    Ingraham did her eye-rolling scoffing thing at Sotomayor’s suggestion that the Court will end up with (even more of) a “noxious stench” on it if it acts like the paid-for clique of partisan hacks Ingraham wants it to be and overturns Roe. Ingraham — again, an idiot conservative ideologue — relied on rotting dead conservative ideologues like Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia to argue that AKSHULLY the Court got the stain on it when it decided Roe in 1973.

    […] a new poll says only 24 percent of Americans want Roe overturned […]


  251. says

    Coronavirus cases in South Africa nearly triple in three days as fears over omicron grow.

    South Africa’s new daily coronavirus cases have almost tripled in three days, according to new figures released Thursday, raising alarms over the possible spread of the new omicron variant recently detected by the country’s scientists.

    New daily confirmed cases rose to 11,535 on Thursday from 8,561 on Wednesday and 4,373 the previous day, according to official statistics. The cases represent a 22.4 percent positivity rate of people tested for the virus, up from 16.5 percent on Wednesday, a massive jump from a 1 percent positivity rate in early November, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said.

    The majority of new infections were in the populous Gauteng province around the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, with 8,280 cases, the NICD said.

    “Omicron is probably the fastest-spreading variant that South Africa has ever seen,” said Tulio de Oliveira, the director of the Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation at Stellenbosch University, reacting to news of the increase in cases.

    Although scientists are warning that it is still too early to say for sure that omicron is behind the surge in cases, the rapid rise means omicron might already be overtaking the delta variant, experts said.

    While the delta variant was dominant in all provinces until the end of October, the NICD said omicron was present in 74 percent of the genomes it sequenced in November.

    Shabir Madhi, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said all indications were that omicron could be more transmissible than delta.

    “The majority of cases are currently presenting as a mild illness,” he added. […]

    Washington Post link

  252. says

    Germany Shuts Unvaccinated People Out of Much of Public Life

    New York Times link

    Facing a huge coronavirus surge, Chancellor Angela Merkel, her successor, Olaf Scholz, and state governors agreed on tough new restrictions on people who have not been inoculated.

    Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday to exclude unvaccinated people from much of public life, seeking to break a soaring fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic and blunt the worrisome new Omicron variant.

    The new rules, which stopped short of enforcing a complete lockdown on the unvaccinated, followed an agreement hammered out between Chancellor Angela Merkel, her successor, Olaf Scholz, and state governors.

    Under the new rules, those wishing to go to bars and restaurants, or shop anywhere but in stores carrying basic necessities — like pharmacies or grocery stores — have to present proof of vaccination or documentation of recovery from a recent coronavirus infection. Some of those restrictions have been in effect already in some states; the agreement sets a uniform nationwide standard.

    With the new rules, and a promise by Mr. Scholz this week that he would push a law making vaccinations mandatory, Germany is following the path of Austria, which recently mandated that all adults be inoculated by February. It comes as both countries contend with strident anti-vaccination sentiment in their populations that have kept vaccination rates low compared with other western European countries.

    […] In addition to the restrictions on shopping by the unvaccinated, states may also require under the new rules that negative test results be presented in addition to proof of immunity at events, restaurants, bars or even shops.

    In a throwback to earlier lockdowns, those who can’t prove they have recovered from the illness or that they have been vaccinated will be restricted to meetings or gatherings, whether at home or in a public space, of only two households.

    However, the restrictions stop short of requiring the unvaccinated to stay at home, in contrast with the stricter Austrian restrictions.

    […] Schools will remain open, but masks will be made mandatory.

    […] Austria, the only European country to order mandatory vaccinations, has almost twice as many cases per capita as Germany. But Austria’s caseload, still among the world’s highest, has started to decline, while Germany’s has not. […]

  253. says

    Senate Democrats make third immigration pitch to parliamentarian

    One day after an initial “informal” meeting, Senate Democrats again met with Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to officially make the case for the inclusion of temporary immigration protections in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. This is now the third attempt.

    ”Under the so-called Byrd rule, reconciliation bills, which can pass with a filibuster-proof majority, must primarily impact the federal budget,” Roll Call reported. Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter noted that MacDonough didn’t endorse or reject the proposal following Tuesday’s informal meeting. Roll Call reports that aides at Wednesday’s official meeting said it was a “productive conversation.”

    Under the plan passed by House Democrats last month, more than 7 million immigrants could be eligible for work permits, deportation protections, and international travel authorization for a period of up to 10 years. “The original proposal included a path to citizenship for approximately 8 million undocumented immigrants,” McCarter noted, but has sequentially been watered down as MacDonough, an unelected Senate staffer, has issued nonbinding opinion after nonbinding opinion against protections.

    But the report indicated there could still be more “revisions” to satisfy MacDonough, who, once again, was elected by no one and whose opinions are nonbinding and can be overruled. “This is the formal Byrd bath, not the final Byrd bath,” Immigration Hub Deputy Director Kerri Talbot told Roll Call. “There will have to be some adjustments,” California Sen. Alex Padilla said in the report. “We’re gonna go to the parliamentarian first and then adjust.” […]

    “Budget reconciliation is the only means, as of now, by which Democrats can pass substantive legislation because it is not subject to the filibuster,” McCarter noted. “Absent an agreement from a few Democratic senators to end the filibuster, this is the only game in town for fulfilling a decades-long promise.” […]

  254. says

    Dr. Oz Hopes to Replace Rand Paul as Biggest Quack in Senate

    Explaining his decision to enter the political sphere, Dr. Mehmet Oz said that he hopes to oust Rand Paul as the biggest quack in the United States Senate.

    Oz said that Paul, a former ophthalmologist, has shown an impressive obliviousness about medicine while serving in Washington, but added, “I think I can out-quack him.”

    “In the many times he’s grilled Dr. Fauci, has he ever asked him about the health benefits of magic coffee beans or umckaloabo-root extract?” Oz said. “I think America deserves a senator who will ask those tough questions.”

    Paul, speaking to reporters, seemed unfazed by Oz’s determination to supplant him as the Senate’s top quack.

    “I respect Dr. Oz as a fellow-charlatan, and the competition can only light a fire under me to become a bigger charlatan myself,” he said. “But if, in the end, he winds up besting me, I’ve had a good run.”

    New Yorker link

  255. says

    NBC News:

    The first major infusion of federal cash from the bipartisan infrastructure law is on its way to states across the U.S. to overhaul the nation’s aging water infrastructure and dangerous lead pipes.

    The Biden administration announced Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency will distribute $7.4 billion to states, tribes and territories for 2022 focused on water infrastructure grants and loan forgiveness. The funding is part of a broader $50 billion investment in water infrastructure from the infrastructure law, which will be doled out over five years.

    EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an interview that it is the “single largest investment in water infrastructure” in the history of the federal government.

    “This law’s investment in water is nothing short of transformational,” Regan said. “We’re less than three weeks post the president signing this, and we’re hitting the ground running.” […]


  256. says

    NBC News:

    A New Hampshire man who threatened to hang six members of Congress if they did not ‘get behind Donald Trump’ will spend 33 months in federal prison, according to officials.

    Ryder Winegar, 34, of Amherst, was sentenced for six counts of threatening members of Congress and one count of transmitting interstate threatening communications, acting U.S. Attorney John J. Farley for the District of New Hampshire announced Wednesday in a news release.

    Winegar left voicemails at the offices of three U.S. senators and three representatives in the early morning hours of Dec. 16, 2020, according to court documents and court statements.

    That was two days after the electoral college confirmed President Joe Biden won the election.

    He identified himself by name or by his telephone number in some of the messages, according to the news release. Prosecutors said Winegar threatened to hang the officials and included specific threats of violence.

    “I got some advice for you,” he said in one voicemail, according to prosecutors. “Here’s the advice: ‘Donald Trump is your president. If you don’t get behind him, we’re going to hang you until you die.'”

    In another, Winegar said: “It really, really, it boils down to two camps. You either support our president, support liberty … or you’re not.” The messages included profane language that threatened to kill the lawmaker and criticized vaccinations. […]


  257. says

    Miami Herald:

    Gov. Ron DeSantis over the summer sent dozens of Florida law enforcement officers and equipment to the southern border in Texas, and racked up a taxpayer-funded bill that so far amounts to at least $1.6 million but is expected to keep growing. […]


  258. says

    Followup to comments 207 and 217.

    Batshit bonkers Lara Logan goes a bit further to prove her bonafides as the worst of the worst.

    Once-respected 60 Minutes journalist turned right-wing fear-mongering shill Lara Logan is doubling down on her assertion that Dr. Anthony Fauci can be compared one-to-one with the Nazi “Angel of Death.” Earlier this week, Logan made news after her appearance on a Fox News’ segment with host Pete Hegseth, when she said, “What you see on Dr. Fauci—this is what people say to me: that he doesn’t represent science to them. He represents Josef Mengele.”

    The Auschwitz Museum responded with a tweet: “Exploiting the tragedy of people who became victims of criminal pseudo-medical experiments in Auschwitz in a debate about vaccines, pandemic, and people who fight for saving human lives is shameful. It is disrespectful to victims & a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline.” Shortly thereafter, the Auschwitz Museum also said that Ms. Logan had blocked their account. Since that time, Logan and Fox News have refused to say much of anything about her statement.

    Let us remember this: According to Lara Logan, she knows exactly who Dr. Josef Mengele was. In fact, when she made her first claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci and his calls for public health policies that would require people to get vaccinated and wear masks to mitigate a pandemic that has killed three-quarters of a million Americans in just over a year and a half, she explained that that people “all across the world are saying” that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s “response to COVID” reminds them of “Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War and in the concentration camps.” And somehow, the blame of “suffering that has been created because of this disease is now being seen in the cold light of day,” falls on Dr. Fauci’s shoulders because … something-something Nazis.

    As the Washington Post points out, Mr. Pete Hegseth and his other guest (let’s call him Complicit Coward #2) show not a whisper of a reaction to the abhorrent and inflammatory statements being made by Logan. […]

    the reason she was let go from her prestigious job at 60 Minutes was because of a fake news-laden story on the Benghazi attacks. […]

    Logan’s recent appearances on Fox News have included the promotion of xenophobic conspiracy theories that migrants seeking entry into the United States are an attempt by foreign regimes to launch a secret “virus attack” on the U.S. She followed this with assertions that immigration is the real reason for “spikes” in COVID-19 cases in red states. There is the old saying that you couldn’t write this stuff, but included in that is how much these “theories” sound like rejected 1990s action film ideas that even straight-to-video production companies wouldn’t touch.

    Logan isn’t done. The day after spewing her nonsense, she spent her time on her social media accounts, pushing out truly bananas conspiracy theory bullshit, with caveats that she had “reviewed” things. One of her reviewed items? The false claim that “HIV does not cause AIDS,” and, in fact, the drugs given to treat HIV are the real killers. […]

    Her Twitter feed is filled with misinformation about the efficacy of mask-wearing [etc. and fucking etc.]

    Fox News and Logan have refused to apologize for the insensitivity and historical inaccuracy of the statements. In response, Anti-Defamation spokesman Jake Hyman told CNN Business: “Logan and the network seem to be immune to shame and allergic to remorse. It’s equally disturbing, yet also not surprising, Logan would double-down this morning on Twitter. Make no mistake, these odious comparisons only serve to trivialize and distort the meaning and memory of the Holocaust.”

    Michael Bornstein, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp where Mengele practiced his atrocities on Jews, told CNN Logan’s comments were “disgusting,” saying that “there is absolutely zero comparison” between a Nazi who murdered and tortured children and the guy telling Americans to get vaccinated and wash their hands.

    It is important to contextualize history whenever possible. It is also important not to be reductive in order to compare apples to Nazi monsters. But if the right-wing-o-sphere must reduce their criteria in order to speak to their rabid zombified audience, here’s a simple way to think of things: If millions of people weren’t killed and raped and tortured due to an ethnic cleansing campaign in the thing you are talking about, don’t compare it to the Nazis’ treatment of European Jews. […]


  259. KG says

    When’s the next palindromic date? I make it 21011012. Since I’d be 147 on that date, I suspect I’ve lived through my last palindrome!

  260. says

    Jim Jordan’s misguided claim that ‘real America is done’ with Covid

    Jim Jordan apparently sees the pandemic as a fad that Americans can collectively grow tired of. That’s not how any of this works.

    Six months ago, Republican Jim Jordan was asked about Covid-19 vaccinations. The Ohio congressman responded as if the pandemic was old news unworthy of ongoing discussion.

    “Look, I think we’re way past this,” the far-right lawmaker said. “I think the country is ready to move on and we’re done with this, but you guys just keep wanting to talk about it.”

    In context, “you guys” seemed to refer to journalists, who continued to cover the ongoing public-health crisis, to Jordan’s apparent frustration.

    Yesterday, as HuffPost noted, he pushed a similarly misguided line.

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) declared Thursday that “real America” is done with COVID-19 ― a day after the first case of the new omicron variant was found in the U.S. and as coronavirus infections rise around the country, including in his own state. “Real America is done with #COVID19,” Jordan tweeted, ignoring data, experts and reality. “The only people who don’t understand that are Fauci and Biden.”

    Let’s note for context that Jordan is currently a member of the select congressional panel investing the coronavirus crisis and the federal response to the pandemic. He is, in other words, in a unique position to understand the seriousness of the current situation, with exceptional access to data, officials, research, and evidence.

    […] Part of the problem here is with the Republican congressman’s blithe indifference to ongoing events. Tens of thousands of Americans are currently hospitalized as a result of Covid-19 infections. The pandemic claimed the lives of a thousand Americans yesterday, and we’re likely to see similar numbers today, tomorrow, and the day after.

    Whether Jordan understands this or not, these Americans are “real,” and while I’m sure they and their loved ones would love to be “done with” Covid-19, they’re confronting a tragic reality anyway.

    Also note the degree to which the GOP lawmaker seems to think a nation can simply grow bored with a deadly contagion. We’re “way past” the pandemic. We’re prepared to simply “move on” as if the crisis has passed. Those who are “real” are “done” with Covid-19.

    […] I’m curious about Jordan’s vision for the near future. If [Jordan] is right, and “Real America is done” with Covid-19, what does that mean in practical terms? Does he envision a national landscape in which “real” people simply pretend the crisis is over?

    Because if so, a lot of “real” hospitals are going to overflow, a lot of “real” morgues are going to fill, and a lot of “real” families are going to suffer horrible losses.

  261. says


    Mitch McConnell has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won’t release a legislative agenda before next year’s midterms, according to people who’ve attended private meetings with the minority leader…. Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, proactive governing outline around which candidates can rally. McConnell adamantly rejects this idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.

  262. says

    About avoiding shutting down the government:

    […] as the shutdown deadline approached, a handful of Senate Republicans made a rather specific threat: They were prepared to force a shutdown unless members voted, up or down, on an amendment that would’ve defunded the administration’s vaccine policy.

    Eager to avoid a dumb crisis, Democrats agreed to the deal, confident that the amendment wouldn’t pass. That assumption was accurate: The amendment needed a simple majority to pass, but it ended up with 48 votes.

    In fact, literally every Senate Republican on the floor at the time — including the ostensible “moderates,” such as Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — voted for the amendment to defund Biden’s policy, regardless of its efficacy. […]

    let’s not brush past the extraordinary details: Republican lawmakers were so outraged by a policy that’s proven effective at mitigating the spread of a deadly contagion that they were prepared to shut down their own country’s federal government.

    […] The next shutdown deadline is Feb. 18. Good luck to us all.


  263. says

    Fauci ‘Astounded’ By Fox’s Silence After Host Compared Him To Nazi Doctor

    Top White House COVID-19 expert Dr. Anthony Fauci put Fox News on blast Thursday night for staying quiet after Fox Nation host Lara Logan compared him to sadistic Nazi doctor Josef Mengele earlier this week.

    “What I find striking, Chris, is how she gets no discipline whatsoever from the Fox network, how they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action,” Fauci told MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “I’m astounded by that.”

    The doctor slammed Logan’s “absolutely preposterous and disgusting” comparison.

    “It’s an insult to all the people who suffered and died under the Nazi regime in concentration camps,” he said. “It’s unconscionable, what she said.”

    Fauci also took aim at how Logan downplayed the severity of COVID-19 by claiming the coronavirus was “very treatable” and falsely comparing its death rate to that of the flu (more than 770,000 Americans have died from the virus).

    “She absolutely has no idea what she’s talking about,” the doctor told Hayes. “She’s completely incorrect in everything she says.”

    Logan’s comments marked an appalling escalation of conservatives’ sustained smear campaign against Fauci for advocating for mask mandates and other COVID-19 safety measures that have become central to right-wing culture wars.

    Jewish organizations have been blasting the Fox Nation host, who has flatly disregarded their criticism to the point of blocking the Auschwitz Memorial on Twitter.


    Video is available at the link.

  264. says

    Followup to comment 285.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Hmmm…astounded that the company which aided and abetted the deaths of three quarters of a million Americans is tone-deaf about the Nazis they’ve hired?!
    Fox News isn’t a real news organization. it is a cancer on the fabric of America.
    These idiots at FOX have decided to take on an enemy with an unusually formidable intellect and strong will. They’re going to pay for it.
    I don’t think anything will come of attacking Faux Noise. They insist on defending themselves as an entertainment channel and not a news channel, yet they benefit from cable fees that are afforded to news channels.
    Right-wing propaganda network that whips voters into an anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, White Nationalist fervor compares someone else to the Nazis?

  265. says


    Jan. 6 committee members on Thursday told Politico that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows may have poked holes in his argument for withholding his contacts with former President Trump on the day of the deadly Capitol insurrection by revealing selected details in his book set to be released next week.

    “It’s … very possible that by discussing the events of Jan. 6 in his book, if he does that, he’s waiving any claim of privilege. So, it’d be very difficult for him to maintain ‘I can’t speak about events to you, but I can speak about them in my book,’” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), one of the panel’s nine members, told Politico. […]

  266. says

    What else might people do to prevent COVID-19—aside from taking a free, safe, effective, FDA-approved vaccine? Horse paste was all the rage for a while. Bleach injections never really took off, despite the ocher abomination’s imprimatur. Oh, I know, maybe we can prank them into eating handfuls of dirt!

    Nah, too ridiculous. Even MAGAs have a limit, right? Right? Oh, dear God, tell me I’m right.

    Looks like we’ve crossed the Rubicon for about the 832nd time since the Trump era began, and on the opposite bank they’re scarfing dirt like popcorn shrimp […] What the hell, anti-vaxxers? Did you think Jesus handed out loam and fishes to the hungry masses? […]

    Posted by Ben Collins on Twitter:

    Antivaxxers have been eating (yes, eating) “Magic Dirt” called BOO, claiming it’s a miracle cure for hair growth, various diseases, and even changing your eye color.

    Turns out it’s just dirt from a plot that borders a landfill.

    More commentary:

    […] a company called Black Oxygen Organics (BOO) has been selling dirt to people and marketing it as a panacea. And it’s not cheap. Because if you’re going to fill bags with dirt and sell them to fuckwits, you might as well swing for the fences. […]

    […] the product is dirt—four-and-a-half ounces of it, sealed in a sleek black plastic baggie and sold for $110 plus shipping. Visitors to the Black Oxygen Organics website, recently taken offline, were greeted with a pair of white hands cradling cups of dirt like an offering. “A gift from the Ground,” it reads. “Drink it. Wear it. Bathe in it.”

    BOO, which “can be taken by anyone at any age, as well as animals,” according to the company, claims many benefits and uses, including improved brain function and heart health, and ridding the body of so-called toxins that include heavy metals, pesticides, and parasites.

    Yeah, that’s just bonkers. But it gets worse.

    Teams of sellers in these private Facebook groups claim that, beyond cosmetic applications, BOO can cure everything from autism to cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Conveniently in these times, BOO proponents say it also protects against and treats Covid-19, and can be used to “detox” the newly vaccinated, according to posts viewed by NBC News.

    […] Naturally, Black Oxygen Organics is sold via a multilevel marketing scheme, because there weren’t already enough red flags slapping these gormless gooberoos upside the head … warning them that a $110 literal dirtbag may not be the holy grail they think it is.

    As you probably expected, magic dirt groups have proliferated on Facebook, helping to boost BOO’s fortunes among the already credulous. According to NBC’s reporting, the groups have become inundated with anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers, “including prominent activists who sell the product to raise funds for anti-vaccine efforts.” In fact, one top BOO seller recently noted that COVID has “been kind of a blessing” for their business.

    […] The mind reels.


  267. says

    Some Republicans ignoring Trump: In Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, Donald Trump has told local GOP voters to back Rep. Mo Brooks as retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s successor. But as Politico reported, much of the party at the national level is ignoring the former president’s choice and instead backing Katie Britt, the former president of the Business Council of Alabama, whom Trump has disparaged.

    Politico link

    Five Republican senators — Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — have donated to Britt’s campaign from their leadership PACs. None of them have done so yet for GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who Trump endorsed in April to replace the retiring Shelby (R-Ala.).

    Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), a Trump ally who won his seat in 2020 with Trump’s backing, attended a Wednesday night D.C. fundraiser for Britt, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who served as the event’s “special guest,” according to the invitation. […]

    The financial support for Britt, the former president of the Business Council of Alabama, comes in spite of Trump’s disparaging comments about her.

    “I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump said in a July statement. “She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants.” […]

    Britt has outraised Brooks by more than 2-to-1, bringing in $3.7 million to date, compared to his $1.7 million. […]

  268. says

    Following school shooting, GOP blocks background check bill (again)

    In the wake of this week’s deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School, a Senate Democrat tried to advance a background checks bill. It didn’t go well.

    In the wake of this week’s deadly mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut went to the Senate floor yesterday and asked for unanimous consent on legislation to expand background checks.

    “I want to tell you why I’m making this request,” the senator said on the chamber floor. “I understand the low likelihood of success, but I hope many of my colleagues took a minute to watch the cellphone video from the school shooting in Michigan.” He added that the footage was “absolutely terrifying to watch.”

    As The Hill reported, his appeal didn’t work.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Thursday blocked a request to proceed to legislation passed by the House in March to expand background checks for gun sales, a priority that has languished in Congress for years.

    Murphy’s effort focused on a bill called the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), which would require background checks on practically all firearm purchases. […]

    The bill passed the Democratic-led House in March, with eight Republicans breaking ranks and supporting the legislation, but to advance in the Senate, it would need to overcome a GOP filibuster. No one believes that’s realistic given the state of the minority party.

    Also of interest yesterday was the Senate Republican who happened to be on the floor to object to Murphy’s effort: Iowa’s Chuck Grassley happens to be the senator who sponsored the measure a few years ago to make it easier for the mentally impaired to buy guns.

    […] Murphy told his colleagues yesterday, “[T]he reason that we can’t get anything done in the Senate is not because there is a disagreement amongst our constituents about what to do. Our constituents, Republicans and Democrats, support measures like universal background checks. In fact, there’s almost nothing in the political world that enjoys such high support as universal background checks.

    “But we can’t get it done because it seems as if many of my colleagues here care more about the health of the gun industry and their profits than they do about the health of our kids. Gun industry profits are being put ahead of the safety of my children, of our children. Shooting after shooting, Republicans in this body have refused to do anything meaningful that would reduce this pace of carnage both in our schools [and] on the streets of America.”

  269. says

    Parents of suspected Michigan H.S. shooter are charged with involuntary manslaughter

    The parents of a teenager accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter Friday, the prosecutor told The Associated Press.

    Jennifer and James Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. James Crumbley purchased the weapon for his son days before shooting, according to the sheriff. Under Michigan law, an involuntary manslaughter charge can be pursued if prosecutors believe someone contributed to a situation where harm or death was high. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, for the shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School in Oakland County, roughly 30 miles north of Detroit.

    In an appearance on NBC News NOW, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Thursday that it is “clearly a crime” if someone gives a firearm to a minor.

    In a separate appearance on MSNBC, the top prosecutor in Oakland County said Thursday that the teen appeared to have “free access” to the gun.

    “If you own a weapon or possess a weapon and you knowingly allow someone to have free access to it, who you have reason to believe might use it to injure somebody, that is willful and it’s gross negligence and there are lots of criminal consequences for that,” prosecutor Karen McDonald said. […]

  270. blf says

    KG@281 asks, “When’s the next palindromic date? I make it 21011012. Since I’d be 147 on that date, I suspect I’ve lived through my last palindrome!”

    It depends on how you write it (i.e., the notation). E.g., using the (rare?) MM-D-YY 5-digit notation, that the first nine (9) days of this month are palindromes: 12-1-21, 12-2-21, … 12-9-21. With the 8-digit ISO-like notation YYYYMMDD, then I believe the next one is 2030-03-02, with the pattern repeating, e.g., 2040-04-02, 2050-05-02, … (those examples also work in the very(?) unusual 8-digit YYYYDDMM notation, albeit designate different days, and that notation adds yet other days, such as 2022-22-02 and 2031-13-02). And since it’s all depends on notation (and calendar), then very Very probably by using a different base (radix), and / or different calendar, there are yet other palindromic dates.

    As an aside, this year’s USAian Presidential inauguration date was a palindrome when written MDDYY, 1-21-21. And as Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge points out:

    A notable palindrome day is this century’s 2 February 2020 because this da