1. says

    This thread reached 500 comments … again … and has rolled over to start again at comment #1.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter of this thread.
    From today’s edition of the DK Anti-vaxx Chronicles (as posted by SC)
    In textbook example of white fragility, mom wants biography of Michelle Obama pulled from schools
    blf lets us know how he is celebrating his negative Covid test

  2. says

    NBC News:

    Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico suffered a stroke and underwent surgery over the weekend, his office said Tuesday, adding that he is expected to make a full recovery.

    Also from NBC News:

    One student is dead and another hospitalized in critical condition after a shooting Tuesday outside a school in a suburb of Minneapolis, according to authorities.

    Officers were called to the South Education Center at 12:07 p.m., and upon arrival, discovered “two students had been shot on the sidewalk outside of the school, Richfield Police Chief Jay Henthorne said.

    Henthorne said the suspects fled “immediately,” and area schools were locked down. After a search of South Education Center, police determined that “no further threat existed” and other lockdowns were lifted.

    “This is a tragic day in the city of Richfield, our community, our hearts, our prayers, our thoughts go out to district, their students their families, and their community,” he said at an afternoon news conference.

    The 200-student facility, which includes pre-K students through young adults who attend for special education and community programs, was evacuated, schools Superintendent Sandra Lewandowski said.

    […] Richfield is about 7 miles south of downtown Minneapolis

  3. says

    NBC News:

    Pfizer-BioNTech on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of its Covid-19 vaccine to children ages 6 months to 5 years.

  4. says

    NY Times:

    The United States and its European allies appear on the cusp of restoring the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program, Biden administration officials said on Monday, but cautioned that it is now up to the new government in Tehran to decide whether, after months of negotiations, it is willing to dismantle much of its nuclear production equipment in return for sanctions relief.

    We’ll keep an eye on this. I hope it is good news.

  5. says

    Where Things Stand: A Few Layers Of Intrigue To This Conservative Event Gorsuch Is Headlining

    Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is set to headline the Federalist Society’s annual conference in Florida over the weekend. It’s closed to the press. And while it may not be a great look for a sitting Supreme Court justice to speak at an ideological event, it’s not uncommon. Gorsuch has spoken at Federalist Society events in the past. In fact, all of the conservative justices on the Court currently have ties, in some form or another, to the conservative organization.

    But part of what makes this year’s confab so intriguing are the prominent conservative names he will be sharing the program with.

    Other guests lined up to speak at the conference include former VP Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Trump’s former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. [OMFG]

    All of these three were former MAGA world elite […] Trump is openly peeved at Pence and has been for some time, most recently admitting that Pence defied him when he chose not to certify the results of the 2020 election, and urging the Jan. 6 Select Committee to investigate Pence. Reports came out today revealing that McEnany recently met virtually with the Jan. 6 Committee and complied with the panel’s subpoena request for text messages as part of its ongoing probe into the violent Capitol attack.

    In this way, at least two of those three big MAGA names are directly tied to lingering questions about the events that unfolded on that very important day. And that adds a layer of intrigue to Gorsuch’s appearance at the closed-to-the-media event. The Supreme Court may well have cases before it again related to the Jan. 6 insurrection and various legal requests for information tied to the attack. The House panel probe is expected to wrap up this year, while it appears the DOJ’s investigation into insurrectionists has expanded to look into circumstances beyond just probing those who stormed the Capitol. Subpoenas related to these investigations will likely continue to be challenged by Trump and his cronies.

    SCOTUS has also already ruled on at least two cases relevant to the insurrection and Trump’s Big Lie. Early last year, the high Court opted to reject several cases related to 2020 election challenges filed by Trump and his allies in several key states that President Biden won: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

    Last month, the Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling rejected an appeal filed by Trump to block the House committee from gaining access to records from the National Archives related to the Capitol attack.

    The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer published an in-depth piece last month looking at the conflicts of interests that Justice Clarence Thomas faces due to his wife, Ginni Thomas’ Jan. 6-related activism. You can read the full piece here. The non-partisan advocacy group Fix the Court’s executive director Gabe Roth told Mayer that the apparent Ginni Thomas conflicts of interest, at the very least, present a need for the Court to do some self reflection and create “a clearer and more exacting recusal standard at the Supreme Court — especially now, as it’s constantly being thrust into partisan battles, and as the public’s faith in its impartiality is waning.”

    I reached out to Roth to ask about the upcoming Federalist Society event. He said Gorsuch should, at the bare minimum, mix it up a bit. “I have no problem with Justice Gorsuch speaking at another Federalist Society event. I simply wish that he and other justices who frequent FedSoc would give as many talks before liberal legal organizations,” adding that it is “pretty weak” that the event is closed to the press.

  6. blf says

    SC@498(previous page), Quoting Daily Kos on anti-vaxxers, “They literally believe anything works except the stuff that actually works.”

    The mildly deranged penguin has a patent-pending Covid Cure: Hot Lava Sauna!™© For a small fee† a luxury cruise ship will take in the highly desirable steerage class‡ to the La Palma resort islands, where you can bath in the fresh lava hot springs — absolute lifelong protection against not only Covid but all other diseases! Exclusively recommended by the prestigious Pompeii Daily Scrolls.

      † Fees described in the small print. The really really small print. Don’t worry about needing an electron microscope to read it, the terms and conditions are the usual highly unusual.

      ‡ Lots of invigorating exercise and nutritious meals — rowing and thin gruel, with specialist caring training by a skilled team of personal trainers cracking their whips to the beat of a drum. You’ll feel so much better upon arrival!

  7. idontknowwhyibother says


    I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but:

    Modus ponens and modus tollens (and fallacies)

    If A then B.
    If not-B then not-A.

    If B then A (‘affirming the consequent’)
    If not-A then not-B (‘denying the antecedent’)

    Assume ‘if A then B’ is true.

    Then ‘if not-B then not-A’ is also true.

    Suppose “if I throw this egg at the wall, then it will break”.
    Then “if it is not broken, then I did not throw it at the wall” follows – because, if I HAD thrown it at the wall, then it WOULD be broken, and is not broken. Thus, I must not have thrown it.

    But also: “if the egg is broken, then I threw it at the wall” – which does NOT follow – because it could be broken for lots of other reasons.
    And “if I didn’t throw the egg at the wall, then it is not broken” – which also does not follow, in just the same way: it could be broken in other ways than by my throwing it at the wall.

    In relation to the ‘rioting’ -> ‘angry’, your second bit is ‘affirming the consequent’, which is unsound logic. This is illustrated by the fact that people who are angry may do all manner of things, most of which are not ‘rioting’.

    As a side note: I am not certain that the basic statement is always true. “If people are rioting, then they are angry” may not be true, because people may riot for other reasons.

  8. says

    Respectful Insolence – “The Brownstone Institute: Promoting antivaccine misinformation in Africa”:

    …A lot has happened in the last 15 months. In October 2020 I did not view the Great Barrington Declaration signatories Dr. Sunetra Gupta (University of Oxford), Dr. Martin Kulldorff (then at Harvard University), and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University) as antivaccine. However, it must be remembered that the Declaration was first published two months before the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was distributed to the public under an emergency use authorization (EUA), and events have moved in a direction that leads me to doubt my previous characterization. The most recent revelation comes in the form of a recent report by Alice McCool and Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu, US conservatives spreading anti-vax misinformation to unvaccinated Uganda. Its tagline? “Revealed: US Christian legal organisation and a Texas-based think tank are among those promoting anti-lockdown and vaccine hesitancy messages in Uganda”….

  9. says

    There were 3,579 COVID deaths yesterday in the US. Deaths have been slowly rising, with the 7-day average basically doubling over the past month – from 1,350 on January 2 to 2,669 yesterday. So much preventable suffering, loss, and trauma.

  10. says

    The two brutal challenges Texas’ Abbott may not know how fix

    Between a suspect power grid and a disastrous Guard deployment, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is confronting challenges he doesn’t know how to fix.

    It was about a year ago when Texas was slammed by a harsh winter storm, which carried deadly consequences. […] the Lone Star State experienced widespread power outages, which had drastic consequences for families and communities, and which was responsible for hundreds of deaths.

    Soon after, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott turned to Fox News to complain about, of all things, renewable energy. […] didn’t make any sense.

    Nearly a year later, as winter approached, the governor made clear that the state had learned valuable lessons from the tragedy. The day after Thanksgiving, Abbott boasted that he could “guarantee the lights will stay on.”

    This week, as The Texas Tribune reported, the GOP governor started walking back his “guarantee.”

    With freezing weather expected to hit a large portion of Texas this week, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday tried to assure Texans that the state is better prepared this year than last, but said there could be local power outages throughout the state…. “No one can guarantee there won’t be [power outages],” Abbott said Tuesday, just over two months after he promised the lights would stay on this winter.

    It was against this backdrop that the governor’s Democratic rival, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, kicked off a new statewide 20-city tour in support of his candidacy. It’s called the “Keeping the Lights On” tour.

    This is not, however, Abbott’s only crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported last week:

    Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is being blamed by GOP opponents and Democrats for bungling the deployment of thousands of National Guard troops to the border under his signature program Operation Lone Star after a recent spate of suicides among the troops. The deployment was hasty, Guardsmen say. Some stationed on the border say they have little to do, which is leading to low morale. As well, the state has been slow to pay them, Guardsmen say.

    When the governor launched the initiative nearly a year ago, it appeared to be a massive political stunt, intended to impress conservative media and would-be primary voters. Now, Operation Lone Star is a real-world disaster, with Texas National Guard troops condemning the “deplorable conditions” and an “unclear mission,” all of which is drastically disrupting the troops’ lives.

    Obviously, what matters most about stories like these are the effects felt by people, their families, and their communities. Power outages don’t have party affiliations. National Guard deployments aren’t supposed to be inherently ideological.

    That said, it is an election year. The latest Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll found Abbott leading O’Rourke by double digits, 47 percent to 36 percent.

    That’s a sizable advantage, but political winds sometimes change direction in a hurry.

  11. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] You may have seen that Trump has now called his arch-lackey Lindsey Graham a “RINO” for rejecting Trump’s promise to pardon the insurrectionists if he’s returned to office. Graham’s semi-regular beatings at Trump’s hands are an old story of course. Graham notoriously announced he was done with Trump on the night of January 6th, as senators reassembled in the Capitol, only to become un-done a few days later. But Trump is increasingly demanding that all Republican officeholders become explicitly pro-insurrection rather than just saying it’s time to move on. What Trump wants he usually gets. So I’m not expecting many to openly stand up to him. But to the extent they’re resisting, it is because the insurrection is not popular, and it divides Republicans.

    That’s important.

    Divisions over Trump’s election-stealing grievances are what helped elect two Democratic senators from Georgia. Those grievances could potentially play a similar role in 2022 and 2024. This is part of why there seems to be more openness among GOP operatives and elites to a different standard-bearer in 2024 — someone like Ron DeSantis.

    To be clear, none of this is anti-Trump. DeSantis is clearly positioning himself as Trump’s heir, even if he might have to battle Trump directly to become that. He’s taken on all the positions, the authoritarian tendencies, the trolling politics. But he’s not hung up on re-litigating the 2020 election or defending the insurrection. He is focused on using those lies to make democracy-undermining progress into the future — enacting voting restrictions, laying the groundwork for future election steals as so many other state-level Republicans are. But he’s not putting Republican officials on the spot, making them defend pardons for insurrectionists.

    In case there’s any misunderstanding, I’m not expecting or predicting any anti-Trump restoration. It’s Trump’s party now. Or at least it’s Trumpism’s party now. But Trump is focused on himself and his own backward-looking grievances in ways that create problems for other Republicans.

    The more trouble Trump gets himself into, the better. He needs to shoot himself in the foot several more times.

  12. says

    Waking up The New York Times to get them to notice how Republicans are attempting to end democracy has been a difficult task. Especially when they’re so busy continuing the investigation of Hunter Biden that began entirely because they were drinking Rudy Giuliani’s dirty bathwater. Or when they’re scratching their heads over how the U.S. lags other nations in vaccinations, but don’t say a single word about the forces that have spent two years politicizing vaccines and pushing anti-science claims that have led directly to hundreds of thousands of deaths. They also don’t seem to notice the nearly 2 to 1 disparity in death rates between counties that voted for Joe Biden and counties that voted for Donald Trump. Nope. It’s all a mystery to them.

    Still, every now and then, something is blunt enough, and obvious enough, that the Times must take notice. And the weeks of revelations about Trump’s coup appear to have finally crossed that threshold.

    On Tuesday evening, The New York Times analysis hits the target: The revelations of the last few weeks, and specifically Trump’s own statements, have made it clear that there never was any actual concern about election fraud. Trump wasn’t out to correct some perceived issue with voting. He was out to overturn the legitimate results of that voting so that he could remain in power. All of it points out just how fragile democracy was. And is.

    Even so, the Times has found a new villain. Someone to blame for failing to sound the alarm over the danger facing America. That someone? Americans. […]

    This is Donald Trump in Aug. 2016, months before the election that he actually won.

    “Remember, we are competing in a rigged election. They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths, where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common.”

    But even earlier than that, Trump called the Republican primaries “rigged” and “boss-controlled.” Then he declared that Democratic primaries were rigged, egging on claims that Bernie Sanders was the “real winner” on the Democratic side.

    Trump’s lies about massive voter fraud, of dead people voting, about people voting “hundreds of times,” of ballots being filled out in advance or shipped in by the thousands, and of voting machines “switching votes”—none of that began in 2020. Trump not only made all those claims in 2016, they were standard content of every rally he did from the start of his first campaign right up until his rally last Saturday. And they were a feature of hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets, statements, and Fox News appearances in between.

    […] Trump waged a years-long campaign, using almost every opportunity to chip another flake away from those bedrock principles.

    Trump wore down faith in democracy […] day after day, year after year, a grain at a time.

    […] right-wing media that helped him reinforce that message. […]mainstream media that echoed his statements without making it clear that his intent was to generate lasting harm.

    It is far too late in the game to just be discovering that Trump was only concerned about his own power all along, and way too late for statements like this one, from Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University:

    “I actually think the American public is dramatically underplaying how significant and dangerous this is,” he said, “because we cannot process the basic truth of what we are learning about President Trump’s efforts—which is we’ve never had a president before who fundamentally placed his own personal interests above the nation’s.”

    The “American public” is not “underplaying” anything, because it’s not the public’s task to pull the cable on the alarm. That responsibility falls entirely to journalists. If the public is not alarmed by a systematic attempt to end democracy that resulted in both an attempted coup and an insurgency on the same day … that’s the news media’s fault.

    To The New York Times’ credit, the first part of the article about their shocking discovery that Trump is only in it for himself did appear on the first page. But then, so did a review of a new TV series about Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, along with the requisite reminder about groundhogs.

    It should not take Donald Trump sending out a missive that spells out his intent in black and white for the U.S. media to treat an attempted coup as an attempted coup. […]

    The whole reason that the First Amendment exists isn’t so that the Times can do cute movie reviews. Or that The Washington Post can bring the nation the latest antics of Punxsutawney Phil. It’s there because it was expected the freedoms it enshrined were necessary to speak out against tyranny.

    If the America public is asleep, wake them. If the American public isn’t showing the proper levels of concern, scare them. […]

    Stop treating the greatest existential threat that the nation is facing right now as if it’s something that can be dealt with by occasionally chastising us from the editorial page. Stop telling us that the American public is blasé in the face of an authoritarian threat. Smack them across the face with that threat until they move.

    You have a larger headline type. Use it

    Want to save democracy, and maybe journalism in the process? Show people that journalism is relevant. Get agitated. Get breathless. Get angry. And get busy. Stop pretending that ignoring evil is an acceptable position.

    Stop blaming the people. Move them.

    Donald Trump schemed openly to overthrow democracy and install himself as an authoritarian ruler.

    His party—from bottom to top—is complicit in this scheme which is, without qualification, the greatest threat the United States has ever faced.

    Why isn’t the media treating it that way?


  13. says

    The modern ReTrumplican bristles at the notion that racism, at least systemic racism, exists. They seek to “cancel” such notions by banning teaching our children Critical Race Theory (which they were never taught anyway) or anything remotely suggesting that America has race issues. In so doing they have sought to deemphasize the parts of American history that might make whites “uncomfortable.” This cleansing has included everything from the documented history of black lynchings to the stories of Rosa Parks and a courageous little girl named Ruby Bridges.

    The cleansing moves ever on and now includes justifying slavery as a “necessary evil.” In the nation Republicans wish to create, the stories discussed above could not be taught to children for fear of making some “uncomfortable.” However, the claim that black slavery was a “necessary evil” to build our country could be taught. [aiyiyiyiyi]

    Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said exactly this. He did so in an attack on the “1619 Project” (named after the year the first slave ships arrived) and in support of a bill that would effectively ban any teaching related to the 1619 Project.

    You see, according to Senator Cotton even slavery was not about race and did not actually evidence white supremacism. In the words of Cotton:

    “The entire premise of the New York Times’ factually, historically flawed 1619 Project … is that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable. I reject that root and branch. America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it.” We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built.”

    Would Tom Cotton allow the teaching in our schools of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech”? In the developing world of ReTrumplican education, could even the words that named that speech be taught to students and uttered? Those words were:

    “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    Is it permissible to teach white children that those words were used to justify massive violence in support of slavery?

    Southern scholar E.N. Elliott, seeing the nation rushing to war over the slavery issue, sought to explain to his friends in the North why the institution must be allowed in a treatise entitled “Cotton Is King And Pro-Slavery Arguments.” In that treatise Elliott made clear that the choice of blacks for slaves was rooted in white supremacy:

    “That the negro is now an inferior species, or at least variety of the human race, is well established, and must, we think, be admitted by all. That by himself he has never emerged from barbarism, and even when partly civilized under the control of the white man, he speedily returns to the same state, if emancipated, are now indubitable truths.”

    In the telling of Elliott, slavery was not a “necessary evil.” It was not an evil at all. Rather it was a noble and beneficent institution that was the best hope for “the elevation of the negro race” to something more equal to the superior white race. Slavery, you see, was the Godly and Christian way. In the treatise Elliott mentions God, Christianity or Christians roughly 1,000 times to defend the institution of the white children of God owning the black children of God.

    For something a bit less removed, in 1963 the Governor of an entire State (okay it was Alabama) gave his inaugural address. Governor George Wallace made no call for unity between equal races. Rather he declared himself the Governor of the “Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland” as he infamously declared “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Again, this was a mandate from Heaven itself. For to do otherwise, in the words of Governor Wallace, “rotted the foundation of what God meant that men should be.”

    In 1964, in a United States Federal District Court in Virginia, Judge Leon Bazile considered a challenge by Richard (a white man) and Mildred (a black woman) Loving, who had been convicted by the state of Virginia for the “crime” of being married to each other. Judge Bazile upheld the conviction, declaring that the separation of the races created by God should not be altered by man:

    ”Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    Yep, that really happened in America, in a Federal court even. But in a nation run by the new Republicans, the words of Stephens, Elliott, Wallace and Bazile would be whitewashed out of history. All in the name of not making whites uncomfortable with the undeniable truth of American history.

    The truth is, we should be uncomfortable with that history, we must be uncomfortable with it. For if we are comfortable with that history, we may choose to repeat it. The German people are quite uncomfortable with their history of the holocaust, and I believe that is a good thing. So should Americans be with our undeniable history of slavery and white supremacy. Those not discomforted by history are doomed to repeat it.

    Perhaps if we were more uncomfortable, we would be less comfortable with politicians today challenging election results with the claim that almost all the cheating was in areas where the blacks are. At the heart of Donald Trump’s claim of a stolen election, and his election challenges was that the challenges were confined to areas of higher black voting.

    That’s not history, it’s today.


    Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is speaking about slavery being a “necessary evil” today. Now.

  14. says

    Fani Willis: ‘I am conducting a criminal investigation of former President Donald J. Trump’

    In case anyone had any doubts, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has made her most explicit statement to date regarding the target of her investigation into alleged attempts at improperly influencing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Willis’ letter sent Sunday to the FBI requesting a “risk assessment” of the county courthouse and the surrounding area has been covered by Daily Kos and other news outlets. Willis’ letter cited “alarming” rhetoric used by the defeated former guy at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday night.

    What has received less notice is just how Willis opened her letter to the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta field office, J.C. Hacker.

    She wrote:

    ”You are likely aware that I am conducting a criminal investigation of former President Donald J. Trump and his associates regarding alleged attempts to improperly influence the administration of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. Be advised that on May 2, 2022, a Fulton County Special Purpose Grand Jury will convene as the next stage of this investigation. My staff and I will not be influenced or intimidated by anyone as this investigation moves forward.”

  15. says

    Punchbowl News:

    The Senate is beginning to grapple with a new reality. With Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in the hospital after a stroke, Democrats don’t have a functioning majority. They will be unable to move anything besides non-controversial bills and nominations. As we all know, there are very few of those these days.

    Senators and several sources close to the situation tell us that Luján will be ok. Luján’s office, in a statement from Chief of Staff Carlos Sanchez, said the senator is still hospitalized following surgery to relieve swelling in his brain. There is no timetable for Luján’s return.

    This means that right now Democrats have 49 votes in the Senate and the Republicans have 50.

  16. says

    NYT (I don’t have the link) – “U.S. Has Far Higher Covid Death Rate Than Other Wealthy Countries”:

    Two years into the pandemic, the coronavirus is killing Americans at far higher rates than people in other wealthy nations, a sobering distinction to bear as the country charts a course through the next stages of the pandemic.

    The ballooning death toll has defied the hopes of many Americans that the less severe Omicron variant would spare the United States the pain of past waves. Deaths have now surpassed the worst days of the autumn surge of the Delta variant, and are more than two-thirds as high as the record tolls of last winter, when vaccines were largely unavailable.

    Some of the reasons for America’s difficulties are well known. Despite having one of the world’s most powerful arsenals of vaccines, the country has failed to vaccinate as many people as other large, wealthy nations. Crucially, vaccination rates in older people also lag behind certain European nations.

    The United States has fallen even further behind in administering booster shots, leaving large numbers of vulnerable people with fading protection as Omicron sweeps across the country.

    The resulting American death toll has set the country apart — and by wider margins than has been broadly recognized. Since Dec. 1, when health officials announced the first Omicron case in the United States, the share of Americans who have been killed by the coronavirus is at least 63 percent higher than in any of these other large, wealthy nations, according to a New York Times analysis of mortality figures.

    In recent months, the United States passed Britain and Belgium to have, among rich nations, the largest share of its population to have died from Covid over the entire pandemic.

    For all the encouragement that American health leaders drew from other countries’ success in withstanding the Omicron surge, the outcomes in the U.S. have been markedly different. Hospital admissions in the U.S. swelled to much higher rates than in Western Europe, leaving some states struggling to provide care. Americans are now dying from Covid at nearly double the daily rate of Britons and four times the rate of Germans.

    The only large European countries to exceed America’s Covid death rates this winter have been Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic, poorer nations where the best Covid treatments are relatively scarce.

    As deadly as the Omicron wave has been, the situation in the United States is far better than it would have been without vaccines. Together, vaccines and the less lethal nature of Omicron infections have significantly reduced the share of people with Covid who are being hospitalized and dying during this wave.

    In Western Europe, those factors have resulted in much more manageable waves. Deaths in Britain, for example, are one-fifth of last winter’s peak, and hospital admissions are roughly half as high.

    But not so in the United States. Record numbers of Americans with the highly contagious variant have filled up hospitals in recent weeks and the average death toll is still around 2,500 a day.

    Chief among the reasons is the country’s faltering effort [grr] to vaccinate its most vulnerable people at the levels achieved by more successful European countries.

    Twelve percent of Americans 65 and over have not received either two shots of a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or one Johnson & Johnson shot, which the C.D.C. considers fully vaccinated, according to the agency’s statistics. (Inconsistencies in C.D.C. counts make it difficult to know the precise figure.)

    And 43 percent of people 65 and over have not received a booster shot. Even among the fully vaccinated, the lack of a booster leaves tens of millions with waning protection, some of them many months past the peak levels of immunity afforded by their second shots.

    In England, by contrast, only 4 percent of people 65 and over have not been fully vaccinated and only 9 percent do not have a booster shot.

    It is too early to judge how much worse the United States will fare during this wave. But some scientists said there were hopeful signs that the gap between the United States and other wealthy countries had begun to narrow.

    As Delta and now Omicron have hammered the United States, they said, so many people have become sick that those who survived are emerging with a certain amount of immunity from their past infections.

    Although it is not clear how strong or long-lasting that immunity will be, especially from Omicron, Americans may slowly be developing the protection from past bouts with Covid that other countries generated through vaccinations — at the cost, scientists said, of many thousands of American lives….

    In line with the problem described in Lynna’s #14 above, they have little to say about the people meming themselves to death on Facebook or the political and economic forces driving it. They also fail to note that the same dynamic is playing out domestically – the Omicron death tolls have diverged even further in red vs. blue counties.

  17. says

    Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, the Republican turned independent then Democrat now MAGA loon that Donald Trump endorsed:

    I caught a head cold and felt miserable Sunday.

    Today I feel like a million bucks thanks to Ivermectin. (I took 6 pills & I feel even better than before!)

    Someday Dr. Fauci is going to wish he told us about this. What is the punishment for keeping the cure from the people??


    […] The FDA keeps telling these fools that they shouldn’t take Ivermectin to treat COVID-19. It’s not even clear that Lake had COVID-19. She just says she “caught a bad a head cold.” She should’ve taken one of President Joe Biden’s free COVID-19 tests before popping Ivermectins like they’re Tic Tacs. This is a candidate for governor, not the teenage lead in an anti-drug PSA.

    I received my free tests. Glad to have them.

    She can’t even remember how many pills she took! [She later corrected her tweet to say that she took 3 pills.] She might need an intervention.

    Lake later replied to a tweet from Senator Tom Cotton who demanded to know when “the left wing mob will call on [Dr. Anthony Fauci] to be censored?” I presume he meant censured because Dr. Fauci’s a doctor, not a podcaster like Joe Rogan, who also enjoys the smooth, refreshing taste of Ivermectin.

    LAKE: Censored?? How about arrested?

    Dr. Fauci has committed zero criminal offenses, but locking up your political enemies for BS is a common practice in fascist states. Meanwhile, Lake has claimed that the January 6 insurrection suspects were welcome guests at the Capitol, whom the police waved inside like nightclub bouncers.

    We’d love to see Lake flame out in the primary, as that might help weaken Trump’s hold over the GOP. He’s obviously not the kingmaker he imagines himself. However, Matt Salmon is still a Republican, and he’s predictably attacked Lake’s conservative credentials (as if MAGA has a consistent ideology other than hatred and resentment).

    SALMON: [Lake] is a lifelong member of the liberal media who knows how to put on a show, and she will parrot whatever convenient political slogan is on the teleprompter in front of her to get ahead. She has smeared President Trump as ‘vulgar’ and ‘offensive’ and admitted in late 2016 that she was ‘not supporting’ him. There is no doubt in my mind that Lake would betray President Trump and Republicans writ large the moment things get tough, just like she has done so many times in the past.

    Over the course of this campaign, Lake will be revealed for exactly what she is: a fraud.

    I dislike every Republican running in this race. […]


  18. says

    @idontknowwhyibother 9
    Thank you for your reply. While I’m processing the first part, I also thought about other emotions than anger, but I can’t think of another approach related emotion and anger itself is thought of as a range from irritation to rage. So anger seems ok in a categorical sense though I may change it to rage. I’m not someone who has a reason to do such and if another emotion works I definitely want to pick another example.

  19. says

    SC in comment 18:

    In line with the problem described in Lynna’s #14 above, they have little to say about the people meming themselves to death on Facebook or the political and economic forces driving it. They also fail to note that the same dynamic is playing out domestically – the Omicron death tolls have diverged even further in red vs. blue counties.


  20. says

    Brony @21, some people “riot” because they don’t have enough food to eat, or perhaps they don’t have adequate shelter to keep their children from freezing to death. In those cases, the cause for rioting might be desperation.

  21. says

    Biden dispatching additional U.S. troops to Eastern Europe.

    Washington Post link

    President Biden is dispatching additional U.S. military personnel to Eastern Europe at the recommendation of the Pentagon, and about 3,000 service members are expected to deploy in the coming days, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

    The deployments of U.S. troops from Germany and Fort Bragg, N.C., are temporary moves intended to reassure NATO allies, according to two U.S. officials in Washington who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal Pentagon announcement. The moves reflect concerns that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, and other service members remain on a heightened alert status pending possible orders to deploy as well, the officials said.

    At Biden’s direction and following Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recommendation, the Defense Department “will reposition certain Europe-based units further east, forward deploy additional U.S.-based units to Europe, and maintain the heightened state of readiness of response forces” to meet American commitments, a senior administration official said in Washington. “These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are not permanent moves. They respond to current conditions.”

    In ordering the deployments, the United States is seeking to strike a balance between reassuring NATO allies who desire an additional U.S. military presence and avoiding actions that would exacerbate an already delicate situation.

    The announcement coincides with sharpened verbal attacks between U.S. and Russian officials over the Ukraine crisis. Moscow’s ambassador in Washington accused the White House of “demonizing” Russia and lying about the Kremlin’s history of aggression.

    At the Pentagon, spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the current situation “demands that we reinforce” Eastern Europe. A Stryker unit of about 1,000 soldiers based in Germany will be deployed to Romania and “will move in coming days,” Kirby said, joining about 900 U.S. troops in the country. He said Austin discussed the new deployment last week with Romanian officials, who extended an invitation. […]

  22. says

    In his never-ending bid to prostrate himself at the feet of far-right doofuses, Senate hopeful J.D. Vance campaigned alongside Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Ohio this week, and was asked whether President Joe Biden should be impeached. “I’m absolutely for articles of impeachment,” the Republican candidate responded. “The question is what for? There’s so much.”

    Summarized from a Washington Post article.

  23. says

    Vindman Sues Don Jr., Giuliani, Other Trump Allies Over First Impeachment Smear Campaign

    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served as a key witness in the first impeachment proceedings against then-President Donald Trump in 2019, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., plus ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House officials Dan Scavino and Julia Hahn on Wednesday.

    In the lawsuit, Vindman accused the four defendants of carrying out an “intentional, concerted campaign” to intimidate and retaliate against him — in violation of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, he argues — as he gave impeachment investigators crucial testimony on Trump’s infamous quid pro quo scheme involving U.S. aid to Ukraine.

    Vindman alleged that the defendants plus “others not presently named” in the lawsuit had violated the law by repeatedly attacking him in public and pushing a false narrative that the official, who was serving under the National Security Council as an expert on Ukraine at the time, was a spy for the Ukrainian government who was disloyal to the U.S. Those attacks carried over to Trump’s media allies at Fox News, who proceeded to amplify the defendants’ efforts to undermine Vindman’s credibility.

    The smear campaign derailed Vindman’s career as a colonel (though he eventually prevailed despite the White House’s efforts) and led to violent threats against him and his family, causing them to fear for their physical safety, the official alleged.

    The lawsuit highlighted the relevance of Vindman’s case to the House Jan. 6 Committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack that Trump incited last year. Multiple former top Trump officials and allies in Congress have refused to cooperate with the committee, per the ex-president’s demand.

    “The actions taken by Defendants against Lt. Col. Vindman sent a message to other potential witnesses as well: cooperate and tell the truth at your own peril,” the lawsuit stated. “The message reverberates to this day, as witnesses subpoenaed by Congress in connection with its investigation into the events of January 6, 2021, continue to heed former President Trump’s instructions to defy those subpoenas, undermining Congress’s constitutional oversight role and the fundamental principle of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of government.”

    Vindman is requesting compensation for damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus legal fees.

    The suit also walked back Vindman’s emotional assurance to his father in his opening statement that he’d be “fine” even though he was testifying against a sitting U.S. president.

    “Lt. Col. Vindman’s continued optimism proved largely wrong,” the lawsuit stated.

  24. says

    How long is this going to last? Republican senators are not immediately buckling to Tucker Carlson’s shilling for Vladimir Putin. The Fox News personality is very much on board with the Russian president’s plans to invade Ukraine, and he’s attacking Republicans who don’t join him. But, unlike when Sen. Ted Cruz groveled to Carlson after angering the television host by describing Jan. 6 as a “violent terrorist attack,” several Republicans aren’t backing down.

    Sen. Jim Risch, according to Carlson, is “a moron masquerading as a senator” and a “pompous neocon buffoon.” Risch apparently set Carlson off with a CNN appearance in which he said outrageous things like, “The people who are saying that we shouldn’t be engaged in this at all are going to be singing a very different tune when they go to fill up their car with gas, if indeed there is an invasion by Russia” and “we side, always, with countries that are democracies.” Risch didn’t comment about Carlson’s comments, but neither did he follow Cruz’s lead by asking to appear on Carlson’s show to grovel.

    Carlson called Sen. Joni Ernst “ignorant,” about which she responded to Politico, “I get great intel briefings and we have trusted advisers that provide many points of view. And I would say I’m pretty well educated on this subject.” (Joni Ernst is awful, but she is much tougher than Ted Cruz.)

    Asked by Politico about Carlson’s stance, Sen. John Cornyn said, “He’s obviously not in a position of being responsible for those decisions. And we are,” making the case that, “Putin is not the only one watching us in Ukraine. [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] is watching us. And our allies around the world—obviously after Afghanistan—are doubting our credibility, our reliability.” (Yeah, I think it was less Afghanistan and more the entire 2017 through 2020 period that had allies doubting the credibility and reliability of the U.S.)

    With Carlson’s support for a Russian invasion of Ukraine building support among the Republican base—to the point that Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski told Politico his office was getting calls from constituents who “say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia’s ‘reasonable’ positions”—it’ll be interesting to see which congressional Republicans flip to that side first. […]

    It’s kind of refreshing to see Carlson not entirely setting the Republican agenda in areas where Donald Trump has left a void. But the fact that it’s surprising Republicans aren’t immediately buckling to a know-nothing television host is a commentary on their party that they might want to stop and think about at some point.


  25. says

    Thanks, tomh @ #20.

    Quoted in Lynna’s #14:

    On Tuesday evening, The New York Times analysis hits the target: The revelations of the last few weeks, and specifically Trump’s own statements, have made it clear that there never was any actual concern about election fraud. Trump wasn’t out to correct some perceived issue with voting. He was out to overturn the legitimate results of that voting so that he could remain in power. All of it points out just how fragile democracy was. And is.

    I know they covered the first impeachment trial like it was a congressional baseball game, so they might have forgotten, but several of the witnesses testified that Trump wanted Zelenskyy/Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation into the Bidens and showed no real interest in whether anyone actually conducted one. This was also a previous effort to use several government agencies – the DoJ, State Department, DoD – to cheat in the election.

    Axios had a whole series after the election describing Trump’s actions. From the first episode, “A premeditated lie lit the fire,” which came out more than a year ago:

    …As Trump prepared for Election Day, he was focused on the so-called red mirage. This was the idea that early vote counts would look better for Republicans than the final tallies because Democrats feared COVID-19 more and would disproportionately cast absentee votes that would take longer to count. Trump intended to exploit this — to weaponize it for his vast base of followers.

    His preparations were deliberate, strategic and deeply cynical. Trump wanted Americans to believe a falsehood that there were two elections — a legitimate election composed of in-person voting, and a separate, fraudulent election involving bogus mail-in ballots for Democrats….

    He has been at this for seven fucking years. I turn on the TV today and see CNN chyrons beginning “Putin claims…” and “Putin:…” He is a known liar, lying about something he’s lied about many times in the past. Why on earth would they present his words like this? Gah.

  26. says

    Wonkette: “Trump Makes Conveniently Timed Donation To Mark Meadows’s Employer”

    Donald Trump has never been known for subtlety, but even for him, this is some bareass naked corruption. As NBC was first to report, Trump’s political action committee donated $1 million to the non-profit that employs his former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

    Save America PAC kicked out $1.35 million to Trump’s political allies last year. Your Chip Roys, your Kari Lakes, your Dan Patricks, etc. But on July 26, it made a $1 million contribution to the Conservative Partnership Institute. By an amazing coincidence, the House January 6 Select Committee was officially authorized on July 1, 2021, although its creation had been in the works for months before that.

    And the timing isn’t the only thing that’s hinky about this gift. Trump’s PAC made dozens of donations to political campaigns, but the donation to the 501(c)3 that employs his ally as a “senior partner” stands out for other reasons.

    Look at this FEC disclosure and see if you can figure out what’s different. [image available at the link]

    All the rest of the Big Liars are getting a pissant $5,000, and Meadows is getting $1 million? Hahaha, subtle.

    Trump’s cash will make up a huge portion of CPI’s total annual contributions. The organization’s 2020 disclosure isn’t out yet, but it only brought in $4.2 million in 2018 and $5.7 million in 2019. […] In that year, it paid its director Jim DeMint, a former senator from South Carolina, $500,000. Meadows and DeMint appear to be sharing top billing on the site now, so it’s a safe bet that Meadows is making something in the neighborhood of half a million dollars. Or maybe more, since DeMint’s compensation was a mere $371,000 in 2018, so apparently 35 percent raises are totally cool at this non-profit.

    Just look what your tax dollars subsidize:

    While today’s Washington is designed to defeat conservatives, CPI is designed to build them up. CPI trains, equips, and brings together the movement’s best leaders—and we do it right here, where and when conservative heroes need us.

    Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint launched CPI in 2017 with one mission: to serve and support the conservative movement on Capitol Hill. Now, with a team of standup conservative leaders, including Senior Partner and Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, CPI is delivering on this mission every day.

    Incidentally, Cleta Mitchell, one of the lawyers on Trump’s “perfect” phone call asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, is a senior legal fellow at CPI and chairs its Election Integrity Network. Nice to know she found a cushy landing spot after getting booted out of her law firm for her undisclosed ratfucking extracurriculars. Like Meadows, she has been subpoenaed by the Select Committee, and like Meadows she’s sued to block the subpoena.

    […] Anyway! After Trump made a seven-figure contribution to Meadows’s charity, Meadows dicked the January 6 Committee around for six months and then wound up refusing to cooperate. But being Mark Meadows, he did it incompetently, handing over thousands of pages of documents and communications before stomping off and getting himself referred to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. (Any time now, AG Garland!)

    That’s the trouble with buying a discount former congressman — you get what you pay for.


  27. says

    It’s feeling messy with what actions anger does or doesn’t motivate in a riot. It’s feeling like it might be better to change “riot” to “violence”. I think there’s something to what impulse motivates what actions but it might not be useful even if true.

  28. says

    John Neely Kennedy, who raised a mind-boggling $3.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2021, is running for re-election. As usual, there’s a lot on his mind and he’s desperate to say something about it. The Foghorn Leghorn of the Senate decided now was the time to test out another “on brand” anecdote that only really shows that his discriminatory thinking is super convoluted and that he’s extremely afraid of the nonexistent “woke agenda.”

    In response to President Joe Biden affirming that he would be nominating a Black woman to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Kennedy had this to say:

    “No. 1, I want a nominee who knows a law book from a J. Crew catalog. No. 2, I want a nominee who’s not going to try to rewrite the Constitution every other Thursday to try to advance a ‘woke agenda.’”

    This isn’t the first time that Kennedy has thrown out that J. Crew anecdote. Apparently, Kennedy thinks it really means something. It’s akin to Donald Trump’s puzzling obsession with labeling his enemies as dogs […] I emailed three of the Black women considered to be on Biden’s shortlist of SCOTUS nominees: DC Circuit Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, and South Carolina US District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs. Unsurprisingly, none of them got back to me, even though all I wanted to know was what the woke agenda was that they may have in mind and if they knew anything conspiratorial about J. Crew that I didn’t. […]

    Melanie Schmitz-Psomas, whom I used to work with at Bustle, was one of many who pointed out Kennedy’s off-the-mark remarks this morning. As women of color, we’ve both heard worse, but it’s not like discrimination gets any easier to handle the more colorfully someone words their hatred. And colorful remarks are something Kennedy’s known for, to the point that a 2019 Times-Picayune quiz titled, “Who said it: Sen. John Kennedy or Foghorn Leghorn?” has begun recirculating in response to Kennedy’s latest word salad. For transparency’s sake, I only got nine out of 18 on the quiz. You think you know your senator, and then this happens.

    Kennedy is running for re-election, with Louisiana’s primary occurring on Nov. 8. He faces a candidate familiar to many Louisianians: Gary Chambers, who sought election in 2019 for the Louisiana State Senate and ran in 2021 for the District 2 House seat ultimately won by Troy Carter. The civil rights activist recently gained national attention for releasing a campaign ad showing him smoking marijuana and criticizing the hypocrisy of drug arrest policies that primarily target Black Americans. Unlike Kennedy, who’s frequently been on the wrong side of history when it comes to criminal justice reform, Chambers actually seeks meaningful reform from the top down and was quick to condemn Kennedy’s latest remarks.

    “John Kennedy is giving yet another example of his lack of respect for women. His comments also give light to his view that a Black woman isn’t qualified to sit on the SCOTUS,” Chambers said. “This opportunity to appoint a Black woman to the court during Black History Month should be a point of unity in this country. Instead, Kennedy is adding to his track record of trash-talking instead of leading.”

    Kennedy’s been on an especially heinous roll when it comes to attacking the folks he deems “wokers” […] During a Tuesday night appearance on Jessie Watters Primetime, Kennedy decided to tear apart Democrats because violent crime is on the rise. Kennedy uses ableist language to get his point across and doesn’t exactly tread any new ground, save for that whole “wokers” thing. […] Much of the violent crimes committed around the country appear to be crimes of desperation, meaning that illegal activity itself isn’t the root problem that must be addressed. Kennedy just keeps missing the mark.

    He’s not the only Republican spewing some strange garbage when it comes to Biden’s decision to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. As NBC News reports, Republican Sen. John Cornyn lamented the fact that Biden vowed to follow through on his campaign promise.

    “I don’t understand why he put himself in a box by saying he’d only nominate an African American woman,” the Texan told NBC News. “Maybe he made his bed and he’s going to have to lie in it.” Cornyn claimed it “sends a bad message to other people that they can’t compete for a nomination—like an Asian or somebody else of a different race.”

    Strangely, he claims that it won’t really matter who succeeds Breyer because “it doesn’t alter the current balance of the court.” Kennedy may have a monopoly on weird sayings, but Cornyn remains king of talking out of both sides of his mouth.


  29. says

    Psaki accuses Hawley of ‘parroting Russian talking points’

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday accused Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and other conservatives of “parroting Russian talking points” amid the looming threat of conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    Psaki was asked to respond to Hawley’s call for the Biden administration to abandon support for Ukraine’s eventual admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), arguing it would not be in U.S. interests to be bound to defend Ukraine militarily.

    “If you are digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points, you are not aligned with longstanding bipartisan American values, which is to stand up for the sovereignty of countries like Ukraine, but others,” Psaki said at a press briefing.

    “Their right to choose their own alliances, and also to stand against, very clearly, the efforts, or attempts or potential attempts by any country to invade and take territory of another country,” she continued. “That applies to Sen. Hawley, but it also applies to others who may be parroting the talking points of Russian propagandist leaders.”

    Hawley responded by accusing the Biden administration of coddling Russia, citing its refusal to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and suggesting the chaotic evacuation of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “emboldened our enemies worldwide.”

    Axios reported earlier Wednesday that Hawley wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeking clarity on how Ukraine’s future membership in NATO would benefit U.S. interests. […]

    Hawley is one of a growing number of conservatives who have grown skeptical of backing Ukraine militarily in any conflict with Russia. […]

  30. says

    The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force said it had to scramble to fighter jets in response to four Russian military aircraft approaching the country, The Associated Press reported.

    The military force said Wednesday the Russian strategic bombers were “intercepted and escorted,” saying the four aircraft did not enter the U.K.’s airspace.

    Authorities said the Royal Air Force jets took off from bases in Lossiemouth, Scotland, with a Voyager air-to-air refueling tanker that launched from Oxfordshire, England, joining them, according to the AP.

    The Royal Air Force routinely intercepts approaching aircraft that are considered to be in the country’s “area of interest.”

    The air force has previously said Russian military aircraft entering its policed international airspace zone can pose a threat to other air flyers due to them not communicating with air traffic control.

    The force launched jets in November in response to Russian strategic bombers, with officials saying fighters escorted the Russian aircraft away without the Russian bombers entering U.K. airspace. […]


  31. says

    Called a coronal mass ejection, it’s considered a “low hazard” geomagnetic storm, but could spark hours of auroras from the Arctic Circle into the northern U.S. and as far south as New York.

    Astronomers are tracking a coronal mass ejection (CME), a burst of gas and magnetic fields stemming from the sun.

    The CME is expected to reach Earth on Wednesday, Feb. 2 but only spark a few hours of auroras.

    This week’s CME is part of sun cycle 2025, an 11-year activity cycle when the Sun’s poles completely flip.


  32. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sen. Risch: “we side, always, with countries that are democracies.”

    Tell that to Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia…

  33. says

    Oh, FFS.

    GOP Rep Pushes Bizarre Conspiracy Theory About Trudeau Fleeing To US

    In recent days, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) repeatedly pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fled to the United States, supposedly escaping protesters in Ottawa who are furious with vaccine mandates, COVID-19 health measures and Trudeau himself.

    In the past week, Roy twice promoted the fictional online rumor, which was initially circulated by an anonymous Twitter account that calls itself “Terror Alarm,” according to CNN. The photo that the account used in its tweet was of Trudeau and his family in the foreground and an American flag in the background that had, in reality, been taken in 2016. At the time, Trudeau had arrived in the U.S. for an official visit to Washington, D.C.

    Despite the fact that the Canadian prime minister is not in the U.S., Roy, in his tweets, demanded Trudeau be deported. […]

    But on Sunday morning, the anonymous “Terror Alarm” Twitter account walked back its baseless claims of Trudeau’s whereabouts. It tweeted a “#FactCheck” of itself that said Trudeau “is NOT in hiding” but rather “is in Covid-related self-isolation.”

    That much is at least partially true: The prime minister announced last week he has COVID-19 and is working remotely. Official itineraries said that Trudeau was in an undisclosed location in Canada’s capital region over the weekend. Trudeau’s undisclosed location was a change from his usual “Ottawa, Ontario” location on his public schedule.

    Trudeau also expressed concerns last week over potential violence during a planned protest by truckers and others who oppose public health restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

    Roy has not deleted his tweets nor issued a correction.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Another in a long list of GOP pols barely tethered to reality or reason these days.
    Hmmm. Perhaps some knowledgeable and enterprising Canadian might just forward Roy’s tweet to the PM’s security detail for a threat assessment.

    Fun fact: if the RCMP conducts one, the DHS will be required to assist.

    See also:

  34. says

    From today’s edition of the DK Anti-vaxx Chronicles, “Brother posts about his sister’s COVID death and its ‘living hell’ impact, and it’s unbearably sad”:

    …I keep writing it, because I still can’t believe it: this right-wing conspiracy apparatus has short-circuited the core parental instinct to protect one’s children at all costs. Her brother worries about leaving her children motherless, and the response is “Lol.” It’s ghastly.

    The right-wing conspiracy mis- and disinformation machine short-circuits lots of things. Parenting instincts, yes. But also simple consideration over how your actions affect your loved ones. Is that really how this woman wanted her daughter to remember her? Dead at home, decomposing to the point that they needed a hazmat team to collect her remains? Does she want to be remembered as someone who literally laughed at the fear that her children would be left motherless?…

  35. says

    Putin Says He Deserves Ukraine as Consolation for Losing White House

    Offering the diplomatic community a new rationale for his recent actions, Vladimir Putin said that he deserves Ukraine as consolation for losing the White House in 2020.

    “Losing control of the most powerful nation on earth was a bitter pill for me to swallow, to say the least,” the Russian President said. “Giving me Ukraine would make things somewhat better.”

    “It’s only fair,” he continued.

    At the White House, President Biden called Putin’s logic “unacceptable,” but added, “At least he admits he lost.”


  36. says

    NY Times:

    Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, has written a letter to seven Republican governors, rejecting their requests for exemptions from coronavirus vaccination mandates for their states’ National Guard troops.

  37. says

    Good News:

    A Virginia state Senate panel voted 9-6 along party lines Tuesday to block former Trump EPA head Andrew Wheeler from joining Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Cabinet as secretary of natural resources.

    Source is Axios.

  38. says

    A Space Force captain traveling with their spouse stood stunned at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter this past October hoping to take advantage of the company’s waived baggage fees for active-duty service members. But there was a problem: The Spirit employee didn’t believe the Space Force exists.

  39. says

    Ugh, he was a Trumper. Also a victim, as so many are. (By the way, re this link, I have now seen the movie! I posted the link a while back and someone awesome provided a link to where I could watch it, and now it’s pretty widely available.)

  40. says

    Nobody ever mistook Donald Trump Jr for a Mensa member. His all too frequent appearances on Fox News showcase his ignorance, such as his visit with Sean Hannity to support Vladimir Putin and champion Russia’s position on Ukraine. Even worse, Junior recently posted a video proudly displaying his queasy demeanor that suggests a serious substance abuse problem.

    Undeterred, the Trump spawn thought that he could take advantage of the announcement that MSNBC host, Rachel Maddow, is taking a brief hiatus to work on some other projects, including a film (with Ben Stiller and Lorne Michaels) based on her book and podcast, “Bag Man.”

    So Donnie tweeted that it “Seems the TRUTH finally broke her!” Let’s just set aside the fact that there is no rational meaning to that remark. What “TRUTH” is he referring to? Because she presents so much of it every day. And what does he mean by “broke”? Could it be just that she was overwhelmed by the abundancy of provable lies promulgated by Trump and his Propaganda Ministry (aka Fox News)?

    Maddow, however, had a pithy response that was ripe with relevant meaning that Donnie surely didn’t comprehend… [Tweets available at the link]


    LOL do you think he knows it’s a film about a criminal in the White House? And … prosecuting him? For crimes?

    Of course Donnie doesn’t know anything about the “Bag Man” exposé of Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s corrupt vice-president. And he certainly couldn’t connect the dots between that and the corruption that his father has been engaging in for years (decades?), and about which more is being revealed every day. Although Donnie may have an inkling of what it’s like to be under investigation for serious crimes. And, hopefully, he will learn more about that in the not too distant future.

    In the meantime, Donnie would be well-advised to refrain from tangling with Maddow. He’s a loser who has never had a job outside of Daddy’s failing real estate business. While Maddow is a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in political science from Oxford University. Like the old saying warns, Donnie shouldn’t be fighting a battle of wits when he is so obviously unarmed.


  41. says

    Ocasio-Cortez to Manchin: Should freezing New Yorkers who depend on BBB sleep on your yacht?

    To say that Joe Manchin appears out of touch with the pressing needs of his constituents and Americans as a whole would be a grotesque understatement. The Build Back Better bill would be a godsend to millions of Americans who struggle to pay their monthly bills, find affordable child care and—not for nothing—worry about the effects of climate change on their children’s future.

    In fact, West Virginia, which Manchin purports to represent, would arguably be one of the law’s greatest beneficiaries … if it ever passes. Which it won’t—at least not in its current, already massively compromised, version—because Manchin killed it and is now standing over the body pointing and laughing. Loads of people have told Revoltin’ Joe Pre-Paleo how much of a boon this bill would be for America’s workers, but he won’t listen. Among the loudest voices is the United Mine Workers of America International, which represents coal miners in West Virginia and elsewhere. Manchin’s response? Crickets, essentially. (In 20 years it may be tumbleweeds because the crickets will be dead.)

    Of course, Manchin has been in West Virginia politics since I began my (still unfinished) Ph.D. dissertation on the effects of daily cannabis use on Donkey Kong scores, so it’s possible he’s listening more to his paymasters than his peeps at this point. Call me cynical. But one person who isn’t content to let BBB simply die on the shitty vine that is Joe Manchin is the indefatigable AOC.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Tuesday took a swing at Sen. Joe Manchin after the West Virginia lawmaker doubled down on his opposition to the Build Back Better agenda. […]

    “Seniors, kids, & people with disabilities in my community have been sleeping with bubble jackets on in 18 degree nights, despite paying rent, bc the NYCHA funding to fix their heating and capital needs is in BBB,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Where should I direct them to wait out the cold? Manchin’s yacht?” […]

  42. says

    I said in that 2016 post:

    It’ll be a long and ugly road from a golden age about to dawn to “everything can’t be achieved instantly” to “It’s all shit. We’ve been betrayed.” Many won’t be able to take that road – having followed the Right down their destructive path for so long, blaming the Democrats and the vague “establishment” for their problems, they will continue to have faith in Trump and his party and to blame the Left for sabotaging their great plans. But some will recognize the bitter taste of betrayal.

    2022, and it’s still far too few.

  43. Hj Hornbeck says

    [quietly rises up from the depths]

    Brony @33: Given that it’s Black History Month, you might want to check out some of MLK Jr’s writing about riots. In particular, this article offers an interesting view.

    Why did the rioters avoid personal attacks? The explanation cannot be fear of retribution, because the physical risks incurred in the attacks on property were no less than for personal assaults. The military forces were treating acts of petty larceny as equal to murder. Far more rioters took chances with their own lives, in their attacks on property, than threatened the life of anyone else. Why were they so violent with property then? Because property represents the white power structure, which they were attacking and trying to destroy. A curious proof of the symbolic aspect of the looting for some who took part in it is the fact that, after the riots, police received hundreds of calls from Negroes trying to return merchandise they had taken. Those people wanted the experience of taking, of redressing the power imbalance that property represents. Possession, afterward, was secondary.

    A deeper level of hostility came out in arson, which was far more dangerous than the looting. But it, too, was a demonstration and a warning. It was directed against symbols of exploitation, and it was designed to express the depth of anger in the community.

  44. raven says

    This is something I’ve noticed since the pandemic started. We’ve been slow to get the data on each of the variants. This is partly because it is just difficult.
    A lot of it is because the US CDC has been hollowed out. Once a world class center, it has been all but missing in action during this pandemic.

    We now can say the Omicron is 75% of Delta and about equal to the earlier variants in pathogenicity. Which is ironic since Omicron is almost obsolete. A new variant, BA.2 is taking over.

    The tl;dr version
    1. It is hard to measure the Intrinsic properties of a new Covid-19 variant, properties like transmissibility and pathogenicity.
    2. The Omicron variant is probably about 75% of Delta and about equal to the Alpha and original virus in pathogenicity. It is still a killer.
    3. “Viruses don’t inevitably evolve toward being less virulent; evolution simply selects those that excel at multiplying.”
    In general, fast transmission selects for virulence whereas slow transmission selects for attenuation. But it depends on the virus and the details.
    Since Covid-19 virus spreads mostly during the early infection phase, it isn’t under all that strong a selection for attenuation.

    Challenges in Inferring Intrinsic Severity of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant | NEJM
    Roby P. Bhattacharyya, M.D., Ph.D., and William P. Hanage, Ph.D. Selective quotes

    Although these studies were conducted in locations with very different case-ascertainment rates, after correcting for underascertainment, each study estimated that omicron was about 75% as likely as delta to cause hospitalization in an unvaccinated person with no history of SARS-CoV-2 infection.2,3 This meaningful but fairly small difference implies that omicron, alpha, and wild-type SARS-CoV-2 have similar intrinsic severity.

    Viruses don’t inevitably evolve toward being less virulent; evolution simply selects those that excel at multiplying. In the case of Covid-19, in which the vast majority of transmission occurs before disease becomes severe, reduced severity may not be directly selected for at all. Indeed, previous SARS-CoV-2 variants with enhanced transmissibility (e.g., alpha and delta) appear to have greater intrinsic severity than their immediate ancestors or the previously dominant variant.

  45. says

    Trump sees Jan. 6 rioters as ‘patriots’

    The former president is not only prepared to tolerate those who engage in political violence, he’s now also eager to celebrate them.

    It’s easy to forget that in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, there was a political consensus: Regardless of party or ideology, every prominent political voice agreed that participating in an insurrectionist riot inside the nation’s seat of government is indefensible. The idea that any credible politician would defend or rationalize the violence was patently absurd.

    Donald Trump, mindful of the public’s revulsion toward the assault, was eager to be seen as a mainstream figure. As regular readers know, the then-president said on Jan. 7, “Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.” He went on to describe the riot as a “heinous attack.”

    Reading from a prepared text, Trump added, “The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy…. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: You do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law: You will pay.”

    Five days later, Trump condemned the “mob [that] stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of government.” On the final full day of his term, again reading from a script, Trump added, “All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.”

    Contrast this with the rhetoric the former president used on Newsmax this week. After saying he would “absolutely” hand out pardons if voters returned him to the White House, Trump said of the rioters:

    “Some of these people are not guilty. Many of these people are not guilty. In many cases, they’re patriots. They’re soldiers. They’re policemen.”

    It’s emblematic of the bewildering final stage of a multi-step process that’s unfolded over the last year:
    The rioters’ attack was bad.

    The rioters’ attack was bad, but it was Democrats’ fault.

    Maybe the rioters weren’t so bad.

    The rioters are innocent “patriots.”

    As for Trump’s “absolute” willingness to pardon the rioters if he runs and wins in 2024 — it was the second time in four days he raised the prospect — the rhetoric is not going unnoticed. Robert Jenkins, an attorney representing several Jan. 6 defendants, told CNN yesterday that the former president’s talk of pardons will make defendants “far less likely to cooperate” with prosecutors in upcoming criminal cases.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, argued yesterday that Trump’s rhetoric may constitute witness tampering. His colleague, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, told Rachel on the show last night about the degree to which the former president’s pardon talk may also resemble obstruction of justice.

  46. says

    Congress poised to get Pence documents Trump tried to keep secret

    Trump wanted to hide Pence materials from the Jan. 6 committee. The Biden White House, fortunately, said no.

    The investigation into the Jan. 6 attack was already headed in directions Donald Trump didn’t like. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the former president received an update that made matters a bit worse.

    The National Archives has informed former President Donald Trump that it will turn over records from former Vice President Mike Pence to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a one-page letter, National Archivist David Ferriero said Tuesday that the agency will provide the congressional panel with “Vice Presidential records” that Trump is seeking to shield as privileged documents.

    […] Trump, who insisted he has “nothing to hide,” nevertheless sued both the committee and the National Archives, demanding that the records be kept hidden from congressional investigators.

    [Trump’s] case lost at every judicial level and the bipartisan House select committee started receiving materials from the Archives […]
    That, however, was only the first round of document production. This next round — which Trump also tried to keep under wraps — specifically includes “communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on January 6, 2021.”

    Given the partisan pressure put on Pence to overturn the election results, these materials are very likely to advance investigators’ understanding of the larger scandal.

    There is, however, a possible catch. This week’s letter from Ferriero to Trump’s legal team noted that without court intervention, he’ll cooperate with the congressional request and provide the materials one month from today.

    That matters because it raises the possibility of the former president’s lawyers filing new litigation to stop, or at least delay, the document production.

    In theory, this would be ridiculous: The matter has already been adjudicated, and Team Trump lost completely. But they may go through the motions anyway, knowing that failure is inevitable, if for no other reason than to give the Jan. 6 committee less time with the documents the former president would prefer to hide. Watch this space.

  47. says

    Memo shows how Trump’s whole legal team made sure fake electors were ready for Jan. 6 scheme

    As the details of Donald Trump’s scheme to block the final count of electoral votes on Jan. 6 have emerged, one item that initially seemed minor has emerged as a focus of Republican efforts. The false slates of electors put forward in seven states looked at first like little more than a stunt. Including in their ranks state Republican Party officials, along with members of both state and county governments, these false electors weren’t a random selection of people off the street. They were, in most cases, the actual electors who would have been put forward had Trump actually won those states.

    It’s now clear is that, early on in the effort to overturn the electors, these false slates of electors were identified as a critical component of the whole scheme. They were to act as the key “evidence” that the outcome in these states won by Joe Biden was actually in dispute, and give Republicans on Congress something to point too when justifying their support for Trump’s coup. To that end, Rudy Giuliani was at the center of plot, directing Trump’s legal team to get those electors in place.

    Now, additional memos turned up by The New York Times demonstrate how this effort went forward in Wisconsin, working in lockstep with other legal challenges as Trump’s team sought to give the impression that a clear victory for Biden was somehow “in dispute.” Just two weeks after the election, a memo was sent out to Trump campaigns telling Republicans in Wisconsin to move ahead, gather the false electors on Dec. 14, and have them cast their invalid votes for Trump.

    […] Each day seems to make it clearer that the coup plot wasn’t some passing fancy that never made it outside the White House. It was an extensive operation, planned and executed over a period of months, that involved Republicans at every possible level—along with Trump’s entire legal, campaign, and White House teams.

    In this case, the push to get Wisconsin moving on electors originated from Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro. On Nov. 18, Chesboro directed a memo to James Troupis, a Trump campaign attorney in Wisconsin. That memo (available in its entirety here)[New York Times link] insists that gathering the electors in time for them to swear their allegiance to Trump by Dec. 14 was critical. By that date, the electors had to meet in Madison and cast their electoral votes for Trump. The memo also gives instructions on the certificates the electors were to sign and date.

    Between the time that Cheseboro first sent out his memo on Nov. 18 and the events on Dec. 14, Wisconsin conducted a recount and audit of the 2020 vote. That recount confirmed that President Joe Biden won the state by more than 20,000 votes. That didn’t stop them from moving ahead with the scheme.

    Unlike Michigan, where Trump electors were turned away at the door and only falsely claimed to have cast their ballots in the state capitol, it seems that those in Madison did get inside long enough to carry out this mock ceremony on Dec. 14.

    Also on Dec. 14, Chesebro and Troupis were two out of three names on a petition that Trump’s legal team sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. The petition maintains that the election in Wisconsin was invalid because “officials in Wisconsin, wrongly backed by four of the seven Justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, ignored statutory provisions which tightly regulate absentee balloting.”

    More specifically, the petition claimed that “this resulted in the counting of at least 50,125 absentee ballots” in specific areas. Crucially, Trump’s team asked the court to look on the votes in these “heavily Democrat areas” (because even in a petition to the Supreme Court, Republicans are incapable of saying “Democratic”), but did not note that even larger numbers of mail-in ballots had come from areas of the state that Trump won.

    When this same argument was taken before the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, “noted that Mr. Troupis had not sought to invalidate votes in Wisconsin’s 70 other counties but had focused only on the ‘most nonwhite, urban’ parts of the state.” Justice Jill Karofsky told Troupis was even more direct in saying that this challenge “smacks of racism.”

    […] The Supreme Court rejected this request, along with another team-up between Cheseboro and Troupis asking the court to validate all the fake electors across six states.

    Versions of this scheme now appear on documents from attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, and Jeffery Clark in addition to Troupis and Chesebro. A PowerPoint presentation featuring the role of the fake electors in justifying actions on Jan. 6 was given to Republican members of Congress by Phil Waldron.

  48. says

    Excerpts from a longer article:

    […] It gets better:

    The man, 35-year-old Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a New York judge, also pleaded guilty in federal district court in Washington, D.C., to misdemeanor charges of stealing government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building, the Justice Department said in a press release.

    He faces a maximum sentence of five years behind bars and a hefty fine for the felony charge alone, the DOJ said, though his final sentence may be lower. Mostofsky’s plea agreement notes that his lawyer and prosecutors agree that federal sentencing guidelines would recommend he get a prison term within the range of one year to 18 months.

    That’s about all he will get. One year to 18 months. Why do I feel his father’s position played a role in getting his caveman son out of more serious trouble?

    As for his reason for the caveman outfit:

    He was dressed as a caveman and carrying a walking stick, explaining to a friend at one point that “the fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election was so obvious, even a caveman would know the election was stolen,” the DOJ said.

    More fuckin’ cosplay.


  49. says

    Excerpts from a longer article:

    […] It gets better:

    The man, 35-year-old Aaron Mostofsky, the son of a New York judge, also pleaded guilty in federal district court in Washington, D.C., to misdemeanor charges of stealing government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building, the Justice Department said in a press release.

    He faces a maximum sentence of five years behind bars and a hefty fine for the felony charge alone, the DOJ said, though his final sentence may be lower. Mostofsky’s plea agreement notes that his lawyer and prosecutors agree that federal sentencing guidelines would recommend he get a prison term within the range of one year to 18 months.

    That’s about all he will get. One year to 18 months. Why do I feel his father’s position played a role in getting his caveman son out of more serious trouble?

    As for his reason for the caveman outfit:

    He was dressed as a caveman and carrying a walking stick, explaining to a friend at one point that “the fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election was so obvious, even a caveman would know the election was stolen,” the DOJ said.

    More fuckin’ cosplay.


  50. says

    Apologies for the double post, (comments 57 and 58). Don’t know how that happened.

    In other news: Why Big Chains Thrived While Small Restaurants Died

    How the National Restaurant Association bent the government to the will of the corporate behemoths—and left workers in the dust.

    For nearly 30 years, the Reel M Inn has occupied a squat, stucco building on a corner along Southeast Division Street in Portland, Oregon. Sleek condos and coffee shops have erased most of the neighborhood’s blue-collar grit, but the Reel, as locals call it, remains the same: a classic dive bar with neon signs and fishing knickknacks layered on its dark-paneled walls. Until closing time at 2:30 a.m., bartenders serve pop-tops and shots from behind the narrow wooden bar—“Bloody Marys are about as fancy as it gets,” Carey Bolton, the Reel’s manager and co-owner, tells me. The tiny kitchen churns out fried chicken and jojos (potato wedges)—and pretty much only chicken and jojos—for 16 hours a day, 365 days a year. The wait for food can run up to two hours, but the clientele doesn’t seem to mind. The most devoted regulars are the dishwashers, cooks, and waitstaff from the high-profile restaurant row that turned the neighborhood into a foodie mecca. “We end up being a place that feeds the restaurant world in Portland,” says Alex Briggs, the Reel’s other co-owner and Bolton’s husband.

    […] “I thought of it as this walled-off, windowless bar with a cool neon sign my middle school teachers went to for a drink after school,” he says. Once he got a fake ID, he started going there, too. Bolton, warm and equally no-nonsense, grew up in British Columbia and began her career in the restaurant industry as a teenage dishwasher. In 2014, following a move to Portland, Bolton became manager of the Reel, where she met Briggs. They got married and, in 2018, they bought the bar. “It took everything in us to purchase this place,” Briggs tells me. In 2019, business boomed, and the Reel closed for only two days: one for equipment failure, the other for a staff picnic. But as the coronavirus pandemic took root, neighboring restaurants shut down, and the Reel ended up closing for 77 days in 2020, and 88 in 2021. Even when open, it hobbled along on takeout and a few outdoor tables in between Portland’s rainy spells. “At every turn—as creative as you wanted to be—there’s still so many things tying your hands behind your back,” Briggs says. “It’s just like a Sisyphean task to try to even make sense of how you can possibly survive.”

    There are half a million small independent restaurants and bars like the Reel. They account for three-quarters of all the country’s eating and drinking establishments and employ roughly 11 million people. To operate a restaurant under ordinary circumstances is a perilous endeavor. To operate during a pandemic proved nearly impossible. Thousands of independents are among the estimated 90,000 restaurants that have closed since March 2020, a year in which 2.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs.

    […] a different story emerged for corporate restaurants. National chains like Applebee’s, P.F. Chang’s, Ruby Tuesday, and TGI Fridays all received federal loans between $5 million and $10 million from the first pandemic relief package Congress passed in March 2020. Thousands of Subway, Dunkin’, and McDonald’s franchises received that funding, too—and more cash again from the dedicated $28.6 billion in restaurant relief that passed in March 2021. […]

    That independent restaurants struggled while big chains flourished wasn’t an inevitable outcome. Behind this dynamic was a force that has fiercely protected the industry’s Goliaths: the National Restaurant Association. On one level, the NRA is simply another trade association that lobbies on behalf of an industry and provides education and legal support to its members. In practice, it has bent federal, state, and local governments to the will of the corporate behemoths, claiming to represent the nation’s 500,000 food service establishments, even though less than 10 percent are members. Its critics call it “the other NRA”­—an acronym the association avoids and almost never employs, but one that paints the group as comparable to the National Rifle Association […]

    […] as the crisis [coronavirus] enters its third year, the NRA continues to guard the interests of its large corporate members while neighborhood diners and taverns wonder whether they’re about to serve their last meal.

    […] When Washington, DC, held a vote on a ballot measure to eliminate the subminimum tipped wage in 2018, the NRA gave more than $70,000 to Save Our Tips, an astroturf campaign that convinced bartenders and servers that such a ban would hurt their bottom lines. The ballot measure passed, but DC’s city council later reversed it, thanks to pressure from the NRA. The Illinois Restaurant Association killed Chicago’s efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 and eliminate the subminimum wage […]

    When Democrats made similar attempts in the Covid relief package earlier last year, the NRA killed the measure and all but obliterated it from the Democratic agenda. […]

    […] The crown jewel of that political operation is its lobbying. The NRA spends an average of $3 million a year on lobbyists, a total of more than $38.4 million in the past decade. […] “it’s a very conservative group,” says Craig Holman, a campaign finance and lobbying expert at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization. “They’re heavily skewed toward the Republicans.” […]

    […] the NRA kept up its small-business facade, despite its corporate leanings. When the NRA is summoned before Congress, it frequently sends an independent restaurateur—often well-connected and wealthy—to appear on its behalf. At some point in their remarks, owners drop a line like this one from Washington, DC, restaurant owner Geoff Tracy in 2008: “I believe, in many ways, I represent the American Dream,” citing “hard work, education, and an entrepreneurial spirit” […]

    […] the NRA already had the ear of lawmakers, demanding a carve-out in the Paycheck Protection Program to allow big chains to qualify for the $349 billion fund intended for small businesses. When the program began taking applications in early April, TGI Fridays, P.F. Chang’s, and Ted’s Montana Grill walked away with $10 million loans—each. “They not only got to the head of the line—they got concierge service,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represents much of Portland and its surrounding county in Congress. “Sadly, the smaller, independent restaurants—literally mom-and-pop operations—were left to fend for themselves.”

    Much more at the link.

    Some facts and figures: Only 36% of about 278,000 eligible restaurants got any of the $28.6 million in the Restaurant Revitalization Package. Subway got $362,265,9227; Golden Corral got $277,112,269; IHOP got $117, 944,460, etc. etc. Meanwhile the average non-franchise restaurant got $287,346. And many smaller restaurants got nothing.

    Subway, McDonald’s and others had already benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program. And there’s this:

    […] The industry’s reliance on the tipped minimum wage—and the NRA’s efforts to keep it—has made working in a restaurant generally a terrible job, especially for the most vulnerable employees. Workers of color are less often employed in customer-facing roles, and those who are earn far less in tips on average than their white counterparts, thanks to customer bias. Women in particular endure a constant drumbeat of sexual harassment to avoid jeopardizing their tips. Federal law requires restaurant owners to make up the difference between the subminimum wage and the full minimum wage if tips fall short, but a 2014 Department of Labor study found that a whopping 84 percent of owners have violated that rule. Fast-food workers rely on food stamps at twice the rate of those in other industries.

    And the pandemic made a lousy job worse. More than one in four restaurant workers lost their jobs in 2020, and nearly half of them failed to receive unemployment insurance, according to an analysis by One Fair Wage. Working for cash tips often means staff don’t report all their income, and their subminimum wage was too low to qualify for any government support. […]

    Meanwhile, not a single penny of the $28.6 billion in restaurant relief funding was earmarked for workers. The restaurants that did get a grant often got a check equivalent to 100 percent of their 2019 revenue, but none was required to be allocated toward staff wages, commonly their biggest expense. The historic suppression of wages, the lack of compensatory funds from the relief package, and a protracted pandemic have converged into an existential crisis.

    […] if the industry is to survive, maybe customers should know how hard it is. Maybe they should be prepared to pay more for meals, to be thoughtful about which spots they frequent, to support restaurants that commit to paying staff a fair wage. To let go of an entitlement mentality for the good of the people who fuel the industry, and for the benefit of all the unique eateries that stitch together neighborhoods and communities.

    The alternative is what financial analysts predicted of Texas Roadhouse a year ago: The chains will fill the void. “There’s such short-term, small-minded thinking that’s going on in Washington,” Briggs says. “So if they want this whole country to be a Chipotle…you’re going to break every single small business, and you’re only going to work towards the corporatification of everything.”

  51. says

    Biden says ISIS leader killed in US raid in Syria

    President Biden announced early Thursday that a U.S. raid in Syria on Wednesday killed the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

    Biden said the operation in northwest Syria was successful and resulted in no American casualties in a statement Thursday morning. In later remarks from the White House, Biden said that al-Qurayshi blew up himself and members of his family during the operation in a “final act of desperate cowardice.”

    “Last night, operating on my order, the United States military forces successfully removed a major terrorist threat to the world, the global leader of ISIS,” Biden said in prepared remarks […]

    Officials said that a family and multiple children were taken out of the home safely during the raid.

    The second senior administration official said that al-Qurayshi appeared to purposefully live in a residential building with other families that did not have a connection to ISIS.

    “He used these innocent people as a shield,” the official said. […]

  52. KG says

    Two of Johnson’s closest aides have resigned. One of them, communications chief Jack Doyle claims he always intended to leave at this time, but the other, policy chief Munira Mirza, blames Johnson’s egregious lie in the Commons about opposition leader Keir Starmer. Mirza (who is a member of the glibertarian gang of ex-Revolutionary Communist Party members around climate change denialist Frank Furedi and media rent-a-gob Claire Fox), has stuck with Johnson through 14 years of lies, bigotry, and corruption, so her claim to be leaving on a point of principle should be taken with a pillar of salt.

  53. says

    Axios – “National Butterfly Center closes after right-wing harassment”:

    The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, said Wednesday that it will shut down “for the immediate future” after facing ongoing harassment rooted in right-wing conspiracy theories.

    …The nonprofit nature reserve, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Rio Grande Valley, became a target after it sued the Trump administration in 2017 disputing its planned U.S.-Mexico border wall.

    The center said the wall would cut its property in two and damage the environment, according to NPR.

    It said last Friday that it would close temporarily over the weekend due to “credible threats” involving a nearby rally headlined by former President Trump.

    …In the announcement, the center called the closure an “unexpected business disruption caused by false and defamatory attacks directed by political operatives.”

    “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to members and visitors, many of whom plan trips months in advance, to experience this truly exceptional place,” Marianna Trevino Wright, the center’s executive director, said in a statement.

    “The safety of our staff and visitors is our primary concern,” added Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the center’s parent organization the North American Butterfly Association.

    “We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light.”

    …It’s unclear when or if the center will reopen, though the announcement noted that staff will remain paid.

  54. says

    KG @ #61, thank you for that link. I had somehow missed the Savile remark at the time, and then heard several references to it with no further explanation. I meant to look it up but kept forgetting.

    Johnson moved quickly to replace Mirza, promoting Andrew Griffith to head up the No 10 policy unit as a minister in the Cabinet Office.

    A wealthy former Sky executive, Griffith lent Johnson his £9.5m townhouse as a campaign base during his 2019 leadership bid.

  55. says

    CNN – “ISIS leader killed in US-led Syria raid, Biden says”:

    ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed Wednesday in a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria, President Joe Biden announced Thursday morning.

    It was the biggest US raid in the country since the 2019 operation that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    Qurayshi blew himself up as US forces approached his compound, Biden administration officials said, and the explosion resulted in multiple civilian casualties. At least 13 people were killed — including six children and four women — according to the Syrian civil defense group, the White Helmets. There were no US casualties, according to the Pentagon.

    Biden spoke from the White House Thursday morning to announce that the operation had taken “a major terrorist leader off the battlefield,” saying the US had chosen a special forces raid in order to minimize civilian casualties….

  56. says

    Wonkette: “Here Are Some Of The 9,572,802 Ways Trump Tried To Steal The Election”

    How many ways did Trump try to steal the election? ALLLLLL the ways. Literally every day we are bombarded with stories of new schemes to hold on to power after being definitively booted out by the American people. If we covered them all, we’d write about nothing else. So, to spare you all having to look at his demented orange face all day, let’s round up the morning’s outrage in one post.

    […] Another wackass memo? And this one involves the NSA? What could possibly go wrong!

    The Washington Post has a long article about the descent into conspiracy theory madness that took hold of the GOP after the election. In this latest episode, failed Republican congressional candidate Michael Del Rosso, who gadded around DC for the past decade spouting rightwing security theories and describes himself as a former Trump surrogate, was flogging a memo that proposed using “NSA unprocessed raw signals data” to prove “foreign involvement in both the violent ‘Color Revolution’ the U.S. is presently undergoing and specifically the 2020 Election fraud and their involvement in altering the vote counts in the 2020 election.”

    The memo proposed that Defense Secretary Christopher Miller deputize Del Rosso, along with an Army lawyer named Frank Colon and fired NSC staffer Richard Higgins, to trawl through NSA intercepts looking for evidence of foreign interference. To be clear, there is zero evidence of foreign interference, despite the memo’s vague reference to “expert DOD opinion” that the author’s “work product” established “sufficient predicate to form search inquiries against NSA unprocessed raw signals data under the existing authorities of NSPM.-13.” That last bit is a reference to a classified 2018 memo authorizing the Pentagon to engage in offensive cyber attacks, and was also referenced in a different memo urging Trump to seize the voting machines for a recount.

    It’s totally illegal for the US government to target communications of US persons without a court order. But this author, whoever he or she is, wasn’t super concerned about legality.

    “If evidence of foreign interference is found the team would generate a classified DOD legal finding to support next steps to defend the Constitution in a manner superior to current civilian-only judicial remedies (which should still be pursued in parallel),” they wrote, adding later, “To treat this solely as a legal issue is to ensure that the USG’s response is under-scoped and inadequate.”

    Colon, who is currently a government employee, insists he had nothing to do with this insanity. Del Rosso and Higgins aren’t commenting, but North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer says he got a copy of the memo from Del Rosso after attending a January 4 meeting at the Willard Hotel to hear Mike Lindell scream nonsense about Chinese vote hacking. Mississippi Senator Cynthia Lummis also attended the meeting, as well as Senator Ron Johnson, who says he got a copy of the memo, but won’t say from whom.

    […] If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the blatantly ludicrous and illegal shit these weirdos were proposing seems to have put off their intended audience of senators, rather than ginning up support for delaying the election certification on January 6.

    “Honestly, I was not impressed by these people,” Cramer said, describing their fraud fugues as a “lot of theories but not a lot of evidence.”

    Ultimately Lummis, Johnson, and Cramer all voted to certify the election, only objecting to Pennsylvania’s use of mail in ballots. Of course it took an armed insurrection to scare them straight, so … maybe less than full credit on this one.

    ANOTHER ‘nother memo! This one’s about those weirdo cosplay electors.

    Have none of these dipshits heard of the Stringer Bell rule?

    The New York Times story involves Trumpland’s efforts to circumvent the Electoral Count Act’s requirement that electors be certified by December 14, effectively giving themselves until January 6 to figure out another way to un-elect Joe Biden.

    Under the law, “The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.” But a lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro (clear we’re living in a broken simulation) cooked up a ridiculous memo for James Troupis, the lawyer running Trump’s recount effort in Wisconsin, suggesting that they could just ignore that deadline and behave as if January 6 were the real date. Also they should swear in some fake electors, to have them ready to go in case their ratfucking efforts worked.

    “Prudence dictates that the ten electors pledged to Trump and Pence meet and cast their votes on December 14 (unless by then the race has been conceded). It is highly uncertain, given the language in Art. II requiring that all electors throughout the United States vote on the same day, whether Congress could validly count electoral votes cast on a later date,” Chesebro wrote on November 18. “It may seem odd that the electors pledged to Trump and Pence might meet and cast their votes on December 14 even if, at that juncture, the Trump-Pence ticket is behind in the vote count, and no certificate of election has been issued in favor of Trump and Pence. However, a fair reading of the federal statutes suggests that this is a reasonable course of action.”

    Well, the DOJ will be the judge of whether it was “a reasonable course of action” to have a bunch of unelected doofuses swear themselves in as “electors” and submit a fraudulent electoral certification to the National Archives. But whether it was legal or not, the involvement of the Trump campaign and Rudy Giuliani in organizing these fake electors, with the express purpose of pointing to them as a pretext to reject the legitimate electors, is pretty damning.

    But wait, there’s more! Because Chesebro drafted a second memo on December 9 outlining in specific detail how best to draft a fake election certificate in each of the contested states. TL, DR? Just make it look like the real one, but don’t include a certificate of ascertainment signed by the governor. Easy peasy!

    You get a pardon! And you get a pardon! Everybody gets a PARDON!

    Okay, this one isn’t strictly an election story, but we simply cannot end this post without drawing your attention to these gonzo quotes from Politico of Trump calling up all his advisors and asking how he could pardon the January 6 insurrectionists.

    “Do you think I should pardon them? Do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think I have the power to do it?” he asked one of them.

    “Is it everybody that had a Trump sign or everybody who walked into the Capitol?” he wondered to another, strategizing how best to thwart efforts to make his supporters testify about the riot.

    In the end, it was too hard to figure out whom to pardon, so Trump never did it. But just last weekend he talked about doing just that, and clearly he’s not kidding.

    In summary and in conclusion, there’s a whole lotta shit here, and it all stinks.


  57. says

    U.S. alleges Russian plot to stage attack as pretext for Ukraine invasion

    Washington Post link

    U.S. officials say they have evidence that Russia has developed a plan, approved at high levels in Moscow, to create a pretext for invading Ukraine by falsely pinning an attack on Ukrainian forces that could involve alleged casualties not only in eastern Ukraine but also in Russia.

    The details of the plan have been declassified by U.S. intelligence and are expected to be revealed Thursday by the Biden administration, said four people familiar with the matter. The administration last month warned that the Russian government had sent operatives into eastern Ukraine, possibly in preparation for sabotage operations.

    The alleged operation the United States plans to expose would involve broadcasting images of civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine — and potentially over the border in Russia — to a wide audience to drum up outrage against the Ukrainian government and create a pretext for invasion, two of the people said. It was unclear if the casualties would be real or faked, one U.S. official said.

    The people familiar with the plan said it was formulated by Russian security services and is in the advanced stages of preparation.

    The plan is related to but separate from other plots that have been disclosed by Western intelligence, including Russia’s placement of saboteurs in eastern Ukraine and another alleged scheme, revealed last month by the British government, to destabilize the Ukrainian government and install a pro-Russian figure at its head, officials said.

    “They’re all related, of course, but this is a specific operation designed to create a potential pretext,” said one U.S. official, who, like others, did not provide the underlying evidence for the alleged plot but had been briefed on the matter. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. […]

  58. says

    Update to the previous thread!:

    Canadian anti-vax lawyer Rocco Galati seems to be alive. He released a statement:

    I hope everybody is doing well in their struggles towards regaining our constitutional rights and freedoms. At the moment, I would like to say the following:

    (1) the vicious, vile, and fascist rumours of my premature death are somewhat exaggerated.

    (2) I am currently recuperating from a ten (10) day coma.

    (3) I will be in contact again when I am fully recovered. God willing.

    “Recuperating from a ten day coma” is making me laugh for some reason. If he really wrote this, I’m glad he’s doing better, but he remains as willfully and dangerously ignorant as ever.

  59. says

    CNBC – “Crosby, Stills & Nash want their music pulled from Spotify over Joe Rogan controversy”:

    The estranged Crosby, Stills & Nash have reunited in an effort to withdraw their music from Spotify in solidarity with former bandmate Neil Young.

    Young, with support of his record studio, pulled his music from the streaming platform last week over allegations that Joe Rogan, Spotify’s star podcaster, was spreading coronavirus vaccination misinformation with his show.

    “We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast,” David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash said in a joint statement shared on Crosby’s Twitter account.

    “While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences. Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don’t want our music – or the music we made together – to be on the same platform,” the trio added.

    Young called on fellow artists to support his movement. Since then, other artists, like Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren, have asked their labels to withdraw their music from Spotify.

    The efforts have caused Spotify to add content advisories to any material mentioning Covid-19. It will also direct its users to public health sites for more information.

    But the streamer has stuck behind Rogan, whose show brings in millions of listeners….

  60. says

    These numbers came out a week or ten days ago. I had seen them before. But seeing them mentioned again today just made me marvel. In December 2021 unvaccinated people in the United States were 97 times more likely to die of COVID than people who are vaccinated and boosted. 97 times more likely. Just think about that number.

    The metric is ‘only’ 14 times more likely compared to people who are vaccinated but not boosted. That is a remarkable level of protective benefit by any standard. But I find the degree of benefit from the booster even more eye-popping. It’s not a marginal difference. And to think tens of millions of Americans simply refuse to take this simple, free step.

  61. KG says

    We’re now up to four senior Johnson aides resigning in a single day. The latest pair (and Jack Doyle, named earlier, apparently) are probably under police investigation in relation to “partygate” – but then, so is Johnson (or if he isn’t, he clearly should be). So they may have been told to go now if they want a seat in the Lords once Johnson has survived the scandals (as he still clearly thinks he will) – but one wonders whether it will be his wife, his baby or his dog that is next to go!

  62. says

    DK – “Despite Their Pastors Dying, Between 30-40% of White Evangelical Christians Remain Anti-Vax”:

    The recent death from COVID of prominent televangelist Marcus Lamb, who had been consistently spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines on his program, has not changed white evangelical Christian attitudes towards getting vaccinated. Lamb not only criticized vaccines, but he also was a super-spreader of unproven COVID treatments.

    Lamb is not the only vaccine-denying evangelical Christian pastor to die from COVID over the past year. In mid-December, Salon’s Nebil Husayn reported that “On Aug. 17, Roger Dale Moon, pastor of Revelation Fire Ministries in South Carolina, wrote that he did not fear COVID-19 since “the blood of Jesus that covers me stops every kind of disease or virus that tries to enter my spirit, soul and body.” He died on Oct. 19, shortly after contracting COVID-19.”

    Other church leaders that died from COVID include: Bob Enyart, radio talk show host and the pastor of Denver Bible Church in Colorado, Dean Kohn of Descending Dove Outreach International in California, Bob Marson of Umpqua Valley Community Fellowship in Oregon and Rob Skiba of Virtual House Church, a Texas-based online community.

    Tim Parsons, pastor of Center Point Church in Lexington, Kentucky, died on Aug. 26 from COVID-19, after his church had advised members “not to worry” about the virus since God was “in control.”

    Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants, white evangelical Christians continue to lag behind most other Americans in terms of getting vaccinated. According to Joanne Silberner, “pushback against Covid-19 vaccines has remained stubbornly high, with polls in recent months suggesting between 30% and 40% refused to get vaccinated, the highest proportion among any religious group surveyed.” According to the Public Religion Research Institute, about 14.5% of Americans are white evangelical Christians.

    In December, after the death of Lamb, The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reported that “Dan Darling … lost his job as spokesman for the National Religious Broadcasters in August after he publicly endorsed vaccines from an evangelical perspective. The NRB is a conservative-leaning group of Christian media professionals.

    Boorstein pointed out that Daystar, Lamb’s network, had “for months … hosted conspiracy theorists pressing unproven treatments for the virus, including some who framed vaccines and mandates as ungodly and satanic. Lamb and others featured on Daystar described the virus, vaccines and vaccine mandates as evidence of the devil trying to attack followers of a true God.” [This stuff makes my head hurt.]

    While some evangelical leaders have expressed support for vaccinations, most couch the debate over vaccines as a personal choice. Others, no doubt fearing loss of parishioners, have refused to comment one way or the other.

    Last year, Curtis Chang, a divinity school professor launched the Christians and the Vaccine project. He recognizes that opposition among evangelicals is multi-layered.

    “Built into conservative evangelical Christianity, at its best [?!], is a critical stance towards all institutions. There is this belief: ‘Look, we follow Jesus, and all other loyalties have to be critically evaluated.’ Anything secular is held in immediate suspicion,” Chang said. “That impulse in evangelicalism has gotten so weaponized by a bunch of influences in politics, media and movements like the anti-vaccine movement. It adds a spiritualization of that suspicion, such that they see demonic forces. It’s so entangled.”

    Author and journalist Sarah Posner told The Washington Post that “Marcus Lamb was seen by his audience as a very godly Christian figure who is telling them that the vaccines are bad and these [alternative treatments] are good and to do these things instead. So how could he get covid? Because satanic forces are against his truth-telling and are trying to bring him down.” She added: “If vaccines are being promoted by Democrats or a government controlled by Democrats, they must be bad.”

    Salon noted that “So many white evangelical Christians are so openly hostile and dismissive of public health measures that users of the social media platform Reddit recently created an archive and discussion thread documenting individuals who make public declarations of their anti-mask, anti-vaccine or COVID-hoax views — and then die from the disease.

  63. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 63

    Johnson moved quickly to replace Mirza, promoting Andrew Griffith to head up the No 10 policy unit as a minister in the Cabinet Office.

    I’m sorry… but the joke is just there for the making….

    In a related story, Minister Griffith’s first duty was a issue a single round of ammunition to Constable B, Fife’s sidearm,

  64. says

    Guardian – “Ottawa protests: tensions grow as ‘intolerable’ truck blockade paralyzes Canada capital”:

    For nearly a week, Paul Aubue has lived and slept in the cab of his truck, parked in downtown Ottawa.

    The 64-year-old grandfather travelled from New Brunswick to join hundreds of others as they descended on the Canadian capital. Aubue, the owner of a trucking company, said he’d been driven to protest by a recent requirement that truckers crossing from the US into Canada be vaccinated against Covid.

    “I’m here for freedom. This whole thing has been going on for two years and it seems every day there’s something more. We don’t need a vaccine passport,” he said, adding that family had dissuaded him from getting vaccinated. “People die everyday, people born every day – that’s nature.”

    The vast majority of truckers – and Canadians – are vaccinated against the coronavirus, however. And most Canadians, even though they’ve grown tired of the pandemic, also say they’re against the sustained protests, which have paralyzed central Ottawa and forced businesses to close.

    But as tensions rise between protesters and local officials, analysts say the recent events could signal the birth of a growing populist movement which could potentially reshape Canadian politics.

    Another protester, Philip Grenier, said he would remain in Ottawa “for as long as it takes” for the federal government to repeal pandemic restrictions – although almost all such rules fall under provincial jurisdiction.

    But local people say the protests – which have included honking truck horns, but also allegations of assault and intimidation – have left them frustrated, fed up and – at times – in fear of leaving their homes.

    A local woman who gave her name as Jennifer said that she’d been harassed by a group of men wearing Canada flags as capes and shouting “Freedom!” before two other men in an idling truck called her a “dumb [c–t] sheep” for wearing a mask.

    “I’m just done with these people,” she said.

    When Tim Abray, a communications consultant, attempted to take a picture of the protests, he was confronted by three men who grabbed and shoved him. He said nearby police officers failed to intervene.

    Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly called the protests “intolerable and unprecedented”, and the force says it has laid charges against three people and have 25 active investigations into incidents including the desecration of the National War Memorial and the harassment of employees and clients at a soup kitchen.

    On Thursday, Justin Trudeau rejected suggestions that the military might be called in to end the protest. “One has to be very, very cautious before deploying military in situations engaging Canadians,” he told reporters, adding that a military response was not on the cards “right now”.

    But Ottawa police say the situation has become increasingly difficult to navigate.

    Police say that a number of blockade members are believed to armed, and amid growing calls for counter protests, there is growing of fear that violence could erupt.

    Officers say their strategy has been to defuse tensions, but critics say that other demonstrations, including those by Indigenous peoples, are often met with force.

    The pandemic – and the public health restrictions that came with it – have brought together a number of disparate movements and ideologies, including far-right and separatist groups.

    “The pushback to government overreach or public health policies brought QAnon, the Proud Boys and ‘sovereign citizens’ or anti-government people into the same room,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a researcher into extremism and populism movements at Queen’s University. On Thursday, Romana Didulo, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Canada” arrived in Ottawa along with her supporters. Didulo, a QAnon linked conspiracy theorist, was recently arrested after calling on her 70,000 online supporters to shoot health-care workers.

    “These groups have proven they can mobilize very quickly and actually get people to give up their lives and go on a trip across the country, which is not an easy thing to do in the middle of winter,” said Amarasingam. “But I’ve been thinking about where all this energy goes when, inevitably, nothing happens, because their goals are so lofty that they’re never going to be met. How do they actually get out of this and save face?”

    The group organizing the protest has already raised more than C$10m online, although the fundraiser was paused by GoFundMe on Wednesday. But members of Trudeau’s Liberal party and the Ontario provincial premier are unlikely to meet the protesters’ demand for an audience.

    But the spectacle has caught the attention of influential far-right voices in the United States, including former president Donald Trump and his son, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Tesla founder Elon Musk also tweeted his support of the truck convoy. On Wednesday, Ottawa police said a “significant” amount of the funding and organizing was coming from the United States.

    With a vacuum in the Conservative party leadership, high-profile members of the party have actively courted the protesters, suggesting they see value in what could be a growing populist movement.

    Conservative politicians, including the former party leader, have posed with protesters outside parliament, in a stunt that Ottawa’s mayor described as an “absolute disgrace”.

    But the willingness of MP to embrace the protesters speaks to the mainstreaming of more fringe views, say experts….

    Here’s the QAA episode about Didulo from September: “Episode 157: The Secret QAnon Queen of Canada feat Mack Lamoureux.”

  65. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #74

    Tesla founder Elon Musk also tweeted his support of the truck convoy.

    Oh, nooo! Et tu, Elon?

    This whole thing just makes my blood boil, it is such a hypercane of stupid!
    Happily, I don’t live anywhere near Ottawa, but I really feel for those who do; it must be awful to have to avoid large areas of your own hometowm because a bunch of “sovereign citizens” and their ilk want to throw a week-long tantrum/party.
    On thing that I don’t think is mentioned in this story (but may appear up-thread) is that this protest represents a very small minority of truckers in Canada – fully 90% of the profession being vaccinated already. But, of course, they work very hard to try to portray themselves as representing “real” Canadians*, largely through the liberal (ha, ha) use of the word “patriot” in their communications. Last refuge of the scoundrel, etc.

    *Shades of the “Moral Majority” movement in the US in the 1980s – which was, of course, neither.

  66. says

    New allegations plague Florida’s controversial surgeon general

    Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s former UCLA supervisor does not think he should be Florida’s state surgeon general.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handpicked state surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, is currently doing the job, but he still needs to be formally confirmed by the Republican-led state Senate. To that end, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did a routine background investigation as part of the confirmation process.

    It apparently didn’t go especially well. The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported yesterday that Ladapo’s former supervisor at UCLA discouraged Florida officials from hiring the controversial doctor.

    “In my opinion, the people of Florida would be better served by a Surgeon General who grounds his policy decisions and recommendations on the best scientific evidence rather than opinions,” the unnamed supervisor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the Jan. 18 report prepared by a senior crime intelligence analyst for the Senate.

    According to the local report, the UCLA supervisor added that Ladapo’s weird theories “created a stressful environment for his research and clinical colleagues and subordinates,” some of whom believed the doctor “violated the duty in the Hippocratic Oath to behave honestly and ethically.”

    […] During his tenure, the physician claimed in a USA Today op-ed that his perspective on Covid treatments had been shaped by his experience “taking care of patients with COVID-19 at UCLA’s flagship hospital.” Two weeks later, Ladapo added in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he had his experience “caring for patients with suspected or diagnosed Covid-19 infections at UCLA.”

    Thanks to reporting from The Rachel Maddow Show, those claims have since been called into question. As my colleague Kay Guerrero explained in a report in November, “Several former colleagues of Dr. Joseph Ladapo … say he misled the public about his experience treating Covid-19 patients.”

    One UCLA source also said, in reference to Ladapo, “A lot of people here at UCLA are glad that he is gone because we were embarrassed by his opinions and behavior. At the same time, we don’t wish this on the people of Florida. They don’t deserve to have someone like him making their health decisions.”

    This latest reporting comes a month after Ladapo held a press conference in which he was critical of Covid testing.

    A few months prior, Ladapo questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced vaccine requirements, referenced unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against the vaccines, and encouraged Floridians to “stick with their intuition,” as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they’re talking about.

    As regular readers may recall, it was around the same time when Ladapo started pushing “innovative” Covid-19 treatments with little track record of success, to the frustration of state physicians and medical experts.

    Before taking office, the doctor also spent much of the pandemic questioning the value of vaccines and the efficacy of masks, while simultaneously touting ineffective treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.

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

    Whether this might give the GOP-led state Senate in Florida pause remains to be seen. Ladapo’s nomination is scheduled to receive a vote in Tallahassee next week.

  67. says

    The Nevada Independent reports that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the day before his recent death, doled out “more than $133,000 in donations to a broad swath of federal, state and local-level Democratic candidates in Nevada,” by way of his federal campaign accounts.

  68. says

    What new kind of fuckery is this?

    […] according to a report from the ABC affiliate in Miami, the Republican Party of Florida has gone door-to-door, asking seniors whether they want to renew the voter registrations. Allegedly, the local GOP operatives have taken these opportunities to change the voters’ party affiliation to Republican without permission.

    More details:

    Despite the security at Haley Sofge Towers, a Miami-Dade public housing building, people with clipboards and Republican Party of Florida caps were in the hallways, door knocking.

    It made registered NPA Armando Selva suspicious.

    “They said, “We’re doing the renewals on the voter registration, would you like to renew?” Selva recalled.

    Resident Juan Carlos Salazar was not suspicious at the time.

    “I didn’t do anything, but they changed the party,” Salazar said, adding he noticed, “when they sent me the new registration.”

    He wasn’t the only elderly resident at the public housing to come forward and say the same thing happened to them.

    The realizations came after a Local 10 News report in December about an 84-year-old lifelong Miami Democrat who was shocked to receive a new, changed voter identification card. […]

  69. says

    […] It’s reached the point at which a Republican National Committee panel unanimously advanced a resolution yesterday censuring the pair of lawmakers [Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger]. As NBC News reported, the measure will now go before all 168 RNC members at today’s general session, as part of the party’s winter meeting.

    Of particular interest, though, is how the party is justifying the censure effort. The Washington Post reported overnight:

    Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also worked behind the scenes with David Bossie, a top Trump ally, to author and push a resolution that attacked Cheney’s work on the committee, called her a “destructive” force in the GOP and vowed the party would no longer support her.

    The RNC chair specifically told reporters, “We’ve had two members engage in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” [rolls eyes]

    Right off the bat, it’s worth emphasizing that the bipartisan congressional panel isn’t “persecuting” anyone. It’s asking legitimate questions about one of the most important instances of political violence in modern American history. It’s also pursuing an examination in a methodical and fair way.

    But even putting that aside for a moment, there’s the question of who counts as “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

    One possibility is that she was referring to those who pretended to be duly elected electors as part of the fraudulent post-election scheme. The article noted, for example, “McDaniel said she was particularly upset when an elderly, recently widowed friend of hers was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee after it was reported the friend was an alternate elector at the campaign’s behest.”

    She was apparently referring to someone who is facing a Justice Department investigation for trying to steal an election — which is not legitimate political discourse.

    The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen, however, said McDaniel was referring to those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 as “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

    This is a far cry from what the RNC said a year ago. Indeed, on Jan. 6 itself, the Republican National Committee released a written statement “strongly condemning” the riot, adding, “These violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles.” […]


  70. says

    SC @80, Nathan Chen’s short program was amazing. He looked graceful, loose, and confident. And yet, he landed those quads with absolute precision.

    BTW, congrats on your Wordle. :-)

  71. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Arizona GOPer Compares Not Letting Legislature Throw Out Election Results To Lynching

    Not giving a state legislature the power to freely throw out election results as it pleases is similar to mob murder, according to the Arizona state Republican who sponsored a bill to give the legislature that power.

    The controversial bill’s sponsor, Arizona state Rep. John Fillmore (R) made the comparison while complaining to local CNN affiliate KPHO/KTVK on Wednesday that Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) had effectively sunk his bill by assigning it to all 12 House committees for consideration.

    Fillmore called Bowers’ move a “12-committee lynching” and doubled down when a reporter pressed him on drawing that kind of parallel.

    “Yeah, it was a lynching,” said the lawmaker, who also declared last week that “we need to get back to 1958-style voting.”

    In addition to a slew of restrictions on early and mail-in voting, Fillmore’s bill would give the Arizona legislature the authority to “accept or reject election results” after reviewing the vote tabulation process in a special session.

    If lawmakers decide to toss out the results, “any qualified elector” could then ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hold a new election.

    Additionally, the proposal would allow the legislature to “conduct an audit of election results for any regular primary or general election” – despite the Arizona GOP Senate’s sham election audit ending in utter failure last year.

    More than a dozen Arizona Republicans support Fillmore’s bill, according to CNN.

    However, as the GOP’s nationwide crusade to make it easier to undermine election results expands, Fillmore might have managed to reach the ceiling: Bowers’ order for all 12 committees to take up the bill is unprecedented and will almost certainly doom the legislation.

  72. says

    From All In last night:

    “A History Lesson For The Senators Troubled By The Biden SCOTUS Vow”:

    Chris Hayes looks at the true irony of Roger Wicker’s anti-affirmative action stance, “considering the history of his own state, the world in which he was molded, and the way he became a United States Senator.”

    “GOP Senate Candidate Pushes Big Lie While Simultaneously Urging People To Vote”:

    Chris Hayes: “Republicans believe they need to be objectively pro-coup—or they risk invoking Trump’s rage and losing the support of the party base. But, even as they are telling their supporters their votes do not count, they need to rally them to vote Republican anyway.”

  73. says

    Grifters be grifting.

    […] Arizona Republican candidate Jim Lamon, who’s currently running for Senate, wrote a $20,000 check to American Conservative Union (ACU) Chairman Matt Schlapp for “communications consulting”; two weeks after that, Schlapp announced his endorsement of Lamon’s campaign. When Lamon wrote another $20,000 check to Schlapp, the ACU announced its own endorsement of Lamon.

    So did the “communications” Lamon was paying Schlapp for consist mostly of paying Schlapp to “endorse” him and prod the rest of the ACU to do the same? Probably! Almost certainly, in fact! And it’s not exactly illegal, because Lamon is getting what he paid for. He paid money to have one of the griftier powerbrokers in conservatism publicly boost him, and that’s what he got. Money well spent!

    The second bit of Axios’ scoop is, well, pretty much the same story. Ohio Republican Jane Timkin is also running for Senate; Timkin’s campaign ponied up $5,000 for the services of “a firm run by ex-NYPD chief Bernard Kerik.”

    “On the same day,” reports Axios, Kerik tweeted about Timkin. He went on to appear at her rallies and promote her on Ohio radio.

    Apropos of nothing, the press obsession with identifying Bernard Kerik solely as a former New York Police Department chief is odd as hell. Anyone who has been on this planet for long enough to find expired soup cans in their pantry knows Kerik first and foremost for the bit where he got sentenced to a prison stint for felony tax fraud and other crookedness. His name reappears in Republican circles today in large part due to Donald Trump doling out a pardon in 2020 because Donald Trump invested a nontrivial part of his presidency in boosting the fortunes of tax cheats who lie to federal officials and/or steal cash from fellow Republicans.

    […] Kerik, now—he doesn’t get the same treatment [as people of color who appear in the news, “Ex-marijuana dealer saves woman from burning car”] No, he’s just a former NYPD chief. Whatever he might have done to get booted from the job, whatever sketchmonster stuff he might have gotten up to in the days immediately after his moment of 9/11 fame … eh. Not important.

    Getting back to the main story, though, it’s the Schlapp part that’s more interesting. […] Matt Schlapp and his wife have been repeated subjects of press reports on shady Republican campaign dealings, and the ACU is currently under federal investigation after a grand jury indicted Republican Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey on multiple counts of violating federal campaign finance laws.

    The circumstances of that probe are rather similar; the Republican then-candidate funneled over $100,000 through a chain of PACs that eventually resulted in about $66,000 being pushed to the ACU, which “immediately thereafter” spent around $80,000 on radio ads boosting Kelsey. Kelsey’s indictment accuses him of violating campaign rules, but the ACU is reportedly being investigated with a focus on Schlapp’s role in the endorsement and whether the money transfers amount to illegal coordination between the campaign and the conservative group.

    Before that, Schlapp was in the news for collecting $750,000 in two weeks for a last-ditch lobbying campaign asking for a presidential pardon for another Trump-backing conservative financial criminal. That pardon was never written—but that doesn’t mean Schlapp didn’t walk away with enough new cash to pay off most American mortgages a few times over.

    […] It’s also legal now to scam the conservative base by telling them you’re going to build a border wall you don’t intend to build. It’s also undeniably proper to sell them “survival buckets” filled with insurmountable amounts of horrific desiccated somethings. And it’s nigh on holy to tell them that God absolutely wants you to die a horrible, miserable, agonizing tube-down-the-throat death rather than do the bare minimum to protect yourself or anybody else. There’s nothing about the ACU, its conferences, its allies, its hangers-on, and its weird creepy overdressed crowd of wannabe powerbrokers that’s not a grift. That’s the whole point of it.

    Should we mention to the conservative base that this is all just a pro wrestling performance? That the people chosen as the best “conservatives” for office are chosen in large part based on who wrote the biggest check to whom? Probably, but they wouldn’t listen anyway, so screw ’em. People have been writing entire magazine articles for years now pointing out the unbelievable amount of outright scamming that the top stars of conservatism aim at their mailing list followers, from gold coins to “nutrition” powders to pillows filled with foam scraps and petty hatred. They never listen.

    Still, though, is there anyone in the Trump conservative orbit who isn’t either a felon, under indictment, or under investigation for financial crimes? Is there anyone anywhere in conservatism who’s not once removed from the movement’s biggest crooks?


  74. says

    Jobs report massively outperforms expectations, capping historic year of job growth

    The January jobs report released Friday morning was predicted to be weak thanks to the omicron surge, and Republicans were doing victory laps in advance. Former Trump mouthpiece Sean Spicer tweeted that “the White House spin on tomorrow’s jobs report will be fun.”

    On Fox & Friends: ”How does the White House spin this?” and “What vaccine do you get for job loss?” and, in giant red letters, “MORE JOB LOSSES.”

    Well, it turned out the White House doesn’t need to spin anything. Friday morning, it was President Joe Biden who had the opportunity to take a victory lap—this one based on the facts, not wishful thinking. “America’s job machine is going stronger than ever,” Biden said, touting truly impressive jobs numbers. Not only did January’s jobs report seriously exceed expectations, but November and December’s jobs reports were revised upward by huge numbers. Dow Jones had estimated 150,000 new jobs in January. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reality was 467,000 new jobs.

    ”This morning’s [jobs] report caps off my first year as president, and over that period, our economy created 6.6 million jobs,” Biden said. “If you can’t remember any year when so many people went to work in this country, there’s a reason: It never happened.”

    It wasn’t all victory lap, of course. Biden spoke about the weight of the pandemic, especially after two years of death and disruption. He called for more investment in jobs and workers. He acknowledged inflation that has increased prices on key items. But Biden was able to point to specific policies that have contributed to this growth, and ones that would fight price increases. The American Rescue Plan in particular has boosted the economy, leading to a much faster recovery than expected.

    Biden made the case that provisions of his Build Back Better plan would have a similar positive effect on the economy, and would specifically ease the financial pressures many families are now feeling, pointing to child care costs and insulin costs in particular.

    “Let’s face these challenges head on,” he concluded. “Let’s keep building a better America.”

    In the January jobs report, December was originally reported at 199,000 new jobs, but has been revised up to 510,000. November went from 249,000 (which was already an upward revision from the original number of 210,000) to 647,000. Between those two months, that’s an upward revision of 709,000. It follows months of big misses leading to historic revisions to job growth numbers. As the string of revisions shows, the pandemic has made life very difficult for the people who track labor statistics.

    The Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould highlighted some key figures in the report. While omicron apparently didn’t weaken job growth, it did lead to “unprecedented levels of workers out sick in January.” Even leisure and hospitality added jobs, despite the typical large impact of coronavirus surges on that sector, but nonetheless, there are still 1.75 million fewer leisure and hospitality jobs than there were in January 2020. Public sector employment is another area that significantly lags behind its January 2020 numbers, with 735,000 lost jobs. Black unemployment also remains an area of concern: It’s twice as high as unemployment in white workers. The big picture, though, is one of improvement.

    “Overall,” Gould summed up, “employment remains 2.9 million (or 1.9%) below pre-pandemic conditions. Taking into account population growth since Feb 2020, the jobs shortfall is around 4.5 million. Given recent strong trends, that shortfall can be closed by the end of this year.”

  75. tomh says

    Covid Live Updates: Missouri Health Official Is Nation’s Latest to Lose Job for Promoting Vaccines

    Missouri’s top health official, a Republican who opposes mask and vaccine mandates but spoke approvingly of the Covid vaccine, was supposed to have been confirmed by State Senate by Friday.

    Instead, conservative state legislators stonewalled the process earlier this week and Donald Kauerauf resigned on Tuesday, becoming the latest public health leader to be forced from office, as the politicized fight about masks, mandates and pandemic response rages on.

    Mr. Kaeurauf had been appointed by Gov. Mike Parsons, a Republican, in July to lead the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services and had served in the position since September.

    At a Monday hearing, Mr. Kaeurauf emphasized his opposition to mandatory masking and vaccination, but repeated his desire to see improvement in Missouri’s sluggish vaccination rate. Only about half of the state’s population has received two doses.

    Mr. Kaeurauf’s statements in favor of vaccinations were apparently enough to doom his confirmation in the Republican-controlled Missouri Senate. The chamber adjourned on Tuesday, opting not to act before the Friday deadline.

    Mr. Kaeurauf is just the latest public health leader to be punished for expressing support for vaccines.

    Dr. Raul Pino, who leads the Florida Department of Health’s office in Orange County, was placed on administrative leave last month after urging employees to get the shot. In an email, he called the office’s vaccination rate “pathetic.” Florida’s Health Department is investigating whether Mr. Pino’s conduct ran afoul of state laws.

    In Nashville, Dr. Michelle Fiscus said she was fired last year after she distributed a memo suggesting some teenagers could be eligible to get vaccinated without parental consent. Ms. Fiscus, then Tennessee’s top immunization leader, said her termination followed outcry from Republican lawmakers in Tennessee.

    Late last year, The New York Times identified more than 500 top health officials who left their jobs in the prior 19 months. They have drawn ire from state leaders and the public for their decisions, and faced other hurdles including mass staff departures, inconsistent funding and dwindling trust in their authority.

    Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said that the fallout from the departures will have an impact that lasts beyond this pandemic and will leave the country less prepared for the next public health crisis.

    “What we want out of our public health leaders is to tell us the truth whether or not it’s politically popular,” Ms. Casalotti said. “We’re going to lose those voices and those are the voices that we need to keep our communities safe and secure.”

    Some officials, like Mr. Kaeurauf, have become targets of conservatives bristling about testing requirements in schools and encouragement to wear masks. At a Monday hearing in Missouri a day before Mr. Kaeurauf’s resignation, protesters lofted posters with messages such as “we’re not guinea pigs” and “God-given natural immunity.” The State Senate’s Conservative Caucus posted a message of support for the protesters on social media, thanking them for making their “voices heard” and urging them to “keep up the good fight.”

    Senator Rick Brattin, a member of the caucus, said in an interview on Wednesday that he did not believe that Mr. Kaeurauf was being “forthright” during his hearing.

    Governor Parsons said in a statement on Tuesday that “the Missouri Senate chose to indulge a few men’s egos” and to prioritize political gain. The senators had listened to rumors and lies about Mr. Kaeurauf spread on social media, he added.

    “The events that have transpired over the past few days surrounding Don’s Senate confirmation hearing are nothing short of disgraceful, unquestionably wrong, and an embarrassment to this state and the people we serve,” the governor said. “I pray that honor, integrity and order can be returned to the Missouri Senate and that it comes sooner rather than later.”

    Good luck with that.

  76. says

    Mike Pence Is Just A Boy, Standing In Front Of The Federalist Society, Begging It To Not Kill Him

    Sometime on Friday, biscuit-faced former Vice President Mike Pence will stand tall before a gathering of the Federalist Society to reportedly defend his decision to not violate the Constitution and unilaterally hand the presidency to God-King Donald Trump last January.

    Or maybe he’ll beg for mercy like a pathetic mewling kitten trapped in a drainpipe amid rising water. Could go either way. […]

    Pence has lately been making the rounds of conservative shibboleths — the Ronald Reagan Library, the early primary state of New Hampshire — to do some damage control ahead of 2024, presumably in the hope that his likely presidential run will not be strangled in its crib by a bunch of weirdos wearing goat horns and tactical combat gear. Or as others call them, Republican primary voters:

    “Now, there are those in our party who believe that in my position as presiding officer over the joint session, that I possessed the authority to reject or return electoral votes certified by states,” he said. “But the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority before the joint session of Congress. And the truth is, there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

    This would be a good message for a party still committed to democracy. Unfortunately, the GOP is now more committed to being a cargo cult for the orange-faced giant blobfish that washed up on its shores a few years ago and has captured even the Christian missionary types who could once have been counted on to visit the cult’s island and try to convince it to worship a totally imaginary being instead of a dead fish.

    Pence had stayed away from this conversation for most of the past year, preferring to hide out doing the things that spark joy for Mike Pence — drinking water, stuffing himself full of Saltines and cottage cheese, whatever. But a couple of factors may be pushing him to speak out a little more. One is the aforementioned 2024 presidential election […]

    The other factor might be former President Brainworms’ recent admissions. His enablers have spent a year saying he just wanted to send some of the electors back to the states while their legislatures searched for nonexistent voter fraud. Illegal in its own right, but the enablers could still hide behind the cry of “what harm can it do to indulge this crazy person to whom we’ve given the nuclear codes.” (Lots, by the way. The answer is lots and lots of harm.)

    But then last week Trump announced that AKSHUALLY, he really did want Pence to “overturn” the election right then and there. Oops! He really has been trying to kill the boy, but so far unsuccessfully.

    So good luck to Pence as he attempts to sing this particular nest of hornets to sleep. Even the Federalist Society might want to back Trump again so long as he’s the frontrunner. After all, the people still have a few rights that the Society’s hand-picked judges have yet to extinguish.

  77. says

    TN Judge Sentences Woman To Six Years For Attempting To Register To Vote While Black

    A judge in Memphis, Tennessee, threw the book at voting rights activist Pamela Moses this week for the crime of illegally trying to register to vote in 2019. Moses was on probation for a 2015 felony conviction, but says she was never told that the conviction took away her right to vote. What’s more, Tennessee state officials admit they made a number of mistakes that led to Moses thinking it was actually legal to vote, although that didn’t seem to matter to the prosecutor who pursued the stiffest possible sentence, or to Judge Mark Ward, who insisted that Moses had “tricked” the officials into signing documents saying it was OK for her to vote. On Monday, Ward sentenced Moses to six years and a day in state prison.

    […] the state has treated her as the most dangerous frauder that ever tried to steal an election, although she never actually completed the registration process in 2019; her application was denied due to the prior conviction. Moses was convicted in November of “making or consenting to false information on an election document.”

    Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow contrasted the heavy sentence given to Moses with the slaps on the wrist handed to four white men who deliberately voted fraudulently for Donald Trump in the 2020 election: [video is available at the link, and it's a good one]

    Three of the fine gentlemen who voted twice got probation, and one served three whole days in jail. Again, they actually voted, knowing full well they were submitting fraudulent ballots. You might recall that one of the dudes, Donald “Kirk” Hartle of Las Vegas, Nevada, voted the absentee ballot of his late wife and then enjoyed wingnut fame for a while when he insisted terrible Democrats had stolen her ballot and frauded with it. Nevada Republicans and rightwing media hyped the story for months, until Hartle was arrested in October 2021 for having been (allegedly!) the actual frauder.

    Hartle was convicted and sentenced to probation and a $2,000 fine. If he keeps his nose clean on probation for a year, he’ll even be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and plead to a misdemeanor charge instead. No judges or Republican officials that we know of have called for Hartle to be sent to prison for years on end to set an example for would-be election thieves.

    Funny how the courts are so nice to white guys who deliberately do fraud, but they come down like a million-pound shithammer on Black people who insist they made understandable mistakes.

    Ms. Moses, on the other hand, says that after she pleaded guilty to felony charges in 2015, she was never told that she had lost her right to vote under Tennessee law. She told The Guardian’s Sam Levine in an interview last year,

    They never mentioned anything about voting. They never mentioned anything about not voting, being able to vote … none of that.

    To complicate matters further, elections officials should have removed her from the voting rolls when she was convicted, but they failed to, oopsie! Levine explains that

    [The] the court never sent election officials in Memphis the documents they needed to do so, according to a letter from an election official I obtained.

    In 2019, Moses announced she was running for Memphis mayor, in an admittedly long-shot campaign, but was informed by elections officials she was ineligible because of her conviction, the first time she’d heard of it. Like any good citizen, she tried to get herself legal:

    Moses went to court and asked a judge to clarify whether she was still on probation, and the court confirmed that she was. What happened next is at the crux of the case against her.

    Moses did not believe the judge had correctly calculated her sentence. So she went to the local probation office and asked an officer to figure it out. An officer filled out and signed a certificate confirming her probation had ended. In Tennessee, people with felony convictions who want to vote need that document from a correction official. Moses submitted it to local election officials along with a voter registration form.

    But the day afterwards, an official at the corrections department wrote an email to election officials saying a probation officer had made an “error” on Moses’ certificate. Moses was still serving an active felony sentence, they wrote, and was not eligible to vote. The department offered no explanation for the mistake.

    At trial, the prosecution argued that even if elections officials had made mistakes, Moses knew she was ineligible to register because the judge had told her so when she went to court, and therefore everything she did after that was proof that she was out to do fraud of the most nefarious sort. At her sentencing Monday, Judge Ward told her he didn’t believe her filthy lies:

    It’s that simple. You went down to the probation office, told them you weren’t on probation, tricked them into giving you a form so you could re-register to vote when you had a court order in your hand from the judge presiding over your case.

    Levine notes that in fact, it’s not all that unusual for people to be confused about the status of their voting rights, according to Campaign Legal Center attorney Blair Bowie, who is part of a lawsuit to fix Tennessee’s voting rights restoration process but isn’t involved in Moses’s criminal case. She noted a study finding that about eight percent of former felons’ applications for restoration of voting rights are rejected because the applicants haven’t actually completed their probation, but said she’d never heard of anyone being prosecuted after mistakenly submitting an erroneous certificate.

    The judge’s insistence that Moses deliberately tricked the probation office didn’t hold much water with Bowie, who said it “seems absurd to me on its face.”

    The instructions on the certificate of restoration form are very clear to the probation officer or the clerk. They say you will check these records and you will sign off on this based on what the records say.

    They’re saying that she tricked the probation officer into filling out this form for her. That creates a really scary prospect for people who think they’re being wrongly told they’re not eligible.

    Moses is likely to appeal, and depending on her behavior, it’s possible she could be eligible for release as soon as her May 20 status update hearing, according to her attorney.

    But for now, she’s gone to prison, and no doubt all the rightwing media that said nothing about frauders deliberately voting for Trump will point to Moses and insist her case proves that elections just can’t be trusted. And all voters of color will be assumed to be up to something, because look what that one lady in Tennessee did.

    We also have no doubt that even more Republicans, absolutely convinced that Democrats steal all the elections, will be voting multiple times this fall, to even things out. That’s only fair, right?

  78. says

    Followup to comment 90.

    When Pamela Moses tried to register to vote — not cast a ballot, just register — she was criminally charged and sentenced to six years in prison.

    Over the course of the last year, I’ve periodically marveled at the number of Republican voters who were caught committing voter fraud, only to receive light sentences. Nevada’s Donald Kirk Hartle, for example, received probation. So did Bruce Bartma and Robert Richard in Pennsylvania. Ohio’s Edward Snodgrass was locked up, but only for three days.

    None of these GOP voters stumbled into the crimes by mistake. On the contrary, they requested absentee ballots on behalf of dead loved ones and forged signatures as part of their deliberate efforts to cheat. [They voted for Trump. Their dead relatives voted for Trump.]

    They were caught and charged — U.S. elections systems are already strong enough to catch those who try to commit fraud — but judges didn’t exactly throw the book at them.

    […] As Rachel explained on last night’s show, [Pamela] Moses had a felony conviction in Tennessee that legally resulted in her not being allowed to vote again in that state. But she says that nobody ever told her that the conviction meant that she could no longer vote.

    In fact, as The Guardian reported, her county elections board admitted in writing that despite her conviction, local officials never actually took her off the voting rolls. What’s more, a probation officer with the Tennessee Department of Corrections even filled out and signed a certificate confirming her probation had ended.

    But when Moses tried to register to vote — not cast a ballot, just register — she was criminally charged. This week, she received a six-year prison sentence.

    The Republicans who actually cast illegal ballots in the name of relatives they definitely knew were dead each received light sentences. The Black woman who thought she was allowed to register to vote is set to spend the next 72 months in prison.

    It’s hard not to also think of Crystal Mason, a Texan who cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 election cycle while on supervised release for a federal conviction. She didn’t know she was ineligible to vote, and her ballot was never counted, but Mason — also a Black woman — was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. […]


  79. says

    From Lynna’s #81:

    It’s reached the point at which a Republican National Committee panel unanimously advanced a resolution yesterday censuring the pair of lawmakers [Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger]. As NBC News reported, the measure will now go before all 168 RNC members at today’s general session, as part of the party’s winter meeting.

    And…they’ve done it – CNN – “RNC approves censure of Cheney, Kinzinger at winter meeting”:

    Republican National Committee members voted Friday to formally censure GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for their involvement with the House investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

    The unprecedented move marks the first time the national party has rebuked an incumbent congressional Republican — much less two — with a formal censure backed by its members. Prior to its passage, RNC members pushed to have the resolution watered down to remove language calling for Cheney and Kinzinger’s expulsion from the House GOP Conference — a strictly symbolic measure given that the party does not have the authority to decide who does or does not serve in Congress….

  80. says

    Vice – “The JFK QAnon Cult in Dallas Is Somehow Getting Weirder”:

    Laura’s mother, Patricia, was among the hundreds of QAnon followers who went to Dallas last November to see the prophesied resurrection of President John F. Kennedy. At the time, Laura wasn’t sure exactly why her mother was going, but she wasn’t particularly concerned, especially when her mom returned a few days later.

    But then Patricia left for Dallas again the following week—and again a couple of weeks later. When she left again in the final weekend of November, Patricia said she was leaving for good.

    “We just started to feel very helpless at that point and just very sad and backed into a corner because we had a big feeling that she was not coming back,” Laura told VICE News.

    Months later, Patricia is still in Dallas and still under the influence of Michael Protzman, the antisemitic QAnon influencer who made the wild predictions about JFK’s resurrection. Many observers believed Protzman’s influence would wane after his predictions repeatedly failed to come true and the major announcements and revelations he promised never materialized. Instead, his group of followers are growing again. And Protzman’s predictions and actions are becoming ever more outlandish.

    Besides claiming that JFK appeared in disguise as Trump at a rally last month, Protzman has begun to openly berate his followers, some of whom have reportedly drunk toxic chemicals from a communal bowl. Most recently Protzman, who’s known to his followers as Negative48, claimed that 17 dead celebrities are now taking part in the group’s online chats.

    While many people, including some within the QAnon community, have dismissed Protzman as a freak show and something to be ridiculed, his ability to control and coerce people into abandoning their lives to follow him has destroyed families.

    Last weekend in Conroe, Texas, over 100 members of the group were at former President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally, marking the largest gathering of Protzman’s followers since the group first gathered in Dallas at the beginning of November.

    Many flew in especially for the rally, while others traveled there with Protzman in an RV. The group, wearing red ties and T-shirts with JFK’s picture on the front, were able to secure prime seats right next to the stage where Trump spoke.

    At the rally, they were interviewed by far-right networks like One America News and the Right Side Broadcasting Network, while one of Protzman’s lieutenants, Steven Tenner, posed for pictures with both Mike Lindell and Donald Trump Jr.

    Figures like former Trump adviser Roger Stone and GOP Oklahoma Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer have also visited the group in Dallas and taken pictures with them.

    Protzman used Trump’s rally in Texas, and one held in Phoenix a few weeks earlier, as a way to renew interest in his cult.

    At both rallies, Protzman claimed that the group’s prime seats were proof that he’s in direct contact with the former president. The reality, however, is that on both occasions the group simply lined up long before most other attendees at the rallies.

    For the families of those still under Protzman’s influence, the increasingly cultic nature of the group’s behavior is worrying….

    On Wednesday, the group’s Telegram channel announced it was reopening the Ark, the name for a meeting room inside the Hyatt hotel that the group used in the initial weeks in Dallas to hold meetings, teach Gematria, and act as a communal area for Protzman’s followers.

    The reopening of the Ark suggests the group isn’t winding down or preparing to leave Dallas, but rather doubling down on its claims.

    For the family members of some of those involved, it has reached the point where they have had to say goodbye to their loved ones for good….

    More at the link.

  81. says

    Guardian (support them if you can!) – “California county on track to be run by militia-aligned group”:

    A retired police chief and self-described Reagan Republican with decades of public service, Leonard Moty checked all the boxes to represent his community in one of California’s most conservative counties.

    But on Tuesday, voters ousted Moty, handing control of the Shasta county board of supervisors to a group aligned with local militia members. The election followed nearly two years of threats and increasing hostility toward the longtime supervisor and his moderate colleagues in response to pandemic health restrictions.

    While it’s not yet clear who will replace Moty, the two candidates in the lead attended a celebration on Tuesday with members of an area militia group, the Sacramento Bee reported.

    The recall is a win for the ultra-conservative movement in Shasta county, which has fought against moderate Republican officials and sought to gain a foothold in local government in this rural part of northern California.

    It also highlights a phenomenon that extends far beyond the region, as experts warn the pandemic and eroding trust in US institutions has fueled extremism in local politics and hostility against officials that could reshape governments from school boards to county supervisors to Congress.

    “I think it’s going to be a change in our politics. I think we’re going to shift more to the alt-right side of things,” Moty said on Wednesday. “I really thought my community would step up to the plate and they didn’t and that’s very discouraging.”

    After the pandemic took hold in 2020 and the governor instituted lockdown measures…many residents were outraged by the restrictions and what they viewed as the failure of county officials to stand up to the state government. Shasta county was among the least restrictive in California, Moty said, but residents unhappy about state rules and mask requirements began showing up in meetings in large numbers.

    Moty and other supervisors were soon subjected to levels of anger and hostility once reserved for state officials, in what Lisa Pruitt, a rural law expert at the University of California, Davis, describes as a trickling down effect.

    Carlos Zapata, a local militia member who helped organize the recall efforts, in 2020 told the board there could be blood in the streets if the supervisors didn’t reject state health rules such as mask requirements.

    “This is a warning for what’s coming. It’s not going to be peaceful much longer. It’s going to be real … I’ve been in combat and I never wanted to go back again, but I’m telling you what – I will to stay in this country. If it has to be against our own citizens, it will happen. And there’s a million people like me, and you won’t stop us,” he said.

    Disruptions and threatening rhetoric have been seen in public meetings across the country in what experts view as an alarming development….

    Anti-government extremists have utilized fears around the pandemic as a recruiting tool, [terrorism expert Colin] Clarke said. “The whole pandemic was really tailor made to far-right extremists and they’re getting a lot of mileage out of it.”

    The board elected to hold a meeting last month virtually due to rising Covid cases and threats against Moty and other supervisors. The Shasta county sheriff’s office is investigating what it described as credible threats against Moty and two other board members. One person told Moty that bullets are expensive, but “ropes are reusable”.

    The Redding Record Searchlight reported this week that an election official said they had been subjected to bullying in the lead-up to the election.

    Meanwhile, money poured into the county in support of the recall from an outsider, a millionaire, Reverge Anselmo. His $400,000 donation to the gathering committee in the recall is believed to be one of the largest in the county….

  82. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 94:

    Protzman’s predictions and actions are becoming ever more outlandish.

    One thing I’ve noticed about all of these cults and weird conspiracy theories is that the charlatans profiting off them have to keep the story evolving. And it’s not just because all of their predictions fail to come true. It’s because their followers require fresh injections of nonsense if they are going to continue to follow, and if they are going to continue to donate money and/or time.

    It’s not surprising that the cultishness becomes ever more convoluted. More layered. Still, it is disgusting and dispiriting.

    Something in human nature latches on to every new permutation and revels in it. Past failures are forgotten. People need to be deprogrammed. Charlatans need to be charged in court. They should do jail time.

  83. says

    Followup to SC @93.

    […] The Bulwark’s Amanda Carpenter added, “The fact the RNC is censuring Cheney and Kinzinger for investigating January 6 and not condemning Trump for causing January 6 is absolutely demented.”

    Remember, we’re not just talking about some fringe faction in Republican politics. Today’s vote was not limited to members of the Freedom Caucus.

    This was the Republican National Committee — an entity that occasionally likes to say it’s emphasizing “party unity” in an election year — going after two of their own, both of whom are lifelong Republicans with conservative voting records.

    The fact remains, however, that Cheney and Kinzinger agreed to examine the most serious attack on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812, and they’ve shown resistance to their party’s slide toward authoritarianism. For that, today, they paid an unnecessary price.


  84. says

    Followup to comments 93 and 97.

    […] The resolution may be intended to condemn Cheney and Kinzinger, but what it does is absolutely erase any scrap of legitimacy for the RNC.

    As The New York Times reports, in the days immediately following the Jan. 6 assault, Republican leaders in Congress were quick to condemn the violence. But the Republican National Committee under chair Ronna McDaniel has become ever more radical and welcomes only those who pledge their full allegiance to Trump, and only Trump.

    This was, after all, the party that failed to produce a platform in 2020, settling instead for a default policy of whatever Trump says.

    […] the RNC action serves to underscore the fact that the current GOP is about Trump, and only Trump. It has no goals. It has no plans. It’s just involved in smacking down whoever fails to bow deeply enough this week.

    And considering that Trump condemned Lindsey Graham as a “RINO” for opposing the idea of giving Jan. 6 defendants a blanket pardon, they all understand that anyone could find themselves in the crosshairs at any time.

    Not every Republican is anxious to do a Ted Cruz crawl.

    On Friday, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted his support for Cheney and Kinzinger, writing that “Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.” He also wrote that “Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience,” but he failed to mention either McDaniel or Trump.

    What’s worrying Republicans in D.C. is that their party has made supporting violent insurgency not just something they can ignore in the name of “moving on,” but a prerequisite of membership. […]

    Republican candidates are going to end up running in November not on some variant of “Biden is bad,” but having to actively endorse the idea that the Jan. 6 insurgency was good. The RNC is putting them in a position where they have no choice but to buy into Trump’s pardon offer if they want access to the resources and financial support of the party.

    […] On Friday afternoon, McDaniel altered the text of the resolution, changing that last section to read “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”

    That, however, is not the resolution that members of the party voted on and passed.


  85. says

    Antarctica’s Larsen B sea ice embayment has disintegrated. Land ice will empty soon.

    Sea ice attached to the Antarctic Penninsula’s Larsen B embayment shattered and disintegrated sometime between January 16 and the 21st. The vast expanse of sea ice had formed in 2011 when it fastened itself to the coastline after the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed. Once the sea ice crumbled, it took a large chunk of the Scar Inlet ice shelf with it.

    Nasa’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, a key instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites, detected the phenomenon in the photos above. [photos available at the link]

    […] the early clearing of seasonal sea ice along the Antarctic Peninsula suggests that the austral summer has been warm and wet. Scientist Rajashree Tri Datta of University of Colorado, Boulder, noted that foehn winds, influenced by a large atmospheric river, helped destabilize the ice pack. […]

    The breakup is the latest in a series of notable events in the Larsen B embayment over the past 20 years. Prior to 2002, glacial ice on the Antarctic Peninsula flowed toward the sea and fed into a vast floating ice shelf known as Larsen B. The shelf helped buttress inland tributary glaciers, pushing back against them and slowing their seaward flow. But in early 2002, the shelf abruptly fractured. With 3,250 square kilometers (1,250 square miles) of ice suddenly gone, glaciers thinned and flowed more quickly into the open water.

    Following the collapse of Larsen B, landfast sea ice grew atop the seawater each winter and melted away entirely in most summers. But the sea ice that started to grow in late March 2011 stuck around. “It was the first time since the early 2002 shelf collapse that the Larsen B embayment was seen to freeze up and stay frozen through multiple austral summers,” said Christopher Shuman, a NASA/UMBC glaciologist. The sea ice retreated slightly at its edges during summers, and its surface occasionally became coated with blue meltwater, but the ice persisted until this January.

    Satellite images of the often-cloudy region show the breakup occurred between January 19-21, 2022. Sea ice splintered and floated away from the coast, along with icebergs from the fronts of Crane Glacier and its neighbors to the north and south. Shuman thinks strong outflows of ice from the Flank and Leppard tributary glaciers likely widened a rift that led the Scar Inlet Ice Shelf—the southern remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf—to shed several large icebergs.

    Compared to a massive ice shelf (like the original Larsen B), sea ice adjacent to land is less effective at holding back the seaward flow of glaciers, but it still plays a role. This summer’s breakup of the sea ice in the embayment is important because—unlike the meltwater from an ice shelf, icebergs, and sea ice (already floating)—the meltwater from a glacier adds to the ocean’s volume and contributes directly to sea level rise. With the sea ice now gone, “the likelihood is that backstress will be reduced on all glaciers in the Larsen B Embayment and that additional inland ice losses will be coming soon,” Shuman said.

    Foehn winds are dry, warm, downslope winds described by wiki as “a rain shadow wind that results from the subsequent adiabatic warming of air that has dropped most of its moisture on windward slopes. Due to the different adiabatic lapse rates of moist and dry air, the air on the leeward slopes becomes warmer than equivalent elevations on the windward slopes.” [video available at the link]

    With the loss of the sea ice, the small glaciers on the NE region of the peninsula no longer have any buttressing to hold back the small glaciers in the area from emptying in the sea. Glaciers at Larsen A shelf have already thinned and drained into the sea. They are known as ghost glaciers. According to Nasa, these glaciers at Larsen B will also dump their land ice into the Weddel Sea.

    Both Larsen A and B disintegrated over the past 30 years, and they were 12,000 years old. Larsen C has begun to show signs of collapse, while Larsen D recently calved a large piece of its ice shelf. The Antarctic peninsula is the fastest-warming area on the continent.

    Warm moist weather that was once unheard of on the peninsula melted and destabilized Larsen B bay. The crisis is here. […]

    More at the link.

  86. says

    New Decoding the Gurus – “Special Episode: Joe Rogan ‘Sorry, not Sorry'”:

    To cap off our impromptu mini-series focusing on the Rogan-verse we take a critical look at Joe’s short (non) apology video responding to the Spotify controversy surrounding his recent episodes with Robert Malone & Peter McCullough. In it we get to see a charming Joe Rogan being humble and compromising, while standing firm to explain why his critics have got him all wrong. He’s not some hardline anti-vaccine advocate with an agenda to spread covid misinformation, he’s just a normal guy who likes to have interesting conversations and hear from both sides(tm) on controversial topics. Joe’s certainly on the charm offensive and he’s already won plaudits from the heterodox for doing the right thing but are these really deserved? And how well does what Joe says hold up when you look at it critically? We do what few will bother and compare & contrast how Joe describes what he does vs. what he actually does and says in his content. And we find a few discrepancies that seem worth mentioning.This will be our last dip into the Rogan-verse for the next while but we would encourage anyone who wants more to go back to our episodes on Rogan & Jocko Willink or the combined episode on Robert Malone & Peter McCullough.Whether you are a fan of Rogan or a critic, we hope you can find something useful in our critical evaluation and we will back soon with a full length decoding….

    It’s great, and I recommend it, but I have the same criticisms as always. The “real” problem is Rogan’s vaccine/public health disinformation, but his comedy/fighting/hunting/etc. stuff is all cool. And the positive responses of people like Shermer and Sullivan are just ill-informed and “disappointing.” No. I think some people (including in a recent Guardian podcast) have lost track of how being a white cis dude can blind you to the harms caused by many of these propagandists, even when they’re not actively pushing anti-vax, pro-quackery lies. Perhaps these podcasts should have more experts on who can speak to the racist, sexist, speciesist, homophobic, transphobic, fatphobic, classist, Christianist aspects of this propaganda and how it all relates to the science denialism. (Also people who can talk about the supplement-hawking!)

    I think Rogan in his video says something (paraphrasing) like “No hard feelings towards Joni Mitchell. Love her music. ‘Chuck E’s in Love’ is a great song.” I have no idea if this is supposed to be some kind of dig, but “Chuck E’s in Love” is by the stupendous Rickie Lee Jones. This is the amazing Joni Mitchell.

  87. says

    Mike Pence goes there: ‘President Trump is wrong’

    Mike Pence said today, “President Trump is wrong.” I didn’t even realize Republicans were allowed to utter those four words together.

    Lightening did not strike Pence. He did not implode. He stepped over a bar so low it was lying on the ground. He gave voice to a simple fact.

    It was Sunday night when Donald Trump broke new ground, issuing a written statement in which the former president admitted what he actually wanted to see happen on Jan. 6: Then-Vice President Mike Pence, Trump wrote, “could have overturned the Election!” The former president added that it was “unfortunate” that Pence didn’t “change the results of the election.”

    Two days later, Trump went so far as to suggest Congress investigate his own vice president for failing to go along with his anti-election efforts.

    Today, as NBC News reported, the Indiana Republican responded in public.

    Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday rejected former President Donald Trump’s claim that he could have “overturned” the results of the 2020 election, saying, “The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.” While Pence had previously resisted calling out his former boss by name, he did not hold back in a speech to the Federalist Society in Orlando.

    “I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong,” Pence said.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the former vice president has used similar rhetoric before.

    “[T]here are those in our party who believe that, in my position as presiding officer over the joint session, that I possessed the authority to reject or return electoral votes certified by the states,” Pence said in remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in June 2021. “But the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority before the joint session of Congress.

    “And the truth is,” he continued, “there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.”

    The difference between these remarks and today’s speech is the specificity. In June, Pence referenced generic Republicans who’ve pushed a misguided idea. Today, he said, “President Trump is wrong” — and I didn’t even realize Republicans were still allowed to utter those four words together.

    To the extent that reality plays any role in this dispute, the facts are obviously on Pence’s side. Trump’s repeated insistence that a vice president has the authority to “overturn” election results is utterly bonkers, even for him, and his former vice president was right to acknowledge the truth today.

    […] He’s now conceded on multiple occasions that a vice president can’t unilaterally reject election results his/her party doesn’t like.

    And while I’m glad to hear him say it, let’s also acknowledge what Pence hasn’t said: The 2020 presidential election was entirely fair; allegations of widespread fraud are demonstrably ridiculous; and those who question the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency are peddling a delusional fantasy.

    Instead of stating these plain truths, Pence spent last year raising unfounded and unfair questions about the integrity of the 2020 results. Even today at the Federalist Society event, the former vice president was willing to say Trump was wrong, but only about the electoral process, not about the election results.

    In other words, Pence is still trying to walk a fine line: He won’t fully reject his party’s election lies, but he will reject overturning elections on the basis of lies.

    That makes him more responsible than Trump, but only marginally.

  88. says


    People with Medicare will be able to obtain up to eight over-the-counter Covid-19 tests a month for free starting in early spring, the Biden administration said Thursday. Under the plan, Medicare will directly pay certain pharmacies and other participating entities, allowing people with Medicare or Medicare Advantage to pick up the tests for free.

  89. lumipuna says

    The Winter Olympics have now officially started. Here’s my general impression of the Olympic games as they have unfolded during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Tokyo 2020-21: Since delaying the games by a year didn’t help us dodge the pandemic, the only solution now is to just push through with it, against all common sense, by turning the usual Olympic circus into a miserable security theater in a futile attempt to pretend the games can be fully isolated from the realities of Covid-19. This farce will surely mark a historical low point in the image of the Olympic movement.

    Beijing 2022: Hold my torch.

  90. lumipuna says

    Re 74 (The Guardian on the Ottawa protest):

    The pandemic – and the public health restrictions that came with it – have brought together a number of disparate movements and ideologies, including far-right and separatist groups.

    “The pushback to government overreach or public health policies brought QAnon, the Proud Boys and ‘sovereign citizens’ or anti-government people into the same room,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a researcher into extremism and populism movements at Queen’s University. On Thursday, Romana Didulo, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Canada” arrived in Ottawa along with her supporters. Didulo, a QAnon linked conspiracy theorist, was recently arrested after calling on her 70,000 online supporters to shoot health-care workers.

    “These groups have proven they can mobilize very quickly and actually get people to give up their lives and go on a trip across the country, which is not an easy thing to do in the middle of winter,” said Amarasingam. “But I’ve been thinking about where all this energy goes when, inevitably, nothing happens, because their goals are so lofty that they’re never going to be met. How do they actually get out of this and save face?”

    This clown show has now inspired a smaller copycat “convoy demonstration” here in Finland. It started yesterday evening in central Helsinki, with a crowd of pedestrian and car protesters blocking one of the main streets for several hours. Admittedly, traffic was already slow due to blizzard conditions, and most people were staying home due to the weather and covid.

    According to the protest plan, traffic obstruction in this one spot in front of the Parliament House will continue for 12 hours a day until next Wednesday. Some drivers already tried to stay overnight blocking the street with their cars, but police the towed then away. There were around 1,000 pedestrians (some of whom were arrested last night) but relatively few vehicles and almost no trucks or other large vehicles. Today, the protest crowd seems laughably small and the street hasn’t been apparently blocked yet (4 hours into today’s protest).

    The protest group demands “end of all covid restrictions, lower fuel tax and a snap election for new parliament”. The movement started with opposing a (recently introduced) vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, then quickly branched into generic covid crankery and gas price resentment. In my general impression, most people in the movement are either Christian conservative weirdos, attention-seeking grifters or just bored people who get excited easily.

  91. Akira MacKenzie says

    Once again, fascist, redneck trash get their way while useless liberals wring their hands about what to do about them.

  92. says

    House Republicans found a voting right they want to protect: Voting while unvaccinated!

    It is impossible to come up with any satiric take on Republican lawmaker priorities that would not soon be overtaken by priorities even more ridiculous than what you came up with. Now that the party has decided that their most important role is to make sure government does absolutely nothing, and during each new crisis does even less than that, House and Senate Republicans have a lot of free time on their hands.

    And if you’re a Republican lawmaker with a lot of free time on your hands, there’s no way you’re not going to use it on performative do-nothing nonsense that you can write a too-gaudy press release about.

    Welcome to the latest round of performative nonsense. House Republicans, who have blasted every attempt to protect voting rights put before them, backed on the Senate side by a portrait of a Confederate general come to life and deep into exploring his humiliation fetish, Ted Cruz.

    Sen. Cruz found a voting cause to rally around: A new bill that ensures Americans can enter polling places without having to show proof of vaccination. While Republicans may not give a single round shiny rabbit pellet about voting rights, you’d better believe they’re worked up when it comes to making sure that the pompously unvaccinated can get up and breathe in any neighborhood face they want to.

    […] Nobody associated with the bill can identify any polling place, anywhere, that has such a rule in effect. It’s not a thing. Nobody’s introducing bills to keep unvaccinated Americans out of polling places because, uh, it’s really just not a thing.

    That’s why every pandemic-era adjustment to typical state voting procedures has been to allow other people to vote without coming into extended contact with other people. Vote-by-mail efforts were expanded. Drive-through voting places allowed voters to fill out ballots in their own cars. The use of drop-box ballot collection expanded to allow voters to submit absentee ballots from more locations and with no long polling lines to wait in.

    These accommodations were all made so that Americans could vote without exposing themselves to dozens or hundreds of other people in the same voting location—and they’re all now being banned, in large portions of the country, in furious efforts by Republicans to funnel American voters back into the long polling lines that the Republican Party has regularly used as means of lowering turnout in hostile districts.

    While state Republicans are scrambling to erase every pandemic safety measure devised and shove voters back into polling lines, it seems House Republicans (and Ted Cruz) want to work hardest to ensure that those voters get exposed to illness whether they like it or not. Sure, that makes sense. And if this is a problem that does not actually exist and is never expected to exist, that just makes it easier to propose, right?

    […] Anyway, this bill isn’t going anywhere because the House has things to debate based on actual things that are actually happening there’s surely a new post office opening somewhere. But it wasn’t meant to go anywhere. It’s fodder for fundraising letters: Here we are, the House Republicans who aided and abetted an attempted coup, protecting the not-endangered rights of COVID-19’s most favored tour guides. […]

  93. says


    It is impossible to come up with any satiric take on Republican lawmaker priorities that would not soon be overtaken by priorities even more ridiculous than what you came up with. Now that the party has decided that their most important role is to make sure government does absolutely nothing, and during each new crisis does even less than that, House and Senate Republicans have a lot of free time on their hands.

    And if you’re a Republican lawmaker with a lot of free time on your hands, there’s no way you’re not going to use it on performative do-nothing nonsense that you can write a too-gaudy press release about.

    Welcome to the latest round of performative nonsense. House Republicans, who have blasted every attempt to protect voting rights put before them, backed on the Senate side by a portrait of a Confederate general come to life and deep into exploring his humiliation fetish, Ted Cruz.

    Sen. Cruz found a voting cause to rally around: A new bill that ensures Americans can enter polling places without having to show proof of vaccination. While Republicans may not give a single round shiny rabbit pellet about voting rights, you’d better believe they’re worked up when it comes to making sure that the pompously unvaccinated can get up and breathe in any neighborhood face they want to.

    There is, The American Independent points out, one minor problem with the new bill. Nobody associated with the bill can identify any polling place, anywhere, that has such a rule in effect. It’s not a thing. Nobody’s introducing bills to keep unvaccinated Americans out of polling places because, uh, it’s really just not a thing.

    That’s why every pandemic-era adjustment to typical state voting procedures has been to allow other people to vote without coming into extended contact with other people. Vote-by-mail efforts were expanded. Drive-through voting places allowed voters to fill out ballots in their own cars. The use of drop-box ballot collection expanded to allow voters to submit absentee ballots from more locations and with no long polling lines to wait in.

    These accommodations were all made so that Americans could vote without exposing themselves to dozens or hundreds of other people in the same voting location—and they’re all now being banned, in large portions of the country, in furious efforts by Republicans to funnel American voters back into the long polling lines that the Republican Party has regularly used as means of lowering turnout in hostile districts.

    While state Republicans are scrambling to erase every pandemic safety measure devised and shove voters back into polling lines, it seems House Republicans (and Ted Cruz) want to work hardest to ensure that those voters get exposed to illness whether they like it or not. Sure, that makes sense. And if this is a problem that does not actually exist and is never expected to exist, that just makes it easier to propose, right?

    Next up: A bill allowing voters to ride wild alligators into polling booths if they damn well feel like it, followed by a bill demanding the arrest of all undocumented Martians. And Sen. Ron Paul will probably sponsor both, now that Ted Cruz has, for the moment, jumped ahead of him in the Pointless Waste of Time competition.

    Anyway, this bill isn’t going anywhere because the House has things to debate based on actual things that are actually happening—there’s surely a new post office opening somewhere. But it wasn’t meant to go anywhere. It’s fodder for fundraising letters: Here we are, the House Republicans who aided and abetted an attempted coup, protecting the not-endangered rights of COVID-19’s most favored tour guides.

    I’m a little curious as to whether other Americans will be turned away from polling booths if they, oh, let’s say they wear masks, which would no doubt make it harder for poll workers to make sure they’re really the people on the identification cards that Republican-backed state laws insist are absolutely required for voting. I’m also a little curious as to whether those same Republicans will pass new laws stating that COVID-infected Republicans get to personally spit in every voter’s mouth, as liberty demands, and whether Sam Alito and five others on the Supreme Court will not only back those laws but insist that they themselves get to do the spitting. But we’ll just have to wait and see. [video available at the link]

    Transcript, via Media Matters:

    ADAM CAROLLA (GUEST): Here’s a quick thought experiment: if AOC was fat and in her 60s, would anyone listen to another thing she ever said?

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Oh, boy. You’re going to step in that one. What do you — what exactly do you mean by that? You mean, is it because she’s young and — what?

    CAROLLA: Yes, she’s young, she’s vibrant, she’s beautiful, and everyone’s always putting a camera and a mic in her face. But her opinions are idiotic 95 percent of the time. And I don’t think, if she was a middle-aged heavyset woman, anyone would care what she had to say.

    HANNITY: I’m not so sure I agree. Now, I will say this: you can criticize her ideas — and I do, I think the Green New Deal is madness and insanity — but she’s got the whole Democratic Party following her. In my opinion, she’s way more powerful than Speaker Pelosi. And if she and the squad decide Speaker Pelosi’s out, I think she could probably be speaker. If she challenges Chuck Schumer in New York, I think she has a good shot at beating him. Maybe I’m wrong.

    CAROLLA: Look, I agree with you. I’m just saying, if she was fat and old I don’t think TMZ would be chasing her around with a camera.

    Imagine being so ridiculous that the (relative) voice of reason is Sean Hannity.

    One thing that seems worth pointing out here is that the same people who like AOC also like a variety of people who are not exactly supermodels, and the thing they all seem to have in common is that they would like people to have health care and fair wages and would not like to set the planet on fire. That tends to be the common denominator there.

    What is, however, plainly obvious, is that a whole lot of the fury towards Ocasio-Cortez — from both Republicans and certain Democrats — is obviously rooted in the fact that she is in fact gorgeous, and not in the blandly attractive way that other nice-looking politicians tend to be. She’s also extremely smart and passionate about what she believes in, so there are a lot of confused boners and jealous people out there.

    That being said, if Ocasio-Cortez were “fat” or “60 years old” and also getting a lot of attention for her views and ideas, it’s hard to say that the Attention Police would be any easier on her. Roseanne Barr may be off the rails now, but I remember how much rage she inspired in people when I was growing up, due to the fact that she was loud and took up space and was not considered to be a great beauty — while I saw men be celebrated for the same things — and it just made me so, so mad. It’s a feeling that has stuck with me my whole life. And let’s not forget people absolutely losing their minds over Rosie O’Donnell for similar reasons. Or Maxine Waters. I can name a whole lot of women who are not young or beautiful that inspire a similar fury. The viewing public gets very mad whenever an overweight woman is considered by others to be beautiful or an actress known for romantic comedies doesn’t mysteriously disappear after the age of 40.

    One of the worst public crimes you can commit as a woman is believing you have more value than certain people think you have or more right to take up space than those people think you deserve.

    I can honestly say that I don’t think that Adam Carolla would pay as much attention to AOC if she weren’t gorgeous, but Adam Carolla is also an asshole who doesn’t really value women to begin with, and would very likely be unable to see any value in a 60-year-old woman or woman he considered “fat,” or, indeed, any woman who would be uninterested in jumping on a trampoline in a bikini for him.

    Perhaps he’s angry that he’s not getting as much attention as he feels he deserves, and that not enough people are paying attention to what he says, thus forcing him to spend the entire last decade blaming his own irrelevance on gay people and college students.

    Wonkette link

  94. says

    Washington Post Editorial Board: “If you thought Republicans were done trying to make it harder to vote, you were wrong.”

    It is 2022, and Republicans are stuck in a time warp — still hung up on the 2020 presidential vote.

    Regarding one point about that election, no one should forget. For the first time in modern U.S. history, a major presidential candidate refused to accept a valid decision by the American people. New revelations about defeated incumbent Donald Trump’s determination to overturn the vote in his presidency’s waning days continue to surface. They include his interest, thankfully never acted on, in ordering federal agents to seize voting machines. The House Jan. 6 committee continues its work to document how Mr. Trump’s lies instigated an attack on the Capitol.

    Mr. Trump continues to lie about his loss and demand that other Republicans do the same, just this week declaring that Congress should investigate former vice president Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the 2020 vote. Many are acceding to him and to a GOP base that polls would indicate has bought into his alternate version of reality. Whipped up against supposedly rampant election fraud that does not exist, Republican state lawmakers are continuing their anti-democratic efforts to crimp access to the ballot box, as new legislative sessions get underway across the country.

    Arizona Republicans last year cracked down on absentee voting and ran a shambolic partisan “audit” of Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 win there — which found the count to be sound. They have nevertheless proposed a raft of new voting bills. One would ban automatic voter registration. Another would eviscerate mail-in voting and empower the legislature to reject primary and general election results. Under the proposal, if state lawmakers chose to reject the count, they could force a new election.

    In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last year blocked GOP voting bills, so Republicans are attempting to use an unusual provision in the state constitution that would permit the legislature to impose restrictions over Ms. Whitmer’s opposition. They would create strict new voter ID requirements, call for an Arizona-like “forensic audit” of the 2020 vote and bar voting officials from proactively distributing absentee ballot applications.

    In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wants to create an election police force under his control to hunt down voting crimes — the likely result of which would be to intimidate people doing legitimate election work. Georgia Republicans, who last year passed a wide-ranging voting restriction bill, have proposed forbidding ballot drop boxes. In Pennsylvania, GOP lawmakers have called for banning no-excuse absentee voting, which many have used during the pandemic.

    Even in Virginia, where the GOP won substantial victories last November under the state’s current rules, Republicans want a crackdown, filing bills to ban drop boxes, reimpose voter ID requirements, cut the early voting window, eliminate the permanent absentee list and repeal same-day registration.

    Not every one of these bills will become law, particularly in states, such as Virginia, in which Democrats maintain some power. But their existence shows Republicans’ anti-democratic drift. It also exposes their lack of faith in their ability to win by appealing to a diverse and growing electorate with their candidates and their policies. Mr. Trump might be an instigator, but many more in the party are accomplices in his campaign to undermine U.S. democracy for partisan gain.

    Washington Post link

  95. says

    Guardian – “Joe Rogan apologises for repeated use of N-word after footage emerges”:

    The podcast host Joe Rogan has offered “sincere and humble apologies” after footage emerged of him repeatedly using the N-word on his hit show.

    The comedian, 54, who has a lucrative deal with the streaming giant Spotify, said it was the “most regretful and shameful thing” he has ever had to speak about, but stressed the clips were “taken out of context”.

    Rogan has come under fire recently for sharing coronavirus misinformation on his hugely popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.

    Prominent musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have withdrawn their music from the service over its decision to continue hosting the show, which was reportedly acquired for more than $100m (£77m) in 2020.

    The musician India Arie has also announced she would leave the streaming service in protest, saying she objected to Rogan’s “language around race”.

    She shared an edited compilation of clips of Rogan using the N-word more than 20 times on her Instagram account.

    Addressing the montage in a video posted on his own Instagram account, Rogan said: “I’m making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.

    Rogan also addressed a clip that Arie shared of him telling an anecdote in which he appeared to compare being around black people with the film Planet of the Apes.

    Spotify has quietly been removing episodes of Rogan’s podcast, of which there are over 1,500, from the platform, according to JRE Missing, a web-tool tracking removed episodes. Spotify removed over 70 episodes of the show on Saturday, though the company has not commented on the removals.

    It is not the first time Spotify has removed episodes of the podcast. Last year, when Rogan first signed his deal with Spotify, he alluded to a batch of about 40 episodes that the platform removed, including some featuring far-right activists like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.

    “There were a few episodes they didn’t want on their platform,” he told a guest last spring. “I was like ‘OK, I don’t care.’”

    More at the link.

  96. says

    Yahoo! News – “Doski Azad wanted to live life as a trans woman in Iraq. But her estranged brother flew from Europe to murder her in a transphobic ‘honor killing,’ sources say.”:

    Doski Azad didn’t turn up to a scheduled meeting, which was out of character, one of her friends told Insider.

    The 23-year-old transgender woman, a makeup artist in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, was usually very reliable, she said.

    The friend knew something was up, but she couldn’t have anticipated the shocking call she received two days later.

    “I found out Doski was brutally murdered,” she said.

    Azad’s body was found on Monday afternoon in a village on the outskirts of Duhok. She had been shot in the head and chest, a day or two before the corpse was discovered, Dohuk police said.

    An image reviewed by Insider showed that Azad’s hands had been tied together, and her body had been left in a shallow ditch.

    Police became aware of the body’s whereabouts after a tipoff from a relative, the Kurdish media outlet Rudaw reported.

    The same relative told police that it was a sibling who had killed her, the report said.

    Her estranged brother Chakdar, who spent the past eight years living in western Europe, is the only suspect in the murder, police said on Kurdish television.

    People familiar with the matter told Insider that he traveled to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq with the sole intent of murdering his sister.

    The murder is being described as an “honor killing,” and discrimination was “undoubtedly” at the root of it, the US Consulate General in Erbil said on Thursday.

    Azad had a difficult relationship with her family after she came out as trans years ago, a close friend who wished to remain anonymous told Insider.

    Being a traditional family in a religiously conservative area meant that many relatives chose not to accept her, the friend said.

    She added, “Some of her family threatened to kill her a few times.”

    Fearful for her safety, Azad left her family home five years ago and moved into an apartment by herself in Dohuk city center.

    There, she worked as a makeup artist at a local salon, had many friends, and wanted to live an ordinary life, her friend said.

    “She was a peaceful and popular person who never wanted to see anyone sad,” she added.

    But years after moving out, Azad continued to receive sporadic bursts of transphobic abuse from her brother and a cousin.

    IraQueer, an Iraqi LGBTQ advocacy group, said Azad notified the organization several times that she was being harassed by her relatives.

    Azad’s “honor killing” was motivated by transphobia, which is prevalent in Iraq, an activist with IraQueer told Insider.

    “Her brother came and he killed her because she broke the rules of patriarchy,” said the activist, who asked to remain anonymous. “In the Iraqi concepts of community and manhood, you cannot give up on your masculinity to become a woman because that is seen as degrading.”

    Honor killings are a practice in which people, seemingly seeking to protect the dignity of their families, murder their family members, primarily women or girls.

    But members of LGBTQ communities are also targeted, particularly in homophobic societies. Insider reported on the honor killing of Alireza Fazeli Monfared, a young gay man in Iran, who was murdered last year.

    Pishkoo Zandi, a human-rights activist, told Insider that these sorts of murders usually go unreported in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region because queer people are treated as invisible.

    Insider understands that police are investigating the murder of Azad, and officers believe her brother has fled to Belgium, Germany, or Turkey.

    Two people familiar with the situation told Insider that Kurdish police were cooperating with Interpol, the international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation, to locate and arrest him….

  97. says

    Guardian – “Trans kids’ activism kept discriminatory bills at bay in South Dakota – until now”:

    South Dakota state senator Wayne Steinhauer got to know Elliot James Vogue, a transgender teen in his district, over the course of two years. Vogue shared his dreams for the future with the lawmaker, and transitioned — both in gender and age — before Steinhauer’s eyes.

    But last month, Steinhauer — who previously played a key part in halting anti-trans legislation — voted for Senate Bill 46, banning trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in the state. The senate passed the bill 26-7, and the house followed suit, voting 50-17 to advance it. Gov. Kristi Noem inked SB 46 into law on Thursday.

    Vogue, who moved to Iowa for college, was unable to testify against SB 46.

    In the past eight years, the state has considered 34 bills that would limit the rights of LGBTQ+ people, the majority of them aimed at trans kids, according to the ACLU of South Dakota.

    Year after year, kids like Vogue have piled into cars and buses bound for Pierre, the state capital. They have knocked at the doors of their senators and representatives, sat on the floors during crowded committee hearings with their parents and called legislative offices week after week.

    “Some of these youth have fought these bills every year of their entire adolescence,” said Carl Charles, an attorney for Lambda Legal who challenges anti-trans bills in court. “You can no longer say you don’t know any young people in this situation.”

    Advocates say that sets South Dakota apart from other states. It is also, they say, what makes SB 46’s passage so significant.

    SB 46 looks a lot like other bills passed over the past two years that aim to block transgender kids, trans girls in particular, from playing sports. From Texas to Montana, nine other such bills have passed in states across the US since the start of 2020, part of a wave of hundreds of other anti-trans bills that have been proposed throughout the country.

    Noem specifically requested South Dakota’s bill. In her state of the state address this January, she argued for making the rule state law.

    “Freedom and liberty are about self-determination and the right to achieve — to reach our fullest potential,” Noem said. “But there is a troubling movement in our society. Our young girls are having their freedom to achieve taken away by schools and organizations that are changing the rules of the game in competition.”

    Trans youth in South Dakota helped successfully defeated bill after bill for eight years by showing up at the statehouse, introducing themselves to the Republican-dominated general assembly and stepping up to the mic to testify.

    Republicans hold power in the Senate, House and the governor’s mansion. But South Dakota’s trans community is particularly organized. Trans youth and their parents have found community and support through the local nonprofit the Transformation Project. That community has made themselves known in recent years, going toe-to-toe with anti-LGBTQ+ activists at every turn.

    For many advocates, the passage of SB 46 changes the game, Charles said.

    “Some of the talking points over the years with regard to trans people and our rights has been, ‘Well, if people can just get to know trans people … then these things wouldn’t happen, these bills wouldn’t pass,”’ Charles said. “The sobering piece of this for us is in some cases that’s just not going to be true.”

    Libby Skarin, campaigns director for the ACLU of South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming, said South Dakota’s trans rights advocates had surprised the nation by winning their fights every time since 2014.

    “No one thought South Dakota was a state where this could be stopped,” Skarin said. “I think the fact that we have consistently stopped these bills has been a source of hope for folks, like if they can do it in South Dakota, we can do it in our state.”

    But Skarin said the odds in 2022 were simply too great for advocates, trans kids and their parents.

    Threats of boycotts and costly litigation have often halted anti-LGBTQ+ bills at the 11th hour….

    It’s too early to know if the sports bills will have economic consequences. Trans advocates have criticized new rules adopted by the NCAA for transgender athletes which allow each sport to determine eligibility of trans athletes.

    Noem faced intense backlash over last year’s veto from conservatives. Last March, she issued executive orders barring trans girls from playing sports with other girls. In the interim, other states led the way on passing anti-trans sports bills.

    Advocates worry that the bill will have disastrous consequences for gender-diverse youth in the state….

    Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley, Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota, has worked with two-spirit youth for 20 years. Around 9% of the state’s population is indigenous. (Two-spirit is a term used by some Indigenous people to describe gender diverse people.) Last year, Stanley testified and told lawmakers that if they passed such a bill, she wanted them to attend the next funeral she would have to preside over for a two-spirit youth.

    “It’s hard enough being Native in this state where you’re a targeted minority anyway,” she said. “But to be a two-spirited youth in this state, and to have the legislature spend all this time talking about how evil you are and telling you you can’t use a bathroom and you can’t play a sport, is a mind-bending oppression.”

    More at the link.

  98. says

    Wonkette: “Dan Bongino’s Schtick Tragically Murdered By Actual Statistics”

    Last night, on his Fox News show “Unfiltered,” Dan Bongino promised to show us all A Tale of Two Americas.

    In one America, jobs are plentiful, health care is solid, education is A+, and in the other, the exact opposite. The latter, as per Bongino, are “Democrat-run cities.” And boy was he ever excited about this theory! He even trotted out a really cool graphic (graphic available at the link) showing that the most unhealthy cities in America were cities like San Francisco and Portland and Denver and Austin and the other Portland.

    “You look at some of the health outcomes in these inner cities the Democrats have run monopolistically for decades, and you stand a pretty darn good chance of dying in one of these inner cities,” he exclaimed, full of pathos. “Far more likely, than if you lived in an areas where they gave a damn about people and their healthcare outcomes.” [video available at the link, with a banner that reads "I LOVE DONALD TRUMP"]

    If this all sounds pretty suspicious to you, and like the exact opposite of what would be true, it is. As Twitter user Acyn pointed out [tweet available at the link], someone in Bongino’s graphics department got it very, very wrong and accidentally made him a map of the healthiest cities in the US — according to the source he cited, Wallethub. Not only that, but they managed to confuse Irving, Texas, for Irvine, California.

    Whoops! The actual ten least healthy cities on that list make the exact opposite of the point Bongino was trying to make.

    Toledo, OH
    Lubbock, TCX
    Huntington, WV
    Jackson, MS
    Fort Smith, AR
    Montgomery, AL
    Memphis, TN
    Shreveport, LA
    Gulfport, MS
    Laredo, TX
    Brownsville, TX

    Apparently someone caught it because during the second airing, they replaced the map with stock footage of unhoused people. Because yes, there are more unhoused people in urban areas — and that is not because of governance, but because of the very obvious fact that it’s slightly easier to survive there than it would be in an area where everything is spaced out and there is no public transportation. Duh.

    I understand how thrilling it must have been for Dan Bongino to see that list of cities and get to go off about how they don’t care about people’s health in these cities — pointing to the fact that the people keep electing Democrats and never give Republicans a chance, probably just because the people who live there don’t want them coming in and taking their reproductive rights away and letting the cops declare open season on Black people. He must have been thrilled.

    I, however, am not thrilled by the fact that the other cities are not “healthy,” just because they are in Republican states, because I’m not a sociopath.

    The really unfortunate thing about this is that lack of jobs, lack of access to health care, and lack of educational opportunities are all actually pretty serious issues in rural America, that should not be ignored. There are not enough hospitals in those areas and when people have a serious emergency, they frequently end up having to use air ambulances, which are freakishly expensive and rarely covered by insurance. They start at $12,000. That alone could bankrupt most people.

    It’s also worth noting that many of these same areas have astoundingly high maternal and infant mortality rates. Mississippi, for instance. And they could bring those numbers down if they expanded Medicaid, but they won’t do that. They will, however, expand the number of people who die in childbirth by outlawing abortion.

    Republicans who, quite frankly, do not live in these areas either, like to pretend they’re Mayberry or something, where everyone knows your name, comes to your aid when you need support, and there’s a town doctor who makes house calls and has known you since you were born. That’s not a thing anymore. These places are struggling, and pretending there are not problems there because one wants to “own” the libs is revolting and cruel.


  99. says

    That orange, narcissistic, ignorant asshole strikes again:” ‘He never stopped ripping things up’: Inside Trump’s relentless document destruction habits”

    Washington Post link

    Trump’s shredding of paper in the White House was far more widespread and indiscriminate than previously known and — despite multiple admonishments — extended throughout his presidency.

    […] Trump tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane.

    […] He left the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study and on the floor aboard Air Force One, among many other places.

    And he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents.

    “It is absolutely a violation of the act,” said Courtney Chartier, president of the Society of American Archivists. “There is no ignorance of these laws. There are White House manuals about the maintenance of these records.”

    Although glimpses of Trump’s penchant for ripping were reported earlier in his presidency — by Politico in 2018 — the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection has shined a new spotlight on the practice. The Washington Post reported that some of the White House records the National Archives and Records Administration turned over to the committee appeared to have been torn apart and then taped back together.

    Interviews with 11 former Trump staffers, associates and others familiar with the habit reveal that Trump’s shredding of paper was far more widespread and indiscriminate than previously known and — despite multiple admonishments — extended throughout his presidency, resulting in special practices to deal with the torn fragments. Most of these people spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of a problematic practice.

    The ripping was so relentless that Trump’s team implemented protocols to try to ensure that he was abiding by the Presidential Records Act. Typically, aides from either the Office of the Staff Secretary or the Oval Office Operations team would come in behind Trump to retrieve the piles of torn paper he left in his wake, according to one person familiar with the routine. Then, staffers from the White House Office of Records Management were generally responsible for jigsawing the documents back together, using clear tape.

    The Presidential Records Act requires that the White House preserve all written communication related to a president’s official duties — memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other material — and turn it over to the National Archives.

    Typically, the White House records office makes decisions on archival vs. non-archival materials, according to an Archives official. The Presidential Records Act lays out a process allowing a president to dispose of records only after obtaining the assent of records officials.

    It is unclear how many records were lost or permanently destroyed through Trump’s ripping routine, as well as what consequences, if any, he might face. Hundreds of documents, if not more, were likely torn up, those familiar with the practice say.

    “It is against the law, but the problem is that the Presidential Records Act, as written, does not have any real enforcement mechanism,” said James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association. “It’s that sort of thing where there’s a law, but who has the authority to enforce the law, and the existing law is toothless.”

    One person familiar with the National Archives process said that staff there were stunned at how many papers they received from the Trump administration that were ripped, and described it internally as “unprecedented.”

    One senior Trump White House official said he and other White House staffers frequently put documents into “burn bags” to be destroyed, rather than preserving them, and would decide themselves what should be saved and what should be burned.

    When the Jan. 6 committee asked for certain documents related to Trump’s efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence, for example, some of them no longer existed in this person’s files because they had already been shredded, said someone familiar with the request.

    Early in the administration, the torn paper became such a problem that the administration officials responsible for records management went to then-White House counsel Donald McGahn and then-deputy White House counsel Stefan Passantino, who handled ethics issues, to urge them to remind Trump and other senior West Wing staff about the importance of preserving documents to comply with the records act.

    A former senior administration official said Trump was warned about the records act by McGahn, as well as his first two chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John F. Kelly, who lamented to allies that Trump would “rip up everything,” according to a person who heard his comments. Passantino also warned other aides about preserving documents.

    […] “He didn’t want a record of anything,” a former senior Trump official said. “He never stopped ripping things up. Do you really think Trump is going to care about the records act? Come on.”

    […] people familiar with Trump’s conduct said it ran far deeper than occasionally skirting up against the boundaries of the law.
    “The biggest takeaway I have from that behavior is it reflects a conviction that he was above the law,” said presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky. “He did not see himself bound by those things.”

    […] “When something irritated him, he would tear the document,” [Michael] Cohen said. “The physical act of ripping the paper for Donald was cathartic, and it provided him a relief, as if the issue was no longer relevant. Basically, you rip the piece of paper and you’re done — that’s how Donald’s brain works.”

    […] “We don’t know how much of it was or was not successfully taped back together,” Grossman said. “Also, how much did the taxpayers pay to have a bunch of highly qualified archivists sit at a desk and tape things back together?”

  100. says

    “Are Billionaires Making Out Like Bandits?” by Paul Krugman

    New York Times link

    Did you hear about Jeff Bezos and the bridge? The Amazon billionaire’s new superyacht, under construction in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is so big that the city might have to partially take down a historic bridge so that it can reach open water. The story has quickly become a metaphor for soaring inequality, and it feeds the perception that billionaires have done very well during the Covid-19 pandemic while ordinary people have suffered.

    But is this perception accurate? It’s actually a bit complicated. Obviously we don’t need to shed any tears for Bezos; and who among us is immune to schadenfreude over Mark Zuckerberg’s recent losses? Furthermore, I still believe that substantial increases in taxes on the rich would be a very good idea.

    When you ask how different groups have done during the pandemic, however, it’s important to distinguish between wealth — which is strongly affected by, among other things, fluctuations in the stock market — and income. I’ve written about this before but can now say quite a bit more thanks to a terrific new statistical tool — Realtime Inequality — developed by economists at Berkeley. It lets us track changes in the distribution of both wealth and income in, well, real time, and it’s hugely illuminating.

    Let’s start by talking about wealth.

    The rich have, in fact, gotten considerably richer over the past two years; so, actually, have most Americans, but the gains have been especially big at the top: [chart available at the link]

    Underlying these gains have been rising asset prices. Faster growth at the top probably reflects especially large gains in the stock market; stocks are held disproportionately by the wealthy, while much middle-class wealth is in housing: [chart available at the link]

    But here’s the thing about asset prices: While they’re driven in part by the income people receive from the assets they own — dividends, rent and so on — they’re also affected by the returns investors expect on alternatives. […] a lot of the rise in asset prices actually reflects bad news, a decline in the expected rate of return on new investments.

    And if, say, the value of your stocks has gone up because of low interest rates, but the dividends you receive have stagnated or gone down, have you really come out ahead? It’s not that easy of a question to answer.

    So what has been happening to the income of the very wealthy? It’s up, but not nearly as much as their wealth — and in fact, their gains have lagged behind those of the bottom half of the population: [chart available at the link]

    Why have lower-income Americans seen relatively large income gains? (from a low base — we’re still an incredibly unequal society). Part of the answer is government aid during the pandemic: You can see that the spikes in income when stimulus checks went out and from other programs like the expanded child tax credit — which I still hope can be brought back — made a big difference.

    […] Lately we’ve been experiencing a tight labor market, which has led to rising wages — with wages increasing much faster for lower-paid workers: [chart available at the link]

    Yes, inflation has eroded these gains in real terms, although gains for workers at the bottom appear to have outpaced price increases. The point for now, however, is that a tight labor market seems to be reducing pay inequality.

    So the simple story that the pandemic has been great for the wealthy and bad for the working class doesn’t hold up. There are, of course, other ways in which the pandemic has had a hugely unequal impact; the past two years have been very different for those Americans — mostly highly educated and well paid — who could work from home than for those who couldn’t. But that’s another story.

    Is there a policy moral in all this? It’s pretty much a given that the Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates in the months ahead, in an effort to cool inflation. And it will be right to do so. Some people will, however, also be cheering on interest hikes because they tend to reduce stock prices, which makes the wealthy less wealthy — and this, they imagine, reduces economic inequality.

    Well, that’s a bad take, confusing wealth and income inequality. And if you care about the incomes of working-class Americans, you should want the Fed to be cautious about rate hikes, lest they hurt the job market. Full employment, it turns out, is a very good thing for less-well-paid workers, and we don’t want to endanger that good thing merely because we’d like to reduce the paper wealth of billionaires.

  101. says

    So there’s evidently now an anti-vax convoy of some sort in New Zealand. Their communications are being sabotaged and trolled. Some apparently were unaware that they needed a vaccine passport for the interisland ferry, and now people are mocking them on Twitter with #Dumbkirk.

    Someone tweeted recently:

    I doubt any Convoy Hero Patriot Freedom Warriors will read this, but if they do –

    The #Dumbkirk hashtag is a psy-op by Jabcinda’s gubmint trollfarms to trick you into thinking you can’t swim across the Cook Strait. Don’t fall for it. Jump in!

  102. says

    I’m so perplexed by the anti-vax Christians who’ve decided to deride people who are vaccinated and participate in public health efforts as “sheep.” The idea of Christians as sheep runs through the entire religion! “The Lord is my shepherd…,” the Lamb of God, separating the sheep from the goats,… I think there are actual pastors sharing memes denigrating people as sheep. Pastors! It’s so weird.

  103. lumipuna says

    SC – Doesn’t pastor mean literally shepherd, as in someone who works at the pasture? It’s certainly a common metaphor to frame the clergy as shepherds.

  104. says

    Meanwhile, in Canada – BBC – “Canada trucker protest: Ottawa declares emergency”:

    The mayor of Canada’s capital Ottawa has declared a state of emergency in response to more than a week of truckers’ protests against Covid restrictions.

    Jim Watson said the city was “completely out of control”, with demonstrators outnumbering police.

    He said the protests posed a threat to residents’ safety. There have also been reports of racial attacks.

    Ottawa’s centre has been paralysed, with vehicles and tents blocking roads.

    Speaking to Canadian radio station CFRA, Mr Watson said the protesters were behaving increasingly “insensitively” by continuously “blaring horns and sirens, [setting off] fireworks and turning it into a party”.

    “Clearly, we are outnumbered and we are losing this battle,” he said, adding: “This has to be reversed – we have to get our city back.”

    The mayor did not give specific details about what measures he might impose, but police said on Sunday that they would step up enforcement, including possible arrests of those seeking to aid the protesters by bringing them supplies like fuel, toilet paper and food.

    A state of emergency will give the city additional powers, including access to equipment required by frontline workers and emergency services.

    Many Ottawa residents have objected to the demonstrations.

    Complaints range from idling trucks that impede traffic and makeshift wooden structures in city parks to lost income and fears of harassment and even violence.

    Police have said they are concerned about how the convoy has attracted far-right and extremist elements, and on Sunday confirmed they were dealing with more than 60 criminal investigations, with alleged offences including “mischief, thefts, hate crimes and property damage”.

    “There have been racist signs, there have been a lot of reports of people being assaulted and harassed if they wear a mask,” Stephanie Carvon, Ottawa resident and former national security analyst for the Canadian government told the BBC.

    She added that some organisers of the protest hold extremist views but have “successfully framed their actions in the name of the pandemic and ending the mandates, so they’ve earned the sympathy of a lot of Canadians who may not necessarily realise where this has come from”….

  105. says

    Guardian – “Wit and wisdom of Germany’s anti-noise philosopher revealed to new readers”:

    In a nation of great thinkers who preferred the clean air of ivory towers over the hubbub of the streets, Theodor Lessing stood out for digging his knuckles into the dust.

    The great brawler of early 20th-century German philosophy picked fights with those he dismissed as “self-hating” fellow Jewish intellectuals, challenged the towering man-of-letters Thomas Mann to a duel, and skewered the sacred cows of the Nazis, who brutally murdered him shortly after seizing power in 1933.

    After falling into obscurity for almost a century, a newly published annotated edition of his early writings introduces a new generation to Lessing’s witty and often waspish mind, including the target of his most obsessive gripe: urban din.

    As founder of Germany’s first anti-noise society, the Jewish-German philosopher and avowed socialist campaigned against organ grinders, coachmen cracking their whips and housewives beating their carpets, expounding his pet hate in a monthly pamphlet called “Der Anti-Rüpel” (“The Anti-Lout”).

    The noise of the city, Lessing wrote with characteristic acidity, was “the revenge of those working with their hands on those head-workers who laid down their laws”: a kind of aural narcotic that dulled the mind like alcohol or drugs and prevented urban dwellers from sharp enlightened thinking.

    Published on the eve of Lessing’s 150th birthday on Tuesday , with an afterword by editor Rainer Marwedel, the two-volume, 1,920-page anthology Culture and Nerves also reminds readers that the Hanover-born malcontent was not just the “noise philosopher” his critics liked to mock, but a sharp mind who managed to see through the fog of history with a clarity few of his contemporaries could match.

    Lessing’s prickliness could also make him immune to the delusions about German cultural superiority expounded by other thinkers of his age…

    Europe’s supposedly enlightened cultural tradition, he would go on to write, had done little to protect the continent’s biodiversity: like a “cruel, merciless machine”, it had driven bears, wolves, moose and other species to extinction.

    In another essay, also written in 1930, the trained medic warned of the consequences of rainforest destruction and climate change: “Something is changing on our globe,” Lessing wrote. “There will be a change in the climate that will change many people’s ways of living, their professions and their work.”

    In the ultimate tour de force of his mocking eloquence and piercing foresight, Lessing portrayed the German president Paul von Hindenburg as a puppet of the ascendant National Socialist movement.

    Hindenburg, he wrote in an article for German-language Prager Abendblatt newspaper in 1925, was “a representative symbol, a question mark, a zero. You could say: better a zero than a Nero. Unfortunately history shows that behind a zero there will always be hiding a future Nero.”

    The article was as prophetic as it was scandalous: “For German anti-democrats, Hindenburg was effectively a placeholder for the kaiser, so to poke even gentle fun at him amounted to lèse-majesté,” said Marwedel.

    The scandal led to boycotts of Lessing’s lectures, his dismissal from teaching at Hanover’s Technical University, and eventually his death in exile: on 30 August 1933, a team of three Nazi-supporting assassins from the Sudetenland shot the philosopher through the window of his study in Marienburg, making him the first known victim of the Nazi regime in the Czech Republic.

    “If anything could be more shocking than the murder of Prof Lessing at Marienbad, it is the indecent joy with which the German press receives the news,” the Manchester Guardian commented on Lessing’s death at the time.

    “The misguided roughs who shot him were the tools of something bigger than themselves – the Nazi creed which glorifies the murder of political opponents.”

    Lessing’s spikes and bristles mean Germany’s visionary grumbler has been largely neglected by academia since his death. An open letter published shortly after the assassination, calling for donations to set up an institute in Lessing’s name and produce a complete edition of his writings, was signed by luminaries including Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell but failed to collect sufficient funds.

    Marwedel said he had funded the research for the latest volumes largely out of his own pocket. He is currently seeking funding to complete an edition of Lessing’s entire works, amounting to at least nine volumes and 3,600 pages.

  106. says

    SC @125, Oh, dear. The truckers with no trucks … and they were disorganized. So sad.

    lumipuna @123 and SC @124, good point!

    In a followup to earlier news (in comment 119): Why it matters that Trump literally tore up White House documents

    After Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address in 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could hardly contain her disgust with the then-president’s avalanche of lies. In fact, the California Democrat, seated behind Trump, was seen literally tearing her copy of the address as a way of registering her revulsion.

    Exactly two years ago today, it led [Trump] to make a bizarre claim. “[I]t’s an official document,” the then-president told reporters. “You’re not allowed. It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.”

    As legal experts — and those in touch with common sense — were quick to point out, Trump’s argument was utterly bonkers. Pelosi was handed a photocopy of a speech. She could tear it up, light it on fire, turn it into paper airplanes, or anything else she chose. There were no legal requirements forcing the Speaker to preserve the photocopy or treat it with any deference.

    But Trump’s confusion didn’t come out of nowhere. He was trying to make an argument about the Presidential Records Act, which really does create a legal requirement about the preservation and maintenance of presidential materials. It doesn’t apply to photocopies handed to other people, but the federal law does apply to all kinds of official White House documents.

    Trump knew this to be true because his aides kept telling him about the law — and they kept telling him about the law because [he] kept ignoring it.

    […] It became clear that Trump started and ended his presidency ignoring the Presidential Records Act.

    […] This morning, the Post advanced its own reporting, noting that officials with the National Archives and Records Administration had to go to Mar-a-Lago last month in order to retrieve documents — materials that were supposed to have been turned over to the records-keeping agency — that Trump had “improperly removed.”

    [Trump’s] team denied there was anything nefarious about this, though they conceded the improperly removed items included correspondence with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

    […] A lawyer who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under Barack Obama added, “Things that are national security sensitive or very clearly government documents should have been a part of a first sweep — so the fact that it’s been this long doesn’t reflect well on [Trump]. Why has it taken for a year for these boxes to get there? And are there more boxes?”

    Those need not be rhetorical questions.

    Indeed, it’s worth taking stock of why revelations like these matter. First, the Presidential Records Act exists for a reason, and it’s a problem that Trump treated it as an inconvenience to be ignored. “The only way that a president can really be held accountable long term is to preserve a record about who said what, who did what, what policies were encouraged or adopted, and that is such an important part of the long-term scope of accountability — beyond just elections and campaigns,” presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky told the Post.

    There’s also a degree of irony to all of this. Not only did Trump falsely accuse Pelosi of violating the Presidential Records Act, he also ran a presidential campaign based on accusing Hillary Clinton of not properly preserving State Department emails.

    After he won, the Republican proceeded to spend four years ignoring federal law and tearing official White House documents into pieces the size of confetti.

    But hanging overhead is the question of why Trump developed this habit. Some of the sourcing for the Post’s reporting made it sound as if it could be benign: The then-president would tear paper as a way of punctuating a conversation or a meeting.

    A more realistic explanation is that Trump — who also implored White House lawyers not to take notes around him — simply didn’t want official records of his actions, so he routinely tried to destroy documents, indifferent to the law.

    “He didn’t want a record of anything,” a former senior Trump official explained succinctly.

  107. says

    Summarized from an NBC News article:

    On the heels of legal defeats for Republicans’ gerrymandered maps in Ohio and Alabama, North Carolina’s Supreme Court rejected the state GOP’s new map on Friday afternoon.

    Good news.

  108. says

    Republican infighting in Pennsylvania:

    In the Pennsylvania Senate race, one candidate is accusing a rival of having ‘dual loyalties; to the US and a foreign country. In turn, that rival is charging his opponent with being too cozy with China. But these aren’t candidates from opposing parties. They are hedge-fund executive David McCormick and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, two of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination.

    Source is CNN.

    Dr. Oz is also being accused of “parachuting in” for the Senate race … not really being a Pennsylvvanian.

  109. says

    Followup (sort of) to comment 129.

    Josh Marshall:

    […] For much of last year people were assuming that Republican state legislatures were going to use redistricting to engineer a gerrymander that might put the House and thus functional control of the federal government out of the reach of Democrats for the next decade. But that’s not how it’s turned out. Wasserman now thinks Democrats are on track for a net 2-3 seat gain.

    Before we go any further there are critical caveats to understand here.

    First, this doesn’t mean Democrats are going to hold the House in November or even have a very good shot at it. What we’re talking about here is baseline advantage after you take cycle to cycle shifts in public opinion out of the picture. So for example, Democrats only barely held on to the House majority in 2020 with the current districts. […]

    Second, the current districts also kinda sucked. The current baseline is the 2010 redistricting process which was little short of catastrophic for Democrats. Republicans took possession of state legislatures and aggressively gerrymandered the congressional map to set the stage for their 2010 takeover of the House which lasted through 2018. Indeed, they also gerrymandered those state legislatures in ways that allowed them in some cases to maintain supermajorities at the state level even as the parties maintained rough parity in statewide elections. Wisconsin is one of several examples of this trend.

    All that said, far from the doomsaying, it looks like Democrats will basically hold their own and end up with a national map that is slightly more favorable to them than the current one. This is no fluke of course. It’s the product of an incredible amount of hard work across the country by the people who were saying how bad it might end up. It doesn’t mean the doomsaying was wrong. […] State and federal courts have been a bit less generous with Republican gerrymanders than expected – including racial gerrymanders. Republican states that had opted for commissions or other reforms held to the spirit of those reforms a bit more than expected. Democrats meanwhile pushed their advantage in the few states where they were able. New York is the key example here.

    […] in purple-trending states [Republican] advantages got harder to manage. It became harder to figure out where to put growing numbers of voters of color or white voters who were trending more liberal. […]

    All of this is important information to know and it is likely to shape the next decade of politics. But I note it this morning for a different reason. We are surrounded today by dire predictions about the future. Frankly, for good reasons. Things look dire. But these predictions are often clothed in a ‘last chance’ framework. […] you don’t know the future. Neither do I. Neither does anyone else.

    One of the greatest weaknesses of human intellection is our propensity to extrapolate the future from the present, to extend the present into the unknown tomorrow and call that assumption knowledge. We don’t know the future. This can be one of the most anxiety-provoking things about our existence. But when times are tough it’s good to remember. You don’t know the future. There are more cards in the deck than you realize.


  110. says

    Wonkette: “Police Really Need To Stop Breaking Into Black People’s Homes And Killing Them”

    Amir Rahkare Locke was fatally shot in his home last Wednesday when Minneapolis police burst into his home shortly before 7 a.m. They were executing a no-knock warrant, but wound up executing Locke. Interim police Chief Amelia Huffman said the officers used a key fob to enter the apartment and that they’d announced themselves as the police. (That usually involves a lot of shouting and tough guy speak.) The cops’ original statement was that Locke pointed a gun at the officers, so Officer Mark Hanneman opened fire. This all happened in fewer than 10 seconds.

    It’s not a shock that the police’s original statement didn’t match the bodycam footage. The cops did announce themselves, but it’s not clear Locke was even awake to hear them. He was lying on a couch under some blankets. An officer kicked the back of the couch, the worst wake-up call ever. This revealed the gun, but Locke didn’t point it at anyone, which is somewhat of a key point. The police’s original statement also described Locke as a “suspect,” but he wasn’t named in the search warrant. The more accurate description for the person the police killed was “apartment resident.”

    […] The original statement said, “Approximately nine seconds into the entry, officers encountered a male with a handgun pointed in the direction of officers.” This implies Locke was lying in wait for them like a gangster, rather than just lying on the couch like someone who’d fallen asleep watching Netflix. […]

    This keeps happening. Breonna Taylor was killed in her sleep when police burst into her home. Her boyfriend also had a gun on him. Guns make everything worse. However, it is legal for Americans to own them, and unannounced home invasions startle most people. After all, bluntly put, these no-knock warrants are often served in areas where residents have a legitimate reason to fear violent crime. No one would voluntarily choose to live next door to a drug dealer, but their financial status puts them at greater risk of the cops screwing up and killing them.

    Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, executed a no-knock warrant in 2020 on Yolanda Irving’s home, just as she was settling in to watch a TV cop drama. Instead, she received a live performance. Her 12-year-old screamed “SWAT! SWAT! SWAT!” and ran under his bed to hide. The police had grabbed and handcuffed another teen in the house.

    “When I look to the left, that is when I see the SWATs pointing their guns at me, telling me to get down,” she said. For two hours, police swarmed the apartment, searched three of her five children — including her partially paralyzed son — and threatened their dogs, said Irving, who drives a bus for special needs and homeless children for Wake County.

    About a dozen officers picked apart their home looking for money and drugs, Irving said, while she and two of her children sat on the floor with their backs against the wall. Police let her now 23-year-old son sit in his wheelchair, she said.

    They found nothing, she said.

    Turns out the police had the wrong house. Whoopsie! This isn’t like the Instacart driver dropping your groceries off at the wrong house. These “mistakes” are traumatic at best and lethal at worst. Omar Abdullah, the police detective in charge of the raid on Irving’s home, was later accused of framing more than a dozen Black men in a fake drug scheme.

    Friday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey imposed a moratorium on both the request and execution of no-knock warrants.

    “No matter what information comes to light, it won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short,” Frey said in a statement. “To ensure safety of both the public and officers until a new policy is crafted, I’m issuing a moratorium on both the request and execution of such warrants in Minneapolis.”

    There is, of course, an exception to the moratorium, and that’s when there is “an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public.” This is perversely circular logic. No-knock warrants are the imminent threat and they need to end before another Black person is killed.


  111. says

    Wonkette: “Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Campaign Bullies Teen Online, Totally Normal”

    Virginia GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin rode a wave of “critical race theory” panic to victory, and he’s spared no time demonstrating that he doesn’t care about actual American history, which involves slavery specifically, and Black people in general.

    Archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz resigned on Friday from her position as the Virginia Executive Mansion’s director of historic interpretation and education. She got the impression she was no longer welcome when she arrived to work last month and found her office emptied. A TV had been placed inside a room that was once sleeping quarters for enslaved workers. Youngkin’s staff claims this is all in service of a planned educational space for mansion visitors.

    Virginia Public Radio reports:

    Deetz had worked with a broader team aiming to tell the story of descendants of workers who once lived and worked at the site, which is the oldest continuously occupied, purpose-built governor’s residence in the U.S. Former First Lady Pam Northam was a driver in the project and helped hire Deetz, but the archeologists’ position has been unclear since Gov. Glenn Youngkin was inaugurated.

    Youngkin had already used executive orders to try to ban the teaching of any history in the state that bums out white people, so this is hardly a surprise. His predecessor, Ralph Northam, had established a commission on Black history education in 2019, not long after his own Blackface yearbook photo scandal.

    Ethan Lynne, a 17-year-old student from Virginia, tweeted Saturday, “the historian tasked with teaching about slavery at the Virginia Governors Mansion just resigned after finding the Youngkins converted her classroom into a family room – and emptied her office.” (A previous version of the VPR story repeated Deetz’s mistaken impression that the Youngkins were turning her classroom into a family room, which the governor’s staff denies.)

    In response, Youngkin’s official campaign account posted a photo of Lynne with Ralph Northam with the message, “Here’s a picture of Ethan with a man that had a Blackface/KKK photo in his yearbook.” [Tweet, with photos, is available at the link.]

    Lynne wasn’t born when Northam’s Blackface photo was published, and it seems like the Youngkin campaign’s Twitter account exposed Lynne to this history for the purpose of making him feel bad for another white person’s past actions. Youngkin has arguably violated his own CRT ban.

    Also, Black folks didn’t overlook Northam’s history because we’re hypocrites. Northam spent the last half of his term making up for his transgressions. That Blackface yearbook photo is literally a better governor than Glenn Youngkin.

    Lynne responded Sunday, “It is disgusting, disturbing, and unbecoming of the Commonwealth to see the Governor and his office stoop this low, especially on a public platform. We all know that Youngkin has an agenda to attack and endanger students, and last night proved that. I will not be intimidated by these attacks will continue to be a voice for students across the Commonwealth.”

    So said a minor, a high school student, who had been attacked on social media by the governor’s team.

    Democratic Virginia state senator L. Louise Lucas called out the Youngkin campaign for trying to smear a teenager, tweeting, “Excuse me, did this come from an official account of the Governor of Virginia?!?! Every reporter in the state needs to get on this immediately. The Governor is attacking a high school student. Governor — this is a disgrace and you owe Ethan a public apology immediately.”

    The Youngkin campaign account deleted the tweet and Youngkin mustered up an apology Monday morning. He tweeted, “On Saturday night, an unauthorized tweet came from a campaign account. I regret that this happened and it shouldn’t have. I have addressed it with my team. We must continue to work to bring Virginians together. There is so much more that unites us than divides us.”

    This doesn’t sound like someone got fired. It’s quite the muted response considering that Youngkin has set up a tipline to help “root out” teachers who remind students that racism exists. Also, that tweet might’ve been “unauthorized” — he obviously doesn’t literally approve every one that’s sent — but Youngkin sets the tone.

    His apologists will also point out that Ethan Lynne is not your average teenager. He’s co-founder and co-chair of Virginia Teen Democrats, and he interns for state Senator Scott Surovell. That doesn’t justify the tweet. It’s a low blow nonetheless, more typical of Donald Trump than whatever fake moderate mask Youngkin wore during the campaign.


  112. says

    Biden to meet with Scholz, Macron meets Putin as window for Ukraine diplomacy narrows.

    Washington Post link

    French President Emmanuel Macron sat down Monday evening for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in an effort to unlock the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine and deter a Russian invasion of its southwestern neighbor.

    Macron told journalists that he was “reasonably optimistic” ahead of the talks but that he did not believe in immediate miracles, French television reported.

    Putin thanked Macron for his “persistent” role in addressing issues of European security.

    […] After a grim U.S. assessment predicted high civilian casualties if Russia invades Ukraine, Peskov complained that U.S. and NATO leaders were refusing to accept Russia’s demands for security guarantees, including a ban on admission of Ukraine and other Eastern European countries to NATO.

    […] Peskov said, speaking to journalists Monday. “We have been hearing daily statements on the topic from the United States and the European capitals,” he added, blaming Western leaders for the “tense” atmosphere.

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised a “united and decisive” response to any hostilities ahead of a Monday meeting with President Biden, his first White House visit since taking over from longtime German leader Angela Merkel in December.

    Macron spoke to Biden by phone Sunday to share information on diplomatic efforts, according to the White House.

    Peskov said Moscow was waiting to hear Macron’s proposal to defuse tensions but said the situation was “too complicated” to expect a breakthrough in one meeting.

    Russian units have moved closer to Ukraine’s borders, according to military analysts, and a flotilla of Russian warships including six amphibious assault vessels from the Baltic and Northern fleets gathered in the Mediterranean Sea ahead of massive Russian naval drills. […]

    Over the weekend, senior Russian officials dismissed new U.S. intelligence reports that Putin has in place about 70 percent of the combat forces needed for a full-scale attack on the Ukrainian capital, calling the reports “madness and scaremongering.” [Yeah, but Russian does have about 70% of the forces it needs for a full-scale attack!]

    […] satellite imagery and other intelligence indicate Putin has massed more than 100,000 troops and equipment on the border with Ukraine — one Western security official put the troop strength at 130,000 — potentially positioning for what could become the largest land offensive in Europe since World War II.

    […] Russian troops and equipment have traveled more than 6,000 miles to Belarus and Russia has deployed advanced missile systems, fighter planes and bombers. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been playing a key role in Russia’s saber-rattling against Ukraine. […]

  113. says

    Decompression failed. It’s like I didn’t take friday off at all. Hopefully my mind will cooperate and I can finish the bias/fallacy/displacement/projection post this week. The last 2 will be easier because that is easier to pick up for some reason.

  114. says

    Jan 6th Insurrectionist Claims He Lost Six Figure Job, Retirment, And Credit Rating.

    […] So what did Barnard do on Jan 6th? I’m so glad you asked. Here it is in all of its “glory.”

    WARNING: This will make your head hurt! He had a partner in all of this by the name of Witcher.

    In a video from inside the Capitol obtained by the FBI, Witcher appeared to falsely believe that he and Barnard were in the White House.

    “I am in the White House! We crashed this. Our house! We did it, family, we did it! We did it! We’re in the White House!” Witcher said.

    Other Trump supporters also appeared to believe they had stormed the White House, where then-President Donald Trump was living at the time.

    Witcher clarified in an interview with FBI agents that he was so “emotional and invested” in the moment, he temporarily forgot which building he was in. In his second video, he corrected himself. “We’re in the rotunda. We’re in the rotunda. Our house! Our house!”…

    Both Witcher and Barnard agreed to be interviewed by FBI agents. During Witcher’s interview, he said that he took part in the failed insurrection because he believed that free speech is being censored all across the nation, and that most of America is “tone deaf to discussion.” He hoped that the protest would be peaceful and help facilitate discussion.

    Barnard told agents that it still felt good to have been at the Capitol and that it was a good experience up until the moment he entered the building. Both men allowed investigators to examine their cellphones and recover the evidence that they had deleted.

    Both of these morons are former Marines.

    I suppose it is true that Barnard had a six figure income job. There have been plenty of stupid people who were overpaid. It could be true. But given that the two didn’t even know where they were, I have my doubts.

    Barnard felt good about what they were doing, until they entered the Capitol Building. And it was somewhere at this moment that Barnard had an epiphany. And he and Witcher still stood for a selfie. [photo available at the link]

    Yeah. Right. I believe that.

    Frankly, I hope it is true that Barnard has lost a good paying job and his retirement. I’m not sure how that would happen though about the retirement. I think criminal records sorta kind of ruin your credit rating, but I have never gotten anything but speeding tickets in my “criminal past.”

    But otherwise, these two fucking idiots have gotten off easy.

    The sentence:

    Barnard was sentenced on Friday to 12 months probation, 30 days of home confinement, 60 hours of community service, and $500 restitution, according to the Department of Justice.

  115. says

    I’m inclined to think Masha Gessen is largely right in this Democracy Now! interview:

    …MASHA GESSEN: I agree with Anatol, but we have to think about why, when it’s a debate about nothing. When Russia is perfectly well aware that the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO is zero, why is Russia raising this topic? And why is Russia demanding guarantees — and Russia is demanding guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO — guarantees of something that is not going to happen? So, I agree that it’s a pretext, but it’s also a demand for something bigger, right? And it’s a demand for exactly the kind of attention that Russia is getting right now, which is, you know, the whole world is swirling — the whole Western world is swirling around Russia, trying to convince Vladimir Putin to step back.

    The danger here is that considering that Russia’s demands will never be fully met, I don’t think it’s going to get a guarantee, even though, again, it would change nothing in the real state of things, because it’s not going to get a complete guarantee. And at a certain point, it’s going to lose the world’s attention. That’s when I think the danger point comes, because the purpose of this is not — again, because we know this is a pretext, the purpose is to do something else. And what is the something else? A large part of it is creating a sense among Russians that Russia matters, that Vladimir Putin is a world leader, that he says something and the whole world gets moving, and that he can command the world’s attention. It taps into feelings of resentment and a sense of being left out and diminished, that Putin’s politics consistently tap into. And when he loses that opportunity, I think that’s when it becomes really risky. So, I don’t think there’s an imminent invasion, but I also don’t see how, in the long term, this game of brinkmanship can end with anything but a big war. [Hmm…]

    MASHA GESSEN: Well, I think that Putin’s primary concern is not strategic. But, you know, obviously, we can argue about what’s in that man’s head ’til the cows come home. And that’s part of the problem with dealing with a closed, secretive regime, especially one that has been in power for so long.

    But I think what Putin is seeing is that his — he’s getting old. His regime is showing signs of wear. His popularity has waned. And the models available for either a safe retirement or continuing his rule in perpetuity are not encouraging for him. He has seen neighboring Belarus, which sustained the regime basically through consistent political repression, erupt in mass protests in August of 2020, and the only way that Alexander Lukashenko has been able to sustain the regime is with Russia’s help and the brutal use of force. He saw neighboring Kazakhstan attempt a sort of soft fake transfer of power with guarantees of security for the outgoing president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and break into what appeared to be mass protests and, again, the use of force. And, in fact, the only use of military power by the post-Soviet security organization occurred in Kazakhstan earlier this year.

    And so, it has to be going through Putin’s mind: How is going to sustain his personal power and the durability of his regime going forward? And I think that that’s — the only model that has worked for him is a model of sustaining his legitimacy through sort of pumping up his popularity, and that happens by showing that he’s a powerful man on the world stage. But also the biggest boost to his popularity ever was the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He can’t recreate it, but I think he keeps looking in the direction of Ukraine to see what he could do that will be at least somewhat like it….

    So much nonsense today is rooted in status anxiety and stoked grievance, and that certainly seems to be an element of what’s happening here.

  116. says

    The January 6 Select Committee members have been busy bees of late, racing toward the midterms on the operating assumption that there’s a good chance Republicans take back the gavel and shut the whole thing down in 2023. It’s a complicated undertaking with a lot of moving parts. Luckily our media is here to bollix it all up in an orgy of both-sides access journalism.

    Let’s round up some of the recent offenders.

    We Must Always Begin With The New York Times.

    First up, the New York Times plays right into GOP talking points with an article this weekend explaining that the Committee is “borrowing techniques from federal prosecutions, employing aggressive tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists,” and “using what powers it has in expansive ways in hopes of pressuring Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to use the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute them.” By this metric, if we don’t see Donald Trump perp walked in leg irons, the whole exercise is a failure.

    Here on Planet Earth, the Committee has an investigative and legislative role, but is explicitly prohibited from conducting law enforcement. They can’t arrest anyone, and they can’t make the Justice Department do it either. Their job is to find out what happened, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. And although members of the Committee have alluded to possible charges for Trump and his minions, that’s not their primary purpose.

    “It’s not a criminal investigation,” Rep. Adam Schiff told the Times, “But having experienced former prosecutors who know how to run complex, white-collar investigations working on a plot to overturn the presidential election is a very useful talent among your team.” And that’s particularly true when you’re facing a wall of obstruction thrown up by the former president and his cronies.

    [The framing by media outlets like The New York Times] also plays into Republican efforts to frame the whole thing as a partisan witch hunt, as opposed to a legitimate legislative inquiry into an attack on Congress. Literally every single one of the lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of Committee subpoenas argues that it is engaged in prohibited law enforcement activity. Why are they subpoenaing me, argues, say, Mike Lindell? I didn’t do anything illegal. Which is not the point! So, thanks, NYT!

    Your Turn, AP.

    Over at the AP, Ivanka Trump is still benefitting from the loving media treatment she earned during the Trump era by leaking to half of Washington.

    “It is highly unusual for congressional investigators to target a family member of a president,” the outlet writes of her invitation to speak to the Committee, as if Princess Goya von Nepotism and her idiotic husband didn’t voluntarily install themselves in the West Wing despite their total lack of qualifications and inability to qualify for a security clearance.

    “As a senior adviser to her father, she also had a perch close to power,” the article concedes, before going on to describe her efforts to persuade her father to call off the mob he himself summoned on January 6. Nowhere does it acknowledge that Ivanka and her husband willingly subordinated their roles as “family members” to their duties as federal employees. Nor does it grapple with the reality that Ivanka knew before he came down that ridiculous golden escalator how manifestly ill-suited her father was to govern.

    She bought the ticket, she can bloody well take the ride.

    Chuck Todd.

    Over at NBC, Chuck Todd interviewed Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short on “Meet the Press” this weekend. Graded on the Chuck Todd scale, it could fairly be characterized as “hard-hitting.” And yet, Short was still given free rein to spout lies about election fraud and the make-up of the Committee itself, all while looking reasonable because he backed Pence’s admission that he lacked the unilateral authority to overturn the election results.

    “I think there are significant concerns about what transpired in Pennsylvania, what transpired in Wisconsin, what transpired in Georgia when you said you had a matching signatures, you didn’t,” he insisted, eliding that it was Republicans who changed the vote-by-mail law in Pennsylvania, that Wisconsin conducted a recount that confirmed the results, and that Republican officials in Georgia performed a signature match audit that confirmed Joe Biden’s win. [!!! Yes. Call him on those lies, Chuck Todd, you lazy sod.]

    “You had election officials overruling state officials and saying, ‘We’ll keep the balloting open,’ allowed universal access and mail-in balloting,” which seems to us an admission that the GOP’s goal isn’t fraud prevention, it’s vote prevention.

    Do you even have to ask if Chuck Todd pointed this out? You do not!

    Let’s give Chuck Todd half credit, though, for noting that there could have been a bipartisan multi-cameral congressional inquiry into the Capitol Riot, but GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell torpedoed it. But only half, since he let this whopper slide right by:

    SHORT: There was – there was going to be a bipartisan committee as well in the House, Chuck. And Kevin [McCarthy] was not afforded the opportunity to put his five people on because [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] decided to unilaterally reject both Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.

    In fact, the House Committee is bipartisan, since Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are longstanding members of the GOP. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could have named five members to the Committee, just not Jim Jordan or Jim Banks. His other three nominees were accepted, and he could have named two more. Instead he chose to stomp off and refuse to participate.

    Short, who is currently leading an astroturf outfit dedicated to “protecting” American workers by lowering corporate taxes, got a lot of attention for his comment that “unfortunately the president had many bad advisers, who were basically snake oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do.”

    And why the fuck wasn’t Trump smart enough to notice the snake oil salesman? And why did Trump seek them out and invite them to the White House?

    But aside from letting Trump off the hook for his blatant attempt to foment a coup, Short followed it up by insisting that “Donald Trump has an incredibly important voice in the Republican Party moving forward.”

    And although Short acknowledged he had no choice but to cooperate and testify before the Committee upon receipt of a subpoena, he was remarkably uncommitted to democratic norms when it came to his former boss.

    “I think it’s very different to subpoena a former vice president to talk about private conversations he had with the president of the United States. It’s never happened before,” he said. “And I think we have significant concerns about the committee, Chuck. The committee truly is not really a bipartisan committee.”

    Once again, no pushback.

    Can’t Write One Of These Without Politico.

    Politico had a fun little feature on the GOP’s dilemma: should they shitcan the whole Committee next year, or should they turn it into a tool to attack Democrats for sending the FBI and Antifa to slap on MAGA hats and attack Congress?

    While the vast majority of members questioned said they expected the thing to die quietly, Politico is required by law to stick a megaphone in the face of the most incendiary bomb-throwers and pretend that they are serious legislators.

    “There are so many questions that are unanswered that people would like to have an answer to when it comes to Jan. 6,” said congresstroll Madison Cawthorn.

    Which sounded downright rational compared to Newt Gingrich, who is promising to do LOCK HER UPS to Adam Schiff. Kinda weird they talked to him, since he’s not even in Congress anymore.

    “I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down,” Gingrich told Fox News. “And the wolves are going to find out that they’re now sheep and they’re the ones who are in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking.”

    Needless to say, no one demanded to know what laws the former congressman had in mind, nor did Politico point out all the ways this is just ridiculous. […]


  117. says

    Two recent episodes of The Daily (please don’t listen to the first without listening to the second!):

    “We Need to Talk About Covid, Part 1”:

    It appears that the United States may be at a turning point in the pandemic. The contagiousness of the Omicron variant has many people resigned to the fact that they probably will be infected; this variant is, relative to its predecessors and in most cases, milder; and there is universal vaccine access for those old enough to receive a shot. So, The Times commissioned a poll of 4,400 Americans to discover how they are thinking about the pandemic and gauge how, and when, we might pivot to living with the virus. We explore the results of this poll — and the divides in opinion by age, vaccination status and politics. Guest: David Leonhardt, a senior writer for The New York Times.

    “We Need to Talk About Covid, Part 2: A Conversation with Dr. Fauci “:

    America, it seems, might be at a turning point in how we think about and respond to the pandemic. Yet, the U.S., at this moment, is still in the midst of crisis — thousands of people are in hospital and dying every day. In the second part of our exploration of the state of the pandemic, we speak with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the conditions under which we could learn to live with the virus and what the next stage of the pandemic looks like.

  118. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #138:

    Luckily our media is here to bollix it all up in an orgy of both-sides access journalism.

    Let’s round up some of the recent offenders.

    We Must Always Begin With The New York Times.

    Speaking of which, I had problems with David Leonhardt’s presentation in #39 (Part 1). I think Fauci did a great job at responding to some of the issues (all the more impressive given how careful he has to be about any public utterance – which must be exhausting). (He didn’t talk about potential long-term sequelae, but few are.) But Leonhardt not only both-sides it but focuses most of his attention on cautious Democrats rather than blithe Republicans. Setting aside the fact that the average daily COVID death toll was around 2,300 when they recorded and is now almost 2,600, even if these two attitudes were equally irrational – which they aren’t – the worst-case scenarios of excessive caution vs. excessive risk-exposure here are hugely imbalanced. Perhaps Leonhardt should take a look at the HCA subreddit.

    First up, the New York Times plays right into GOP talking points with an article this weekend explaining that the Committee is “borrowing techniques from federal prosecutions, employing aggressive tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists,”…

    They were terrorists.

    Over at the AP, Ivanka Trump is still benefitting from the loving media treatment she earned during the Trump era by leaking to half of Washington.

    I almost linked to that piece this morning because it had some newsworthy information, but it wasn’t possible to share that without including the parts about her. I think one anecdote included how she allegedly turned to Keith Kellogg after some meeting and said, “Mike Pence is a good man.”


    And why the fuck wasn’t Trump smart enough to notice the snake oil salesman? And why did Trump seek them out and invite them to the White House?

    Seriously. I’m offended by this absurd talking point.

  119. tomh says

    Supreme Court stops lower court order requiring Alabama to draw a new district voting map favorable to Black residents
    Robert Barnes / January 7, 2022

    A divided Supreme Court on Monday restored an Alabama congressional map that creates only one district favorable to a Black candidate, and put on hold a lower court’s order that said a second district was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

    Over the objections of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberals, its five most consistently conservative justices halted a decision last month by three federal judges. The panel threw out Alabama’s new congressional map, which included only one congressional district with a majority of Black voters even though they make up more than a quarter of the state’s population.

    Roberts acknowledged the court’s precedents “have engendered considerable disagreement and uncertainty regarding the nature and contours of a vote dilution claim.” But he said the panel had followed Supreme Court commands and produced “an extensive opinion with no apparent errors for our correction.”

    The panel was composed of Judge Stanley Marcus from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, nominated by President Bill Clinton, and District Court Judges Anna M. Manasco and Terry F. Moorer, both chosen by President Donald Trump.

    The case is the first for current Supreme Court justices to consider how to apply the Voting Rights Act to racial gerrymandering. In 2019, the court said federal courts had no role in policing partisan gerrymandering.

  120. says

    Guardian – “Neo-Nazis and QAnon: how Canadian truckers’ anti-vaccine protest was steered by extremists”:

    …The brazen occupation of Ottawa came as a result of unprecedented coordination between various anti-vaccine and anti-government organizations and activists, and has been seized on by similar groups around the world.

    It may herald the revenge of the anti-vaxxers.

    The so-called “freedom convoy” – which departed for Ottawa on 23 January – was the brainchild of James Bauder, an admitted conspiracy theorist who has endorsed the QAnon movement and called Covid-19 “the biggest political scam in history”. Bauder’s group, Canada Unity, contends that vaccine mandates and passports are illegal under Canada’s constitution, the Nuremberg Code and a host of other international conventions.

    Bauder has long been a fringe figure, but his movement caught a gulf stream of support after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last year that truckers crossing the US-Canada border would need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The supposed plight of the truckers proved to be a compelling public relations angle and attracted an array of fellow travelers.

    Until now, a litany of organizations had protested Canada’s strict public health measures, but largely in isolation. One such group, Hold Fast Canada, had organized pickets of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s headquarters, where they claimed that concentration camps had already been introduced in the country. [JFC]

    Another group, Action4Canada, launched legal challenges to mask and vaccine mandates. In one 400-page court filing, they allege that the “false pronouncement of a Covid-19 ‘pandemic’” was carried out, at least in part, by Bill Gates and a “New World (Economic) Order” to facilitate the injection of 5G-enabled microchips into the population.

    Both groups are listed as “participating groups” on the Canada Unity website, and sent vehicles and personnel to join the convoy.

    Other organizers joined Bauder, including Chris Barber, a Saskatchewan trucker who was fined $14,000 in October for violating provincial public health measures; Tamara Lich, an activist for a fringe political party advocating that Western Canada should become an independent state; Benjamin Dichter, who has warned of the “growing Islamization of Canada”; and Pat King, an anti-government agitator who has repeatedly called for Trudeau to be arrested.

    Since they have arrived in Ottawa, the extreme elements of the protest have been visible: neo-Nazi and Confederate flags were seen flying, QAnon logos were emblazoned on trucks and signs and stickers were pasted to telephone poles around the occupied area bear Trudeau’s face, reading: “Wanted for crimes against humanity.”

    The official line from Bauder and his co-organizers, however, has remained focused; in a Facebook live broadcast, Bauder instructed his supporters to “stop talking about the vaccine” and instead stick to message of “freedom”.

    Bauder vowed the convoy would camp out in Ottawa until their demands are met, insisting to his followers that a “memorandum of understanding” would force the government’s hand, possibly even triggering fresh elections, if enough people sign.

    A Canada Unity organizer went further, saying it would require the Senate to “go after the prime minister” for “corruption” and “fascism”. There is no legal basis for those claims.

    King has laid out a more direct plan of action to the occupiers: “What we want to focus on is our politicians, their houses, their locations,” he said in a January Facebook stream. If political pressure doesn’t work, King said, blocking major supply chains “will be later on”.

    Soon after, the head of security for Parliament issued an extraordinary warning to Members of Parliament to avoid the protest entirely, for their own safety.

    The occupiers have deliberately made life difficult for anyone in Ottawa’s downtown core. Trucks have been laying on their air horns throughout the day, often well into the early morning hours. An Ottawa court granted an injunction Monday afternoon, ordering that the honking must cease.

    The occupiers now have the resources to stay for an extended period of time: they have raised more than C$6mthrough various crowdfunding platforms, in cash and Bitcoin, despite having been booted from GoFundMe’s platform after raising over C$10m.

    The Ottawa occupation is proof that a few thousand determined protesters can overwhelm police and shut down major cities with enough vehicles and coordination. Solidarity convoys have already shut down the busy Coutts border crossing between Alberta and Montana, strained police resources in Toronto and Quebec City, and activists as far away as Helsinki, Canberra, London, and Brussels have taken not. On the convoy channels, protestors warn this is just the beginning.

    I had to laugh at “It may herald the revenge of the anti-vaxxers.” Right, the anti-vaxxers, having suffered in silence for months, now finally speaking up and vowing vengeance against their oppressors.

  121. says

    This is a very strange story – Yahoo! News – “Five Olympic skiers disqualified for baggy outfits: ‘They destroyed women’s ski jumping'”:

    …Five ski jumpers — all of them women — were disqualified from Tuesday’s mixed team jump event. All of the women, representing Austria, Japan, Norway and Germany, were deemed to be wearing loose-fitting clothing that could have given them extra loft while in the air.

    Suits obviously matter for ski jumpers… The problem with Tuesday’s DQs is that the suits the jumpers were wearing had apparently been cleared in earlier jump outings.

    “The [International Ski Federation] destroyed everything with this operation. I think they have destroyed women’s ski jumping,” said Katharina Althaus, a three-time Olympian and 2018 silver medalist, after the DQs came down. “I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant.”

    Althaus later shared her frustration on Instagram. “160 World Cup starts, 5x World Championships, 3x Olympic Games and I got DSQ for the first time,” she wrote. “My heart is broken.”

    “We stick together no matter what!” fellow German jumper Karl Geiger wrote on social media. “Nevertheless, I have to ask myself whether the regulations for the women were changed overnight, with so many disqualifications?!? It was neither the right time nor the right place to disqualify so many athletes from different nations.”

    “It is just strange that they have been using the same suits yesterday and there was no problem,” German coach Stefan Horngacher said. “It is annoying that this happens at the Winter Olympic Games. This should all be cleared before.”

    Women have had to fight for decades to get ski jumping added to the Olympics. European sports officials resisted efforts to allow women to jump, employing arguments that leaped straight from the ramp of rationality into the pitch darkness of ignorance and sexism. An example:

    “Don’t forget it’s like jumping down … on the ground about a thousand times a year,” said Gian Franco Kaspar, former head of the International Ski Federation, “which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”

    This wasn’t in 1965. This was in 2005.

    The IOC finally accepted women’s ski jumping into the Olympics in 2014. Germany’s Carina Vogt flew 103 meters and somehow didn’t explode on impact to win the gold that year. The IOC permitted mixed team jump to join the Olympic program this year.

    As for the competition itself: Slovenia won with 1,001.5 points, well clear of Russia at 890.3 and Canada at 844.6. The winners had a little sympathy, but only a little, for the DQ’d jumpers….

  122. says

    SC @140: “Seriously. I’m offended by this absurd talking point.”

    Yep. Me too. And yet, I am hearing it from right-wingers more and more. It looks like their new tactic for excusing all the bad/illegal actions of Hair Furor is to say that he was given bad advice.

  123. says

    tomh @141, aaarrrggghhh. That bodes so ill. The conservatives on the Supreme Court have hobbled the Voting Rights Act even further. And the lower court opinion that was put on hold was “an extensive opinion with no apparent errors for our correction.”

  124. says

    Why Stephen Calk’s bribery scandal is so amazing

    By the time Donald Trump was elected in the fall of 2016, Paul Manafort was no longer on the Republican’s team, but he remained in the then-president-elect’s orbit. In fact, as Rachel has explained on the show, Trump’s former campaign chairman was even a player in a bribery scheme related directly to the former administration.

    Yesterday, as the Associated Press reported, that scheme led to a prison sentence.

    A Chicago banker was sentenced on Monday to a year in prison for his conviction in a scheme to make $16 million in loans to Paul Manafort to gain influence in the Trump administration…. The banker, Stephen Calk, was convicted last year on financial institution bribery and conspiracy charges in Manhattan federal court.

    I suspect Calk’s name is unfamiliar to much of the public […] the controversy he helped create resembles the plot of a cringe-worthy movie.

    In late 2016 and early 2017, as Trump prepared to take office, Manafort was desperately in need of money, and so he put his influence to good use — by offering to sell some of it to Calk.

    In fact, Calk arranged a series of high-risk loans to Manafort, totaling $16 million. In exchange, Calk got a foot in the door: After the first loan, Manafort arranged for Calk to serve on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory council. After the second loan, Calk sent Manafort a list of jobs in the administration for which he expected to be considered.

    The list came with a header listing “perspective rolls” — Calk apparently meant “prospective roles,” but he misspelled both words — he could play in the Republican administration, starting with secretary of the Army. If that wasn’t available, he was prepared to settle for a variety of other positions, including a couple of cabinet agencies Calk felt prepared to lead.

    For his part, Manafort received his millions, but Calk did not get any of the jobs he apparently thought he was buying. Manafort sent Calk’s resume to Jared Kushner, and the banker did eventually get an interview at Trump Tower, but the process went no further.

    Nevertheless, the fact that the banker outlined the scheme in writing clearly helped prosecutors. It also apparently helped persuade jurors in the case, who didn’t need to deliberate long before finding Calk guilty.

    Ahead of his sentencing yesterday, Calk told the judge, “I sit here deeply, deeply humbled…. I never sought to gain fame or power.”

    He did, however, seek to run large government agencies.

    The AP’s report added that Judge Lorna Schofield told Calk she needed to put him behind bars to send the message that “no one is above the law, regardless of their wealth and influence.”

    Manafort was convicted of a variety of crimes, though he was eventually pardoned by Trump. Calk won’t be nearly as fortunate.

  125. says

    ABC – “DOJ announces arrests in alleged $4.5 billion cryptocurrency laundering scheme”:

    The Justice Department on Tuesday announced the arrests of a New York couple charged with conspiring to launder $4.5 billion in presently-valued cryptocurrency stolen during the 2016 hack of Bitfinex — marking the “largest ever” financial seizure by the department.

    Ilya Lichtenstein, 34, and his wife Heather Morgan, 31, were arrested Tuesday morning in Manhattan and will make their initial appearances in court Tuesday afternoon, the DOJ said.

    They are alleged to have conspired to launder the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin stolen from Bitfinex’s platform after its systems were breached in August 2016, and a hacker initiated more than 2000 unauthorized Bitcoin transactions.

    The hacker, not identified in the criminal complaint, then allegedly sent the bitcoin proceeds to a digital wallet under Lichtenstein’s control and for the last five years, prosecutors allege, he had laundered roughly 25,000 of the stolen bitcoins with some of the funds being directed to accounts under his and his wife’s control.

    Agents were able to seize the remaining 94,000 bitcoin in Lichtenstein and Morgan’s possession after executing a court-authorized warrant on their accounts — valued at more than $3.6 billion at the time of the seizure last week, officials said.

    Both have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S., with the former carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the latter carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison if they are convicted.

    The two are not charged in connection with the hack of Bitfinex itself, and DOJ officials said the investigation remains very much ongoing. As for the stolen funds, officials said they will work through the court system in the coming weeks in months to try and find if there are ways to return some of the money to victims targeted in the hack.

    “Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a press release. “In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes.”

  126. says

    Followup to tomh @141.

    Justice Kagan (excerpt from her dissent, which was endorsed by Justices Sotomayor and Breyer):

    Today’s decision is one more in a disconcertingly long line of cases in which this Court uses its shadow docket to signal or make changes in the law, without anything approaching full briefing and argument. Here, the District Court applied established legal principles to an extensive evidentiary record. Its reasoning was careful — indeed, exhaustive — and justified in every respect. To reverse that decision requires upsetting the way Section 2 plaintiffs have for decades — and in line with our caselaw — proved vote-dilution claims. That is a serious matter, which cannot properly occur without thorough consideration.

    Yet today the Court skips that step, staying the District Court’s order based on the untested and unexplained view that the law needs to change. That decision does a disservice to our own appellate processes, which serve both to constrain and to legitimate the Court’s authority. It does a disservice to the District Court, which meticulously applied this Court’s longstanding voting-rights precedent. And most of all, it does a disservice to Black Alabamians who under that precedent have had their electoral power diminished — in violation of a law this Court once knew to buttress all of American democracy.

  127. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Daily COVID cases in New York City are now back to roughly what they were prior to the emergence of Omicron in early December 2021. This chart (from The New York Times, [and available at the Talking Points Memo link]) captures the sheer scale of the surge in terms of spread and infection if not severity of disease or mortality. Nationwide, cases are on a similar trajectory but perhaps a week or two behind.

    It is still breathtaking to see in the context of the previous two years.

  128. says

    NBC – “FBI arrests Trump supporter who stormed Capitol while on bail for attempted murder”:

    A Jan. 6 rioter who stormed the Capitol while he was out on bail for attempted first-degree murder was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday, more than 10 months after he was first identified by online sleuths.

    Matthew Jason Beddingfield, of North Carolina, faces felony charges of assaulting officers, impeding officers during a civil disorder, and carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon on restricted Capitol grounds, as well as several misdemeanors, according to court records.

    Beddingfield was first publicly identified in a HuffPost story in March after online sleuths investigating the Jan. 6 attack used facial recognition to find his mugshot and then confirmed his identification with the help of his father’s Facebook page. Beddingfield traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 with his father, a fellow Donald Trump supporter who also believed the former president’s lies about a stolen election. The two had attended a November 2020 rally in D.C. in support of Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss. Images that Beddingfield’s father posted of that rally showed his son wearing identical Nike sneakers and carrying the same pole attached to an American flag as he did on Jan. 6.

    When he stormed the Capitol, Beddingfield was on bail for first-degree attempted murder in connection with the December 2019 shooting of a 17-year-old in a Walmart parking lot, when Beddingfield was 19. He was initially held on $1 million bail, but he secured pretrial release when bail was lowered to $100,000. After he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Beddingfield pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in connection with the shooting. He was on probation in the shooting case when he was arrested Tuesday.

    Video compiled with the help of online investigators shows Beddingfield at the front of the mob outside the Capitol, jabbing at the police line with his American flag, throwing a metal object at the police, and appearing to give a Nazi salute….

  129. says

    Followup to SC @142.

    […] The truckers’ initial complaints have devolved into a general howl against Canadian COVID-19 restrictions of all kinds.

    “Our departure will be based on the prime minister doing what is right, ending all mandates and restrictions on our freedoms,” Tamara Lich, one of the loose movement’s leaders, said at a news conference.

    A spokesman for the group, speaking Monday, urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “come out of hiding.” Trudeau has been quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19, but called for a stop to the protests Monday. The spokesman also cribbed a quote from Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, saying that Trudeau has a “.22 caliber mind in a .357 world.” […]

    A national poll conducted last week shows that 68 percent of Canadians say they have “very little in common with how the protesters in Ottawa see things,” while 32 percent say they have “a lot in common.” One of the pollsters attributed the one-third’s support to a general wearying of the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions.

    Canada is relatively well-vaccinated, with 88 percent of citizens over the age of four having received at least one dose.

    […] In the least surprising twist to this story, the protests have been a magnet for the usual cast of characters occupying the United States’ right wing.

    Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) both issued statements boosting the demonstrations.

    “The Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far-left lunatic Justin Trudeau, who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates,” Trump wrote in a statement.

    Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Eric Trump and Franklin Graham all used Facebook to raise the profile of the protests and encourage support. Extensive coverage of the protests on Fox News has also attracted sympathetic Americans.

    There has been fundraising for the movement on fringey platforms — reportedly including on white supremacist Telegram channels.

    […] “It is a fraud for GoFundMe to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) tweeted. “I will work with [Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R)] to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund.”

    “#GoFundMe now won’t honor #FreedomConvoy donations and will instead redirect to other charities? In WV, organizations must not deceive donors and engage in deceptive advertising practices. If you’ve been victimized by a deceptive act or practice, let us know!” added West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

    Jack Posobiec, an alt-right conspiracy theorist and troll, directed his followers to rival site GiveSendGo instead.

    Canada’s far right has not yet assimilated into the mainstream as well as the faction has in the United States.

    They have been less successful in getting a toehold in their country’s government, and, as evidenced by the much higher vaccination rates and lower relative casualties from COVID-19, have largely taken protections in stride. The Canadian government has said that nearly 90 percent of its truckers are vaccinated, making the protesters a small minority.

    The protest now is a hodgepodge of discontent with no clear set of demands. But the movement is certainly attracting the interest of its dangerous, and more electorally powerful, United States cousin. Conversations about a copycat protest across the southern border are happening online; whether that energy will make the jump to the trucks and streets or fizzle out in the endless Pong game of the right-wing echo chamber is still unclear.


  130. says

    Followup to comment 149.

    In Alabama Case, Kavanaugh Emits Lengthy Whine In Response To Kagan’s Dissent

    Justice Brett Kavanaugh boldly struck pen to paper in an opinion published Monday, filled with a righteous anger — not so much over Alabama’s congressional maps, which a lower court found to disenfranchise Black voters, but because Justice Elena Kagan criticized him and his conservative buddies in her dissent.

    […] The lower court pointed out that reality, and duly required the state to produce new maps.

    Kavanaugh, though, is offended by that truth, even after voting with his rightwing cohort to let the gerrymandered maps stand for now.

    “The stay order does not make or signal any change to voting rights law,” he insists. “The stay order is not a ruling on the merits, but instead simply stays the District Court’s injunction pending a ruling on the merits.”

    It also leaves a map found to have suppressed the vote of Black people in place until the Court feels like issuing a real decision. The first day of absentee primary voting in Alabama is at the end of March. Its primary is in late May.

    Kavanaugh later takes umbrage at Kagan’s accusation that her colleagues, by letting these maps stand, are threatening years of precedent via shadow docket without even giving the people they affect an explanation.

    “The principal dissent’s catchy but worn-out rhetoric about the ‘shadow docket’ is similarly off target,” he huffs.

    But he devotes the most time in his concurring opinion to the absolute hell that the lower-court ruling requiring a new map would rain down on Alabama — no matter that the legislature was able to produce the previous maps in less than a week. No matter that the only delay in the case so far came at Alabama’s request. No matter that the legislature has access to a cartographer and maps that would fulfill the lower court’s order.

    Kavanaugh’s staunch concern, he insists, is with the voters.

    “Late judicial tinkering with election laws can lead to disruption and to unanticipated and unfair consequences for candidates, political parties, and voters, among others,” Kavanaugh writes. “It is one thing for a State on its own to toy with its election laws close to a State’s elections. But it is quite another thing for a federal court to swoop in and re-do a State’s election laws in the period close to an election.”

    “Close to the election,” as Republicans from Kavanaugh to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) know well, is a fluctuating measurement. But leaving the Black voters in Alabama in limbo about their access to this country’s fundamental freedom in the upcoming elections is Kavanaugh’s God-given right.

    “Contrary to the dissent’s mistaken rhetoric, I take no position at this time on the ultimate merits of the parties’ underlying legal dispute,” he writes. “And I need not do so until the Court receives full briefing, holds oral argument, and engages in our usual extensive internal deliberations.”

    So there. […]

  131. says

    Followup to comment 153.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So Kavanaugh was upset that Kagan nailed his bullshit to the wall.

    He should get a beer and calm himself.
    he word “Petulant” springs to mind
    Rapey McBeerface’s whiny complaint about Kagan’s “catchy but worn-out rhetoric about the ‘shadow docket’” comes in response to only the second time the minority has complained about the majority’s abuse of the shadow docket. So it isn’t about Kagan’s dissent or Sotomayor’s before her. He’s really complaining about all the outsiders who have been complaining about the misuse of the shadow docket for years and years now. They have successfully gotten under his skin by accurately describing his bullshit.
    “Contrary to the dissent’s mistaken rhetoric, I take no position at this time on the ultimate merits of the parties’ underlying legal dispute,”

    Such. A. Liar.
    If there is one thing we learned about Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings it is he whines with the best of them.
    He’s peeved, so his opinion is all about the peeve.
    Characterologically, this jerk is no more qualified for the SCOTUS than that loudmouth at the end of the bar.

    From Mark Joseph Stern:

    It is hard to overstate how lawless the Supreme Court’s order is. The five ultraconservative justices broke the court’s own rules to intervene with an unreasoned shadow docket decision that effectively nullifies a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. It’s profoundly alarming.

  132. says

    ‘Embarrassing,’ ‘stupid’: Republicans blast national party as if it bears no relation to them

    Senate Republicans have finally located their problem, and it’s the Republican National Committee. After the RNC last week endorsed the Jan. 6 insurrection as “legitimate political discourse,” many congressional Republicans are pretending like the national Republican Party bears no relationship to them.

    “I’m not a member of the RNC,” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said Sunday when asked whether GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois deserved to be censured by the RNC for participating in the Jan. 6 probe. Within the text of that censure resolution, the RNC endorsed the violent Jan. 6 assault that resulted in death and destruction as “legitimate political discourse.”

    “It could not have been a more inappropriate message,” said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the uncle of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. Romney said he had texted with McDaniel after passage of the resolution and described her to CNN as a “wonderful person and doing her very best.” But as for the resolution, Romney added, “Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us.”

    Stupid is apt—but let’s not limit the moniker to McDaniel and the national party alone. Republicans, eyeing an election cycle that should absolutely favor them based on historical trends, had the chance to bury Donald Trump last year during his second impeachment trial and leave much of his political baggage in the rearview mirror. Instead, they breathed new life into him, and now they’re pretending like the RNC is solely responsible for his drag on the party.

    […] the RNC’s endorsement of the Jan. 6 violence was just the latest in a years-long parade of Republican efforts to appease and coddle Trump. He has continually demanded absolute fealty from Republicans every step of the way, and they have acquiesced time and time again. With its censure resolution, the RNC was once again mollifying Trump by pursuing his political vendetta […]

    […] “It’s just not a constructive move, when you’re trying to win elections and take on Democrats, to take on Republicans,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, as if no one could have imagined Trump would inspire internecine mayhem when he voted to let him off the hook for Jan. 6.

    Asked if McDaniel should step aside, Thune pretended the RNC had nothing whatsoever to do with congressional Republicans. “Oh, I don’t know. Ultimately, it will be up to the RNC,” he said of McDaniel’s fate.

    […] The frustration among most Republicans was palpable.

    “I think the RNC should be focused on electing Republicans,” said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

    Even House Republicans, led by Trump hack Kevin McCarthy, sought to distance themselves from the RNC’s unforced error.

    Asked about the RNC resolution, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told CNN, “My focus has been on what we need to do to take back the House.”

    The House GOP campaign chief, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, added, “We’re focused on winning the majority next fall.”

    It wasn’t exactly a full-throated stand for American democracy, but hey, Republicans want control of Congress so they can end this scurrilous investigation into the worst homegrown attack on the Capitol in U.S. history.

    “We ought to capture the Jan. 6 committee and convert it to our purposes: pursuing the extent to which federal involvement might have animated violence,” Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, floating a totally unsubstantiated right-wing conspiracy theory. [Oh, FFS!]

    […] Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, firmly ensconced in his disreality bubble, couldn’t dig out of his conspiracy rabbit hole long enough to take note of the RNC aligning itself with Jan. 6 terrorists.

    “I did not pay any attention to that,” said Johnson, who’s up for reelection this year.

    But Johnson was upstaged by House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who coughed up an entirely fictional explanation of the RNC’s resolution.

    “What they were talking about is the six RNC members who Jan 6th has subpoenaed, who weren’t even here, who were in Florida that day,” McCarthy said—something that was never even mentioned in the censure resolution. [video available at the link]

  133. says

    Daily Beast – “Joe Rogan’s Use of the N-Word Is Far From the Whole Story”:

    …What’s been lost amid the hubbub over Rogan’s accommodation of COVID-19 conspiracies and racism is his persistent chumminess with those on the far- and alt-right.

    Even prior to the recent removal of 113 episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify had quietly erased many episodes featuring Rogan laughing, agreeing, and joking about with disreputable figures. Among these were InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was found liable for defamation after spreading lies about the Sandy Hook shooting being fake and terrorizing the child victims’ families; alt-right antisemite Owen Benjamin, a three-time guest who once said Hitler was trying to “clean Germany… of the parasites, of the fleas”; alt-righter Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, who was banned from Patreon for using “racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual”; white nationalist Stefan Molyneux (a repeat guest); alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos, a two-time guest, who got into hot water after condoning pedophilia on Rogan’s podcast; and Holocaust denier Charles C. Johnson, who posited on the pod that Black people have a genetic “proclivity to violence.”

    Another repeat guest of Rogan’s was Gavin McInnes, the founder of the neo-fascist men’s rights group The Proud Boys, whose members once flashed white supremacist signs while vandalizing the Ashbury United Methodist Church—the oldest Black church in Washington, D.C.—in an act of pro-Trump solidarity, and had several of its members indicted following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Rogan has called McInnes “mostly fun” and “a cool libertarian.”

    And McInnes’ appearances on The Joe Rogan Experience dramatically boosted recruitment in The Proud Boys, with McInnes himself admitting, “You wouldn’t believe how much that changed my life—that one podcast.”

    Then again, McInnes and Rogan do appear to be on common ground when it comes to feminism. Rogan has railed against feminists too many times to count on Twitter (deleting a number of his more misogynistic tweets), promoted a men’s rights documentary, and even shared a “funny” (his words) YouTube video of McInnes delivering tips on how to troll feminists:

    Rogan has also made an obsessive and disturbing number of transphobic comments on his podcast over the years, including calling transgender people a sign of “civilizations collapsing” and calling the trans community a “crazy radical cult.”…

  134. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity flies again (19th flight in a planned mission of at most 5 flights). It was originally intended to fly in early-January (last flight was mid-December), but a dust storm prevented flight. The flight was rescheduled for mid-Jan, but there was too much dust still in the air, so it remained groundedMarsed out of caution. Earlier today (8th Feb) it flew again, a short hop (about 60 metres), out of the South Séítah towards an eventual rendezvous with the Perseverance rover.

  135. says

    DK – “Navy’s new Deputy Chief of Chaplains: ‘First we get the military, then we get the nation'”:

    Over the past week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has received about forty communications from chaplains, former chaplains, and others expressing their dismay at the selection of Navy chaplain CAPT Carey Cash to be the Navy’s new Deputy Chief of Chaplains, the second highest ranking chaplain in the Navy, a position that comes with a promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half (the equivalent of a one-star general).

    In addition to their revelations about Cash’s anti-Muslim views, both the Washington Post and The Times of London cited what I had written several months earlier about his penchant for proselytizing, and particularly about his relationship with the parachurch military proselytizing organization Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry, which now calls itself CRU.

    MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, remembering what we had turned up about Cash over a decade ago, had some strong words about his injudicious appointment and promotion:

    “Carey Cash represents the absolute wretched epitome of sectarian, fundamentalist Christian nationalism in our U.S. military. With Defense Secretary Austin’s justifiable mandate to rid our armed forces of racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, misogynistic and cultural extremism, it’s a fair question to ask WHY THE HELL is he promoting the very Poster Child of this type of extremism to the rank of Admiral?”

    MRFF’s reason for looking into Cash back in June of 2009 was the initial reporting (which turned out not to be true) that Obama had chosen the Camp David chapel as his church, making Cash his pastor. As I wrote at the time, within minutes of starting to look into then-Lieutenant Cash we found him quoted as saying:

    “First we get the military, then we get the nation.”

    Cash had made this statement via video in 2005 to the congregation of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, during an Independence Day weekend service at which Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry then-executive director Bob Dees delivered the sermon, a sermon during which Dees made statements such as:

    “I’m here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan’s artillery,” and, “…the reality is, too many of our troops are prisoners of war still. Prisoners of war to the master of deceit, these troops do not yet know liberty in Jesus Christ.”

    During the service, Cash came up on a video screen, reiterating Dees’s CRU talking points, and making the statement, “First we get the military, then we get the nation,” a statement that echoed CRU’s mission:

    “Evangelize and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the US Military. Utilize Ministry at each basic training center and beyond. Transform our culture through the US Military.”

    According to Dees:

    “We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation — through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens…”

    And according to CRU, in a statement referring to their “gateway” strategy of preying on new recruits and cadets while they are worn down by the rigors of training:

    “Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways. The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the ‘good news.’ We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals.”

    CRU’s goal, which appeared again and again in their literature and videos of the time, which we have no reason to believe has changed since then, was to transform the U.S. military into, in their words, “government paid missionaries for Christ.”

    And now, this Islamophobic chaplain who subscribes to the Christian nationalist strategy of “First we get the military, then we get the nation” is going to be the second highest ranking chaplain in the Navy….

    As with everything else, their railing against leftwing indoctrination is pure projection.

  136. says

    Alex Kaplan at MMFA – “In 2021, an increasingly fractured QAnon community started focusing on local politics — while embracing more extremist beliefs”:

    …Despite all the factors pushing against the conspiracy theory since the start of 2021 — its preferred president no longer in office, its central figure going silent, and its original social media infrastructure heavily targeted — QAnon has survived and is evolving. Its influence has expanded as elected officials and politicians have continued to associate with it and its figures, and anti-vaccine figures are associating and partnering with the community. In addition to focusing on local politics, QAnon supporters have continued to run for Congress, for governorships, and for state legislatures.

    Fundamentally, QAnon has developed into a sprawling anti-reality network that has given a boost to election deniers, anti-vaxxers, white nationalists, militias and anti-government groups, and even 9/11 Truthers and Flat Earthers. And even others in the far-right who do not truly or fully support QAnon have still praised its supporters as allies and identified the community as an opportunity.

    In other words, the community has grown beyond Q and is very much alive.

    This is because the social media companies made an extremely consequential choice by not acting as QAnon grew on their platforms for years. When the crackdowns came, it was too late and the platforms struggled to fully enforce them. The QAnon ecosystem, along with a significant number of supporters, then moved to other platforms — such as Telegram, Rumble, Bitchute, and Gab. And multiple QAnon-supporting participants in the Capitol insurrection appeared to have stumbled into the QAnon world due to that choice.

    Now, an evolving — and Q-less — QAnon has continued to corrode our democratic system, our public health, our friends and families, and our society….

    Much more, including many links, at the link.

  137. says

    Alex Kaplan at Media Matters – “In 2021, an increasingly fractured QAnon community started focusing on local politics — while embracing more extremist beliefs”:

    …Despite all the factors pushing against the conspiracy theory since the start of 2021 — its preferred president no longer in office, its central figure going silent, and its original social media infrastructure heavily targeted — QAnon has survived and is evolving. Its influence has expanded as elected officials and politicians have continued to associate with it and its figures, and anti-vaccine figures are associating and partnering with the community. In addition to focusing on local politics, QAnon supporters have continued to run for Congress, for governorships, and for state legislatures.

    Fundamentally, QAnon has developed into a sprawling anti-reality network that has given a boost to election deniers, anti-vaxxers, white nationalists, militias and anti-government groups, and even 9/11 Truthers and Flat Earthers. And even others in the far-right who do not truly or fully support QAnon have still praised its supporters as allies and identified the community as an opportunity.

    In other words, the community has grown beyond Q and is very much alive.

    This is because the social media companies made an extremely consequential choice by not acting as QAnon grew on their platforms for years. When the crackdowns came, it was too late and the platforms struggled to fully enforce them. The QAnon ecosystem, along with a significant number of supporters, then moved to other platforms — such as [list]….

    Now, an evolving — and Q-less — QAnon has continued to corrode our democratic system, our public health, our friends and families, and our society….

    Much more, including many links, at the link.

  138. says

    SC @159, thanks for posting that important information. It’s not just the military, we now have a Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, whose long game includes achieving the goals of a Christian movement that is intent on remaking America.

    On December 1st, the Supreme Court had its day of oral argument in a landmark abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, brought by the State of Mississippi. It was the first case that the Court had taken in thirty years in which the petitioners were explicitly asking the Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and its successor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed that decision in 1992. I

    […] “God is going to punish you, murderer!” a man with a megaphone declaimed—most members of the anti-abortion contingent seemed buoyant. Busloads of students from Liberty University, an evangelical college in Lynchburg, Virginia, snapped selfies in their matching red-white-and-blue jackets. Penny Nance, the head of the conservative group Concerned Women for America, exclaimed, “This is our moment! This is why we’ve marched all these years!”

    A major reason for Nance’s optimism was the presence on the bench of Amy Coney Barrett, the former Notre Dame law professor and federal-court judge whom […] Trump had picked to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18, 2020. With the help of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, Trump had accelerated Barrett’s nomination process, and the Senate confirmed her just a week before the 2020 Presidential election. As a candidate in the 2016 election, Trump had vowed to appoint Justices who would overturn Roe, and as President he had made it a priority to stock the judiciary with conservative judges—especially younger ones. According to an analysis by the law professors David Fontana, of the George Washington University, and Micah Schwartzman, of the University of Virginia, Trump’s nominees to the federal courts of appeals—bodies that, like the Supreme Court, confer lifetime tenure—were the youngest of any President’s “since at least the beginning of the 20th century.” Trump made three Supreme Court appointments, and Neil Gorsuch (forty-nine when confirmed) and Brett Kavanaugh (fifty-three) were the youngest of the nine Justices until Barrett was sworn in, at the age of forty-eight. Her arrival gave the conservative wing of the Court a 6–3 supermajority—an imbalance that won’t be altered by the recent news that one of the three liberal Justices, Stephen Breyer, is retiring.

    Barrett […] is rearing seven children with her husband, Jesse Barrett […] Despite her pro-forma circumspection, her answers on issues from guns to climate change left little doubt that she would feel at home on a Court that is more conservative than it’s been in decades. […] Barrett is “more embedded in the conservative Christian legal movement than any Justice we’ve ever had.” Outside the Court, Nance emphasized this kinship, referring to Barrett as “Sister Amy, on the inside.”

    [Senator Josh] Hawley said, for “religious conservatives to take the lead.” Four months later, that new era unofficially began, when Barrett joined the Court.

    […] Barrett hadn’t served in an Administration, and, unlike the other current Justices, she hadn’t attended an Ivy League law school. She went to Notre Dame, and returned there to teach. […] Notre Dame, which is just outside South Bend, Indiana, is a Catholic institution in a deeply red state, and it’s one of the relatively few well-respected law schools where progressives do not abound. […]

    To some of Barrett’s champions, her life story also offered a retort to the kind of liberal feminism they abhorred. When I asked Nance what she most admired about Barrett, she replied, in an e-mail, “Amy Coney Barrett is a brilliant, accomplished jurist who also happens to be a mother of 7 serving on the highest court in the land. She decimates the argument that women can’t do both, or that women need abortion to ‘live their best lives.’ ” […]

    Barrett didn’t “miss a beat” during her first meeting with Trump, assuring him that she would follow the Constitution and that she could handle attacks from liberals. [Mark] Meadows was struck by “her commitment to her faith and to conservative ideals.” […]

    In public, most conservatives deride the notion that a jurist’s cultural background might influence her decisions, let alone make her a better judge. At Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, in 2009, Republican senators denounced her for having argued, in a speech, that “a wise Latina” might fruitfully draw on her life experience—in her case, as a Puerto Rican New Yorker—in her jurisprudence. But many conservatives were eager to spotlight Barrett’s identity, because it suggested an imperviousness to public-opinion polls and the disapproval of coastal élites. Nance told me that, on a “Women for Amy” bus tour that she had organized to generate enthusiasm for Barrett’s confirmation, “older women in particular would come up to us with tears in their eyes saying that they have been waiting their whole lives for a conservative woman to be appointed to the court.” (O’Connor, Ronald Reagan’s appointee, who helped forge the compromise in Casey that preserved abortion rights, apparently didn’t count.)

    […] Breyer, Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, the three liberal Justices, expressed concern that overturning the long-standing precedents of Roe and Casey could severely undermine the principle of stare decisis—adherence to past rulings on which citizens have come to rely—and make it look as though the Court were reversing course because there’d been a change in personnel. Sotomayor was especially blunt: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

    […] The conservative wing—Roberts, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas—seemed inclined to uphold Mississippi’s ban on virtually all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, undoing Roe’s guarantee of legal abortion up to the point of fetal viability. […] Roberts seemed to be looking, as he often does, for a narrower ruling—a way to find the Mississippi law constitutional without obliterating Roe.

    […] Barrett devoted more of her time to a line of questioning that was not especially jurisprudential—and not one which any other Justice likely would have pursued. Speaking politely, in her youthful-sounding voice, she began asking about “safe haven” laws, which allow a person who has just given birth to leave the baby—anonymously, with no questions asked—at a fire station or some other designated spot. States began passing such legislation in 1999. (Some legislators found the idea appealing partly because it was about saving babies and partly because—unlike programs that subsidize child care or help beleaguered parents in many other ways—safe havens generally cost little to set up.) Barrett seemed to be implying that such laws posed a feasible alternative to abortion. […] Pregnancy itself, Barrett went on, might impose a temporary burden on the mother, but if you could relinquish the baby you could avoid the burden of parenthood. And, in a peculiar sideswipe, she described pregnancy as “an infringement on bodily autonomy . . . like vaccines,” a comment that seemingly built on anti-vaxxers’ appropriation of pro-choice rhetoric to make a novel suggestion: that being required by your employer to get a shot against a deadly communicable disease is somehow equivalent to being forced to give birth. [!!!]

    Rikelman responded that carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and placing the infant up for adoption had always been an option, even if safe-haven laws were new since Casey. But pregnancy itself had an impact on women—on “their ability to care for other children” and “their ability to work.” The health risks, too, could be “alarmingly high,” Rikelman noted: “It’s seventy-five times more dangerous to give birth in Mississippi than it is to have a pre-viability abortion, and those risks are disproportionately threatening the lives of women of color.” Barrett pressed on: “Are you saying that the right, as you conceive of it, is grounded primarily in the bearing of the child, in the carrying of a pregnancy, and not so much looking forward into the consequences on professional opportunities and work life and economic burdens?” Rikelman said that the answer was clearly both.

    [Amy Coney Barrett’s] remarks about safe havens sounded oddly naïve about other people’s experiences of family, childbearing, and adoption. She made no reference to the fact that pregnancy and childbirth pose more health dangers to women than legal abortion does—or that the majority of women who have abortions already have children at home, which means that safeguarding the health of those women protects their living children. […]

    Marley Greiner, a co-founder of the advocacy organization Bastard Nation, told me that many advocates for adoptees are skeptical of safe-haven laws, because they can make it much harder for potential adoptees to obtain birth certificates and health information connected to their family history, or to contact their biological parents in the future. Moreover, when an infant is dropped off anonymously, it’s extremely difficult to tell if someone has been coerced into doing so. Greiner explained, “There is no simple mechanism for the surrendering parent—much less a non-surrendering parent or a relative who suspects or knows that a safe-havening took place—to attempt to legally challenge or rescind the surrender.” Nobody wants desperate people to be leaving newborns in dumpsters, but there are few reliable statistics about neonaticide, and it’s uncertain whether safe-haven laws do much to alleviate the problem.

    A kind of magical thinking animates a belief in these laws as a panacea for unwanted pregnancy.[…]

    It’s not clear what inspired Barrett’s questions about safe-haven laws. The brief filed by Mississippi in 2021 makes only a passing mention of them, and dozens of amicus briefs filed on behalf of Mississippi don’t cite them at all. But two briefs filed by relatively obscure organizations offer sunny assessments of safe havens as an antidote to abortion. A brief from the Justice Foundation, a Texas-based litigation firm that handles anti-abortion cases, contends that “as a matter of law, there are no more ‘unwanted’ children in America because of the major change in circumstances known as Safe Haven laws,” adding, “Even if states ban or restrict abortions completely, or if only one clinic exists in a state, no woman would have to care for a baby if she does not have the desire or ability to do so.” Reason for Life, a Christian ministry in Palmdale, California, filed a brief arguing that the safe-haven approach “gives loving couples a chance to realize their long-awaited dream of welcoming a baby into their hearts and homes,” while also providing “mothers a way to put childrearing responsibilities behind them almost instantaneously.” The Reason for Life brief is credited, in part, to three lawyers at Boyden Gray & Associates, a boutique firm in Washington, D.C.; one of them, Michael Buschbacher, was a law student of Barrett’s at Notre Dame. [Yikes]

    […] Barrett’s personal views on abortion are no mystery. In 2006, she signed her name to a two-page ad, placed in the South Bend Tribune by the group St. Joseph County Right to Life, that defended “the right to life from fertilization to natural death” and declared that it was “time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.” In 2015, she signed an open letter to Catholic bishops affirming the Church’s traditional teachings on gender roles, divorce, and the sanctity of life. She was a member of the Notre Dame Chapter of University Faculty for Life […]

    At Barrett’s confirmation hearing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in 2017, and again three years later, when she was nominated to the Supreme Court, she declined to say whether she believes that Roe was a mistake. (At the earlier hearing, she allowed that it “had been affirmed many times.”) At the 2020 hearings, when Senator Dianne Feinstein pressed her to discuss Roe, Barrett refused. “It would actually be wrong and a violation of the canons for me to do that as a sitting judge,” she chided. “If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case.” Other nominees to the Court have taken a similar tack, but Barrett’s previous unambiguous commitments on the abortion issue—and her willingness to stand up publicly for them in the recent past—gave her answers a particularly surreal air. […]

    […] According to an analysis by Adam Feldman, of the blog Empirical scotus, in Barrett’s three years on the appeals court she showed “a high rate of ruling for conservative outcomes in all types of decisions.” Her opinions were also largely “pro-business.” Barrett was involved with three abortion-related cases on the Seventh Circuit. In 2018, she was one of five judges who wanted to review a decision, made by a three-judge panel, that had struck down an Indiana law requiring fetal remains to be cremated or buried. In 2019, Barrett voted in favor of rehearing another overturned Indiana law—one requiring minors to get parental permission before an abortion. In the third case, also in 2019, she voted to permit a Chicago ordinance that kept anti-abortion protesters—or “sidewalk counsellors,” as they call themselves—at a distance from clinics. This may seem surprising, but the opinion she joined emphasized that the judges felt bound—and frustrated—by a 2000 Supreme Court decision upholding a similar Colorado law. As Courthouse News reported at the time, the ruling on the Chicago ordinance “almost begs the pro-life plaintiffs to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

    […] “It’s hard to find a law with more widespread public support than preventing felons from possessing firearms. [Amy Coney Barrett’s] kind of interpretation could be used to call into question virtually the entire gun-safety agenda: assault rifles, universal background checks. There’s no ‘history and tradition’ there.” Barrett’s logic could similarly overturn laws preventing people who were convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. Beating your wife wasn’t a crime in Colonial America, Winkler pointed out. […] it was a very expansive view of the Second Amendment—outside of the mainstream of most federal judges—and it goes out of its way to adopt a history-and-tradition analysis that would appeal to McConnell and to the Federalist Society.”

    […] in her first term she joined the five other conservatives in making it more difficult for members of minority groups in Arizona to vote, and in overturning a California requirement that restricted dark-money charitable donations. […] Barrett has been consistent in siding with plaintiffs who argued that pandemic restrictions had unfairly constricted the free exercise of their faith. […] Barrett, given her dissent as an appellate judge in Kanter, “is likely to be a very strong conservative vote against gun control.” […] Robert Tuttle, a law professor at the George Washington University who writes extensively about the religion clauses, described this phenomenon as trying to “insure that the faithful can exempt themselves from norms that legal or majoritarian processes have changed.” He went on, “The battle is to get control of institutions, reverse these norms, and reinstate a moral order compatible with their faith.”

    […] rulings in favor of religion have increased from about forty-six per cent under Chief Justice Earl Warren (whose tenure ran from 1953 to 1969) to eighty-three per cent today […] Opponents of the idea of church-and-state separation have often said that eliminating religion from public schools is not neutral—it’s imposing a religion of secularism. In previous eras, though, the Court was quite clear that, no, that’s not the case—it’s just enforcing a separation between church and state.” Barrett’s idea, which the Court seemed ready to embrace, was that education was inevitably a value-based enterprise, and that religion was just one perspective among many.

    […] The reality is that Americans face a future in which the Court, much like the rest of the country’s political infrastructure, will be imposing an array of conservative, minority views, some of them religiously based. […]

    The Justices aren’t partisan hacks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t political. Barrett may be pursuing her goals more slowly, and more cautiously, than Alito. But what’s the hurry? She has plenty of time.

    Excerpts above are from a longer article written by Margaret Talbot for The New Yorker

  139. says

    A short time ago, Mitch McConnell was asked whether the Jan. 6th insurrection was “legitimate political discourse” and he responded saying that it was on the contrary a “violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election.” [video available at the link]

    It’s notable that McConnell seemed to mostly want to talk about the censure of the two members of the House and whether the RNC should be censuring members who are out of step with the rest of the party on certain issues. […]

  140. says

    Republicans acting like asshole:

    Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, on Tuesday accused a Republican colleague of poking her and telling her to “kiss my ass” after she asked him to put on a mask.

    “Today, while heading to the House floor for votes, I respectfully asked my colleague Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) to put on a mask while boarding the train,” Beatty tweeted. “He then poked my back, demanding I get on the train. When I asked him not to touch me, he responded, ‘kiss my ass.’”

    She added that the episode is indicative of a bigger issue with Republican members flaunting health and safety guidelines. At the Capitol, especially on the House side, the divide between Democrats and Republicans wearing masks is particularly stark.

    Beatty ended her thread by tweeting that when Rogers is ready to “grow up” and “apologize” for his behavior, he knows where to find her. […]


  141. says

    Followup to comment 162.

    Huh, it sounds like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is kinda over the RNC’s censure of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and particularly […] the RNC’s resolution [bowing to] the white terrorists who attacked the Capitol for Donald Trump. That resolution accused Cheney and Kinzinger of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” because we guess the RNC now defines white terrorism as “legitimate political discourse.”

    […] Anyway, here’s McConnell talking about the RNC’s resolution:

    “It was a violent insurrection with the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election. … That’s what it was,” McConnell said.

    So, not a “legitimate political discourse.” A “violent insurrection.” Tucker gonna be so mad tonight.

    McConnell also said:

    “This issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC,” he added about the censure resolution.

    […] So here’s Mitch McConnell, doing that thing he does occasionally where he tells the truth. And again, we just bet it’s happening because some kind of realization is rumbling around certain Republican circles in DC right now that if they keep pulling this shit, if they keep attacking Cheney and Kinzinger, if they keep desperately trying to rewrite what happened January 6, if they don’t at least try to pretend to be normal decent Americans once in a while, the midterms are literally theirs to lose.

    Someone might be circulating a memo reminding Republicans that the American people physically watched the 1/6 terrorist attack on TV with their own eyes, and swing voters may not be prepared to accept Tucker Carlson’s fantasy reality where Trump’s stinky grunt people were booby-trapped into attacking the Capitol by feds dangling Pup-Peronis. (Or WHATEVER it is they believe today.)

    […] We’re just seeing a lot of things this week that read to us like Republicans suddenly shitting their pants worried they’re about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory […]

    And that’s why McConnell won’t be running to Tucker to grovel and apologize for what he said. Tucker goes after McConnell all the time, and McConnell DGAF. No points awarded for McConnell, obviously, as he’s just trying to win.

    It’s fun to watch them all fight, though.


  142. says

    Nikki Haley Wishes Mike Pence Would Stop Picking On Innocent Attempted-Mike Pence-Murderer Donald Trump

    Everyone has to make choices in this world, and yesterday, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley chose to be more craven and pathetic than both Chris Christie and Mike Pence combined. During a Fox News interview Monday, Haley expressed her disappointment that Pence, whose Donald Trump’s thugs tried to murder, had dared criticize Trump in public, where God was watching. [video available at the link]

    Notice that when Bret Baier plays Haley the clip of Pence rebuking Trump’s despotic ambitions, she responds, “Look, I think Mike Pence is a good man. He’s an honest man. I think he did what he thought was right on that day.” She’s acting as if Pence is on trial. More importantly, Pence didn’t do “what he thought was right.” This wasn’t a simple disagreement between two people with equally valid positions. Pence refused to break the law for Trump. Overturning the results in a free and fair election is objectively wrong.

    Haley continued:

    I will always say. I’m not a fan of Republicans going against Republicans, because the only ones who win when that happens are the Democrats and the media.

    Haley conveniently forgets that the only reason Pence made his remarks at the Federalist Society event is because Trump has spent the past year blaming Pence for not shredding democracy on his behalf. Trump won’t let it go. Maybe Haley hasn’t been keeping up on current events, but the GOP is actively purging anyone whose primary loyalty isn’t to Donald Trump. Republicans at the state level have censured any GOP House members who voted to impeach Trump, and last week, the Republican National Committee censured Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because they’re part of the January 6 commission investigating an attack on the US Capitol.

    Lady, you’re never gonna be president now or ever. You could at least try to pretend like you have a few principles in your handbag next to the Tic Tacs. C’mon, even Chris Cillizza says that Republicans like Haley do a “disservice to the fight for democracy when they paint the debate between Pence and Trump in standard political terms.”

    Haley’s Party Over Country position, where she demonizes Democrats as not truly American and supports Republicans no matter what, is hardly admirable under the best conditions. However, right now, there is clearly a battle waging within the GOP between Big Lie-promoting fascists and the remaining few Republicans who are almost respectable. The clock is ticking to the next coup showdown. Haley can either pick a side now or have one picked for her.

    Rep. Ilhan Omar shared a video of Haley reading Trump for filth during a rally for Marco Rubio, whom Haley had endorsed for president because that’s probably what her handlers advised. It’s not clear her conscience, if she ever had one, is involved in her decision making process. […]

    In February 2016, well before President Trump had incited a violent insurrection and was just Citizen Scumbag, Haley described him as “everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten.” She claimed she taught her children that you “don’t lie and make things up” — you know, like unsupported accusations of widespread election “fraud.”

    HALEY: A man who chooses not to disavow the KKK … that is not a part of our party. That is not who we want as president. We will not allow that in our country.

    All that’s changed in the past five years is that Trump has amassed power and Haley desperately craves it.

  143. says

    This Vaccine Disinfo Is Wildly Disgusting, Even For Tucker And Charlie Kirk

    Once upon a time, the CEO of a large health insurance company called OneAmerica told folks some startling numbers about the current death rate in America among those aged 18 to 64. Of his company’s customers, J. Scott Davison said, “Death rates are up 40 percent over what they were pre-pandemic,” and that it’s the same across the industry. He said, “We’re seeing right now the highest death rates we’ve ever seen in the history of this business.”

    According to CDC estimates, there have been almost a million “excess deaths” in America since February 1, 2020, and Davison is careful to explain that just because a person’s death certificate doesn’t say “COVID” doesn’t mean the virus didn’t contribute to that horrifying number:

    […] Davison says OneAmerica expects to pay out more than $100 million in short- and long-term disability claims due to the pandemic.

    […] Did you read the part where Davison suggested COVID vaccines are killing these people, or expressed confusion over why they were dying? If you missed that, don’t worry, he didn’t say it.

    But if you’re Tucker Carlson or Charlie Kirk, you for some reason have decided it’s best to lie to your white supremacist followers about COVID, so you are telling people Davison said the literal opposite of what he said. [video is available at the link]

    This segment starts with Tucker saying everybody should be very worried because more and more Americans are dying younger, and alerts his viewers to Scott Davison’s comments. Or rather, some of them. He tells them about the 40 percent uptick in deaths and how bigwigs in the life insurance biz are SHOCKED.

    TUCKER: So the question: What’s causing this?

    As if Scott Davison had left it open to interpretation.

    TUCKER: It’s clear our leaders don’t think COVID is to blame.

    They do, and Scott Davison does.

    TUCKER: Here’s Stacey Abrams maskless in front of a room full of masked children, and she has at least one very obvious comorbidity.

    Stop the presses, a racist white man with well-documented masculinity issues called a Black woman fat.

    TUCKER: Here’s Barack Obama maskless in the face of his masked servants as they build his latest mansion in Hawai’i.

    Jesus Christ, Tucker’s just doing show-and-tell with pictures of people who make him feel like a tiny, sad, lonely little boy. (Obama was outside in the maskless picture, of course. The “masked servants” were construction workers. And the racist dogwhistle Tucker’s blowing here is not really a dogwhistle, since it’s SO LOUD.)

    Anyway, Tucker’s bit here was that he’s confused why all these Americans are dying, so he brought on Charlie Kirk, who brought Davison’s comments to his attention, so they could lie about them together.

    TUCKER: What is this!

    CHARLIE KIRK: We don’t know!


    KIRK: One business that actually tells the truth regarding the death of Americans is life insurance.

    And when they do, Charlie Kirk will be there to say they said the opposite of what they said!

    KIRK: They have to get this right. They have entire teams of actuaries that study this data all day long. It’s not the public health authorities that are warning this, it is a single CEO of a major life insurance company that says, “Hey, by the way, there’s a 40 percent increase in deaths.” Ten percent, he said, would be a once-in-200-year-catastrophe. We have a 40 percent increase in death, and it’s not because of COVID.

    Davison didn’t say that last part. Wonder if Davison is discussing this with lawyers, because it would seem like accusing the CEO of a health insurance company of spreading Tucker-grade vaccine disinformation might be actionable.

    KIRK: And we deserve answers. What is so amazing, Tucker, is that we’ve known this information and this data for a couple of weeks now. Where are the politicians? Where are the leaders? Where are the people we put in charge to actually care about the well-being of our people?

    Charlie and Tucker so mad they have to make up the lies all by themselves. Where are the politicians? Where are the leaders? How did nobody else see this CEO’s words and decide to make up lies about them?

    KIRK: Well, at least we know how many times Joe Rogan used a bad word in a podcast the last 10 years. I guess we’re getting our pronouns right for our six-year-olds …

    It’s always about white supremacy and masculine insecurity. Always always always.

    KIRK: But we have a 40 percent increase in death amongst the supposed healthiest portion of the American population. This is a catastrophe. We deserve answers, and some would conjecture, hey, does this have something to do with the fact that we might have done a mass inoculation strategy?

    Kirk added that there have been deaths of “alienation, suicide and otherwise,” but just let his question hang there about whether we should Just Ask Questions about whether everybody is dying of a “mass inoculation strategy,” AKA the COVID vaccine. Some would conjecture it, he says! Therefore it must be valid.

    Of course, nobody with a working brain would conjecture that, especially since the CEO at no point remotely suggested it had anything to do with the lifesaving vaccines. He attributed it to COVID, long COVID, conditions caused by COVID, and people who couldn’t get the healthcare they needed because hospitals were overrun with COVID patients.

    There are so many things about this we don’t understand. Tucker has been suggesting vaccines just might kill your Nana for almost a year now. Did Tucker get a missive from his real father Vladimir Putin with instructions to help kill and/or weaken half the American population? […] What, isn’t that how you Just Ask Questions?

    […] seriously, though, what is their endgame here? Have the people pulling their strings done the equations and decided that fomenting this kind of authoritarian Kremlin-style distrust in the existence of a verifiable reality is worth however many dead bodies pile up as a direct result of those people listening to Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk? […]

  144. says

    The idea that US history shouldn’t be taught because it makes white/male/straight/cis/… kids feel guilty or uncomfortable for being “who they are” is a pretense.

    It’s bizarre that it assumes that people learning about the oppression of others like them is somehow a positive or comfortable experience. But also – and apologies if I’ve raised this before – I think the fear of the people and organizations behind this movement is the opposite of what they contend. They’re afraid not that kids will feel guilty or bad for “being” who they “are” – white, male, etc. – but that they might start to question both the categories to which they’ve been assigned and the behaviors that are said to follow from this classification.

    In classrooms in which real history is taught, many kids will start to examine how the existing categories were created. They’ll also maybe think “What would I have done?”, putting themselves in the position of a number of different people and imagining themselves and others in a longer timeline stretching into the future. And that’s the beginning of seeing themselves in the course of history, and asking if they’re supporting oppression or liberation now. That‘s what authoritarians are afraid of.

  145. says

    From the comments on the HCA “We’re on Wikipedia now” post:

    “And we will hit 500,000 Sheeple soon!”

    “You know what I want for our 500k-iversary? For these jokers to get vaccinated. Ideally then shut up/stop hate-posting, but I will be happy with vaccinations.”

    Please. Please. Please. Just get vaccinated. 2,600 people are dying in the US every day. Get it in secret. Whatever. Just get it.

  146. says

    Republicans want to recruit the best candidates to run for Senate seats, but they’ve created a chamber that the best candidates don’t want to be a part of.

    As Senate Republicans took stock of the 2022 election cycle last year, they recognized that there would likely be competitive contests in battleground states such as Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. But GOP leaders also believed they could create some competitive races in reliably “blue” states by recruiting the right candidates to run.

    With this in mind, the party started lobbying Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to launch a Republican Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Yesterday, as the NBC affiliate in Baltimore reported, the governor said no.

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate, rebuffing an aggressive recruitment push from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who saw the term-limited governor as the GOP’s best chance to win in the deep-blue state. Hogan announced his decision during an unrelated afternoon press conference in the State House […].

    “I sincerely appreciate all the people who have been encouraging me to consider it. A number of people have said they thought I could make a difference in the Senate and be a voice of common sense and moderation,” Hogan said. “I was certainly humbled by that and it gave me and my family a reason to consider it, but as I have repeatedly said, I don’t aspire to be a United States senator and that fact has not changed.”

    The GOP governor added that he notified party leaders about his decision before making the public comments.

    For Van Hollen, this was no doubt welcome news. There are no top-tier Republicans preparing to take him on, and the filing deadline is just two weeks away.

    To be sure, the Democratic incumbent likely would’ve been favored anyway. Some “blue” states elect Republican governors (see Vermont and Massachusetts, for example), just as some “red” states elect Democratic governors (see Kentucky and Louisiana, for example). Senate races tend to be very different stories.

    [The GOP] is “struggling to land top-tier recruits even as the deteriorating political climate for Democrats puts them in a strong position to win back the chamber.”[…]

    Republican leaders asked Gov. Phil Scott to run in Vermont, and he said no. Republican leaders asked Gov. Chris Sununu to run in New Hampshire, and he said no. Republican leaders asked Gov. Doug Ducey to run in Arizona, and at least for now, he said no. Republican leaders asked Hogan to run in Maryland, and now he’s also said no.

    Remember, there’s ample evidence to suggest this will be a very good year for GOP candidates up and down the ballot, so it’s not as if these governors rejected party overtures because they faced electoral headwinds.

    […] Sununu, in particular, very nearly launched a Senate campaign, right up until he talked to GOP senators about their governing plans — at which point the New Hampshire governor quickly moved in the opposite direction.

    […] the result of these failed recruiting attempts will likely be a Republican Party stuck with several nominees in competitive races who are both far from the American mainstream and difficult to take seriously. […] but the Senate already has some Republican members who are far from the American mainstream and difficult to take seriously, but they got elected anyway.

    […] In the 2010 midterm elections, a Republican wave wiped out the Democratic majority in the U.S. House, but Democrats held onto their U.S. Senate majority — because GOP primary voters nominated unelectable candidates in Delaware, Colorado, and Nevada. The political winds were obviously blowing in Republicans’ direction, but it wasn’t enough to flip the chamber.

    Two years later, the Democratic majority in the Senate actually got a little bigger, thanks to unelectable GOP candidates who lost in Missouri and Indiana.

    It’s impossible to say with confidence whether history will repeat itself, but the point is that candidates matter, and right now, Republicans are struggling to recruit the best ones.

  147. says

    One day after DHS warned that election conspiracy theories are contributing to public threats, Trump pushed a new round of election conspiracy theories.

    For many Americans, Donald Trump’s conspiratorial lies about his 2020 defeat have become a nuisance, creating an annoying background noise to our daily public life. But as we’ve discussed, for those responsible for monitoring domestic security threats, the Republican’s nonsense is more menacing.

    Politico reported last summer, for example, on “concerns” at the Department of Homeland Security about Trump’s election conspiracy theories. CNN reported soon after that Justice Department officials also concluded that the former president’s delusional claims increased the risk of political violence from his most rabid followers.

    NBC News reported in August that the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to local police departments, warning that false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were “fueling calls for violence on social media.”

    The problem doesn’t appear to be going away. CNN reported:

    The spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation is fueling the “heightened threat” environment in the United States, warns the latest national bulletin issued Monday by the Department of Homeland Security.

    The full “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland” was issued and published online this week, and it covers a fair amount of ground, including referencing the recent hostage attack at a Texas synagogue and the threats directed at multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

    But the document’s repeated references to election-related concerns stand out.

    The Department of Homeland Security noted, for example, that “widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud” is a key factor “contributing to the current heightened threat environment.” DHS added:

    Some domestic violent extremists have continued to advocate for violence in response to false or misleading narratives about unsubstantiated election fraud. The months preceding the upcoming 2022 midterm elections could provide additional opportunities for these extremists and other individuals to call for violence directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers.

    The DHS bullet also noted […] that “threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”

    Evidently, Donald Trump heard about the Department of Homeland Security’s bulletin and decided to take action — by deliberately making matters worse.

    “The Biden Administration now says ‘conspiracy theories’ about elections are the greatest threat to the homeland,” the former president said in a written statement issued yesterday. The Republican proceeded to spend the next several sentences peddling a series of ridiculous conspiracy theories about his defeat in Georgia, his defeat in Wisconsin, his defeat in Arizona, and his odd belief that Facebook “hijacked” the elections.

    To the extent that reality matters, the Biden administration did not actually say that election-related conspiracy theories are “the greatest threat to the homeland.” What’s more, each of Trump’s claims were demonstrably absurd.

    But what made the statement notable is the larger context: The Department of Homeland Security on Monday issued a bulletin, warning that conspiracy theories about elections are contributing to threats to public safety. This led Trump on Tuesday to issue a new round of election-related conspiracy theories.

    Or put another way, the Department of Homeland Security pointed to a simmering fire that might put Americans at risk, at which point the former Republican president thought it’d be a good idea to reach for his bottle of lighter fluid.

  148. says

    The most significant USPS reforms in decades passed the House yesterday, and believe it or not, the bill might actually become law.

    […] The New York Times reported overnight:

    The House on Tuesday approved the most significant overhaul of the Postal Service in nearly two decades, seeking to address the beleaguered agency’s financial woes and counter pandemic-era mail delays that became a flash point in the 2020 elections.

    The final roll call showed the bill clearing the chamber, 342 to 92. Democrats were unanimous in the support for the legislation, and they were joined by 120 Republicans. (A total of 92 GOP House members voted against it.)

    The result is one of the more important bipartisan bills of the current Congress.

    In case anyone needs a refresher, the USPS has been plagued by financial challenges in recent years, and it’s largely Congress’ fault. NBC News explained last year that lawmakers approved a law in 2006 “that required the Postal Service to create a $72 billion fund that would pay for its employees’ retirement health benefits for more than 50 years into the future” — a requirement that does not exist for any other federal agency.

    Not surprisingly, the mandate that forced the USPS to prepay retirement benefits decades in advance has taken a dramatic toll on the Postal Services’ balance sheets, spurring talk of a reform package.

    The legislation that passed the House yesterday would help put things right. From the Times’ report:

    To address the financial strain on the agency, the bill requires retired employees to enroll in Medicare when they are eligible and removes a mandate, first imposed by a 2006 law, that the agency cover its future health care costs decades in advance. The Postal Service estimates that those two changes will save the agency about $50 billion over a decade, according to a fact sheet provided by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, whose leaders led efforts to draft the legislation. The committee said it would be the most significant overhaul of the agency in nearly two decades.

    […] The Senate version of the Postal Service Reform Act currently has 14 Republican co-sponsors. So long as they continue to support their own bill, this legislation will be on track to actually pass and reach the White House — where it will receive a warm welcome from President Joe Biden.

    […] As for why, exactly, so many Republicans are going along with this effort, it’s worth remembering an important detail: Americans really do care about the Postal Service. The Times’ article described the USPS as “a popular mainstay of American life,” which is absolutely accurate.

    Even GOP lawmakers have an incentive to boast to their constituents about helping rescue the agency that delivers their mail.

  149. says

    Followup to comments 81, 93, 97, 98, 155, 162 and 164.

    It’s absolutely true that Mitch McConnell said the right things about the RNC’s tactics, but his willingness to state reality was not the end of the story.

    If the Republican National Committee was striving for party “unity,” it failed spectacularly. Late last week, the RNC not only censured two of their conservative members without cause, it also accused the Jan. 6 committee of engaging in “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

    Ever since, leading Republican voices have been forced to take sides, either endorsing or criticizing their party’s avoidable mess. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, Congress’ most powerful GOP official decided it was his turn to weigh in.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell disagreed Tuesday with the Republican National Committee’s recent censure of two GOP lawmakers, as well as its characterization of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

    “We all were here; we saw what happened,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters, referring to the events of Jan. 6. “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.”

    As for the RNC’s censure of two sitting House Republicans — Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger — the Senate minority leader didn’t appear pleased about that, either.

    The RNC shouldn’t be “in the business of picking and choosing Republicans who ought to be supported,” McConnell added. “The issue is whether or not the RNC should be, sort of, singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC.”

    […] the Senate minority leader is publicly rebuking his own party’s tactics; the RNC is denouncing two of its own members; and the Senate Republican conference has spent the last several days divided.

    […] Democratic officials sometimes look for ways to pit Republicans against one another. In this instance, Republicans apparently decided to divide themselves entirely on their own.

    As for McConnell, I’m perfectly comfortable giving the Senate minority leader credit for saying the right things yesterday. He knew these questions were coming, and he could’ve prepared an artful dodge or two, but the Kentuckian instead accurately described the Jan. 6 attack — in ways many in his party are highly reluctant to do — and called out the Republican National Committee. Good for him.

    But the larger context is less flattering.

    This is the same Mitch McConnell who said he would “absolutely“ support Donald Trump’s 2024 candidacy, despite the former president’s role in what the senator described as “a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.” It’s also the same Mitch McConnell who hasn’t announced his opposition to any anti-election candidates running in Republican Senate primaries this year.

    And perhaps most importantly, this is also the same Mitch McConnell who took it upon himself to kill a bipartisan plan to create an independent commission to examine the Jan. 6 attack. Indeed, as we recently discussed, it was in May 2021 when McConnell told his members a Jan. 6 probe was likely to undermine the party’s midterm election message. A few days later, the top Senate Republican was reportedly telling his members he’d consider it “a personal favor“ if they helped derail the legislation to create an independent commission.

    An unnamed GOP senator told CNN at the time, “No one can understand why Mitch is going to this extreme of asking for a ‘personal favor’ to kill the commission.”

    As NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin explained well yesterday, “Had McConnell allowed an independent commission, the RNC resolution to censure Cheney and Kinzinger would also not exist, because the committee they’re on would not exist. No matter how much McConnell wants the party to move on from this, he’s not the guy who gets to decide.”

  150. says

    Guardian – “Second man pleads guilty to plot to kidnap Michigan governor”:

    A man charged in an alleged plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, a second key conviction for the government a month before four others face trial.

    Kaleb Franks joined Ty Garbin as the second person to admit guilt in a plot to abduct the Democratic governor before FBI agents arrested them in October 2020. The plea gives prosecutors another important witness for the 8 March trial.

    The government said the group wanted to kidnap Whitmer because of their opposition to her administration’s public health measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. More than 900,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the US during the pandemic, far more than any other country worldwide.

    He signed a document admitting he “was not entrapped or induced to commit any crimes” by undercover agents or informants. Garbin pleaded guilty in 2021 and was sentenced to slightly more than six years in prison.

    Franks acknowledged in court documents that he was deeply involved in the plot, which included outdoor training with firearms in Wisconsin and Michigan and scouting Whitmer’s second home in northern Michigan.

    While there is no agreement on the length of his prison sentence, Franks could be rewarded if he “materially and substantially assists” the government.

    Then-president Donald Trump refused to denounce far-right groups who inspired anti-lockdown extremists across the country. Trump had earlier urged supporters to “LIBERATE” Michigan and two other states led by Democratic governors from stay-at-home mandates in April 2020. Dozens of US public health officials have reported receiving death threats for their work during the pandemic.

  151. says

    I’ve been thinking about “negative empathy”, the ability to feel the negative expressions of others. And I can’t help notice that Trump doesn’t fire people himself. I think he still has it (and so many others that might not be thought of as “empathetic”) but he feels something and chooses to make the source of the, irritant maybe, go away.

  152. blf says

    Latest plan by the election crybabies at the Arizona Legislature: Split up Maricopa County:

    Crybabying and bellyaching over the 2020 election has now entered an entirely new phase at the Arizona Legislature.

    Oh sure, the 100 or so bills to reform Arizona’s election laws continue to flow forth to combat all that still-undiscovered election fraud — the stuff the Senate’s own auditors couldn’t find.

    But now comes a new idea from the sore loser set: A plan to strip the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors of their power by splitting up the county into four smaller counties.

    Three would be controlled by Republicans and one by Democrats.

    […] Before getting elected to the Legislature in 2020, [the bill’s author, Jake] Hoffman was running what amounts to an internet troll farm — paying teenagers to post conservative talking points and baseless conspiracy theories aimed at getting President Donald Trump[the then Wacko House squatter] reelected.

    Hoffman’s Rally Forge paid teens, some of them minors, to set up fake personas and blanket social media with thousands of nearly identical posts designed to undermine confidence in the validity of election and downplay the impact of COVID-19.

    In other words, Hoffman wanted to fool you into thinking these were real people spontaneously expressing deeply held conservative beliefs instead of what they were — a group of kids being paid to deceive you.

    […] Hoffman went on to pose as a fake elector in December 2020, avowing that he had been duly elected by Arizona voters to cast one of the state’s 11 electoral votes for Donald Trump[hair furor].


    The proposed counties are artfully gerrymandered, packing Democrats into one county and leaving Republicans to control the other three.


    Normally, I would say this bill has no chance of seeing the light of day, but do not underestimate the level of Republican legislative anger at their brethren on the GOP-run Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the ones who dared to speak the truth when Republicans all around them were clinging to conspiracy theories.

    Hopefully, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Mesa Republican and one of the few adults over at crybaby central, will consign this bill to the same fate as Rep John Fillmore’s proposal to allow the Legislature to simply veto the results of any election it doesn’t like.

    But as Hoffman said, In unprecedented times, unprecedented actions occur.

    Also unhinged ones.


  153. says

    Dear parents who want to put a video camera in my classroom:

    Your tax dollars pay my salary, so you want to make sure I’m teaching your child properly. That I’m not exposing your child to harmful ideas that clash with your value system. That I’m treating your child with fairness and respect. I get that.

    Then you should agree to grant me access to a video camera in your home. I should be able to see that you’re raising my student properly. That you’re treating my student with love and dignity. That you’re providing nutritious meals, a safe and stable environment, adequate clothing, and enough time to study so my student arrives at school every day clean, well rested, well fed, and ready to learn.

    It is universally accepted that most of the problems students bring to the classroom can be traced to their home environment. When a student commits a crime on school property, whether it be drug related, theft, assault, or a mass shooting, authorities immediately investigate the student’s home. They do not demand to examine the teachers’ lesson plans. I know of no instance in which a student was so radicalised by what he learned in school that he went home and shot his family.

    So, by all means, put a camera in my classroom. Perhaps you will learn something.


    Your child’s teacher


  154. says

    Florida’s state Senate Education Committee voted on party lines Tuesday to move forward the Senate’s version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and that drew several sharp replies from the Biden administration, as well as from the president himself. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at yesterday’s daily presser that all parents want political leaders to “ensure their children’s safety, protection and freedom,” but that Florida Republicans had “rejected those basic values” by advancing a bill that’s “designed to target and attack the kids who need support” the most, noting that multiple studies have shown LGBTQ kids are targeted for bullying and violence.

    The Florida bills, HB 1557 and SB 1834, say that schools

    may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.

    The bill doesn’t bother defining what exactly would constitute “appropriate” (or inappropriate) ways of discussing gender identity or sexual orientation, but invites bigots to impose their own definitions by allowing parents to sue schools for damages. To be on the safe side, schools should probably just never mention gay or trans people at all.

    No similar protections are afforded to parents of gay kids who are harassed or bullied in Florida schools, mind you, because the whole point is that schools mustn’t acknowledge gay people, much less protect them.

    Where Donald Trump was always quick to add his misinformed opinion on state legislation, Biden has generally only commented on bills moving through Congress. That made his thorough rejection of the Florida measures particularly significant:

    I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.

    We imagine somewhere some wingnuts are very sad about being called “hateful” simply because they want to protect their families from ever explaining why a disgusting classmate said she has two sinning dads.

    NBC News reports that Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he’s in favor of the bill, although he stopped short of saying he would sign it. He complained that schools are supposedly telling kids “Don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet,” and that schools are frequently “hiding” class content from parents.

    “Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff.”

    All those basic stuff like count nouns and mass nouns, we guess. DeSantis also said parents “must have a seat at the table when it comes to what’s going on in their schools,” and what better way to ensure parent input than to encourage lawsuits against teachers?

    […] Just to be clear, during debate yesterday in the Florida Senate, one of the bill’s supporters made clear that Heather absolutely will not be welcome to say she has two mommies. Sen. Tina Polsky (D) asked whether kids with LGBTQ parents would be prohibited from talking about their families, or whether teachers could be sued if a child raised the matter:

    “Why does Johnny have two mommies?” She asked. “What is the teacher supposed to say?”

    One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Dennis Baxley, seemed to suggest that the teacher could indeed get into big trouble for having such a “sexual-type discussion” in an elementary classroom:

    Some discussions are for your parents. And I think when you start having sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone. Your awareness should pop up right away, this isn’t teaching.

    Yep, you read that right. Acknowledging the existence of gay parents is a “sexual-type” discussion, because of how gay parents have to have sex to make a baby, while heterosexual parents just go to the hospital to pick up babies from the big vending machine there.

    Presumably, the only allowable response to, “Why does Johnny have two mommies?” is to repeatedly stammer, “Ask your parents”! on loop, and then have a pop quiz on fractions. That might send Johnny the message that his family is an abomination that can’t be mentioned in public […]

    in yesterday’s hearing on the bill, state Sen. Lori Berman questioned yet another bit of vagueness (there’s a lot!) in the bill’s language. Noting that the bill insists that parents must be notified by schools of all “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being,” Berman asked Baxley just how far that would go.

    If a student begins requesting vegetarian meals and the school provides it without telling the parent, is that a ‘critical decision’…?

    Baxley didn’t directly say one way or the other, but “explained” that “anything that relates to (students) should be part of the discussion with parents, not keeping parents in the dark.”

    When Berman asked later whether the vague language in the bill might “lead to a large amount of litigation against our schools,” such as a possible lawsuit if a parent were not notified their kid had requested and been given a vegetarian lunch option, Baxley remained evasive. Without directly answering Berman’s hypothetical question, he said the bill

    would be a relief factor to teachers to know they’re not responsible to deal with every issue in life … I don’t think there’s going to be an enormous amount of lawsuits. That’s just the hammer to let you know there are consequences if you choose to ignore it.

    So let’s pass this sucker and see what the courts think! Then, just to be on the safe side, schools can start sending parents an endless series of updates to parents about everything discussed in class, in the lunchroom, or on the playground.

    Except for Johnny’s two moms. If they want protection of his mental health, they can just stop being sinners […]


  155. says

    Some people are too stupid to do crimes. They get so involved in trying to steal an election that they lose track of time and wind up kicking a cop. Mike Lindell’s buddy Tina Peters is allegedly one of those people.

    Big Lie superfans will remember Peters, the erstwhile Mesa, Colorado, county clerk and recorder who played a starring role at The Pillow Puffer’s Cyber Fraud Hootenanny last August. Donald Trump got 62 percent of the vote in Mesa County. Nevertheless, Peters is convinced that the election was HASHTAG RIGGED, and some sort of way the Gateway Pundit got its hands on video of Mesa County’s Dominion voting machines and their passwords. And while Peters was in North Dakota narrating the video for the MAGA faithful, her office back home in Colorado was getting raided by the secretary of state.

    Peters and her assistant Belinda Knisley were subsequently removed from office after Colorado District Court Judge Valerie Robison found that the pair had deactivated the security cameras and then allowed an unauthorized outside person to access the Dominion machines both before and during a scheduled update.

    If we might quote ourselves here:

    The week before the trusted build [i.e., in-person security update by Dominion officials], Knisley asked for the security cameras in the building to be deactivated, which is just a lilbit sus’ as hell. Then Peters gave someone going by the name “Gerald Wood” electronic access to the building, which he appears to have used to take a forensic image of the Dominion machine’s hard drive over the weekend. Subsequently, Peters brought “Gerald Wood” to the trusted build and said he was an administrative assistant who’d just moved over from the motor vehicle division, allowing him to observe the entire four-hour procedure. “Gerald Wood” then took another digital image of the Dominion hard drive, and then posted both versions online.

    Clearly when Mike Lindell sends his public officials, he’s not sending his best. And according to the Denver Post, these brain geniuses continued their alleged crime spree this week.

    On Monday, Knisley, who is charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor cyber crime, had a hearing before Judge Matthew Barrett. When asked, Peters told the judge that she was not recording the hearing on her iPad. But two witnesses say that she was, which is how Grand Junction police officers wound up at Main Street Bagels on Tuesday morning with a warrant for the device.

    Here’s Peters flipping her shit when they tried to serve it. [video is available at the link]

    In case you don’t want to watch it, that’s a video of a white lady who never dreamed the security state would be turned on her, screaming bloody murder and trying to kick a cop.

    “Do not kick! You understand,” the cop yelled.

    Peters was not tased or beaten, nor did she get a rough ride down to central booking to cool off overnight before being processed. She was arrested and released at the scene. Because, again, white lady.

    For the record, I am also a white lady. I listen to federal hearings by phone every week, and you know what I don’t ever do? That’s right, even in the privacy of my own home, I never record them. Because it’s against the law, and totally unnecessary. Recording it where the judge can see you is about the dumbest thing you could do.

    Well, it’s not as dumb as kicking a cop — but it’s pretty goddamn stupid.


  156. says

    About that statement that was supposedly from RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel:

    […] The resolution, of course, was the brainchild of Trump idiot David Bossie, and originally written by Bossie and Frank Eathorne, chair of the Wyoming Republican Party. In an earlier iteration, it said:

    An early draft condemned the two representatives for participating in “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in nonviolent and legal political discourse,” but “nonviolent and legal” was ultimately taken out and replaced with “legitimate,” according to a person familiar with the drafting who attributed the revision to a routine editing decision.

    It started out worse. “Legitimate political discourse” was a clean version […]

    But the Times reports nonetheless that this has divided the RNC. Some members aren’t pleased by how it turned out, and are not buying Ronna McDaniel’s spin that this was somehow only meant to defend peaceful insurrectionists. Others are defending folks who tried to overthrow the government but didn’t physically storm the Capitol using flagpoles as cattle prods that day:

    Several members of the committee assert that when the censure mentioned “ordinary citizens” and “legitimate political discourse,” it was referring to people like Kathy Berden, a Republican committee member from Michigan who put herself on a fake slate of electors for Mr. Trump. Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the state by more than 154,000 votes, or nearly 3 percentage points.

    Republican National Committee members portray Ms. Berden as an innocent victim of an overzealous investigation, noting that she is elderly and a widow.

    Oh go fuck yourself. If Old Widow Berden tried to overturn a peaceful and fair election, throw the book at her.

    Coward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been going about this differently from McConnell, sometimes literally running away from reporters who ask about it, and sometimes defending the resolution by just releasing some bullshit from his face and calling it a statement:

    Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, by contrast, defended the resolution on Tuesday, telling a CNN reporter that it was meant to condemn the House committee’s targeting of conservatives who were nowhere near Washington on Jan. 6 and had nothing to do with either the attack or the broader effort to overturn the 2020 election.

    Right, you bet.

    […] The Washington Post has more on all the hog testicles that went into the making of this RNC resolution sausage, should you have the appetite. It’s a whole lotta bullshit, and it’s a crisis created by Republicans’ own incompetence. According to one of its sources, Ronna McDaniel is “on the ropes and trying to do damage control,” now that the RNC has officially and unequivocally given its endorsement to the January 6 terrorists. Thoughts and prayers for her, we are sure.

    In our piece yesterday on McConnell’s statement, we emphatically stated that no points should be awarded the Senate minority leader, as he was clearly only wading into the fracas for strategic purposes, and that he seemed mighty worried Republicans were shooting themselves in the foot. The Post confirms that:

    A person who spoke to McConnell said he was frustrated that the party was focused on “the only liability we have” when he believes Republicans are otherwise well-positioned to win in the November midterms.

    That’s it. […]

  157. says

    Trump’s EPA Guy Won’t Get To Despoil Virginia After State Senate Says F*******ck No

    Good News.

    Virginia’s state commonwealth Senate voted yesterday to reject the nomination of former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to the state’s top environmental job, because “former Trump EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, are you shitting me? Are you seriously shitting me here?” At least I assume that’s what all the Democrats in the Senate were thinking before Wheeler’s bid to become the state’s commonwealth’s secretary of natural resources failed on a 21 to 19 party-line vote.

    Now new Gov. Glenn Youngkin will need to find another nominee who manages to be just as awful as Wheeler, but perhaps isn’t a literal former coal lobbyist who worked to dismantle a ton of important environmental protections like the Obama administration’s vehicle fuel-efficiency standards or the Clean Power Plan, which would have required steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation stations. Our grandchildren can all thank Andrew Wheeler for playing a central role in delaying US action on climate, as they’re dealing with the damage from a hotter climate and rising seas.

    Sadly, there’s no shortage of current and former fossil fuel industry types likely to rise to the challenge. When Youngkin announced Wheeler’s nomination in January, he made clear one of his goals as governor was to keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, to ensure that Virginia has a “diverse energy portfolio” that would keep the state prosperous. Youngkin also said the nominee would be responsible for developing a “comprehensive plan to tackle rising sea levels,” although like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, he only mentions that sea levels are rising, while the reasons are best not spoken of in polite company.

    […] Democrats were clear that Wheeler’s environmental record wasn’t acceptable. Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria said he was worried that Wheeler would “do exactly what he did at the federal level — systematically deconstruct regulations that protect our environment.”

    In a statement, Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said that Wheeler was “extraordinarily qualified” for the job and that he had “admirably served for decades in the highest levels of government,” which is one way to characterize the time he spent dismantling environmental protections for the sake of industrial profits. Also too, Porter said Wheeler would actually continue to stay in the job as “Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources” until the current legislative session is adjourned, because Virginia’s Constitution is weird that way.

    Senate Republicans cried great big tears […] “I get the politics,” Stuart said. “I understand that some of these environmental groups out there don’t like him because of who he worked for and that’s just a real shame.”

    That didn’t go over so well with Sen. Chap Petersen, who chairs the Senate committee that oversaw Wheeler’s confirmation hearings. […] Petersen said the job of the state’s secretary of natural resources is “not commerce, it’s not thinking of ways to get around environmental rules — it’s actually protecting our lands and waters.” [well said]

    He said Wheeler was part of an administration that “defunded the Chesapeake Bay, dismantled the Clean Power Plan,” […] weakened coal ash rules and “effectively silenced scientists.”

    […] Thank you, Sen. Petersen, for explaining why no one who worked in any Trump agency should be put in a position of trust, ever.

    […] As Scott Pruitt’s deputy at EPA, Wheeler did most of the dirty energy work, while Pruitt drove around Washington in a motorcade looking to acquire fancy hand lotion, some Trump hotel jizz mattresses, and perhaps a high-paid job for his wife. That should exclude Pruitt from the running, unless Youngkin is looking for a highly qualified personal shopper.

  158. says

    Axios – “Archives requests Justice Department probe of Trump’s handling of records”:

    The National Archives and Records Administration asked the Justice Department to probe former President Trump’s handlings of White House records, the Washington Post reports.

    …The request brings into question whether the former president could be investigated by federal law enforcement for a possible crime, according to the Post.

    …Last month, Trump had to return 15 boxes of documents that he took to Mar-a-Lago instead of handing over to the agency.

    …The boxes contained correspondence between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which he once referred to as “love letters,” and a letter from former President Obama, per the Washington Post.

    …Archives officials suspected that the former president may have violated laws regarding his handling of official documents, including classified ones, and contacted the Justice Department for a potential investigation.

    …It is not yet clear whether the Justice Department will investigate, per the Post….

    Also, the J6 committee has subpoenaed Peter Navarro.

  159. says

    […] “There’s two kinds of science. There’s real science, and there’s political science,” he [Congressman Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican from Pennsylvania] lectured. “The risk of severe disease from COVID-19 to healthy children is very low. This is real science. The CDC data shows that 863 total pediatric deaths related to COVID-19 have occurred since the beginning of this pandemic.” (Wrong.)

    “Many of these children had pre-existing, I’m sorry, had underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the average child, meaning many died with COVID, not of COVID,” he smarmed. “But again, that’s real science, not political science.”

    In fact, it is not. A child with obesity or asthma who dies from coronavirus would still be coming home to his parents at the end of the day if he’d never caught this disease. And while Rep. Reschenthaler is not a doctor and can be forgiven for not understanding the ins and outs of pediatric medicine — if not for spewing vile misinformation into the public record — he is a lawyer. So he knows damn well the legal principles of proximate and “but for” causation. But for COVID-19 a thousand American children would still be alive. Coronavirus was the proximate cause of the deaths the Pennsylvania congressman is so willing to shrug off.

    More to the point, however, what kind of disgusting, eugenics bullshit is this? Is Rep. Reschenthaler actually suggesting that deaths of kids with comorbidities don’t matter and we should take no steps to prevent them?

    Well, yes, he is. Because his filthy comment came right in the middle of this anti-mask rant.

    Across this country, Democratic governors and officials have forced children to wear masks in schools. They’ve done this without real concern for the social, developmental, and emotional consequences of their authoritarian actions. These are the actions of petty tyrants, people who don’t care about real science. In stark contrast, House Republicans, we’ve been consistent this whole time. We have been fighting for the rights of America’s children and the American parent. That’s why if we defeat the previous question, I will personally offer an amendment to the rule to immediately consider HR 6619, The Unmask Our Kids Act. This legislation would block education agencies from receiving federal funding unless schools are open for in-person learning and school mask mandates allow parents to opt out on behalf of their children.

    Let’s ignore for the moment the clanging hypocrisy of the party of local control and small government attempting to micromanage local school boards, because there’s so much else here.

    The “real science” the congressman touts has found no “social, developmental, and emotional consequences” for mask wearing at school in kids over 3. They will be fine. At another point in his speech, Reschenthaler misstated the risk of transmission from children to adults, as a means of vanishing away the danger to teachers from unmasked, unvaxxed kids. But lying about the risks from masks and to teachers isn’t enough.

    Reschenthaler’s position is only tenable if your baseline assumption is that the lives of those kids with underlying medical conditions have no value whatsoever, and thus they have no right to expect reasonable accommodations from their fellow students to allow them to access public education. Because the cost to any individual student of having to wear a mask is negligible — that’s why Republicans have to inflate it into a gross assault on a parent’s right to raise his child as he sees fit. But the cost to any immunocompromised child may be life and death. And that’s a price Rep. Reschenthaler is perfectly willing to pay.

    But there’s one thing this jackass didn’t lie about, and that is the GOP’s consistent position here. Even before the vaccines were widely available, they were braying to let their unmasked kids back in school to spew droplets all over their teachers and classmates. Because it was always more important to make a political point than to do the bare minimum to care for their fellow Americans, much less get past this pandemic.

    Once a sociopath, always a sociopath. […]

    Video is available at the link.


  160. Pierce R. Butler says

    A heads-up for blf: French cave tells new story about Neanderthals, early humans.

    An international archaeology team ” described finding fossilized homo sapiens remains and tools sandwiched between those of Neanderthals in the Mandrin Grotto” about 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Marseille over the course of about 30 years of excavations.

    … the authors dated some of the human remains to about 54,000 years ago — almost 10,000 years earlier than previous finds in Europe, with one exception in Greece. … They discovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts that they were able to attribute to either Neanderthals or modern humans. … While the researchers found no evidence of cultural exchanges between the Neanderthals and modern humans who alternated in the cave, the rapid succession of occupants is in itself significant, they said. In one case, the cave changed hands in the space of about a year, said [researcher Ludovic] Slimak.

    No information on the cave-dwellers’ tastes in fromage or vin was provided.

  161. says

    Another picture of Berden, at this Detroit News article.

    It notes that

    According to a Dec. 14, 2020, memorandum, Berden sent the GOP electors certificate to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. archivist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office and Robert Jonker, the chief judge of U.S. District Court for Michigan’s Western District.

    Asked earlier this month why the group submitted the certificate, Berden told The News, “I can’t comment on anything like that. That was a long time ago.”

    It was a year ago.

  162. lumipuna says

    Today was the last day (as planned last week) of the local “convoy” anti-vaxx protest here in Helsinki. The protesters managed to block one major street for a few hours on Friday and Saturday. Since then, the protest seems to have fizzled out into small harmless groups of pedestrian demonstrators. Unclear whether they will continue, and what exactly. The movement is reportedly badly splintered by now.

  163. says

    Guardian – “‘Gazpacho police’: Nazi gaffe lands Republican congresswoman in the soup”:

    The extremist Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene triggered a wave of viral jokes on Wednesday after ranting about the “gazpacho police” patrolling the Capitol building in Washington DC.

    Greene was apparently mixing up the famously cold Spanish soup gazpacho with the Gestapo – the brutal Nazi-era secret police in Germany.

    …She made the most recent comments in an interview on Real America with Dan Ball, produced by the rightwing One America News Network television channel.

    “Not only do we have the DC jail which is the DC gulag, but now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens,” she said, referring to the Democratic speaker of the House….

  164. lumipuna says

    SC at 188 – Assuming it’s not a transcription error/hoax, I’d strongly suspect she did it on purpose to bait the “leftist” media. Certainly, on the Guardian, this “gaffe” is getting a lot of clicks. MTG is a full time working troll, and “gazpacho police” is just too stupid to be a random slip or mispronunciation, especially for someone who routinely pulls nazi cards in their political discourse. If it were in a tweet, it could plausibly be mistyping plus rogue autocorrect.

    (Also, does the mainstream media really need to report on what is presumed to be a word slip, no matter how weird?)

  165. says

    lumipuna @ #189:

    Assuming it’s not a transcription error/hoax, I’d strongly suspect she did it on purpose to bait the “leftist” media.

    “gazpacho police” is just too stupid to be a random slip or mispronunciation, especially for someone who routinely pulls nazi cards in their political discourse

    No, she’s an arrogant, thoughtless ignoramus. (AOC tweeted: “At least she leads by example. She clearly banned all books from her house years ago.”) Like so many Republicans, she constantly tosses out Nazi/Stalin/Mao/… references without the slightest clue what she’s talking about, despite having been told how wildly irresponsible and offensive it is, while in practice reproducing many of the behaviors of previous authoritarian movements.

    (Also, does the mainstream media really need to report on what is presumed to be a word slip, no matter how weird?)

    OK, first, it’s funny, and deserving of dunking. Second, the error, by showing it at its most ludicrous, nicely illustrates the willful misuse of history by the far right. It could make it easier for people to mock and dismiss their attempts in the future. The sidebar on the Guardian article has a link to an another piece from several months ago – “Marjorie Taylor Greene apologizes for comparing House mask rule to the Holocaust”: “Apology came after the extremist Republican congresswoman visited Washington’s US Holocaust Memorial Museum…” Mockery is far less painful than fruitlessly attempting to educate people like Greene out of their bad-faith use of historical references.


  166. says

    This is quite a resource – the The COVID19MisInfo[dot]org Portal:

    “Come for the Misinformation, stay for the Facts”

    The COVID19MisInfo[dot]org Portal is a rapid response project of the Social Media Lab at Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. The project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Compute Canada and the World Health organization (WHO). The aim of this project is to study the nature and scale of COVID-19 misinformation and to serve as a hub for infodemic research.

    As part of this project, our team of computational social scientists, information management professionals and developers are hard at work:

    – developing visualization dashboards to keep track of false COVID-19 claims from around the web,

    – collecting, analyzing and sharing COVID-19 Twitter datasets for use by the wider research community,

    – documenting and studying the COVID-19 fact-checking ecosystem

    They have COVID-19 misinformation dashboards, updated daily, where you can find claims being made about the pandemic with links to fact-checking information; and an archive of billions of tweets about the pandemic.

  167. lumipuna says

    SC at 190:

    Like so many Republicans, she constantly tosses out Nazi/Stalin/Mao/… references without the slightest clue what she’s talking about, despite having been told how wildly irresponsible and offensive it is, while in practice reproducing many of the behaviors of previous authoritarian movements.

    I get that her routine use of nazi cards is deeply anti-intellectual and involves a lot of projection and probably a lot of genuine ignorance. However, I don’t see how historical ignorance would cause someone to pronounce Gestapo like “gazpacho”, unless that’s intuitive for American English speakers. I guess it could be a word mixup, perhaps indicating that she speaks in relatively reflexive and unthinking manner, like a certain ex-president. It could be casual comedy, like some people think messing up words is funny, indicating she doesn’t take her own arguments very seriously. However, continuing the nazi card rhetoric despite repeated heavy criticism suggests it’s a very deliberate political strategy. Also, I smell a strong strain of trollish attention seeking in US rightwing rhetoric generally, in the form of performative anti-intellectualism.

    OK, first, it’s funny, and deserving of dunking. Second, the error, by showing it at its most ludicrous, nicely illustrates the willful misuse of history by the far right. It could make it easier for people to mock and dismiss their attempts in the future.

    Fair points, though I think this sort of illustration should be perhaps brought up in opinion/analysis pieces, rather than in straight reporting where it’s the main story. Also fair game for comedians and social media pundits.

  168. Akira MacKenzie says


    I’d strongly suspect she did it on purpose to bait the “leftist” media.

    Yes, I’m going to “bait” the left by revealing to the world what an uncultured hick I am..

    gazpacho police” is just too stupid to be a random slip or mispronunciation, especially for someone who routinely pulls nazi cards in their political discourse

    I knew what the Gestapo was by the time I was out of high school and I’m just a lower class schlep who went to one of the “failing” public schools. Meanwhile, MTG came from a background of wealth and privilege, she shouldn’t have an excuse for being an ignoramus. Furthermore, her stupidity should disqualify her holding office.

  169. tomh says

    Report on Christian nationalism and the January 6 insurrection
    Feb 9, 2022

    The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation released a report titled Christian Nationalism and the January 6, 2021 Insurrection (full text).

    From the introduction.

    …This report describes Christian nationalism and recounts its impact on the day itself as well as in the weeks leading up to the insurrection. Drawing on reporting, videos, statements, and images from the attack and its precursor events, this report contains the most comprehensive account to date of Christian nationalism and its role in the January 6 insurrection.

    Christian nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that seeks to merge American and Christian identities… Christian nationalism relies on the mythological founding of the United States as a “Christian nation,” singled out for God’s providence in order to fulfill God’s purposes on earth….

    The bulk of the report exposes the role this ideology played in fomenting the insurrection, including a key section written by Seidel [Andrew L. Seidel, a constitutional attorney at FFRF] detailing the buildup and dry runs that occurred immediately following Election Day up until the attack itself. His chapter on the evidence of the role of white Christian nationalism is heavily documented and richly studded with photographs and links to videos of that day showing the prayers, signage, and symbols of Christian nationalism.

    “Christian nationalism has helped create a political taboo against any discussion of Christianity that isn’t outright praise, so this aspect of the insurrection has been almost completely ignored,” says Seidel, who first perceived the need for this report and organized its publication. “We cannot understand what happened on Jan. 6 without confronting and understanding Christian nationalism.”

  170. says

    Senators from both parties were rattled to hear about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. It’s the direct result of one of Trump’s biggest mistakes

    It’s quite common for senators from both parties to participate in closed-door briefings with intelligence officials. It’s far less common when members exit the briefings and confess to feeling stunned. Politico reported yesterday:

    Top Biden administration officials warned senators on Wednesday that Iran could produce enough material for a nuclear bomb in as little as two months, bolstering lawmakers’ concerns that the window for a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing. The assessment, delivered in a classified briefing and described by one senator as “sobering and shocking,” comes as President Joe Biden’s diplomats are racing to strike a deal with Tehran that would prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    It was Sen. Chris Murphy, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s panel on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, who described the briefing as “sobering and shocking.” It was also the Connecticut Democrat who delivered remarks on the floor yesterday, urging the Biden administration to revive the original international nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Except some of the senator’s colleagues who heard the same briefing don’t quite see it that way. From the Politico article:

    [L]awmakers disagree over the best way to achieve that goal. Most Democrats urge a swift rebirth of the 2015-era Iran nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump ripped up, arguing it’s the only viable option. Republicans, meanwhile, argue for a return to Trump’s “maximum-pressure” doctrine that included imposing devastating sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, support for terrorist groups in the region and other malign activities.

    Trump’s plan did not work. There’s also a good possibility that Trump did not know how to implement any plan, and that any plan he came up with would be based on ignorance combined with the vengeful need to destroy anything left in place by President Obama.

    Look, I can appreciate the fact that geopolitical debates over counter-proliferation policy can be complicated, but common sense suggests officials should want to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

    […] Joe Cirincione, whose expertise in international nuclear diplomacy has few rivals, wrote a piece for NBC News last spring explaining that international negotiators have been tasked with trying to “undo the damage Donald Trump caused when he left an agreement that had effectively shrunk Iran’s program, frozen it for a generation and put it under lock and camera.”

    […] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA) — 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 took effect, 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.

    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 replaced. […]

    Meanwhile, international negotiations are ongoing in Vienna, and no one seems especially optimistic about the outcome. Murphy added yesterday that a possible agreement is “in sight,” but “significant gaps between the two sides” remain.

  171. says

    Did Donald Trump fixate so much on toilets because he was literally trying to flush White House documents?

    In late 2019, as the House of Representatives prepared to impeach Donald Trump the first time, the then-president seemed preoccupied with an unexpected issue: toilets.

    At a White House roundtable on small businesses, for example, the Republican declared that the EPA, at his suggestion, is “looking very strongly” at toilets, because Americans “are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”

    Two weeks later, he brought it up at a campaign rally in Michigan. A few weeks after that, Trump was at it again at a Wisconsin event, insisting that Americans are routinely having to flush 10 to 15 times.

    After a while, it was difficult not to wonder not only why the then-president was fixated on the issue, but also why he was having so many toilet troubles. Maybe it was because he was literally trying to flush White House documents? Axios reported this morning:

    While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, “Confidence Man.”

    The timing of the revelation could hardly be better. We are, after all, in the midst of a burgeoning controversy surrounding Trump literally tearing up White House documents and taking 15 boxes of materials that didn’t belong to him to Mar-a-Lago when he left office last year.

    Now, if The New York Times reporter’s book is correct, there’s a new dimension to the story: Trump wasn’t just tearing up official records into pieces the size of confetti, he may also have tried to flush papers down the toilet.

    […] As NBC News reported this morning, that Trump has already denied the accuracy of the reporting.

    “Another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book,” [Trump] said in a written press statement.

    The problem, of course, is that Trump has spent many years habitually denying the accuracy of stories that were entirely true, leaving his credibility in, forgive me, shreds.

    Update: It’s not just Maggie Haberman who’s making this claim. Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs wrote this morning via Twitter that the story is “100% true.” Jacobs added that White House staffers found “clumped/torn/shredded papers and fished them out from blocked bathroom toilet.” Those same staffers, according to her sources, “believed it had been the president’s doing.”

  172. says

    Voting Rights:

    […] NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks voting bills and advocates for federal election legislation, published an update yesterday.

    Today, the Brennan Center published our Voting Laws Roundup, which catalogs legislative assaults on voting rights around the country. As of January 14, legislators in 27 states have intro­duced, pre-filed, or carried over 250 bills with restrictive provisions, compared to 75 such bills in 24 states a year ago. That’s a tripling of proposals to restrict the vote. The bills would reduce access to mail ballots, limit or eliminate same-day voter registration, require proof of citizenship to vote or register, or make it harder for people with disabilities to vote.

    The Brennan Center added that there are also a variety of proposals pending in 13 states related to the administration of elections: “Some would give the state legislature the ultimate power to reject election results. Others threaten election officials with civil or criminal penalties or place partisan actors in charge of vote count­ing.” […]


  173. says

    The National Archives may have discovered classified information in the materials Donald Trump improperly removed from the White House.

    Wow. This is a fast moving story, and every new detail makes Trump look worse, more criminal.

    […] Initially, the story was about a sitting president who spent four years tearing up official materials, despite federal law, and despite the direction of “at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel.”

    Then the story advanced unexpectedly: [Trump] didn’t just destroy White House documents, he also took 15 boxes of materials — all of which had been “improperly removed“ — with him to Mar-a-Lago. By this point, the controversy wasn’t just about destruction of important presidential records, it also started to resemble a heist.

    Midday yesterday, the story took another turn when the public learned that the National Archives had referred all of this to the Justice Department as a possible criminal matter. And why did the National Archives reach out to federal law enforcement? The New York Times had this report overnight:

    The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Donald J. Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office, according to a person briefed on the matter.

    Remember, when the recent revelations first came to light, the former president’s aides characterized the “improperly removed” records as largely trivial. The Republican’s team told The Washington Post this week that the items “included correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Trump once described as ‘love letters,’ as well as a letter left for Trump by President Barack Obama.”

    That was before we knew he took 15 boxes full of stuff — and before the reporting that the materials included sensitive information believed to be classified.

    […] The Washington Post reported this morning that the chair of the House Oversight Committee is “moving quickly” in the hopes of getting answers.

    In a letter sent Wednesday to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) requested information “to examine the extent and impact” of Trump’s apparent violations of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties. The letter, provided to The Washington Post, asked for a detailed inventory of the contents of the recovered boxes, a description of records that Trump “destroyed or attempted to destroy” without the approval of the Archives, and whether the contents are undergoing a review to determine if they contain classified information.

    While we wait to see if another shoe falls, it’s also worth appreciating the larger context.

    As every American who was conscious six years ago remembers, voters were told that Hillary Clinton’s email protocols were one of the defining political issues of our time. As Election Day 2016 approached, and the United States faced the prospect of having a ridiculous television personality elected to the nation’s highest office, “email” was the one thing voters heard most about the more capable and more qualified candidate.

    The fact that Clinton did not rely entirely on her address, the electorate was told, was evidence of her recklessness. She put the United States at risk, the argument went, by mishandling classified materials. For some, it might even have been literally criminal.

    During the presidential campaign, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan went so far as to formally request that Clinton be denied intelligence briefings — insisting that her email practices were proof that she mishandled classified information and therefore couldn’t be trusted. To this day, rabid Republican activists will reflexively chant, “Lock her up!” at the mere mention of her name because she allegedly failed to properly deal with classified materials.

    […] And now, here we are, learning that Clinton’s opponent — who was elected in part because of her email practices — may have mishandled classified information while improperly taking White House materials to his private golf resort.

    I realize that “but her emails“ jokes are probably a little too easy, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

    See comment 196 for news about Trump flushing documents down the toilet.

  174. says

    Josh Marshall:

    […] The White House has plenty of housekeepers and janitors. There are also services and procedures for destroying materials that are lawful and appropriate to destroy. There is simply no innocent explanation for literally tearing up government documents or flushing government documents down the toilet in the portion of the White House reserved as the President’s family’s private apartment.

    What I’m trying to capture here is that under the Presidential Records Act there is a penumbra of actions that can be reasonably judged as subject to good faith disagreement. There is a penumbra of lax or careless preservation which is subject to criticism or even investigation but also clearly not malicious. Crumpling up government documents and flushing them down the toilet can only be malicious and criminal under the terms of the law. It is definitionally willful. […]


  175. says

    Jan. 6 Panel Finds Holes In Trump’s Official Call Logs On Day Of Insurrection

    The House Jan. 6 Committee has run into some gaps as they try to dig into ex-President Donald Trump’s official White House call logs on the day of the Capitol insurrection, according to the New York Times.

    The logs, which were part of the tranche of documents provided by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), reportedly didn’t include many of the calls the committee is aware of that took place that day.

    However, investigators reportedly haven’t found evidence that the phone records were deliberately scrubbed. The New York Times noted that Trump had a habit of using his and other people’s personal cell phones to make calls.

    The reported gaps in the call logs add another hurdle to the committee’s efforts to piece together Trump’s activities before, during, and after the insurrection […]

    But despite the missing call records, the Jan. 6 committee has reportedly unearthed information on at least one of Trump’s most highly scrutinized calls: A call between him and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). That call reportedly took place on the morning of Jan. 6 and was about 10 minutes long, according to CNN.

  176. says

    Meetings in parking garages:

    According to Reuters, the FBI is taking an important step in its investigation of Jan. 6: looking at an event that occurred the day before.

    Reuters’ Aram Roston reported this week that federal investigators are reviewing a Jan. 5 meeting that took place in a D.C. parking garage between two key figures to the breach of the Capitol: Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio, the head of the Proud Boys.

    Rhodes now faces indictment for seditious conspiracy, with prosecutors alleging that he masterminded a plot to delay the peaceful transfer of power by organizing key aspects of the violent assault. Tarrio is recently out of prison, and hasn’t been charged with anything related to organizing the insurrection, though several Proud Boys were among the first to tear down police barricades on Jan. 6.

    The fact of the meeting itself is intriguing, but so are two other things: the assortment of attendees, and the odd reasons they gave for the encounter taking place.

    Per Reuters, the following people attended the meeting:
    Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes
    Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio
    Latinos for Trump leader Bianca Gracia
    Oath Keepers General Counsel Kellye SoRelle
    Photographer Amy Harris
    A documentary film crew

    The film crew was from the aptly named “saboteur media,” and some of the footage was used in a British Channel 4 broadcast. The clip shows Tarrio shaking Rhodes’ hand, saying “Stewart, the pleasure is all mine” in a parking garage. […] [video available at the link]

    There are interesting ties between a few of the meetings’ attendees.

    Take Latinos for Trump. Gracia served as the group’s president, but the head of its Florida chapter just so happens to be Enrique Tarrio, the aforementioned Proud Boys head.

    It gets more tangled.

    SoRelle, the Oath Keepers attorney, also acts as a lawyer for Latinos for Trump — another link between Tarrio and Rhodes, and a tie between the two paramilitary organizations beyond the garage Jan. 5 meeting. SoRelle affirmed the link on Twitter: [available at the link]

    There are a few other interesting links here as well.

    Each participant in the meeting seemed to offer a different account to Reuters about why it took place and why Tarrio and Rhodes were there in the first place.

    Tarrio told the outlet that he met Rhodes “by coincidence,” before later calling Roston a “conspiracy theorist.”

    Gracia wouldn’t comment, but SoRelle said that the pair met in order to discuss potential defense attorneys for Tarrio, who had been charged the previous day.

    Federal investigators seized SoRelle’s cell phone last year on a warrant that mentioned “seditious conspiracy.”


  177. says

    Three US Border Crossings Closed As Canadian Anti-Vax Trucker Protests Escalate

    […] On Thursday morning, police in Manitoba province confirmed that the Emerson crossing into North Dakota was “shut down” after a convoy of vehicles and farm equipment blocked traffic heading both north and south.

    The “shut down” of the Emerson crossing kicks the number of blocked U.S.-Canadian throughways up to three, amid ongoing protests. As of Thursday morning, two other major ports of entry — the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, and the Coutts crossing linking Montana to Alberta — have also been closed or partially blocked.

    Earlier Thursday, a convoy of trucks with passengers shouting “Freedom!” and “Fake news!” flooded the Ottawa International Airport, prompting traffic disruptions and delays.

    In a press release issued Wednesday, police in Ottawa warned that those participating in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests blocking the city’s streets “could be arrested without a warrant.”

    “The unlawful act of blocking streets in the downtown core is resulting in people being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property,” the department wrote. “We are providing you notice that anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking of streets may be committing a criminal offence.”

    “You could be arrested without a warrant for this offense if you are a party to the offense or assisting others in the direct or indirect commission in this offense,” it continued.

    In addition to multiple road and border crossing closures, the ongoing protests have forced operations by major auto companies to scale back or halt operations as supply chains are disrupted. […]

  178. says

    Followup to comment 203.

    The NYT seems to think we should just let this issue of the Trump heist of classified and other White House documents go.

    Excerpts from the NYT article:

    Making a referral to the Justice Department would put senior officials in the position of having to decide whether to open an investigation, a scenario that would thrust the department into a highly contentious political matter.

    If Mr. Trump was found to have taken materials with him that were still classified at the time he left the White House, prosecuting him would be extremely difficult and it would pit the Justice Department against Mr. Trump at a time when Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is trying to depoliticize the department.

    The department and the F.B.I. also still have significant scars from its investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton mishandled classified information, as the bureau was accused of unfairly tarnishing her and interfering in the 2016 election.


    […] Shorter version: prosecuting Trump for breaking the law would be politicizing the department.


    Comparing this to the Clinton email ‘controversy’ is a non-starter in multiple ways.

    1) Clinton and Trump were both in the middle of their Presidential campaigns at the time of the email allegations.

    2) James Comey, head of the FBI at the time, violated guidelines intended to avoid politicizing such matters during an election campaign by making public statements about it.

    3) No such consideration applies now to Trump who has not officially declared a run for office — and the election would not be until 2024 in any case.

    4) Trump is already the subject of multiple investigations and potential prosecution over a number of matters, some of them predating his political career. It’s difficult to see how this could be construed as politicization but not the others. (Which of course is what Trump, the GOP, and right wing media are loudly claiming.)

    5) To do nothing whether or not further investigation may warrant prosecution is politicizing in its own right. That Trump had classified documents in his possession that should have never been removed would seem to be prima facie evidence that absolutely requires at least investigating how that happened.

    […] Last week, Congress received a brief, nine-page report from the State Department, which summarizes the department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work business while she was secretary of state. The report can be fairly summarized in two sentences: She shouldn’t have done that. But it wasn’t that big of a deal.

    Thus, America finally has closure on a minor scandal that many of the nation’s most powerful and influential news editors treated as if it were the most important issue facing voters in the 2016 election. “In just six days,” according to an analysis of 2016 coverage published in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), “the New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.” And the Times was hardly alone in this regard.

    By contrast, the Times’s piece on the State Department report concluding that Her Emails weren’t actually that big of a deal ran on page A16 in print. […]

    And apparently The NY Times is okay with that because to make it an issue would be politicization. The media’s normalization of bad behavior by the GOP continues apace. In fact, The NY Times is actively enabling it. […]


  179. says


    From Wonkette: Donald Trump is so mad about all the reporting about him maybe stealing classified documents and taking them to Mar-a-Lago, and, when he was president, wadding up other documents and putting them in the potty in the White House with his Big Mac shits and clogging up the potty. So mad. Which probably means all of this is true, because A) he’s the world’s most prolific liar and B) it’s always a pretty good guess that the louder he’s screaming, the truer the allegations are.

    Scream, loser, scream:

    Following collaborative and respectful discussions, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) openly and willingly arranged with President Trump for the transport of boxes that contained letters, records, newspapers, magazines, and various articles.

    Poor thing is referring to himself in the third person with a title that no longer applies to him.

    Some of this information will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.

    “Library.” That’s where you put hurricane maps toddler-brained former presidents drew dicks on. The “library.”

    The media’s characterization of my relationship with NARA is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy.

    That must be why the National Archives asked the Department of Justice for help, since they thought there was classified material in the boxes they recovered from Trump’s Florida meth trailer.

    […] In fact, it was viewed as routine and “no big deal.” In actuality, I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years.

    In fact. In actuality. “Unnecessary quotation marks.”

    Crooked Hillary Clinton, as an example, deleted and acid washed 32,000 emails and never gave that to the government.

    Acid washed them. Like 1980s blue jeans.

    Also was Crooked Hillary Clinton, as an example, ever president? No. Trump’s benefactors in Russia helped make sure she wasn’t. Does the Presidential Records Act therefore apply to her?

    Then, they took large amounts of furniture out of the White House.

    Hillary acid washed 32,000 emails and then “they” took furniture out of the White House.

    Donald Trump: He knows the order in which things happened.

    And Bill Clinton kept numerous audio recordings that the archives wanted, but were unsuccessful at getting after going to court. We won’t even mention what is going on with the White House in the current, or various past administrations.

    By all means.

    Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.

    We hear certain corners of Twitter are aflutter yelling at Maggie Haberman for holding back for her book information about Trump putting documents in his Squatty Potty. Moot point, since here’s Trump saying she made it up for publicity for her mostly fictitious book. […]

    The Democrats are just using this and the Unselect Committee of political hacks as a camoflauge for how horribly our Country is doing under the Biden Administration.

    That is a very good try at spelling “camouflage.” In fact, we wouldn’t have expected him to get that close.

    In the United States there has unfortunately become two legal standards, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. It should not be that way!

    “In the United States there has unfortunately become.” Good words, man, good words.

    Well, this has been a nice visit with Old Grandpa Full Toilets. We’ll check back in with him after the next avalanche of fake news about his mishandling of classified documents and White House plumbing comes out.

  180. says

    lumipuna @ #192:

    However, I don’t see how historical ignorance would cause someone to pronounce Gestapo like “gazpacho”, unless that’s intuitive for American English speakers.

    You seem confused. I think it must be a language thing. She’s heard these terms – Gulag, Gestapo, etc. – because people on the right recklessly and offensively use them to characterize liberal or leftwing policies and actions. So she’s heard of the Gestapo – possibly on her recent visit to the Holocaust Museum – and knows it’s bad, but has no firm knowledge of what it was. It’s just a potential epithet rattling around in her head, a faintly familiar word she vaguely knows is some sort of attack. She’s also heard of gazpacho at one time or the other but likely isn’t 100% aware of what it is, so it’s also rattling around in there. Hence “Gazpacho Police.”

    The error points to the comically absurd way the far right uses historical, legal, and political language and analogies. It’s like Madison Cawthorn declaring a Vatican vaccination policy illegal. That they don’t know or understand basic things doesn’t stop them from aggressively pronouncing on these topics in their attacks on the left.

  181. says

    Who’s ready for Tucker Carlson’s newest false flag shit about January 6?

    We say “false flag shit” because the Daily Beast is so fed up with Tucker’s false flag shit they literally put “false flag shit” in their headline.[…]

    Tucker’s new thing is that somebody should really ask some questions about how Vice President Kamala Harris might be connected to the planting of pipe bombs in DC on January 6. Oh, he’s not accusing her of anything, mind you. He’s just saying words and helping you connect the dots […]

    Tucker begins by saying we know lots about January 6, but we don’t know where Kamala Harris was at 1 p.m. that day. He said we always thought we knew she was in the Capitol, because the Department of Justice had said she was. But then, “out of nowhere, last November,” Tucker says we found out she was “somewhere else.” But where?

    She was at the DNC!

    Isn’t that weird? Tucker would just like to know if that is weird. Because that’s one of the places pipe bombs were planted in DC the night before. CNN reported that Harris came very close to that bomb! Her security detail found it!

    Why hasn’t Kamala Harris told us about all the bombs! Tucker needs to know why! Why why why why why!

    Tucker said, “This is a person who puts herself at the center of every story, who invents stories in order to put herself at the center!” That’s right, that’s what he thinks she does. But she never said she was near that bomb! This, Tucker said, would have been the “perfect moment” to say she “came within mere feet of a racist insurrectionist bomb.”

    But nooooooo. “In fact she continued to hide that fact! It’s completely bizarre!”

    Tucker would like to know what has happened to the investigation into who planted the pipe bombs in the first place. (So would we, but in a non-batshit way.) In fact, he asked some questions that might read as reasonable if they weren’t coming out of his mouth.

    “But this person hasn’t been caught.” Why? Tucker wants to know why! Why why why why why!

    Is it because Kamala Harris is the real pipe bomber? Tucker is just asking questions why does everybody attack him for just asking questions! Also Tucker is not literally asking that question he’s just asking other questions! Tucker is not asking that question you are asking that question!

    “What’s strange is that of all the places in the world Kamala Harris could have gone at 11:30 a.m. on January 6, she went to the DNC building, where her bodyguards promptly discovered the pipe bomb. So if the bomb was planted by a Trump supporter as a diversion, as the Capitol Police have said, you’ve got to wonder how exactly that worked. Would a Trump supporter have known where Harris was going to be that morning? Probably not. Even her political allies didn’t know for some reason. Yet it’s fair to assume that if Kamala Harris hadn’t gone to the DNC when she went, the pipe bomb wouldn’t have been discovered just minutes before the insurrectionist breach at the Capitol. In other words, if Kamala Harris hadn’t been there, the bomb couldn’t have been the diversion the Capitol Police said it was!”

    Is there a family of squirrels fucking inside Tucker’s brain?

    Now we are the ones just asking questions.

    Also we really are interested in this notion that nobody would have discovered the pipe bomb were it not for Harris’s security people. Was there some sort of invisibility cloak situation?

    Look, point is, Tucker has a lot of questions. And one of them is who is running this investigation at the FBI. “We’d hate to think that person was in any way connected to the fraudulent Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot that the FBI helped set up right before the 2020 election.” What, you didn’t know the Gretchen Whitmer thing was a false flag too? That is something the family of squirrels fucking inside Tucker’s brain may believe, apparently, allegedly!

    Here are some videos of the segment in question. We don’t know what else to say beyond what Andrew Lawrence from Media Matters says in these tweets, so this is the end of this blog post. [Tweets and batshit videos are available at the link]

    See also:

  182. says

    SC @206, it may be hard for us to get our heads around someone being that stupid, or that willfully ignorant, or that uneducated … but I think you are right!

  183. says

    Ohio Mayor Concerned Ice Fishing Too Sexy For His Suburb

    The town of Hudson, Ohio, just outside of Akron, is currently considering making ice fishing a thing — a common enough activity in many northern states. Several people have applied for permits recently, possibly due to the fact that it is a really, really cold and snowy pandemic winter and people are so bored out of their minds that ice fishing has started to look good.

    Of course, safety must come first. Craig Shubert, the mayor of Hudson, brought up some concerns about people falling into the ice and the fire department and EMTs being overburdened by ice fishing accidents. That’s reasonable enough, although there are apparently only about four to five ice fishing deaths a year.

    He also had some different “data points to consider” and that is ice fishing could lead to people wanting ice shanties, and that renting out ice shanties could lead to prostitution, due to the fact that people can rent them out for short periods of time. And also, of course, because there are few things sexier than banging outside in a shack potentially filled with dead fish? [video available at the link]

    “If you open this up to ice fishing, while on the surface it sounds good, then what happens next year? Does someone come back and say ‘I want an ice shanty on Hudson Springs Park, for X amount of time?’” Shubert wondered aloud. “And then if you then allow ice fishing with shanties, then that leads to another problem: prostitution. And now you’ve got the police chief and the police department involved. Just data points to consider.”

    Those are certainly some … data points. It is also worth considering that there are likely many places in Hudson, Ohio, where one might engage the services of a sex worker that might be more appealing to both parties than a freezing cold ice fishing shack out on a pond in the middle of winter. Homes, cars, motels, […] all might be a better plan than a shack intended for ice fishing.

    Looking up some “data points” myself, I discovered that there is literally only one ice fishing sex video on all of PornHub, which means it almost disproves Rule 34 of the Internet. It is that unpopular a thing to do or want to do. [LOL]

    This is not the first time Mayor Shubert has been confused about sex. Last fall, he claimed that a book that had been used for the last five years in college-level creative writing classes at the local high school was “child porn.” The book, 642 Things To Write About, included several writing prompts he considered inappropriate, such as “Write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom,” followed by “rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you’d let your mom read.” These prompts were never actually assigned in classes, they just happened to exist in the book. Which contained 640 other writing prompts.

    Shubert insisted not just that the book be pulled from the curriculum, but that the entire school board resign or else be charged — ostensibly on charges of child pornography. […]

    I just want to know what Mayor Craig Shubert is doing in his ice fishing shanty.

  184. says

    “Pence betrayed Trump. Marc Short is a Koch Network dog. Meadows is a fool and a coward. Cheney and Kinzinger are useful idiots for Nancy Pelosi and the woke Left,” Mr. Navarro wrote in an email to the New York Times.

    Well, okay then. [raised eyebrows] Former adviser Peter Navarro was one of Trump’s leading Jan. 6 co-conspirators.


    […] It might be easy to dismiss Navarro’s eruption as bluster. Instead, let’s take this seriously: It’s very bad that even as we learn extraordinary new details about the scope and intent of Trump’s plot to overturn our political order, some of his top lieutenants are expressly adopting the stance that the main transgression here was Pence’s failure to carry it to fruition.

    […] Of course, Pence did not actually have that power. And as dozens of court rulings showed, the idea that states could have revisited their voting outcomes as a fake pretext to appoint new electors was utter nonsense.

    Since then, we’ve learned that Trump tried to corrupt large swaths of the government in service of this scheme. He pressured the Justice Department to create a fake pretext for the states to reappoint new electors and floated using national security agencies to seize voting machines.

    All of that amounts to an extraordinary betrayal of the country. Yet in the face of everything we’ve learned, Navarro isn’t even the only one doubling down on the idea that Pence’s failure to carry out the scheme was the true act of treachery.

    Trump himself recently declared that Pence should have “overturned the election.” Bannon fulminated on his podcast that Pence would carry his treachery “to your grave,” denouncing him as a “stone-cold coward.”

    This is no small thing. Bannon’s extremely influential podcast has emerged as a command center for the ongoing far-right insurgency, and his drumbeat that Trump was betrayed could live on as a central animating myth of that insurgency. […]

    Washington Post link

  185. lumipuna says

    SC at 206 and 211:

    In 192 I acknowledged that it could be a language slip after all, because those do happen. I don’t think it’s necessarily related to severe unfamiliarity with the words or their meanings, or even sloppy speaking habit – though non-sloppy speakers tend to correct themselves after a mixup.

    MTG could still very well be using these words without any comprehension, but that’s not very relevant. I think focusing on this aspect could easily give leftist audiences an impression that she’s generally very stupid (which is different from being ignorant or anti-intellectual or a sloppy communicator). I generally want to err on the side of not underestimating the intelligence of successful evil people.

  186. says

    lumipuna @ #212:

    MTG could still very well be using these words without any comprehension, but that’s not very relevant.

    This will be my last response to you. It’s totally relevant. I can’t quite figure out what you’re not getting about this. She’s a far-right thug who uses these sorts of comparisons because she knows they’re emotive and will rile up her audience. But this was a fascism fail, because she – amusingly and memorably – showed her ignorance of the historical term she was trying to exploit. So now people are laughing at her, and it’ll be easier to mock and dismiss such nutty claims in the future with soup-related retorts. This is a good thing.

  187. KG says


    I share SC’s puzzlement. One of the defining features of the current far right – and of fascists historically – is a total indifference to whether what they say is accurate, true, internally coherent or even grammatical. Surely you must have noticed this with Trump? This, clearly, does not prevent them having considerable political success, because their followers largely, and increasingly as they get deeper into the fascist mire, share this indifference. That limits the extent to which such idiocies as Greene’s “Gaspacho police” will damage her (not completely – there may be some potential followers who will be put off, and she may need to devote time and effort to concocting and spreading lies about the incident), but in any case, there’s absolutely no reason to believe she did this to “troll” the left – that would require her to recognise and care about the difference between truth and nonsense; and absolutely no reason not to laugh at her – if nothing else, as a morale-boost for those who loathe and despise her.

  188. says

    I really do not understand our so called justice system, except if you look at it through the prism of white privilege I suppose. Meet James Tate Grant of NC. He was out on pretrial release for his part in the Jan 6th insurrection, when this happened:

    In the incident last month, a Garner police officer responded to a restaurant in Wake County, North Carolina, around 5 a.m. and found Grant in his vehicle, according to the motion to revoke his release. He appeared to be intoxicated, and the officer began a DWI investigation, it said.

    As he was being arrested, Grant tried to flee, the filing said.

    “He then dropped to the ground and stated something to the effect of ‘Just kill me now.’ He then stated, ‘It’s over,’” according to the filing and the police report.

    In Grant’s car, police recovered an AR-15 assault rifle, 60 rounds of ammunition, weapon accessories and combat fatigues, court documents said.

    […] This is what he did on Jan 6th:

    Grant and co-defendant Ryan Samsel are believed to have been the first two people who crossed a police barricade in a restricted area near Peace Circle during the riot, waving for the Trump-mob behind them to follow, according to charging documents.

    Grant was also recorded on video shoving a metal barricade into a Capitol Police officer and defending other rioters, the documents said.

    Why the fuck would you release this guy in the first place? He was one of the first to cross a police barricade. And he was assaulting a Capitol Police officer.

    Then, this is what is added to the present motion to send Grant back to jail:

    The motion to revoke Grant’s release said: “Grant’s underlying conduct in this case involved crimes of violence, specifically the assault of two different USCP Officers. … He also entered the U.S. Capitol and went inside at least two private Senate offices.”

    He faces numerous charges stemming from the riot, including assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury, civil disorder and an act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

    But what? This was his first time, supposedly, assaulting a cop, so let’s let him out before his trial? Then, what does dumbass do? He violates the terms of his release by getting drunk, driving while drunk, and carrying around an assault rifle.

    What the fuck was the court thinking having this guy out on release?


  189. says

    Dutch vow to egg Jeff Bezos’ $500M yacht if bridge is dismantled to let it pass

    Jeff Bezos reportedly has a new vanity project — a mega-yacht with an estimated price tag of $500 million. It’s a floating phallic symbol whose masts are so tall that a historic steel Rotterdam bridge may have to be partially dismantled so Bezos’ superyacht can sail from its shipyard to the open sea.

    And Rotterdam residents are so riled up that more than 4,000 people have already signed up on a Facebook event page to throw rotten eggs at Bezos’ superyacht when it’s finished, most likely in early June.

    Organizer Pablo Strormann told NL Times that the egg throwing event “started more as a joke among friends” after they heard the news about the possible dismantling of the city’s beloved Koningshaven Bridge, popularly known as De Hef.

    But what he said was originally intended to be a satirical message is “now getting way out of hand” after thousands of people responded to the event invite.

    Strormann said he was particularly bothered by the double standard.

    “Normally it’s the other way around: If your ship doesn’t fit under a bridge, you make it smaller. But when you happen to be the richest person on Earth you just ask a municipality to dismantle a monument. That’s ridiculous.”

    Bezos now has more money than he knows what to do with after seeing his fortune rise by 70% during the pandemic — from $113 billion in March 2020 to $192.2 billion in October 2021.

    The Amazon founder provided $5.5 billion in funds for his space company, Blue Origin, to build a rocket and spacecraft that took him and three others on a suborbital flight 66.5 miles above the earth last July to experience four minutes of weightlessness. An October mission took “Star Trek” star William Shatner to the edge of the final frontier.

    Bezos could have spent that windfall on giving every Amazon employee a hefty bonus for putting their lives and health at risk to fulfill the orders that flooded in during the pandemic. But he didn’t.

    The global charity Oxfam issued a report in January 2021 that said Bezos’ wealth had increased so much between March and September 2020 that he could have paid all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus and still be as wealthy as he was before the pandemic. Amazon did give full-time, front-line workers a $500 bonus in June 2020.

    Bezos did spend millions on a union-busting campaign to thwart an organizing drive at the Amazon “fulfillment center” warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

    And now the world’s second richest individual after Elon Musk has reportedly commissioned the Oceanco shipyard in the Netherlands to build a record-breaking yacht. The Oceanco Y72, currently under construction at the shipyard in the city of Alblasserdam, is a 417-foot, three-mast sailing yacht, according to the Boat International website.

    “Once delivered, not only will she become the world’s largest sailing yacht but she will also hold the title for the largest superyacht ever built in the Netherlands,” Boat International said.

    There’s only one problem: a bridge too small that needs to be dismantled in order for the yacht to make its way from the shipyard to the open sea.

    De Hef was decommissioned as a railway bridge in 1994 after being replaced by a tunnel. The vertical lift bridge was later declared a national monument. De Hef underwent a major restoration from 2014 to 2017, and afterwards the city said it would not be dismantled again, according to Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond.

    De Hef has a boat clearance of 130 feet, which is not enough to accommodate the three 229-foot masts of Bezos’ yacht,

    […] the sails are so huge that it’s unsafe to land a helicopter onboard, so Bezos has commissioned a support yacht equipped with a helipad to trail alongside the superyacht.

    The city of Rotterdam told news media a week ago that it had agreed to temporarily dismantle part of the Koningshaven Bridge, originally built in 1927 and rebuilt after being destroyed by German bombers in 1940, to accommodate Bezos’ vanity superyacht..

    But in the face of a public backlash, local officials quickly backtracked and issued a statement saying that the plan had not yet been approved.

    Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleg said the city would make a decision after a permit application is filed and the project has been assessed, including such factors as whether the bridge’s structure can be preserved and the environmental and economic impact.

    The plan’s supporters say that by accommodating Bezos, the city will create more economic opportunities in the region,

    Rotterdam council project leader Marcel Walravens told local broadcaster Rijnmond that partially dismantling the bridge was the “only alternative” to complete what the city considers “a very important project” economically […]

    Oceanco said the shipbuilder would pay all the costs for the bridge dismantling project which is estimated to take several weeks to complete. Bezos presumably would be asked to pick up some of the tab.

    Oceanco is a privately owned custom yacht builder, based in the Netherlands, that has been owned by Omani billionaire, Mohamed Al Barwani, since 2010. Oceanco is benefiting from a booming market for superyachts.

    Bloomberg reported:

    ”Surging levels of personal wealth pushed superyacht sales to record levels last year. A total of 887 such ships were sold in 2021, a 77% jump from a year earlier and more than double the number in 2019, according to a report from maritime data firm VesselsValue. Boat builder Burgess reported more than 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in superyacht sales last year.”

    But many residents and some local lawmakers are not impressed by such economic arguments, saying Bezos is benefiting from a double-standard that favors billionaires.

    “This man has earned his money by structurally cutting staff, evading taxes, avoiding regulations and now we have to tear down our beautiful national monument?” Rotterdam GroenLinks (Green Left) councillor Stephan Leewis wrote on Twitter. “That is really going a bridge too far.”

    Some tweets, images, and videos are available at the link.

  190. says

    Mostly good news from Wonkette:

    Things are pretty iffy in Virginia these days, what with Governor Glenn Youngkin and all. But luckily for the people of Virginia, 2021’s great mistake might not have so many permanent repercussions, as the Senate, still controlled by Democrats, is able to step in and reel some of the worst mistakes back.

    For instance, an attempt to ban abortion after 20 weeks just failed so badly in the Senate that it is unlikely that Republicans will even bother trying again this year to make that nightmare a reality.

    Via Washington Post:

    The measure from Republican Sen. Amanda Chase failed on a party-line vote of 6-9.

    While a similar bill is alive in the GOP-controlled House, it has not been docketed for a hearing that legislative procedure would require take place by Friday.

    “We do not see a path for the bill to pass the House, Senate, get to the governor,” said Del. Rob Bell, the chairman of the committee that would take up the bill.

    Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said she expected that between Thursday’s Senate committee vote and the remarks from Bell, who spoke a day earlier with the Virginia Mercury, any 20-week ban was dead for the year.


    Alas, as nice as it feels to cheer for Virginia Senate Democrats doing something good for the people of Virginia — there’s always one, isn’t there? Democratic state Sen. Joe Morrissey, who is anti-choice, has said that he would support Republican senators in a bid to bring the bill to a floor vote. Sen. Morrissey is notoriously very fond of children, not only having six of them with four different women, but also having served three months in prison for having sexual relations with and possessing nude photographs of a 17-year-old girl who worked for him as a receptionist at his law firm when he was 56.

    They are now, uh, married.

    There are several more abortion-related measures pending in the Virginia House, including one that would force those who wish to have an abortion to undergo counseling, but hopefully those will get voted down in the Senate as well. Also, hopefully, Virginia Democrats will be able to find someone who is not, in fact, an anti-choice ephebophile to primary Sen. Joseph Morrissey by 2023, because that is honestly just embarrassing.


  191. Pierce R. Butler says

    Amanda Marcotte has some worthwhile thoughts about Gazpacho-gate:

    For liberals on social media, all that mattered was the opportunity to mock her. … to showcase how much smarter we are … She got everything she wants: More attention to her claims of victimhood … More people spreading her false accusations that Democrats are fascists. More downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust. And… more evidence for her supporters that liberals are a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls. … progressives are failing to notice that she’s actually an incredibly effective communicator and strategist for the far right.

    The relentless accusations of fascism aimed at Democrats and public health officials serves to de-fang the term, so when Republicans commit actual acts of fascism, it’s difficult to persuade the people to be as alarmed as they should be. The mainstream media and far too many members of the public shrug it off as “both sides call each other fascists.” … If everyone is a ‘fascist,’ then no one is. It’s the fascist’s way of hiding in plain sight.

  192. says

    More good news, as brought to us by Wonkette:

    […] the Senate just passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which will prevent employers from silencing victims by burying their claims in sealed arbitration. After President Joe Biden signs the bill, it will be illegal for companies to force employees to sign away their right to sue for harassment as a condition of employment. And even better, the law is retroactive, meaning that all the mandatory arbitration clauses currently in force will be invalidated, at least as relates to claims of sexual assault and harassment.

    So how the hell did this get through an evenly divided congress where Mitch McConnell wields the filibuster to ensure that nothing which might redound to Democrats’ political benefit ever happens?

    Thank Gretchen Carlson!

    The former Fox News reporter, who sued the network after being sexually harassed by its then chairman Roger Ailes, has made it her mission to get rid of the non-disclosure and forced arbitration clauses wielded to silence accusers and keep serial harassers on the job. She wooed Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham, getting him to back the bill sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

    “No more arbitration in the basement about misconduct up top,” Graham told NPR, although he rushed to assure employers that they’ll still be able to hush up stuff like wage theft, race and age discrimination, or unsafe working conditions, saying “we do not intend to take unrelated claims out of the contracts.”

    Lest anyone think he was going to quit being an anti-labor asshole.

    But screw that guy, let’s give Carlson the mike. [video available at the link]

    Harkening back to five years ago when she filed her suit, Carlson recalled that a friend had promised her something good would come out of it. “I didn’t really see it that way at the time,” she said tearfully, “but it turns out she was right.”

    “A lot of good will come from this bill, which is change. The bill will allow survivors a choice, which is secret arbitration or the public courts,” she said. “And I believe this bill will have a dual effect. It’s going to help companies get on the right side of history, that’s for sure. But it will also stop the bad behavior, because now the bad actors will know that women’s voices will be heard when they speak up about what’s really happening at work.”

    But wait, there’s more! Because the Senate Judiciary Committee also recommended advancing the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act to the wider Senate, knocking down some barriers to federal civil recovery in child sex abuse claims.

    “Delayed disclosure has historically impacted survivors’ path to the justice that they deserve. We can’t deter children in any way from speaking out against their abusers,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley told Courthouse News. “We know from the Larry Nasser case, and many other tragic examples that it can take years for survivors to muster up the courage to come forward. This bill sends a clear message to victims of these horrendous crimes that we see, we hear, and we support you.”

    And on top of that, it looks like the Senate may have finally reached a deal to bring back the Violence Against Women Act, which was reauthorized three times since its original passage in 1994, but lapsed in 2019 thanks to Mitch McConnell and his evil henchmen. The House has consistently voted in favor of reauthorization, but Senate Republicans blocked the bill over the so- called “boyfriend loophole,” which allows abusive partners to keep their guns if they’re not married to or cohabiting with their victims. This provision was a sticking point for the NRA, which knows that the Second Amendment means that every man, woman, and child in America is entitle to walk around with a rocket launcher.

    It’s ridiculous that we had to cave on this to get the bill through, but the Senate is, at bottom, a ridiculous institution, so here we are.

    “I wanted to come to a solution that won’t just be a political talking point for one side or the other, but a bill that can gain bipartisan support needed to pass the Senate and truly deliver for my fellow survivors of these life-altering abuses,” Senator Joni Ernst said, which is a funny way of saying that her side doesn’t give a shit about women’s health and safety.

    Anyway! We are not getting waylaid today with another rousing chorus of “Republicans are filth.” This is a good day for victims of abuse, and if we can get bipartisan support for anything, it’s a win.


  193. says

    About the truckers:

    The relatively small but utterly deranged mob of Canadian truckers who hate vaccine mandates and anyone not white have continued to be a bloody nuisance in America’s Neighbor to the North, where they’ve annoyed local folks, shut down roads, and won the […] admiration of American rightwingers across the spectrum from Rand Paul to Donald Trump, which to be fair isn’t a lot of spectrum at all. Let’s check in with the Bad Buddies of the Freedom Convoy […]

    Wingnuts Finally Close A Border

    The Freedom Fuckers have now managed to block two major border crossings between the US and Canada, to symbolize how their lives have been made impossible by Canadian (and US) regulations requiring that commercial truck drivers be fully vaccinated to cross from Canada to the US and back again. Mind you, the trucking industry association, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, says that 90 percent of Canadian truckers are already vaccinated, but that’s only the sheeple in the overwhelming majority, which automatically makes them tyrants.

    The BBC reports that the disruption at the two border crossings has led major auto manufacturers to slow down or stop production, since they aren’t able to ship parts across the border. All told, the border closures and slowdowns are estimated to be costing $300 million a day in lost trade between the two countries.

    Toyota announced it will shut down production for the rest of the week at three factories in Canada. A Ford engine factory has also temporarily shut down production, and “Stellantis,” the stupidly named owner of Chrysler, Fiat, and Jeep, is reshuffling shifts at its plant in Ontario. On the US side, General Motors has cancelled two shifts at an SUV plant in Michigan. If the border shutdowns continue, automakers and other companies may have to lay off workers.

    Way to go with the labor solidarity, Canadian fuckheads!

    Did We Say Two Border Crossings? Make It Three!

    The Washington Post reports that in addition to the existing blockades at the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and at the Coutts crossing between Montana and Alberta, a third blockade shut down the Emerson crossing between Manitoba and North Dakota today. Also too, the Post says a horde of trucks full of idiots yelling “Freedom!” and “Fake News” showed up at the Ottawa International Airport today, leading to traffic disruptions; a couple hours ago, Ottawa’s traffic conditions Twitter account reported the “incident” had been cleared.

    Police in Ottawa are also warning protesters that if they block streets, they will be arrested and charged […]

    Truckfuckery Goes Global

    In France, authorities announced that a “freedom convoy” inspired by the Canadian dipshittery would be prohibited from entering Paris. The FrancoFuckheads are also planning to descend on Brussels, Belgium, although it’s not clear whether they’ll be allowed by police to snarl traffic there, either.

    In Wellington, New Zealand, police arrested about 120 people in a protest camp near the country’s parliament. Anti-vaxxer KiwiKooks have been parking vehicles and pitching both tents and fits on roadways to block traffic near the legislative building. A similar demonstration in the Australian capital of Canberra has been going on for 11 days, although it has so far attracted only about a thousand protesters. That may change Saturday, when a mass gathering is planned.

    DHS Warns Of Likely US Idiot Outbreak

    Right here in the USA, the Department of Homeland Security warns that our country may get its very own copycat protest, with a potential truck convoy that might start this weekend in Los Angeles to disrupt the Super Bowl, heading east to Washington DC in time to fill the capital with trucks for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1.

    A bulletin from DHS says the agency

    has received reports of truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers.

    The convoy will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in Washington, DC, as late as mid-March, potentially impacting the Super Bowl LVI scheduled for 13 February and the State of the Union address scheduled for 1 March.

    While there are currently no indications of planned violence, if hundreds of trucks converge in a major metropolitan city, the potential exists to severely disrupt transportation, federal government operations, commercial facilities and emergency services through gridlock and potential counter protests.

    The warning went to US law enforcement agencies on Tuesday. It also noted that as the convoy travels east, it might be joined by truckers from Canada, who we presume would either present fake vaccination cards or even get vaccinated so they could join their brothers in harm in the USA. [CBS News]

    Gay Cowboy Porno-Metal Anthem To The Rescue

    Thank god for gay cowboy porno-metal, is all we can say. Rolling Stone reports that lefty protesters have taken to disrupting Free Dumb Convoy with the song “Ram Ranch,” described as a

    2012 porno-metal classic by Grant MacDonald that ascended to meme status thanks to lyrics like, “Eighteen naked cowboys wanting to be fucked/Cowboys in the showers at Ram Ranch/On their knees wanting to suck cowboy cocks/Ram Ranch really rocks.”

    Why yes, it’s real. Here’s the song; do we need to tell you it’s very much NOT SAFE FOR WORK? It is both very loud and very long, and it is kind of wonderful. [video and song available at the link]

    Rolling Stone says the #RamRanchResistance

    initially stemmed from Canadian counterprotesters entering chats organized by convoy supporters on Zello, a push-to-talk walkie-talkie app somewhat similar to the voice chatting platform Clubhouse. According to Katarina, a PhD student at a university in Ottawa and one of the leaders of the #RamRanchResistance (she requested that her last name be withheld to avoid being doxxed), it all started with counterprotesters going into the truckers’ Zello channels to get information about their organizing.

    Out of frustration with police and local leaders’ allowing the truckers and hangers on to trash the city and make life hell for ordinary Ottawans,

    leftists in Canada started trolling Zello channels by blasting the song “Ram Ranch,” both as a play on the Dodge Ram insignia of many of the trucks downtown and as a subversion of the channel’s patriotism (the artist who recorded “Ram Ranch,” Grant MacDonald, is Canadian). “It’s a deeply conservative belief system infiltrating our city,” says Katarina. “And when we played this song to jam their communication, they’d get extremely angry because it’s an explicit and LGBTQ-friendly song.”

    MacDonald, who lives in Toronto, told Rolling Stone he was inspired to write the song

    in part by Rodin’s Thinker and in part by a Nashville radio station rejecting his LGBTQ-themed country songs. “It was to get back at the homophobia of Nashville. That was the whole foundation,” he says. […]

    MacDonald says he found out about the new life his song was taking on when his nephew texted to say people were playing it in Ottawa. “I kept saying, ‘Oh my God, I hope it’s not the truckers,’” he says. He has since seen streams of “Ram Ranch” on Spotify climb to the few hundred thousands. “I’m just elated, totally elated that my song could be used to stand up for science,” he says.

    Bravo, sir, and thank you for your contribution to the culture. It appears to be achieving the goal of really pissing off the wingers. They may think they’re being cutely obscene with “Way to go, Brandon,” but that can’t hold a candle to the raunchy ranch with all that ramming.

    We would tell you a lot more about the this Free Bert Convy stuff, but suddenly we are run over by an unvaccinated truck. […]


  194. blf says

    There is such a thing as the “gazpacho police” in that people hugely disagree on what the soup “must” contain (or not contain) — bread and cucumbers are two (perhaps the main two?) points of disagreement, similar to anchovies or pineapple on pizza, or whether or not peas taste of anything or are even edible. (Think “grammar police” as an analogy.)

    As an aside, calling the gestapo “police” is a bit of a stretch; referring to them as “police” is perhaps revealing. (Yes, I am aware gestapo is an abbreviation for a name which translates into something like “secret police”.) The reverse, however, referring to certain police officers or forces as “(like the) gestapo” can be quite understandable.

  195. says

    Wealthy Fox Hosts LAUGH And LAUGH Over How Silly It Is To Help Unhoused People Find Homes

    Nonprofits and government officials in California’s Bay Area are hoping to help the region’s 30,000 unhoused people find places to live, and the fine people of Fox News think that is just hilarious.

    This week, the Mercury News reported on various efforts to house people, which include the city of Richmond partnering with the Rotary Club to pay landlords to rent to people without homes — private donations will pay their rent for a year — as well as non-profits asking people to open up spare rooms to unhoused college students or formerly incarcerated people, either for a stipend or out of the kindness of their hearts. The former is not a particularly new idea, as Housing Authorities across the nation have been doing that for decades.

    Fox’s “The Five” ran a segment on the initiatives last night titled “Liberal Solution: Let The Homeless Live With You,” in which the whole group of them managed to say every possible horrible thing anyone can say about unhoused people in the span of about seven minutes.

    It is … astonishing. Honestly even for Fox, it’s astonishing. Five extremely rich people cackling their faces off over efforts to help the homeless with absolutely no shame whatsoever. [video available at the link]

    Ignoring the fact that these are non-profits that are asking people to help out, The Five laughed and laughed at the idea of Jesse Watters inviting a homeless person to stay with him, “right next to Jesse Jr.’s crib,” or anyone ever wanting to do that, because obviously all unhoused people are gross […]

    Watters then went on about San Francisco’s unofficial crack pipe distribution program, which he seemed to think was also very funny. The Right has been flipping out about “crack pipe distribution” all week, in light of erroneous claims that the Biden administration planned to use taxpayer money for a nationwide program. This is apparently very hilarious and absurd to people who have no idea why crack pipe distribution programs exist in the first place — to reduce the spread of hepatitis and HIV from broken crack pipes, which is in fact a pretty serious problem.

    Then, we had Geraldo Rivera speaking glowingly of the time former New York Mayor Ed Koch bravely told the citizens of New York to just ignore homeless people and not give them money, on account of how they would just spend it on booze or drugs — noting that he believes this led to a decrease in the homeless population. Yes, either that or the fact that he implemented a “$5.1 billion program intended to build, preserve or rehabilitate 252,000 apartments or homes by 1996 and to move the homeless from squalid hotels and armories.”

    Then we had Jeanine Pirro, who searched and searched and couldn’t figure out who is responsible for these initiatives (according to the easily Google-able article, a variety of nonprofits, along with Richmond Mayor Tom Butt), explained that she certainly would not house a homeless person, on account of the fact that they are always “taking bats to people.”

    “Maybe if you were fielding a baseball team, but not for a sleepover!” Watters said, which Geraldo Rivera found very amusing.

    Dana Perino then somehow tried to connect this all to letting people in at the border, because what this conversation really needed was a healthy dose of xenophobia.

    But the cake here was taken by Greg Gutfeld, who went on a rant about how unhoused people all actually want to be homeless, so affordable housing is not actually an issue and the stupid liberals are just pretending it’s an issue. Gutfeld laughed off the idea that there were homeless families, claiming that you could count the number of homeless families on your hands. He must have very large hands because there are an average of 55,739 family households — an estimated 171,575 individuals — currently experiencing homelessness. That is 30 percent of the entire unhoused population.

    He also laughed off the idea of unhoused children.

    We’ve all seen the homeless situation. We’ve seen it up close. We don’t need to pretend there are two million children down on their luck. These are not children, all right? These are men, many are criminal, many are mentally ill, many are drug addicts. That’s a fact that you don’t hear in these commissions on homelessness, right?

    Actually, it’s 2.5 million children that experience homelessness every year, not two million, and there are over 100,000 children who are unhoused on any given night in America. […]

    You brought up the idea — it’s all about affordable housing. If you Google stuff on homelessness, that’s the number one hit, it’s about affordable housing. That is a lie. It has no effect on the transient population. If you do not contribute to society through work, the only affordable housing has to be free. It doesn’t matter if it’s $300 a month or $200, they’re not going to pay.

    It is pretty damned hard to get a job when you don’t have a place to stay, when you don’t have a place to shower, when you don’t have clothes to wear, when you do not have money for transportation to get there, when you do not have a phone, etc.

    The money for most homeless goes to drugs and alcohol. I know that’s politically incorrect to say, but it’s an unspeakable truth.

    Because Greg Gutfeld thinks he’d be able to do homelessness sober?

    Also, not only is it a “politically incorrect” thing to say, it’s also a “literally incorrect” thing to say. While there is certainly a connection between homelessness and substance abuse (both as a cause and effect), it’s not nearly as much as people think. Thirty-eight percent of unhoused people have a problem with alcohol, while about 26 percent have a problem with other drugs. That does not mean it is okay that they do not have places to live, that does not excuse the fact that they don’t.

    Geraldo brought up the idea, California has the most because of the climate. That’s what you call a choice, right? It’s preferable. So, many people prefer to be homeless. No rent, no food to buy, no bills, find a shelter, free meals, get drugs, sustainable lifestyle. And you know why it’s sustainable, or you know the proof that it’s sustainable? It’s not shrinking. It’s growing. It’s growing because it’s possible.

    It’s growing because it is getting increasingly expensive to live anywhere. Particularly in California, particularly in the Bay Area. The average rent in San Francisco is $3,244 a month. The living wage for one adult with zero children is $28 an hour — that is over $58,000 a year.

    With exceptions being made for crust punks, rainbow family hippies, and those with serious mental health issues, no, people generally do not “prefer” to be homeless. It is not pleasant. People do what they can, by living in better climates or being in cities where they are more likely to be able to get help, but it’s not pleasant. They’re not doing it because they’re lazy. It’s a lot harder and more exhausting being an unhoused person than it is working at Fox News, cracking up about how funny it is that people have nowhere to live all day.

    The idea that it’s not enough affordable housing — that is true for people who are working, who are low income people. Yes, but they’re not the homeless people. Do not be tricked into this.

    Actually they are. About 40 percent of the unhoused population actually does have a job. But again, it is very, very hard to get a job when one does not have a home. It’s also hard to get a home when one does not currently have a home, because few landlords are willing to take that kind of “chance.” That, again, is why there are long-standing Housing Authority programs to recruit landlords to rent to indigent people and families. My parents did it in Massachusetts back in the ’80s and ’90s. These are good programs and they should be lauded, not laughed at.

    People, not just Fox hosts, frequently feel the need to make up lies about unhoused people and impoverished people because otherwise it would be very hard to live with themselves, to live in this country. They have to say, “Oh, they’re morally deficient in some way, so this is justified and not as horrific as it clearly is.”

    There have been myriad studies showing that the most effective and least expensive way to help unhoused people is to give them someplace to live. Now, it’s hard to implement those programs because of people who watch Fox News and live in terror of being “tricked” into helping people who might be “lazy” (not that that’s a dog whistle or anything), but that is the “unspeakable truth” that is, you know, an actual truth.

  196. says

    Reuters: French officials didn’t want Russia to have Macron’s DNA: “French President Emmanuel Macron refused a Kremlin request that he take a Russian COVID-19 test when he arrived to see President Vladimir Putin this week, and was therefore kept at a distance from the Russian leader, two sources in Macron’s entourage told Reuters.”

  197. says

    North Carolina Republican to state official: let kids go hungry.

    North Carolina Republicans are very concerned about free school lunches. In a debate on whether to continue providing free school lunches to all the kids in the state ranked eighth for child hunger, Republicans worried that doing so would be bad for families … and suggested it was unnecessary, anyway.

    “I think the job of this general assembly is to force you to go back to the basics we had before and put your personal agenda aside,” state Rep. Mark Brody told Dr. Lynn Harvey, the state school nutrition chief, as she argued for the expanded school lunch program to be continued. (Her “personal agenda” here being kids not going hungry.) Brody wasn’t done.

    “I go visit my food banks in there, and there’s a lots of food going on. Nobody’s being denied anything,” Brody said. “The idea that kids don’t have access to good food—parents just need to buy it and feed it. My mother did that to me.”

    This is a deeply confused man, hopscotching from food banks to “parents just need to buy it.” He’s also deeply wrong, since, again, North Carolina is ranked eighth for child hunger in the U.S. Obviously someone is being denied something, and kids don’t have access to good food.

    The leaders of food banks have been clear: Addressing food insecurity requires government action. ”There’s only so much we can do,” said a food bank official in 2020. “The federal government has an incredibly important role to play here.” The federal government has played a role, from expanding the free school lunch program to include all kids through the pandemic, to increasing food aid to families. North Carolina needs to play a role, too.

    Brody’s mother was able to buy food and feed it to him. Not every family is able to do that, especially since North Carolina’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage. At that level, a family composed of a full-time worker with one child is living in poverty, which very often means food insecurity. And while those families should be eligible for free school lunches even if they no longer go to every student, things like paperwork to get the free lunches could be a major challenge for some that would keep food out of their kids’ mouths.

    It wasn’t just Brody.

    “I just think we’re leading towards a socialization here that takes the responsibility away from the families,” according to state Rep. Jamie Boles. So kids should go hungry in the name of “responsibility.” What a stellar life lesson.

    ”Don’t parents really have the responsibility at any income level for insuring that their children have food,” asked state Sen. Ted Alexander, “or are we, as a government, are we just sending the message that says that they’re incapable of doing that and that we will just do it for them?” Well, since you, as a government, are keeping the minimum wage so low that many families are incapable of ensuring that their children have food, it’s not really so much about sending a message as it is about perpetuating a reality.

    Republicans think kids should go hungry to teach parents some kind of a lesson about responsibility. It’s nakedly cruel, and they’re proud of it.


  198. says

    In a remarkable discovery, a customer who purchased a MyPillow duvet found it stuffed with classified documents from the desk of Donald J. Trump.

    Carol Foyler, who lives in Akron, Ohio, said that, after she accidentally tore open the duvet, a trove of shredded documents came spilling out.

    After she began taping together the documents, she found several relating to national defense, including an order from Trump to send a birthday cake to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

    Foyler said that, once she finishes reconstituting the documents, she will send them to the National Archives in Washington for safekeeping.

    “Obviously, it’s not ideal to find classified documents inside a random duvet, but so far I haven’t seen the nuclear codes,” she said.

    New Yorker link

  199. says

    Joseph Ladapo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s nominee for surgeon general, stirred controversy by urging the pharmacy chain CVS to carry leeches.

    “The ancient Egyptians used leeches in medical treatments more than three thousand years ago,” Ladapo said at his confirmation hearing. “Unlike some quote-unquote vaccines, leeches have stood the test of time.”

    Ladapo said that he was dismayed when he recently visited a CVS and found “plenty of masks and test kits, but no leeches.”

    “There wasn’t even a leech aisle,” he added, shaking his head.

    Praising Ladapo for “thinking outside the box” to combat the pandemic, DeSantis confirmed that he was mulling a leech mandate for Florida’s schools.

    New Yorker link

  200. says

    If anything gives fascists what they want, it’s the endless handwringing and fussing. It reminds me of the (inaccurate, as Marcotte’s take is) sneering commentary on the HCA subreddit, or the tone-policing of atheists. I have neither the time nor the patience for any of it.

  201. says

    Even the fucking title is stupid: “Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘Gazpacho police’ is very dumb — but we underestimate her at our peril.”

    Mocking this in no way implies underestimating her, so enough with the “we.”

  202. says

    Marcotte doing exactly what she purports to condemn:

    She was on One America News when she very loudly and unmistakably mispronounced [sic] this word, so the moment went unnoticed for about a day.

    The most annoying part of this is that this sentence is funny.

    Green’s relentless accusations of Nazism are a crude but potent form of propaganda.

    We know that! That’s why this is useful! Gah!

  203. says

    One of today’s HCA nominees had a post from September about vaccines in which he asked “What ever happened to the days of HEPA Confidentiality?”

    Several of them are posting inane anti-vax memes from the ICU.

    Anti-vax Kansas state rep. Mike Houser, who’s been MIA and likely very sick from COVID for the entire legislative session, was dragged in, on oxygen, to vote to override the governor’s veto and institute a gerrymandered map.

    This is plague America. I could die of anything at any time – such is life – but until then I’m going to laugh.

  204. tomh says

    Texas Tribune
    Hundreds of mail-in ballots are being returned to Texas voters because they don’t comply with new voting law
    Alexa Ura / February 10, 2022

    Stricter voting rules enacted by Republican lawmakers last year continue to foil Texans trying to vote by mail in the upcoming primary, with hundreds of completed ballots being initially rejected for not meeting the state’s new identification requirements.

    The bulk of mail-in ballots have yet to arrive at elections offices, but local officials are already reporting that a significant number are coming in without the newly required ID information. As of Wednesday, election officials in Harris County alone had flagged 1,360 mail-in ballots to be sent back to voters — 40% of the mail-in ballots returned up to that point — because they lacked an ID number.

    The voting law allows for a correction process, but local election officials and voters are facing a time crunch.

    Defective ballots must be sent back to voters if they arrive early enough to be sent back and corrected. If officials determine there’s not enough time, they must notify the voter by phone or email. Voters must then visit the elections office in person to correct the issue, or use the state’s new online ballot tracker to verify the missing information.

    In Texas, only a sliver of the electorate is allowed to vote by mail, but absentee voting is often used by people for whom voting in person can be a challenge, including Texans with disabilities.

  205. says

    Update to Lynna’s #s 202 and 221 – AP – “US urges Canada to use federal powers to end bridge blockade”:

    The Biden administration urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government Thursday to use its federal powers to end the truck blockade by Canadians protesting the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, as the bumper-to-bumper demonstration forced auto plants on both sides of the border to shut down or scale back production.

    For the fourth straight day, scores of truckers taking part in what they dubbed the Freedom Convoy blocked the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, disrupting the flow of auto parts and other products between the two countries.

    The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke with their Canadian counterparts and urged them to help resolve the standoff.

    Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, moved to cut off funding for the protests by successfully asking a court to freeze millions of dollars in donations to the convoy through crowd-funding site GiveSendGo. Ford has called the protests an occupation.

    Canadian officials previously got GoFundMe to cut off funding after protest organizers used the site to raise about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.8 million.) GoFundMe determined that the fundraising effort violated the site’s terms of service due to unlawful activity.

    With political and economic pressure mounting, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens announced the city will seek a court injunction to end the occupation.

    “The economic harm is not sustainable and it must come to an end,” he said.

    In the U.S., authorities braced for the possibility of similar truck-borne protests inspired by the Canadians, and authorities in Paris and Belgium banned road blockades to head off disruptions there, too.
    Related stories

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a bulletin to local and state law enforcement agencies that it has received reports that truckers are planning to “potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities” in a protest against vaccine mandates and other issues.

    The agency said the convoy could begin in Southern California as early as this weekend, possibly disrupting traffic around the Super Bowl, and reach Washington in March in time for the State of the Union address, according to a copy of Tuesday’s bulletin obtained by The Associated Press.

    The White House said the department is “surging additional staff” to the Super Bowl just in case.

    The ban on road blockades in Europe and the threat of prison and heavy fines were likewise prompted by online chatter from groups calling on drivers to converge on Paris and Brussels over the next few days.

    The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing, carrying 25% of all trade between the two countries, and the effects of the blockade there were felt rapidly….

  206. StevoR says

    Aussie PM Scotty the Liar’s Religious bigotry enabling bill has been defeated inspectacular fashion here :

    With an interesting admission from the Australian Christian Lobby :

    The Australian Christian Lobby said removing exemptions that allowed schools to discriminate against trans students “completely undermined” the bill.

    IOW, removing the bits that allowed thenm to bully and exclude trans chidlren and sack Queer teachers made it pointless thus the point of the billwas, well, see first part of sentence.

    See also :


  207. lumipuna says

    Re: SC on “gazpacho police”

    As you may guess, I have been somewhat convinced by Amanda Marcotte’s long-held opinions on the topic we just argued on. I actually expected her to have a take on this latest antic, and since it was linked to this thread and failed to convince you, I must now stop trying to argue on her behalf (even if you hadn’t directly indicated that we’ve had enough). Thank you for patience, and apologies for me trying to foreignsplain US politics.

  208. lumipuna says

    (Speaking of language mistakes, perhaps “apologies for my trying to” would be more correct?)

  209. says

    These truck protests. It’s like “if they can protest we can too!” bit the topic looks like shit, and they have no idea how civil disobedience works. You expect consequences and accept them as part of showing injustice. Instead I see whining about prison conditions they never cared about before. It’s disgusting and I have no sympathy for their supporters.

  210. says

    New episode of Decoding the Gurus – “Dubunking (Antivax) Funk with Dr Dan Wilson”:

    This week we speak to fellow traveller, kindred spirit, and vaccine misinformation debunker, Dr Dan Wilson. Yes, we know we’ve talked SO much about anti-vax rhetoric recently, and we hope the day will soon come when we can leave it all behind us, but friends, today is not that day. For more than a year, Dan’s YouTube channel DebunkTheFunk has focused on rebutting COVID and vaccine misinformation from characters such as Geert Vanden-Bossche, Joseph Mercola and RFK Jnr. His recent episodes on Robert Malone and Peter Mc Collough have been an invaluable source for the decoders for our recent episodes. So of course we were delighted that Dan could come speak to us about what he does, what they do, and what kind of rhetorical tropes and tricks he sees from these characters.Dan seems to suffer from the same masochistic malaise we do, in feeling compelled to listen to some of the worst material available on the internet, so as to point out what’s wrong with it. And he accomplishes that mission effectively, and most mysteriously for Chris and Matt, concisely as well. It’s not all negative, because as well as talking about anti-vaxxers specifically, we all bask in our shared admiration for This Week in Virology, the kind of critical yet open-minded science communication show we’d all love to see a lot more of. We also talk about the kind of everyday epistemics that we can all practice to separate fact from fiction, and the kind of public engagement that genuine experts, researchers and scientists need to practice in order to take back the infosphere from snake-oil salesmen and attention-seekers of all kinds. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to Dan. We love what he does, and we hope he goes on doing it for a long time to come. We hope you enjoy it too, and we heartily recommend sharing DebunkTheFunk with friends, family and colleagues who have slipped down the conspiratorial rabbit-hole on COVID and vaccines.

    The Debunk the Funk episode about Malone – “Robert Malone goes full anti-science on Joe Rogan’s podcast.”

    Today’s episode of This Week in Virology (which is fascinating) – “TWiV 864: A game of thrones”:

    Monica, John, David, and Marc join TWiV to discuss their work on identifying cryptic SARS-CoV-2 lineages in New York City wastewater, and understanding whether they were shed from humans or other animals.

  211. says

    lumipuna @239, yes, “apologies for my trying to,” would be more correct. However, your meaning was also clear in the previous version. Your command of the English language exceeds that of most of my American clients, for whom I routinely clean up indecipherable word salads.

    I thought the discussion centered around Amanda Marcotte added valuable information to this thread. All is well.

  212. says

    As international crises intensify, Josh Hawley is blocking Pentagon nominees. No wonder the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called him “grossly unfit” for office.

    […] After [Sen. Josh Hawley] helped take the lead in trying to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, Hawley was briefly seen as a political “pariah.”

    […] the GOP senator was denounced by former allies; prominent businesses distanced themselves from him; several independent media outlets called on Hawley to resign in disgrace; and several of his Senate colleagues filed an ethics complaint against him.

    […] The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, concluded, “The ambitions of this knowledgeable, talented young man are now a threat to the republic.” Republican Sen. Ben Sasse added, in reference to Hawley, “Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said Hawley would be “haunted“ by his actions.

    At this point, the start of 2022 isn’t quite as dramatic for the Missourian, but it’s only marginally better.

    A couple of weeks ago, for example, Hawley denounced Biden’s commitment to appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Asked why it was fine when Ronald Reagan made a similar vow, the senator said 1980 was “ancient history,” which didn’t make sense.

    Around the same time, the GOP lawmaker noted that Biden opposed a far-right judicial nominee in 2005 who was also a Black woman. This was proof, he said, of … something. (Hawley also called on Biden to “unite the country” by nominating this same far-right jurist to the high court now. He didn’t appear to be kidding.) [JFC]

    One day later, the senator blamed [President Biden] for Russia threatening Ukraine. When Hawley went on to suggest that the White House give Vladimir Putin the NATO commitments the Russian autocrat wants, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger called Hawley “one of the worst human beings,” and a self-aggrandizing “con artist.”

    The editorial board of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch told readers soon after that Hawley is “grossly unfit” for office.

    This week, Hawley managed to infuriate those around him a bit more. Politico reported:

    Frustrations with Sen. Josh Hawley’s monthslong slow-walking of Pentagon nominees boiled over on Thursday, as one top Democrat slammed the Missouri Republican for hamstringing the military as it responds to the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    Evidently, as part of an extended fit over the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Hawley has taken procedural steps to slow-walk many of the White House’s Defense Department nominees. As a result, when Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tried to approve three key Pentagon nominees yesterday, [Hawley] refused.

    Among the trio was Celeste Wallander, a Russia expert whom the president nominated to serve as the Pentagon’s top international security official.

    In other words, as Putin amasses troops along the Ukrainian border, Hawley is standing in the way of important and highly relevant nominees — not because he thinks they’re unqualified for the job, but because he’s not done throwing a tantrum over events in Afghanistan last summer.

    […] “He sits on the Armed Services Committee with me where he has access to the same information about our pressing national security challenges, and yet he’s holding up these nominees,” the New Hampshire senator added. “He’s disregarding the threats that we face because he’d rather grandstand on Afghanistan.”

    To be sure, Hawley is in the minority, and there are procedural limits on what Republicans can do to block executive-branch nominees. But by utilizing obstructionist tactics, while remaining indifferent to the consequences, the Republican lawmaker will force Democratic leaders to jump through a series of time-consuming hoops in order to confirm nominees who aren’t especially controversial, and who already have more than enough votes to be approved.

    If Hawley wants to prove wrong those who see him as “grossly unfit,” he’s going about it the wrong way.


  213. says

    Summarized from an Associated Press article:

    s Herschel Walker’s Republican Senate campaign advances in Georgia, the Associated Press reports today on a 2001 incident in which the former athlete “talked about having a shoot-out with police.” Around the same time, Walker’s therapist called the police to say he was “volatile,” armed, and scaring his estranged wife.

    All the best People. Trump has endorsed Walker.

  214. says

    The Insurrection Evangelist Pushing To Bring Anti-Vax Trucker Protests To The US.

    Leigh Dundas, an attorney who appeared at an anti-vax panel run by Sen. Ron Johnson last month, is a player in the efforts to organize a U.S. convoy.

    On Jan. 5, 2021, Orange County attorney Leigh Dundas was enraged — and she was in D.C.

    “We would be well within our rights to take any alleged American who acted in a turncoat fashion and sold us out and committed treason — we would be well within our right to take them out back and shoot them or hang them,” Dundas thundered, speaking from a stage. [video available at the link]

    Now, Dundas is leading a different kind of charge: the effort to bring Canada’s anti-vax trucker protests to the United States.

    […] TPM reviewed Telegram chats focused on organizing a U.S. convoy in which organizers referred to Dundas and her nonprofit as part of the movement’s leadership, saying that they are playing a role in planning upcoming rallies.

    […] “We started working with them to identify the strategic border crossings and how we could support them from the United States side and also what this looked like,” Dundas said in the video, published Jan. 31.

    Now, she and others are working to ignite a similar series of anti-vax protests in the U.S., starting with a rally planned for California’s Coachella Valley in early March that’s been promoted across several of the main social media profiles for the would-be American convoy.

    […] Over the past two years, Dundas’ appearances illustrate the nexus of right-wing activism around anti-COVID measures, Jan. 6, and, now, the movement of truckers aimed at snarling up supply chains and bringing an end to vaccine requirements. It’s a jumble of different threads with Dundas popping up in each, promoting both conspiracy theories and her own involvement in organizing around them.

    […] On Jan. 24, Dundas appeared at a panel convened by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) devoted to promoting bogus claims that the COVID-19 vaccines are harmful.

    “There’s at least suspicions that the Defense Department is doctoring the data,” Johnson said at one point in the hearing.

    “I would contend, senator, that there’s not just a suspicion,” Dundas interjected gravely, launching into a monologue that accused the Pentagon of covering up mass vaccine death. [JFC!]

    […] When the pandemic first began, Dundas was one of a group that succeeded in expelling a local county official from office over COVID mandates that, TPM pointed out at the time, were non-existent.

    That’s also when Tony Ortega, a former Village Voice editor-in-chief and current independent journalist who covers Scientology, first noticed Dundas.

    He cottoned on to Dundas’ connections to scientology, specifically as an attorney for what he described as a front group operated by a scientologist chiropractor. Then, in January 2021, he was surprised to receive a tip placing her outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    “You stand the hell up,” Dundas said in a video of a speech she gave in D.C. around the time of the insurrection, posted to YouTube by Ortega. “Because you are far better off living a life on your feet and being prepared to die on your feet than living a life on your damned knees.”

    […] “Right after that event, she went right down to Mexico. It seemed like she knew she stepped over the line,” Ortega added. “There’s an enclave being built by scientologists down there.” [Sheesh!]

    Dundas has since returned to the U.S. She appeared at an October 2021 conference in Salt Lake City devoted to COVID denial, the Big Lie, and other issues that loom large in the QAnon universe. There, she spoke alongside Michael Flynn and Patrick Byrne, both of whom advocated for Trump to abuse his powers to subvert the 2020 election.

    […] She likened the truckers’ movement to a 2014 episode in Thailand, where, as she told it, farmers used their equipment to bring a “coup d’etat” to an end.

    […] “That was it — no more coup,” she said. “I had been waiting for anybody in a first-world country to do that over the past couple years as things got more tyrannical, and really since March 2020.”

  215. says

    Followup to comment 245.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Remember all those anti-protest laws GQPers passed? I’ll be interested to see how or if we crack down on blocking roadways.
    Good analysis of the genus & species of these grifters, fanatics, and cosplaying freaks.
    Why do these RWNJ grifters always look like they just walked off the set of a SciFi B-movie?
    She’s a Scientology lunatic who believes that Hubbard’s techniques free her of all disease
    We knew the Xtians were involved in fund raising but not logistics.
    What is wrong with these people? They are actively attacking the structure, the functioning, the efficiency and efficacy of our government, our economy, and our society.

    Are they evil? Or simply misled by their faux, fool’s golden idle messiahhh?

    I really cannot understand them. Anti-science, anti-democracy, anti-rational thinking.
    “We started working with them to identify the strategic border crossings and how we could support them from the United States side and also what this looked like”

    I practiced law for 22 years without helping bad actors commit local, federal, and international crimes.
    Leigh Dundas has achieved the state of Clear, meaning that she has managed through many hours of Scientology auditing to have handled all the past life memories that were making her sick and holding her back from complete control of her mind. However, she does not appear to have completed any of the further Scientology coursework in which she will learn that she (and all the rest of us) is inhabited by space cooties that she needs to gradually remove by inexorably forking over all of her cash.
    Why does someone who advocated the violent overthrow of the US government still have a license to practice law?
    GiveSendGo is a neofascist Christian front organization with ties to far right Rumble and is GoFundMe’s direct competitor.
    She has to be vaccinated to go into Mexico. I thought that was one thing that was being checked.
    As far as I can tell, Mexico does not require proof of vaccination in order to enter the country, and it certainly would not have been required when she fled to Mexico in January 2021.

  216. says

    Virginia AG’s Ex-Top Deputy Cheered For Insurrectionists And Claimed Trump Won Election In Truly Unhinged FB Posts

    Virginia deputy attorney general Monique Miles resigned on Thursday after the Washington Post asked her about Facebook posts she’d made applauding the “peace loving” Jan. 6 Capitol insurrectionists and spreading MAGA conspiracy theories that China election frauded Trump.

    A spokesperson for Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) said that he didn’t know about Miles’ posts until the Washington Post found them.

    Miles insisted to the Washington Post that her posts were taken out of context, that they were made “at a time when the news was still developing” and that she now believes Biden is the president “as he was certified as such.”

    Miles’ job as deputy attorney general involved election-related matters, including handling litigation over elections and giving legal advice to Virginia’s Department of Elections.

    And speaking of state AGs being unhinged:

    Lynne Torgerson, one of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s (D) Republican challengers, was proud to inform everyone at a GOP primary candidate forum last month that at least two of her staffers stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a video clip flagged by Heartland Signal on Thursday.

    Torgerson described the insurrectionists as “heroes” and argued Biden’s victory in the 2020 election seemed to be “actually somewhat of a coup.”

  217. says

    Given the ferocity of the Republican Party’s obsession with Hillary Clinton’s email protocols six years ago, it stands to reason that leading GOP voices must be absolutely furious with Donald Trump, right? After all, Republicans left little doubt that they care passionately about how officials handle sensitive materials — and the degree to which politicians disqualify themselves from high office when they put documents at risk.

    Indeed, this week’s revelations about Trump tearing up White House records and [stealing] 15 boxes of materials that didn’t belong to him have been brutal. […] I’m kidding, of course. As The New York Times noted overnight, Republicans, “once so forceful about the issue of mishandling documents,” are suddenly reticent about the defining issue of the 2016 race for the nation’s highest office.

    Several Republicans who once railed against Mrs. Clinton’s document retention practices did not respond Thursday to questions about Mr. Trump’s actions. Others who had been directly involved with investigating Mrs. Clinton declined to discuss the specifics except to suggest, without evidence, that the National Archives and Records Administration was treating Mr. Trump more harshly.


    This did not escape the attention of the former secretary of state. [Tweet from Hillary Clinton is available at the link.]

    […] Trump’s approach — tearing up official documents, allegedly trying to flush papers down toilets, hauling 15 boxes of records that didn’t belong to him, including highly classified materials, to his golf resort in Florida — is vastly worse than setting up a “convenient arrangement.” [“convenient arrangement” refers to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server]

    As we’ve discussed, Republicans, with varying degrees of hysterics, made Clinton out to be a literal criminal […] And now many of those same Republicans say they don’t much care.

    Some might suggest that GOP voices have flip-flopped, conveniently changing their minds. But that gives the Republicans playing this game far too much credit: The problem is not that the GOP took the issue of document retention seriously before, only to later shift their position; the problem is that the GOP only pretended to care about the issue in the first place.


  218. says

    What’s happening in Ottawa, they were clear, is two separate events happening in tandem: there is a broadly non-violent (to date) group of Canadians with assorted COVID-related gripes, ranging from the somewhat justified to totally frickin’ insane. But that larger group, which has knocked Ottawa and too many of our leaders into what my colleague Jen Gerson so perfectly described as “stun-fucked stasis,” is now providing a kind of (mostly) unwitting cover to a cadre of seasoned street brawlers whose primary goal is to further erode the legitimacy of the state — not just the city of Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada, but of democracies generally.

    Commentary from Josh Marshall:

    […] this is a much more grave challenge to the authority of the Canadian state itself. They are showing that, at least so far, the Canadian state is unable to defend itself or the civic and commercial lives of its citizens.


  219. says

    White House says Russian invasion could begin ‘any day,’ urges US citizens to leave Ukraine

    A Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin “any day,” including before the end of the Winter Olympics, Biden administration officials warned Friday, sounding a greater sense of urgency about the threat of military movement by Moscow.

    “It could begin any day now, and it could occur before the Olympics have ended,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters during a White House briefing. The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to conclude on Feb. 20.

    “I’m not going to get into intelligence information, but if you look at the disposition of intelligence forces … the Russians are in a position to be able to mount a major military action in Ukraine any day, and for that reason we believe that it is important for us to communicate to our allies and partners, to the Ukrainians and to the American citizens who are still there,” Sullivan said.

    “I want to be clear though: We are not saying a final decision has been taken by President Putin,” he continued. “What we are saying is we have a sufficient level of concern based on what we have seen on the ground and what our intelligence analysts have picked up that we are sending this clear message.”

    “PBS Newshour” reported shortly before Sullivan briefed reporters that Western officials believe Putin has made up his mind, decided to invade Ukraine and communicated that decision to Russian military leaders.

    Sullivan denied that that report was accurate when it was described to him during the briefing on Friday, saying that the U.S. government still does not believe that Putin has made his call.

    Sullivan added that President Biden is likely to speak by phone with Putin but had no timing to announce as of Friday afternoon.

    He also emphasized that Americans in Ukraine should seek to leave. […]

    Sullivan stressed Friday that Biden had no intention of sending U.S. troops on a rescue mission into Ukraine for Americans who are still in the country.

    “The risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands,” he said. “If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”

    Sullivan suggested a Russian attack would likely begin with aerial bombings and missile strikes that could kill civilians indiscriminately. He did not speculate on what the goal of an invasion would be, but acknowledged “there are very real possibilities that it will involve the seizure of a significant amount of territory in Ukraine,” including a major city like the capital Kyiv.

  220. says

    Covid update:

    […] The 203,000 cases a day average now present in the U.S. is a huge drop from where the nation was a month ago, but it’s also 40,000 cases a day more than the worst of the delta wave. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data tracker, using the same values that were fixed back in spring of 2021, puts 98.7% of the counties in the nation at high levels of community transmission. The answer to the question “is it safe?” is a resounding “no” […]

    However, it is getting safer. In just a matter of weeks, maybe even days, we’re going to know where this thing is headed next. By next Friday, it’s highly likely that officials can make rules that will be responsive to where we’re going, and do so in a way that won’t require another round of finger-pointing and sudden reversals should omicron not go out with a whimper.

    In the meantime, there’s a January study from South Africa that deserves a look, because one thing about omicron threatens to flip the script on something we thought we knew about COVID-19. […]

    The data suggests a serious concern that increased along with omicron: Young people became more likely to develop serious disease. Young people in this case doesn’t mean people under 40, or under 30. It means teenagers and children. […]

    The FDA has delayed approval of Pfizer vaccine for kids under 5. […]

    A 48% increase in the rate of children going to the hospital is awful, but the rate of kids being hospitalized was low, and it remains lower than the rate among older groups.

    […] To put it another way, suppose a car was traveling along the highway at 30 mph. Would you stand in front of that car? Would you shove your child in front of it? What if the car then sped up to 120 mph—would you do it now? And what about when the car leans on the brakes and brings the speed back down to 40? Is that somehow safer that the original 30? Your kid should not be in front of that speeding car. Neither should you. […]


  221. says

    Arizona GOP candidate revels in outrage after releasing vile ad depicting political violence

    A GOP Senate candidate who was among the 11 Arizona Republicans who signed a forged electors document has released a violent campaign ad where he shoots at actors representing President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Mark Kelly, whose wife—former Rep. Gabby Giffords—survived a brutal assassination attempt in 2011.

    “The good people of Arizona have had enough of you,” Jim Lamon says before aiming at the figure representing the president […] Immigrant right advocacy group America’s Voice noted Border Patrol Union President Brandon Judd is among Lamon’s “deputies” in the background.

    America’s Voice was among those issuing swift condemnations of the violent ad, which comes just weeks after the 10th anniversary of Giffords’ resignation from Congress after being shot in the head. Frank Sharry, the organization’s executive director, called the ad “dangerous.”

    “Lamon’s ad has the Arizona Republican candidate for Senator firing a gun at characters depicting President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Mark Kelly. The ad depicts violence against elected leaders and should be taken down immediately. It should be denounced by one and all, especially by his fellow Republicans.”

    But Lamon instead reveled in the outrage, tweeting he “might single handedly solve the Arizona drought with all the snow flakes that are melting over my Super Bowl ad.” Of course he wanted the attention, because when Republicans aren’t busy trying to overturn democracy, they live to troll liberals. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t forcefully speak out when we see vile acts by sick fucks like Jim Lamon. […] [video is available at the link]

    As of Friday Lamon’s ad remains on Twitter, and will apparently run in Arizona during the Super Bowl, Phoenix New Times reported. “The advertisement package cost the campaign ‘upwards of six figures,’ according to the campaign’s manager Stephen Puetz. It is expected to run on Tucson’s NBC station on Sunday during the football game and then would be broadcast statewide on Sunday night.”

    Giffords was shot in a Tucson suburb. The decision to run this violent ad is on NBC […] It’s about money and ratings. But at what cost? […]

  222. says

    Exclusive: White Nationalists and Anti-Vax Moms Plot Ottawa Copycat Convoys on Telegram

    “You don’t have to be a trucker. We’re looking for mom vans, too!”

    […] Heartened by the size and disruption of the Canada protest, activists in the United States are now planning their own domestic convoys. On Telegram, leaders of the California anti-vaccine group Freedom Angels Foundation are urging followers to create national and local convoys, and calling on those who can’t participate to donate supplies.

    Telegram threads from Southern California planning groups obtained by Mother Jones show that these groups, like their Canadian counterparts, have attracted extremists, including prominent white nationalists. Parents are heavily involved, too, offering the use of family vehicles and enlisting their children for moral support.

    On TikTok this week, Denise Aguilar, founder of Freedom Angels Foundation and the far-right women’s group Mamalitia, urged her followers to support a March 1 convoy in Washington, DC. “You don’t have to be a trucker,” she said. “We’re looking for mom vans, too!” She encourages people to host parties at local parks to collect supplies. “Have some music and get involved with your community,” she enthused. “Truckers make the world go round, and if anyone is going to put a stop to these mandates, it’s them—just watch what Canada’s doing.” She invited viewers to join her on Telegram to assist in her organizing efforts.

    As of Thursday evening, the main organizing group on Telegram had more than 46,000 followers. Messages from that group and others provide a window into a movement of Americans increasingly willing to foment chaos in order to pressure the government to drop public health mandates. Some group hosts point to the Ottawa convoy as a model. “It’s critical that we understand why the Canadian protest is so effective, so we can do the same in the United States,” wrote the leader of a Los Angeles planning group. “It was not the convoy itself, but the occupation of Ottawa and the resultant economic and psychological effects on the Canadian government that is effective.”

    He continued: “We Americans need to grow out of our tendency to prioritize “performative protest” and flashy stunts for social media clout, and instead focus on the systems and institutions responsible for our oppression and how to best disrupt them.”

    […] Overtly racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic comments are a constant theme. One member explained the need to donate goods in person, rather than rely on crowdfunding platforms: “We don’t want to get caught in a GoFundMe situation where a Gay Jewish Canadian man held all the funds for the entire movement on an unsecured platform and almost fucked the supply lines for the whole movement.” Elsewhere, a participant complained about pornographic spam posts on the thread, citing “interracial pornography.”

    Ryan Sanchez, the leader of the Los Angeles group who goes by the handle Culture War Criminal, is well known on other social platforms for his racist screeds and participation in violent rallies. Sanchez identifies as a member of the Groypers, an alt-right movement that supports white nationalist podcaster Nick Fuentes. […]

    On his personal Telegram page, Sanchez describes himself as “a Catholic, a Nationalist…and pro-White.”

    […] A source who follows the convoy-organizing groups closely marveled at the way parents seemed to be in thrall to extremist leaders. “These people are PTA presidents, moms, everyday families,” the source said. “And they are working together with white nationalists.”

    That same source has watched membership in the organizing groups explode since the Ottawa protests made headlines, swelling from hundreds to tens of thousands in some cases. “There is something different about this,” the source says. From the changing tone of the discourse, it seems like the organizers “really feel like this might be an end game, where there won’t be consequences because they really are successful.” […]

    The Telegram messages suggest, beyond the mayhem organizers hope to inflict on DC, there could be smaller efforts at disruption elsewhere. […]

    Bateson, in Ottawa, told me that downtown residents are increasingly scared to leave their homes. She is astounded by the convoy—not only because she has to contend daily with the disruptions and undercurrent of fear the protesters have brought to her city, but also because of her expertise. An assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, Bateson has studied insurrections, mostly in Latin America.

    The use of trucks to intimidate people reminds her of occupations she has studied in other countries. […]

    A few days ago, Bateson tried to take her son for a haircut and had to shield him as a pickup from the protest sped down the street and drove onto a sidewalk. “They’re armed with the vehicles. And that has really constrained [the police’s] response, it’s really been terrifying.”

    On Thursday, meanwhile, the Telegram groups were brainstorming more protest sites. “We could go to Silicon Valley,” one member offered. “Each state can have a huge population go to each capital!” On his own page, Sanchez posted an impassioned plea for donations for the DC convoy. “Our country is in danger,” he wrote. “The only people who are going to save it are young men of action—who are radically and proudly Nationalist.”

  223. says

    A Republican member of Congress said something epically stupid the other day.

    No, I’m not talking about Marjorie Taylor Greene’s warning about Nancy Pelosi’s “gazpacho police.” If you ask me, Greene was performing a public service; we all need some good laughs […]

    I’m talking, instead, about Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who tweeted out a novel argument against universal health care: “Over 70% of Americans who died with Covid, died on Medicare, and some people want #MedicareForAll?”

    To belabor a point that should be obvious, Medicare recipients have been especially vulnerable to Covid because they generally suffer from a serious pre-existing condition: advanced age.

    Maybe Massie should have looked instead at Canada, which has single-payer health insurance for everyone — it’s even called Canadian Medicare. Canada, as it happens, has had only about a third as many Covid deaths per capita as we have. More generally, Canadians can expect, on average, to live almost four and a half years longer than Americans, even though health care spending per person is only about half as high as in the U.S.

    […] Massie’s statistical gaffe was a reminder that Republicans still hate government programs that help Americans pay for health care. I wonder how many voters remember how close the Trump administration came to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a move that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 32 million Americans to lose health insurance. That effort failed only because three Republican senators had the courage to stand up to Donald Trump.

    Does anyone imagine that we’ll see a similar display of courage if a party that considers a violent attack on the Capitol “legitimate political discourse” regains control of Congress and the White House?

    More immediately, if the G.O.P. regains control of either house of Congress this November, we’ll almost surely see some reversal of the major health care gains that have been taking place under President Biden.

    Oh, you haven’t heard about those gains? I’m not surprised. Health care is one of the huge but hidden successes of Biden’s first year.

    The story so far: Obamacare, which was enacted in 2010 but didn’t go fully into effect until 2014, was and is a bit of a Rube Goldberg device. Instead of simply paying Americans’ medical bills, it expanded Medicaid while using regulations and subsidies to encourage an expansion of private insurance. It fell far short of universally guaranteed coverage, but it nonetheless led to a large decline in the percentage of nonelderly Americans without health coverage.

    Trump, as I said, tried but failed to undo this achievement. He did, however, preside over a gradual erosion of health coverage, probably reflecting a lower-profile strategy of sabotage on multiple fronts.

    Despite this erosion, the core of the Affordable Care Act remained intact; in 2020 the AC.A. really proved its worth, helping (with an assist from emergency federal programs) to sustain health coverage despite huge job losses.

    And the Biden administration has moved to strengthen the program. It increased outreach to potential enrollees, which Trump’s officials had drastically scaled back, while the American Rescue Plan substantially expanded subsidies for Americans buying insurance on health care exchanges. According to the National Health Insurance Survey, the percentage of nonelderly Americans without health insurance fell significantly between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021, bringing it almost back to its pre-Trump low.

    The months ahead look set to be better still. Enrollment in the A.C.A.’s exchanges is limited to a few months a year, to deter people from waiting until they get sick to buy insurance. The enrollment season for 2022 coverage is just winding down now, and we’re seeing blockbuster numbers: More Americans are signing up for coverage than ever before.

    We still won’t have the kind of universal health care guarantee that every other advanced nation has managed to provide its citizens, but we are getting closer.

    Unfortunately, this progress faces huge political risks. The rescue plan provided only two years of enhanced subsidies; unless Democrats either pass an extension quickly or hold both houses of Congress, the subsidies will soon be gone. And if Republicans get unified control in 2024, they’ll surely send us back to the era when health insurance was available only to people who had either jobs providing good benefits or impeccable medical histories that made them attractive to private insurers.

    So I hope people will remember what we almost lost in 2017 and understand that even if Republicans aren’t currently talking about it very much, health care is still very much on the ballot.

    “Biden’s Hidden Health Care Triumph,” by Paul Krugman.

    NY Times link

  224. says

    From Lynna’s #245/246:

    That’s also when Tony Ortega…

    I was reading this and I was like “Wait, I know him from the Scientology stuff!”

    “Right after that event, she went right down to Mexico. It seemed like she knew she stepped over the line,” Ortega added. “There’s an enclave being built by scientologists down there.”

    Yikes. That’s very bad news.

    Leigh Dundas has achieved the state of Clear, meaning that she has managed through many hours of Scientology auditing to have handled all the past life memories that were making her sick and holding her back from complete control of her mind. However, she does not appear to have completed any of the further Scientology coursework in which she will learn that she (and all the rest of us) is inhabited by space cooties that she needs to gradually remove by inexorably forking over all of her cash.

    There was an interesting discussion in an episode of Fair Game I linked to recently (here it is again – “Episode 75: Marc Headley on Scientology and the Internet”). As an aside, Marc and Claire Headley – a married couple – are outstanding advocates for ex-Scientologists. Anyway, she was in the highest echelons of the organization and had reached these “higher” levels before she escaped, whereas he hadn’t. When they were both out, they were watching one of the documentaries or something and it described the “space cooties” content. He was like “What the fuck? Is that true?” and she said yes. When people are still in, they’re told that if someone on those levels tells someone who isn’t on those levels about this content they’re risking that person’s imminent death, so even though they’d physically gotten out he had a lot of residual fear when he went to sleep that night. He said that when he woke the next morning and found he was fine, it was a major inflection point in his journey out of it.

  225. says


    “Fox News, which encouraged running over BLM protestors blocking traffic, is supporting right-wing protestors shutting down Ottawa.”

    “Tucker Carlson: ‘The Canadian trucker convoy is the single most successful human rights protest in a generation'”:

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): We want freedom, the truckers are saying, freedom from mandates. It’s a very straightforward ask, but so far, the truckers don’t have that freedom, and so their blockade continues. So far, that blockade has forced the Ford motor company to shut down one of its manufacturing plants and to operate another plant with a skeleton crew. Toyota says it won’t be able to manufacture vehicles in Ontario for the rest of the week. General Motors has canceled multiple shifts at its plant in Lansing, Michigan due to part shortages.

    So, this protest is less than a week old and already is causing deep pain to at least one global industry. It’s hard to overstate the historical significance of what we’re watching right here. The Canadian trucker convoy is the single most successful human rights protest in a generation. If nothing else, it has been a very useful reminder to our entitled ruling class, the working class man can be pushed, but only so far. When they push back, it hurts. It turns out that truck drivers are more important to a country’s future than say, diversity consultants or even MSNBC contributors. Who knew?

    Hannity is blathering about how US workers support it. Because if there’s one thing working people love, it’s days of lost wages, disruption to supply chains, and higher-priced goods.

  226. says

    SC @256, “he had a lot of residual fear when he went to sleep that night.” Yep. I recognize that fear factor. Evangelical Christians, Scientologists, Catholics, whatever … irrational fears always play a part.

    Doesn’t matter what level of religiosity to which Leigh Dundas had succumbed; nor does it matter in what religion she believed. It’s all religion and it all plays a part in the batshit craziest parts of attempts to end Democracy via one strain or another of trumpism.

  227. says

    NBC News:

    Pfizer-BioNTech is postponing its rolling application to the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of its two-dose Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

    The move means that vaccines for this age group will not be available in the coming weeks, a setback for parents eager to vaccinate their young children.

    Pfizer said on Friday that it will wait for its data on a three-dose series of the vaccine, because it believes three doses “may provide a higher level of protection in this age group.” Data on the third dose is expected in early April, the company said.

    Pfizer said in December that two doses didn’t generate a strong enough immune response in its trial of children ages 2 to 4. For young children, Pfizer’s vaccine has a dosage of 3 micrograms. For children ages 5 to 11, the dosage is higher, at 10 micrograms.

    Still, the company asked the FDA this month to authorize these first two doses, with a plan to submit additional data in the coming weeks on a third dose. The full vaccination series would be three doses.

    The FDA was expected to publish an analysis of the Pfizer data Friday, ahead of an advisory committee meeting next week. The FDA said Friday the meeting has been postponed.

    Two people familiar with the FDA’s plans said there had already been a lot of pushback on the agency from outside experts who had concerns that Pfizer’s data wasn’t sufficient. The experts felt, one of the people said, that their concerns were “falling on deaf ears” within the agency.

    Federal regulators had initially wanted to begin reviewing the data on two doses of the vaccine while Pfizer continued to gather data on a three-dose regimen.

    Regulators believed two doses would provide enough — though less than ideal — protection against the omicron variant of the coronavirus as pediatric cases surged.

    However, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said Friday that after regulators reviewed the company’s two-dose data, they decided they needed to see the three-dose data before considering authorization.

    Parents should be “reassured,” Marks said, adding the agency takes its “responsibility for reviewing these vaccines very seriously because we’re parents as well,” he said. […]

  228. says

    lumipuna @ #s 238 and 239:

    Thank you for patience, and apologies for me trying to foreignsplain US politics.

    OMG, you have no need to apologize. If anything, I was short-tempered (see #235). I wasn’t angry with you – more just frustrated because I couldn’t really understand your position.

    The Marcotte link was clarifying, but her post made me angry. We couldn’t even get a day just to laugh at something legitimately funny and to mock a terrible person. I think Marcotte was misreading the situation in a number of ways, but I also think people with big platforms should stop before they post and think about how their interventions might contribute to how things play out. I don’t believe Greene was enjoying the situation, I thought her response was a pathetic attempt to save face, and I saw nothing normalizing in the mockery. But Marcotte’s post helped Greene to try to spin things in her favor. And for what? Even if she’d been right – and she wasn’t :) – was her take so necessary to share even at the risk of shaping the public interpretation to the benefit of fascists? I don’t think it was.

    (Speaking of language mistakes, perhaps “apologies for my trying to” would be more correct?)

    As Lynna noted, your English is phenomenal. It’s funny: In the post @ #260, Moulitsas writes “There was plenty of wisdom available that could’ve avoided her this mess.” I would be more likely to attribute that to a non-native speaker than anything you’ve written. His WP page says: “Moulitsas was born in Chicago to a Salvadoran mother and a Greek father. He moved with his family to El Salvador in 1976, but later returned to the Chicago area in 1980…” That makes sense. I can totally see someone who’s also fluent in Spanish writing that sentence.

  229. says

    DW – “Canada: Judge orders blockade must end at US border bridge”:

    A Canadian judge said on Friday that demonstrators blocking a bridge between the US and Canada must disperse.

    The so-called “Freedom Blockade” has significantly hampered the flow of goods between the two North American neighbors, as demonstrators protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and coronavirus policies.

    The judge granted an injunction calling for the demonstrators to leave the area on the Windsor, Canada side of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects to the US city of Detroit.

    The Mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, tweeted that the judge’s order called for the protesters to clear the bridge by 7:00 p.m. local time (0000 GMT).

    There were no immediate reports of law enforcement officials being sent to clear the protesters. Authorities, however, warned demonstrators blocking public streets face arrest if they remain.

    The Ambassador Bridge blockade has posed an ever-growing problem for businesses and officials on both sides of the border. It’s the busiest border crossing between Canada and the US.

    Since Monday, demonstrators have joined a handful of commercial semi-trucks to block the bridge, by parking their pickup trucks and cars in Windsor.

    There are also blockades at two other border crossings.

    The province of Ontario, where Windsor is located, declared a state of emergency over the demonstrations — calling on protesters to allow the free flow of people and goods.

    Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau vowed that “all options” were on the table to clear the protesters from the area.

    “Everything is on the table because this unlawful activity has to end and it will end,” the prime minister told reporters.

    Trudeau said that the government’s plans currently included sending in police officers

    He then addressed the demonstrators directly, urging them to disperse.

    “It’s time to go home,” he said, adding that they are currently “breaking the law” and warning that “the consequences are becoming more and more severe.”

    Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, said he would convene a cabinet meeting on Saturday to urgently approve new regulations making it illegal to block critical infrastructure.

    Those who violate the pending rules could face up to a year in prison, a maximum fine of $100,000 (€88,100), Ford said. The measures wold also grant authorities the ability to take away personal and commercial driving licenses for those who don’t comply….

  230. says

    Re: MTG
    Possibly related. I have described Greene’s politics as “high school gossip style” and “harassment but it doesn’t get called what it is”. (Keeping in mind gossip is general and non-decievers can do something else when appropriate).

  231. says

    This is FANTASTIC – Guardian podcast – “Scotland reckons with violent witch hunts of its past”:

    There’s only one known grave of a condemned witch in Scotland. It belongs to a woman named Lilias Adie from Torryburn in Fife. After being accused, interrogated and tortured, she confessed to committing witchcraft. She died in prison in 1704. Because of her confession, she was denied a church burial. Villagers buried her by the sea instead.

    The historian Louise Yeoman, the presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Witch Hunt podcast, went on a mission to find Adie’s grave in 2014. She tells Nosheen Iqbal that Adie was just one of thousands of women who suffered terrible deaths after being accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries. Now, more than 300 years after the Witchcraft Act was repealed, Scottish campaigners such as Zoe Venditozzi, the co-founder of Witches of Scotland, say it’s time to reckon with this forgotten and shameful episode in their country’s history. About 3,837 people, 84% of whom were women, were tried as witches, and the majority were then executed and burned.

    Three centuries later, the persecuted women may finally have their names cleared. A member’s bill introduced to the Scottish parliament recently to do so secured the support of Nicola Sturgeon’s administration. The Guardian’s Libby Brooks has been following the campaign and she notes the Scottish government’s historical treatment of witches still holds lessons for today.

  232. says

    Mentioned in the podcast @ #264, from a couple weeks ago – BBC – “Catalonia pardons women executed for witchcraft”:

    The Catalan regional parliament has formally pardoned hundreds of women executed for witchcraft between the 15th and 18th centuries.

    MPs passed a resolution by a large majority to rehabilitate the memory of more than 700 women who were tortured and put to death.

    Spanish historians have discovered that Catalonia was one of the first regions in Europe to carry out witch hunts.

    It was also considered one of the worst areas for executions.

    “We have recently discovered the names of more than 700 women who were persecuted, tortured and executed between the 15th and 18th centuries,” said the groups behind the resolution.

    Witches were often blamed for the sudden death of children or for poor harvests, according to Pau Castell, a professor of modern history at the University of Barcelona.

    Pro-independence and left-wing groups say the women were “victims of misogynistic persecution” and want their memory honoured by naming streets after them.

    Tens of thousands – mostly women – are believed to have been condemned to death for witchcraft across Europe.

    The move follows similar initiatives in Scotland, Switzerland and Norway.

    “Before they called us witches, now they call us ‘feminazis’ or hysterical or sexually frustrated. Before they carried out witch hunts, now we call them femicides,” said regional deputy Jenn Diaz of the ruling ERC, according to the AFP news agency.

  233. says

    […] there’s trouble brewing inside the House Republican caucus when it comes to deciding what, exactly, ought to be done with the Jan. 6 committee if Republicans retake the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

    While Republicans have regularly threatened the special committee’s probe with promises to reshape it into a tool for subpoenaing Democrats and broadcasting crackpot theories about the “true” origins of the pro-Trump efforts to nullify a United States election, there won’t be a special committee to corrupt in the next Congress—unless a theoretical Republican majority specifically votes to have one. The current special committee will expire at the end of the current Congress, whether they’re done with their probe or not.

    […] the prospects of the Jan. 6 committee being repurposed remain slim.

    […] many House Republicans want the whole thing to go away, correctly intuiting that the longer the nation talks about the day Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers attempted to topple the United States government, the worse it gets for every Republican candidate trying to pretend they’re not on board with the whole lurch-to-fascism thing.

    […] Rep. Jim Banks—whose appointment to the Jan. 6 committee was vetoed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan made it clear that they saw their appointments as a means to sabotage the probe—[promoted] the House saboteurs’ preferred talking points.

    Banks, Jordan, and the other in-it-up-to-their-eyeballs Republicans want to turn the “investigation” into a probe targeting Capitol law enforcement and Democrats as the real evildoers of the day. Because, sure, a violent pro-Trump mob may have attacked at Trump’s behest and prowled the halls looking for Trump’s named political enemies, all of it an open attempt to overthrow the government and reinstate Trump as the nation’s leader—but it’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault for letting them.

    That’s the strategy the pro-sedition House Republicans have come up with to block subpoenas of Republican coup allies and refocus the whole probe back onto the people who attempted to stop their coup […]

    By the time the Jan. 6 committee is disbanded, Banks will likely have moved on to new theories. […]

    There has never been a case where House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has not buckled to the crazies of his party. If Banks, Jordan, and Trump’s other top allies want to arrest Nancy Pelosi and hold a mock trial accusing her of being the “antifa” mastermind goading Republicans into acts of sedition, McCarthy will grump gently about it, resist it, get a call from Trump, and flip-flop into supporting the whole thing because that is what he has always done. Leadership has no control of the crackpot caucus, and the crackpot caucus has the support of the Dear Leader who attempted the coup in the first place.

    The most likely outcome is that the current committee would be disbanded and immediately replaced by a half-dozen or more “separate” Benghazi-style investigations intended as vehicles for spreading preferred Republican conspiracy theories from the midterms right up to the next presidential election and whether that will damage the party or boost it doesn’t much matter. The party will not act based on what is “best” for their election chances. The Republican Party has no such remaining control; it will choose the most extremist path and bank on an extremist base to respond.

    […] The more pertinent question at the moment is whether Republicans with first-hand knowledge of Trump’s actions on and before January 6 will be able to successfully sabotage the current January 6 probe by refusing to testify—an approach both minority leader McCarthy and the ever-frothing Rep. Jim Jordan are united on in every respect. The intent of every House Republican, save the two directly on the investigating committee, is to block investigation of how the crowd was assembled, whether Trump assembled it with the express purpose of interfering with Congress and delaying or scuttling the day’s vote, and whether Trump or allies delayed responding to the violence in the hopes that it might work.

    […] It’s the only response they have, and they will use it. But first, the people with direct knowledge of Trump’s actions have to get away from the demands to tell us what they know, and that is what keeps the party awake at night.


  234. says

    An emergency towing truck and police armoured vehicles are nearing the intersection. Police are warning protesters to leave now or their vehicles will be towed.

    Police in Canada are not wearing riot gear. Their main tactic seems to be walking slowly forward in a line.
    Video is available at the link.

    Additional info is available at The New York Times:

  235. says

    Sigh. This was predictable.

    As U.S. ‘trucker convoy’ picks up momentum, foreign meddling adds to fray

    Facebook said Friday it removed trucker and convoy groups run by overseas actors. Many anti-vaccine and conspiracy-driven groups have moved to embrace convoy organizing.

    There is growing momentum in the U.S. anti-vaccination community to conduct rallies similar to Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” that has paralyzed Ottawa, Ontario, and the effort is receiving a boost from a familiar source: overseas content mills.

    Some Facebook groups that have promoted American “trucker convoys” similar to demonstrations that have clogged roads in Ottawa are being run by fake accounts tied to content mills in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Romania and several other countries, Facebook officials told NBC News on Friday.

    The groups have popped up as extremism researchers have begun to warn that many anti-vaccine and conspiracy-driven communities in the U.S. are quickly pivoting to embrace and promote the idea of disruptive convoys.

    Researchers at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy first noted that large pro-Trump groups had been changing their names to go with convoy-related themes earlier this week. Grid News reported on Friday that one major trucker convoy Facebook group was being run by a Bangladesh content farm.

    […] The motivations of the people behind the content mills are not clear, but Joan Donovan, director of the Shorenstein Center, said the pattern fits existing efforts to make money off U.S. political divisions.

    […] “When we see really effective disinformation campaigns, it’s when the financial and political motives align,” she added.

    The groups frequently directed users away from Facebook toward websites that sold pro-Trump and anti-vaccine merchandise, a spokesperson for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said. The spokesperson noted that the majority of the content posted in these groups came from real accounts and that the company has removed the groups tied to foreign content mills.

    […] The details of foreign interference come as anti-vaccine protesters, pro-Trump groups and QAnon supporters have shifted their full attention to making trucker convoys a reality on American roads. […]

    Discussion in the anti-vaccine communities has largely coalesced around a different date for road closures — March 5 — with plans for convoys headed toward Washington D.C. and Los Angeles in the days prior.

    […] The official website for the “Defeat the Mandates” event has changed its homepage and is now advertising a trucker convoy in Southern California in March.

    “There’s a misconception that every participant in these chats is a trucker, but that’s not true at all. It’s really anybody who’s been a part of these movements who’ve been waiting for an excuse to do something — QAnon, anti-vaccine, sovereign citizens,” said extremism researcher Sara Aniano, who recently published a report on QAnon’s growth after Jan. 6 for the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, a London-based nonprofit group. ”This feels like the culmination of everything that’s happened since Jan. 6th.”

    […] Donovan, of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, said Vietnamese spammers specifically sell what they call “Nick” accounts at scale, which are credible-seeming Facebook accounts that moderate high-profile groups.

    Once purchased, the accounts and the groups they run can be used for any purpose, from selling T-shirts to executing a foreign influence campaign.

    […] “The fake account trade is alive and well,” Donovan said. “Really, they act as something like customer service. Whether it’s a person or an organization, if you bought an account from a person, and they do get taken away, you can contact him and he will reimburse you with more accounts. It has some dark marketing aspects to it.”

    […] “We continue to see scammers latch onto any hot-button issue that draws people’s attention, including the ongoing protests,” the Meta spokesperson said. “Over the past week, we’ve removed groups and Pages run by spammers from different countries around the world who used abusive tactics to mislead people about the origin and popularity of their content to drive them to off-platform websites to monetize ad clicks.”

    […] Aniano said the groups, which have tens of thousands of subscribers, flow between logistical discussions about essentials to bring on a long-haul car trip and getting followers up to date on QAnon-based conspiracy theories.

  236. tomh says

    From an excellent column in The Atlantic.

    The Supreme Court Seems to Think Discrimination Is When You Try to Remedy Discrimination
    Adam Serwer

    The right-wing majority on the Supreme Court continues its run of nullifying constitutional rights by shadow docket, while insisting that it is doing no such thing.

    Over the past few years, the Supreme Court’s emergency docket, once simply a necessary means to issue rulings on time-sensitive matters, has become a kind of drive-through window for conservative plaintiffs to get the Court’s right-wing majority to rewrite the Constitution. Instead of waiting for cases to reach them through regular procedure, the right-wing justices have taken to nullifying constitutional rights by emergency order when conservative plaintiffs give them the opportunity. Just as last year’s ruling in the Texas abortion-ban case sent the message to other states that they are free to ignore Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent guaranteeing the right to an abortion, this ruling communicates to Republican legislators that the Voting Rights Act’s restrictions on gerrymandering their nonwhite constituents into political irrelevance will no longer be enforced.

    In both cases, for those affected, these rights continue to exist only in a symbolic sense, and in both cases, the majority pretended to be bound by procedure when they were simply indulging their own ideological preferences.

    I have a hard time believing that anyone sincerely thinks that drawing districts that limit the political influence of Black voters in a state where Black people comprise more than a quarter of the population meets some kind of color-blind ideal. Rather, the requirements of the Voting Rights Act go against the partisan ambitions of legislators in Alabama and elsewhere, which are to draw the maximum number of safe Republican districts. Therefore, they have developed the absurd reasoning that being conscious of race for the purpose of preventing discrimination on the basis of race is morally equivalent to discriminating on the basis of race.

    This does not mean that every proposal to remedy discrimination will be wise, legal, or just. But in this case, Alabama is not trying to remedy discrimination at all, but get away with it, using a fraudulent color blindness as a shield. Lucky for them, they have powerful friends.

    Taking this kind of reasoning to its logical conclusion, the ideal post-racial utopia is one in which America’s traditional hierarchy of race is not only intact and unquestioned, but entirely unacknowledged. It is this vision that draws together not just the Roberts Court’s unlimited willingness to allow racial discrimination in voting, but the recent attempts to outlaw the teaching of Black history in schools and universities, and recent Republican outrage over President Joe Biden pledging to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court, after his GOP predecessor promised to appoint from an all-white list of candidates while running for office.

    It is acknowledging the existence of discrimination, or seeking to prevent it, that is the sin. Engaging in it, or covering it up, is just fine. More than fine: a Dream come true.

  237. says

    More re #62 above – QAA – “UNLOCKED Premium Episode 159: QAnon VS Butterfly Sanctuary”:

    A butterfly sanctuary in South Texas accused of “human trafficking” by redpilled lunatics. We spoke to Marianna Treviño-Wright, the head of the privately owned, non-profit National Butterfly Center about the unhinged confrontations on her property and how it all started with a government plan to “build the wall”. On team redpill, we’ve got a cast of awful characters including Pennsylvania [!!!] congressional candidate Kimberly Lowe and Brian Kolfage, the grifter behind an organization called “We Build The Wall”.

  238. says

    Melania Is (Allegedly) Be Best At Raising Money For Non-Existent Charities

    […] the New York Times published an account of how the Trumps are grifting their supporters now that they are no longer grifting the entire country at large. While Donald Trump himself has been charging for paid speeches and selling $230 signed coffee table books to suckers, Melania’s efforts have somehow been a little more pathetic.

    Like the time she tried to sell a hat she wore one time and not-even-a-real-painting of herself and basically no one wanted it.

    In January, she put up for auction a digital portrait of her by a French artist, a print of the portrait and a white hat she once wore at the White House while meeting the president of France.

    Her plan to maximize the sales price by accepting payments only in cryptocurrency appears to have backfired, however: The crash in cryptocurrency prices in January reduced the planned opening-bid price of $250,000 to about $170,000 on the final day of the auction.

    The auction drew just seven bids, according to electronic records, which also suggest that the winning bid was made by the auction’s sponsors.

    Well that is just shocking, because consider the possibilities with a purchase like that. You could … wear a large white hat and tell your fellow Republicans that it is Melania’s hat. Thrilling! [Photo at the link]

    After that failure, she turned her attention to more charitable endeavors. Maybe. She is now selling tickets to join her for high tea in April and telling people that whatever exorbitant price they’re paying for that will go to not just to some Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches, but also to help children in foster care Be Best.

    […] That sounds like a fine thing to do, although the more you think about it, the more it actually seems pretty messed up that this would even have to be a charity to begin with, since it would actually Be Best to subsidize that with tax dollars. Of course, the money may actually not even end up going to those foster kids anyway, because the charity does not exist and is possibly violating Florida’s charity laws.

    There was no indication of how much of the proceeds Mrs. Trump herself intended to pocket. Florida requires any organization that raises charitable contributions in the state to register. No charity with the name “Fostering the Future” or “Be Best” is registered in Florida.

    And the event is now being investigated. […] “Consumer Services Division is currently investigating whether this event involves an entity operating in violation of Chapter 496, Florida Statutes,” Erin M. Moffet, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement, referring to the state law requiring charities to register before soliciting money.

    There’s probably also a state law somewhere saying that you can’t just invent a charity in order to charge people to drink tea with you and then just pocket all of the money so you can buy more giant hats. In fact, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services even has a handy-dandy Check-A-Charity website to help you be sure that you are not being scammed by the former First Lady of the United States of America. [image at the link]

    On the one hand, it would be sad for that money to not go to those children, but on the other, the kind of people who would pay big bucks to have high tea with Melania Trump probably aren’t even pretending to care about the computer science aspirations of children in foster care, so she may as well just say “Hey, give me a lot of money and then you can drink some tea with me” and not even bother bringing orphans into it (all foster children are not orphans, but still). Why bother with a potentially criminal charade when the only people who actually like you are assholes?

    Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” video is available at the link.

  239. says

    Aiyiyiyiyiyi …

    Donald Trump’s picture-book memoir has finally come out. And Washington Post book critic Ron Charles begins his review as follows: “Last June, in a moment of unintentional honesty, Donald Trump said, `I’m writing like crazy.’”

    And really that’s all you need to say about Trump’s 319-page coffee table book “Our Journey Together” ($74.99 plus shipping; $229.99 for a signed copy).

    […] usually former presidents sign million-dollar deals with major publishing houses to put out their memoirs.

    Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land, Vol. 1 (Crown), came out three years after he left the White House.

    The New York Times review began:

    “Barack Obama is as fine a writer as they come. It is not merely that this book avoids being ponderous, as might be expected, even forgiven, of a hefty memoir, but that it is nearly always pleasurable to read, sentence by sentence, the prose gorgeous in places, the detail granular and vivid.”

    Former first lady Michelle Obama wrote a highly-acclaimed best-selling memoir “Becoming,” published by Crown in 2018. Even George. W. Bush managed to come up with a memoir, “Decision Points” (Crown, 2010) that the Los Angeles Times reviewer found “unexpectedly engrossing” and better “than many of his detractors expected.”

    So you’d expect a lot from the man who once boasted that his mega-best seller “The Art of the Deal” was his second favorite book after The Bible. Actually, what the two books share in common is that Trump didn’t write either of them. [LOL]

    Tony Schwartz was the ghostwriter for “The Art of the Deal.” published by Random House in 1987. He spent 18 months tagging alongside Trump and taping his rambling interviews. As Trump’s presidential candidacy took off, Schwartz called writing the book “the greatest regret in my life” because he had “put lipstick on a pig.” He told The New Yorker that if he were writing the book today it would have been very different and titled “The Sociopath.”

    So it’s not surprising that Trump didn’t bother with a ghostwriter for his picture-book memoir. And after the Jan. 6 insurrection, major publishing houses didn’t want to have anything to do with a Trump memoir that they’d have to fact check.

    It must have been a blow to Trump’s ego when former Vice President Mike Pence got a seven-figure deal to write two books […]

    So enter Winning Team Publishing, which was formed last year by Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign aide Sergio Gor. They billed their venture as “the nation’s premier conservative publishing house” even though it had yet to publish an actual book.

    Now every potential best-seller needs some promotion and recommendations. So here’s what the publishing house promised — basically a revisionist history of the one-term Trump presidency.

    “President Donald J. Trump’s first official book since leaving the White House. This photo book captures the greatness of the last four years unlike anything else that has been published. Every photograph has been handpicked by President Donald J. Trump, every caption written by him, some in his own handwriting!”

    And it came with glowing recommendations from Sen. Rand Paul, Don Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Ivanka Trump.

    Indeed it does live up to its billing as “unlike anything else that has been published.” It is unadulterated, unfiltered Trump. The book is dedicated to “the Deplorables” because, Trump writes, “You got me here!”

    As the Washington Post reviewer Charles wrote:

    ”Images are the perfect lexicon for Trump to articulate a fantastical revision of his four chaotic years in office. Freed from the complexities of language or the context of history, the former president spins a dreamscape of adulation and triumph.

    “It’s remarkable how effectively this presentation captures Trump’s wandering mind and self-sabotaging bitterness.”

    There’s no containing Trump’s bile.

    __ A photo of Trump meeting in the Oval Office with John and Cindy McCain is captioned: “John McCain visited me in the White House, asking for a job for his wife. I am smiling, but I didn’t like him even a little bit.”

    __ A photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shown negotiating in a conference room is captioned: “f—ing CRAZY — hence the name Crazy Nancy!” That caption was written with a Sharpie and placed over an image of the presidential seal.

    But Trump can be effusive with his praise of leaders that he likes. A photo of him talking with now embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the U.N. General Assembly has this caption: “Boris is one of a kind — and a fantastic leader of the United Kingdom. He will go down as the best PM since Winston Churchill!”

    The choice of photos is also striking. There’s a photo of Fox News host Sean Hannity as well as a happy picture of Trump walking with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom U.S. intelligence believes approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    The Washington Post review goes on to say:

    “In short, this is a memoir spun from the thin gruel of musty propaganda and cherished grudges. Turning these pages is like watching an old man dust his Hummel figurines and whine about the neighbors.”

    Charles notes that remarkably the book makes no mention of the deaths of 400,000 Americans from COVID during his administration, but it does note that Trump enjoyed “a quick recovery” after he caught the virus.

    Trump doesn’t say much about his two impeachments, except for a photo of him holding up a copy of The Washington Post with the headline “Trump acquitted.”

    Trump doesn’t mention the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection or his attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s election. But he does highlight his Supreme Court nominations, and inexplicably devotes four pages to Japanese sumo wrestlers […] Apparently during a 2019 trip to Japan, Trump was invited by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend a sumo wrestling championship where he presented an eagle-topped U.S. President’s Cup to “the number one sumo wrestler in the world.”

    Trump offers other insights from his travels abroad. A visit to the Churchill War Rooms in London elicits the comment that Churchill was “a real HERO,” and he reveals that “Israel’s capital, Jerusalem” is “a very holy place.” […]

    And like a horror movie, the picture-book closes on an ominous note with a threat of a sequel in which the monster returns.

    Charles writes:

    “Trump closes the book with three double-spreads in a row of large crowds of fans. The last photo is a close-up of Trump alone, looking solemnly to the side. Then there’s a Sharpie note: `America, our journey continues. Together we will take our country back. We will WIN!’”


  240. blf says

    It occurs to me there’s a lot in common between France’s (now mostly defunct) “yellow vest” loons / “protests”, and the current spate of “convey” loons / “protests”. One is the coincidence both were started by commercial lorry drivers (truckers): In France, as a protest against a series(?) of fuel tax increases intended to discourage the use of fuel-inefficient lorries, as part of the strategy of tackling the Gobal Heating crisis; and the current as a protest against vaccination. So both protests started out for stoooopid reasons, We want a hotter world where people die from preventable causes. Both sets of protests morphed into sometimes-violent shouting and ranting about numerous things, some imaginary, some real, some misguided, and not necessarily related to each other or the original reasons. Both sets of protests have attracted foreign mischievous meddling, and (as far as I know) support from the authoritarian-cheering media.

  241. says

    blf @276: “We want a hotter world where people die from preventable causes.” That’s a good summary. The “authoritarian-cheering media” in the USA is really getting on my last nerve.

    Meanwhile: “Police clear ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters from key U.S.-Canada border crossing, but it has still not reopened.”
    Washington Post link

    […] Police remain deployed around the area after arresting 12 people and towing up to 10 cars earlier in the day, the Canadian Broadcasting Co. reported. Police said those arrested will be charged with mischief.

    “There will be zero tolerance for illegal activity,” police said in a statement.

    Elsewhere, protesters continued to block parts of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for the third consecutive weekend and staged disruptive blockades at other border crossings. Counterprotests in recent days also have grown.

    In Ottawa, an impromptu attempt by residents on Sunday to block an intersection and prevent vehicles from joining the downtown convoy turned into a 200-strong protest by people who said they were fed up with feeling unsafe in their city. On Friday, the city of Ottawa, responding to frustrated residents, filed an injunction against demonstrators violating city bylaws. […]

    a defiant core of about two dozen protesters had remained [on the closed bridge] on foot as temperatures dropped below freezing. […]

    “Safety concerns — arising from aggressive, illegal behaviour by many demonstrators — limited police enforcement capabilities,” police said in a statement. […]

    I have to say from watching the videos that Canadian police are remarkably patient.

  242. says

    US, Canadian officials working to secure Ambassador Bridge as trucker protest clears

    Officials are securing Canada’s Ambassador Bridge ahead of a planned reopening sometime Sunday, after Canadian police arrested the remaining demonstrators early Sunday, the White House said, citing a number of conversations between senior officials on both sides of the border in recent days.

    “The updates they received indicate that most protestors have been cleared from the Ambassador bridge, barriers are being removed, and the corridor is being secured,” White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall said in a statement.

    “Canadian authorities are taking proactive steps to ensure no further unlawful disruption of the flow of people and goods occurs. Individuals trespassing on property located on the road to the bridge will be cited for trespassing and their vehicles will be towed,” it added. […]

  243. says

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The outpouring of support from New Mexicans and folks all around the country gives me strength every day. Excited to get back to work.

    Senator Ben Ray Lujan speaks from University of New Mexico hospital about his recent stroke and prospects for his return to Senate business. So very, very glad to see him alert, fluent, and well on the road to recovery!

  244. blf says

    There’s a rather nice article in the Grauniad, ‘The only logical choice’: anti-vaxxers who changed their minds on Covid vaccines. It’s perhaps difficult to fairly excerpt, so I’ll only quote the last bit (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    When [Alexis] Danielsen told the public health nurse giving her the Covid shot that it was her first ever vaccination, the nurse was thrilled. “She was super excited for me,” Danielsen said. They kept in touch, and the nurse gave Danielsen and her son all of their vaccines over the next few months.

    For people who have skipped vaccinations in the past, building relationships like these can be incredibly helpful, [one of the founders of Back to the Vax, a support group for one-time vaccine skeptics who’d had a change of heart, Lydia] Greene said. That way, “you’re not having to re-explain why you’re catching up on all these vaccines — because even just explaining yourself can bring a lot of anxiety.”

    Danielsen agrees about the importance of medical professionals creating a bond with patients. “Doctors and nurses need to know that there’s a lot of people who are really scared of them,” she said. “So many people have bad experiences in the medical system … {which} makes it really hard to trust them.”

    As for her own decision to finally get vaccinated, she was embarrassed to have waited so long, and worried she might face mockery or contempt for putting her son at risk. Instead, she’s been surprised to be welcomed into the scientific community. “Everyone is like, ‘Yeah, you changed your mind. That’s fucking awesome.’”

    One point the article makes is that for the vaccine-hesitant people (not those who are committed anti-vaxxers, but those who are excessively concerned) is that “many” have been poorly-served by the health system in the pass: Poor access, bad experiences, unhelpful or brief contact, and so on — which is perhaps a much larger problem (due to the lack of any truly universal health care) than in, say, the UK or here in France.

  245. says

    It’s hardly a secret that Sen. Joe Manchin was chiefly responsible for the demise of the Build Back Better package, at least in its most recent iteration. The conservative West Virginia Democrat has received considerable pushback from his party, and for good reason.

    But as Democrats look ahead and wonder whether some form of the BBB legislation can be salvaged, Manchin poses an important challenge, but he’s not the only challenge. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that when it comes to tax policy, the West Virginian is actually taking a fairly progressive stance — and it’s Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who’s standing in the way.

    In recent weeks, as Democrats’ efforts on the child-care, healthcare and climate package have remained stalled, Mr. Manchin (D., W.Va.) has repeatedly said the party should focus an updated version of the bill on increasing government revenue. Raising taxes enough to more than offset the bill’s spending would reduce the budget deficit and fight inflation, he said, addressing concerns that led him to oppose the House-passed package last year.

    I realize that in many progressive circles, Manchin is seen as effectively a Republican, but most notably on taxes, the assessment isn’t true. The West Virginian is prepared to significantly roll back the Republicans’ Trump-era tax breaks — which Manchin voted against at the time — creating a higher corporate tax rate, a higher top marginal rate for the wealthy, a higher capital-gains rate, a higher rate on carried-interest income, and even raising the income threshold for taxes that fund Social Security from $147,000 to $400,000.

    While Republicans hate each of these ideas with the heat of a thousand suns, all of this could be done through the budget reconciliation process, and each of these changes would enjoy broad support among congressional Democrats in both chambers.

    What’s more, by making these changes, policymakers would be able to make new domestic investments and reduce the deficit, which Manchin considers a priority.

    So why don’t Democrats simply do this if the party’s most conservative member is already on board? Because Arizona’s Sinema said months ago that she wouldn’t accept any higher rates on the wealthy or big corporations — and by all accounts, the Arizonan hasn’t changed her mind.

    The result is two deeply strange dynamics unfolding simultaneously: Sinema is fighting to protect ineffective tax breaks she voted against five years ago, and Manchin is left to encourage one of his Democratic colleagues to be more liberal.

    “I respect her and what her concerns may be, but I think basically our financial situation is getting worse, not better, so maybe we can take another look at it,” Manchin told the Wall Street Journal, referring to Sinema. “I would hope so.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, if the Build Back Better agenda dies because Sinema was overly committed to protecting GOP tax breaks for the wealthy, her odds of winning a Democratic primary in 2024 will be poor.


  246. says

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an enthusiastic supporter of Canadian truckers’ anti-government protests which have been causing major blockages at the Canada-U.S. border, telling the Daily Signal on Thursday that he hopes the so-called “Freedom Convoy” travels down south to congest American cities, too.

    Why? Because, Paul said, “civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition” in the U.S., “from slavery to civil rights.”

    Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, shouldn’t be “commandeering the microphone” and “bullying people” and behaving like a “crazed mob.”

    Canadian police unclogged the Ambassador Bridge, a major border crossing that connects Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday night after a six-day logjam led by hundreds of truckers protesting government restrictions.

    The blockade is still going on in other areas of Ottawa more than two weeks after it began. […]


  247. says

    Among the most wretched of Donald Trump’s loathsome personality flaws is his rancid vengefulness and compulsion with punishing anyone he deems insufficiently loyal. He has lashed out viciously at his perceived enemies, including steadfast conservative Republicans like former VP Mike Pence and Sen. Mitch McConnell, and flagrantly biased right-wing media such as Fox News and Newsmax.

    Escalating the hysterics for which Trump is famous, on Saturday he released a statement that included his explicit yearning to see Hillary Clinton executed for alleged crimes that he utterly failed to identify or even peripherally grasp. The statement was tweeted, as usual, by his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill, Liz Harrington. It concerned a recent filing by special counsel John Durham that Trump completely misunderstood”

    “The latest pleading from Special Counsel Robert Durham provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.”

    Virtually all of the reporting on this filing by John Durham (not “Robert” as Trump mistakenly said) is coming from hardcore right-wing Internet trolls such as Breitbart, Infowars, RedState, and, of course, Harrington, who has tweeted about it eight nine ten times since yesterday.

    Trump’s assertion that the filing provides “indisputable evidence” that he was spied on is wholly fictional. Durham doesn’t even make that assertion in the filing. The gist of the document relates to allegations that an attorney who at one time represented the Clinton campaign didn’t properly disclose that relationship. The references to spying were merely the collection of Internet IP addresses and Domain Service Names (DNS) that are publicly available.

    More to the point, what Trump calls his “fabricated connection to Russia” is actually well documented. There is abundant evidence of the Trump campaign’s numerous unsavory connections to Russia. Much of it is catalogued in the book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. And in April of 2019, Time reported that “investigators have found that Trump and at least 17 of his campaign officials and advisors had more than 100 contacts between Trump associates and Russians.”

    That’s hardly something one could characterize as coincidental. But ignoring reality, Trump continued his rant saying that…

    “This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”

    It’s a pretty safe bet that Trump has no idea what the “scope and magnitude” of Watergate was. And if he did, he would probably have supported it. Nevertheless, he is baselessly accusing Clinton and other Democrats of imaginary capital offenses. Because that’s just how vindictive and bloodthirsty he is.

    The timing of Durham’s specious filing, and the feigned outrage of Trump and his media shills, is curious coming so soon after the disclosures that Trump violated the Presidential Records Act by shredding and even flushing potentially incriminating documents, and scurrying off to Mar-a-Lago with fifteen boxes of materials that legally should have been turned over to the National Archives.

    However, it is thoroughly consistent with Trump’s lifelong pattern of misbehavior to try to supplant actual news with his own overblown concoctions. And the more desperate he is, the more despicable and delusional he becomes.


  248. says

    The World Bank joins others in leaving Ukraine, at least temporarily. Meanwhile Ukrainians are feeling the economic consequences of Russia’s threats.

    The World Bank is temporarily relocating its staff from Ukraine due to rising tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters.

    “The World Bank Group’s foremost priority is to keep our staff and their families safe. In line with our evacuation policy, temporary relocation of staff is under way and enhanced security measures are in place,” the memo said, according to Reuters.

    There is no information on where the staff would be moved or how many people were being relocated, but the World Bank said it was closely monitoring the situation, Reuters reported. […]

    The World Bank has provided nearly $1.3 billion in financing to Ukraine since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, Reuters reported.

    The decision by the World Bank to move its staff from Ukraine follows a similar decision by the U.S. to evacuate embassy staff in Kyiv.

    “On February 12, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of most U.S. direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” the travel advisory read.

    The embassy in Kyiv on Sunday halted all consular services and will “maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine to handle emergencies, but will not be able to provide passport, visa or routine consular services,” according to the State Department.

    The Russian military has amassed hundreds of thousands of troops at its border with Ukraine, a posture that has not shifted much in weeks despite efforts by the U.S., Canada, U.K. and other Western allies to deescalate the situation diplomatically.

    U.S. officials have also warned that while the diplomatic path to easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine remains open, the window of opportunity for negotiations and dialogue is “shrinking” as Moscow continues its military buildup.


  249. says

    Apple broke Facebook’s ad machine. Who’s going to fix it?

    A $250 billion question.

    Facebook built one of the most amazing money machines the world has ever seen. Then Apple came and threw a wrench in the gears.

    That’s one of the narratives that sprang from last week’s news, when Facebook’s parent company Meta delivered an alarming earnings report to Wall Street, which promptly cut an astonishing $250 billion out of the company’s value in a single day — a 26 percent drop. And there were a lot of narratives.

    For a large and vocal group of Facebook haters, the stock crash was a chance to reaffirm your priors: If you thought Facebook was getting comeuppance for creating a toxic product that made the world worse, you could point to its first-ever loss of users. If you thought Mark Zuckerberg’s pivot to a yet-to-exist metaverse is a fantasy, you could point to the $10 billion the company said it sunk into the effort last year. And if you thought TikTok was eating Facebook’s lunch, you could cite Mark Zuckerberg himself, who acknowledged on the company’s earnings call that the video app was “so big as a competitor already, and also continues to grow at quite a fast rate off of a very large base.”

    And all of those stories have a degree of truth. But the idea that Apple has hurt Facebook’s revenue in a direct and meaningful way seems the truest: Facebook says changes Apple made that affect how ads work on iOS apps — namely, that it’s now much harder for app-makers and advertisers to track user behavior — will cost it $10 billion in revenue this year.

    For context: Facebook is still making an enormous amount of money from advertising — analyst Michael Nathanson estimates the company will generate $129 billion in ad revenue in 2022. But that would mean its ad business will only grow about 12 percent this year, compared to a 36 percent increase the previous year. Wall Street has prized Facebook for its ability to grow at a rocket velocity, and now that rocket may be sputtering.

    What can Facebook do about it?

    The background: The seeds for last week’s news were planted many months ago. In June of 2020, Apple announced changes to its mobile operating system that would give iPhone users a chance to tell app-makers not to follow them around the internet. That tracking system is the backbone of the internet’s advertising infrastructure, and you’re familiar with it even if you never think about it: It’s why, for instance, you see ads for shoes you’ve already looked at on Zappos when you’re visiting other sites. And in Facebook’s case, it’s crucial for finding people advertisers want to reach and, importantly, telling them what happens after those people see or interact with their ads.

    A month later, Facebook began warning investors that those changes would hurt their ad business. The fight between the two companies got more intense after that, with both sides lobbing public attacks at each other.

    While there were lots of signs that Apple’s change was in fact hurting Facebook’s ad sales, people in and out of the company also assumed that Facebook would figure out how to handle it because Facebook is a giant company flush with cash and bright engineers. And while Facebook continued to warn investors in its quarterly updates that Apple’s moves would be a problem, it used generic terms like “headwinds” when it did. […]

    Now Facebook is saying, in public, that Apple’s ad changes have been a really big deal, after all. The short version, as COO Sheryl Sandberg told investors last week: Facebook’s ad targeting became less accurate because it now knows less about its users. Which means Facebook advertisers have to spend more money in the hope of reaching people on iPhones — and that Facebook advertisers, who had been used to measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns down to the penny, now have to make much-less-informed guesses about whether their ad dollars are working

    Another way of putting it, via Alex Austin, the CEO of Branch, a company that helps advertisers figure out how their campaigns are working: After Apple introduced its anti-tracking changes in the spring of 2021, advertisers who used Branch’s services to measure paid ads on iOS dropped by 20 percent. Instead, Branch customers spent more time using the company’s services that track “organic” marketing campaigns using tools like email, and on services for advertisers who used Google’s Android phones — where those anti-tracking measures don’t exist. “It’s clear that the market is still figuring out how to handle [Apple’s new rules] on iOS, and shifting focus to Android and organic channels on iOS,” he told Recode.

    Facebook says it’s working on a fix to make things better for advertisers in the near term via an “aggregated event measurement” workaround. Which in plain English means that while it won’t be able to tell advertisers which individual users clicked on a link or downloaded an app after seeing an ad, it can tell them what a larger group of users did.

    Depending on your perspective, that’s either a big improvement for users’ privacy or a large step backward for advertisers used to fine-grained accuracy on the internet. But both Google and Snap have rolled out similar products and have told investors they are working well-ish; Facebook executives concede that their version is not, yet; they think it will take months to get there.

    […] you can also see Facebook tacitly conceding that even when their tools get better, they’re never going to be as effective on iOS as they used to be. That’s one of the reasons the company is making a renewed push into selling products on their own apps — not just Facebook’s Marketplace platform, but actual digital storefronts on Instagram and Facebook. […]

    The revenue Facebook could generate from those sales is nice, but the data Facebook can legally capture about how users behave, without interference from Apple, could be invaluable. Facebook can’t tell a shoe store if someone saw their ad on the app, then clicked through to the store’s site or app and bought something — but it can tell them if a Facebook user saw the ad on Facebook and then bought the shoes on Facebook.

    […] Facebook is making a renewed push into Reels, the TikTok copycat product it is promoting on Instagram and the traditional Facebook app, even though it’s barely running ads on Reels, for now.

    The hope is to build up use and then figure out revenue later. That’s a longstanding tech tactic, and one that worked well for Facebook when it copied Snapchat’s “stories” on Instagram — which gave it a way to create a new source of ad revenue and helped slow Snapchat’s growth.

    And you can also see Facebook’s Apple problem as another impetus for its metaverse push: It will take many years for Facebook’s alternate reality future to materialize — and it may never happen. But if it does, Zuckerberg will have built his company a hardware and software platform where he can interact directly with his users — and so can his advertisers — without interference from Apple or anyone else.

    Which brings us back to Apple, which has always insisted that it was making its privacy changes because it values privacy and not because it would damage Facebook. And to be clear: Apple doesn’t want Facebook to go away because Apple’s users like Facebook. […]

    But Apple has also made it clear how much disdain it has for Facebook’s core business. A year ago, for instance, Apple CEO Tim Cook, without naming the company specifically, publicly criticized businesses that were “prioritizing conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of their high rates of engagement,” “not just tolerating, but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccination,” and “seeing thousands of users join extremist groups, and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more.”

    “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise,” Cook said in his speech at an international privacy conference. “It deserves reform.”

    […] instead of wondering what Apple’s motivations are, maybe we should spend time thinking about the power Apple has. While regulators around the world struggle to restrain Facebook’s power and influence, Apple has put its rival on its back foot with a mere tweak to its phones’ software. […]

  250. says

    Wonkette: “GOP Pretty Sure We Should Cave To Truck Babies’ Demands”

    Right-wing pundits and elected Republican politicians are lusting over the prospect of a so-called “freedom convoy” coming to the US. Canadian truckers opposing COVID-19 regulations and mandates have caused clear economic damage. A days-long blockade on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is expected to have a lasting impact on the supply chain. Last week, General Motors, Ford, and Toyota cut production at several plants in the US and Canada due to a lack of parts.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to invoke the never-before-used Emergencies Acts in response to this mess, and no, Bill Maher, Trudeau doesn’t sound like Hitler because he’s had his fill with unvaccinated brats.

    CBC reports:

    The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in the 1980s, defines a national emergency as a temporary “urgent and critical situation” that “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it.”

    What’s happening in Canada isn’t a protest. It’s not even a riot where random people burn down a CVS. This chaos is coordinated. Instead, Republicans have declared the blockades legitimate political discourse.

    During an interview last