Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Opinion: The right-wing misreading of ‘Blazing Saddles’ is so telling

    On social media at least, Mel Brooks’ classic “Blazing Saddles” has become the standard example of a film that supposedly could not be made today because of rampant left-wing political correctness. Rewatching the 1974 film on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, though, what stands out is its cheerfully irreverent antiracism — and its open enthusiasm for insulting and mocking racists.

    “Blazing Saddles” is the kind of unreproducible film that doesn’t need a remake. But if it were remade, it almost certainly wouldn’t be the left who would object…

    True. In right-wing bizarro world, calling someone a racist is worse than being racist.

  2. says

    Possibly of interest – 99% Invisible – “De Fiets is Niets”:

    Today the Netherlands has a reputation as a kind of bicycling paradise. Dutch people own more bicycles per capita than any other place in the world. The country has more than 20,000 miles of dedicated cycling paths. International policymakers make pilgrimages to the Netherlands to learn how to create good bike infrastructure.

    But none of that was inevitable. It wasn’t something that magically emerged from Dutch culture.

    In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, it looked like the Netherlands would follow the same path as the United States. The Dutch had fallen in love with cars and they were rebuilding their cities to make room for them. It was only because of a multi-decade pro-cycling movement that cars didn’t take over the country entirely….

  3. John Morales says

    Reginald @500 — oops, gonna spill over! — that makes no sense at all to me.

    Still, I suppose it’s an opinion. But then, so is mine.

  4. says

    Russia Is Boosting Calls for ‘Civil War’ Over Texas Border Crisis.

    An all-encompassing Russian disinformation campaign is using everything from bots to lifestyle influencers to powerful state-run media to sow division in the United States.
    WIRED link

    […] WIRED has also obtained exclusive access to data from two separate disinformation research groups that demonstrate a coordinated Russian effort on Telegram and X (formerly Twitter) to sow discord by pushing the narrative that the US is heading for civil war.

    The disinformation campaign began in earnest in late January, and expanded after Russian politicians spoke out when the US Supreme Court lifted an order by a lower court and sided with President Joe Biden’s administration to rule that US Border Patrol officers were allowed to take down razor-wire fencing erected by the Texas National Guard. Days later, when Texas governor Greg Abbott refused to stand down, former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is currently deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, claimed that the Texas border dispute is “another vivid example of the US hegemony getting weaker.”

    “Establishing a People’s Republic of Texas is getting more and more real,” Medvedev added on X, claiming the situation could lead to “a bloody civil war which cost thousands upon thousands of lives.”

    Others chimed in: […] “If necessary, we are ready to help with the independence referendum. And of course, we will recognize the People’s Republic of Texas if there is one,” Mironov wrote on X.

    After these comments, state media, influencers, and bloggers quickly got involved. Over the past two weeks, state-run media outlets like Sputnik and RT have called the dispute between the Texas governor and the Biden administration a “constitutional crisis” and an “unmitigated disaster,” while one Sputnik correspondent posed a video on the outlet’s X account, stating: “There’s a big convoy of truck drivers going down there. So, it can very easily get out of hand. It can genuinely lead to an actual civil war, where the US Army is fighting against US citizens.”

    On Telegram, there were clear signs of a coordinated effort to boost conversations around the Texas crisis, according to analysis shared exclusively with WIRED by Logically, a company using artificial intelligence to track disinformation campaigns.

    […] The convoy’s official channels on Telegram were also infiltrated by Russian accounts […]“They are in every single group on any social media,” […] “What’s bad for America is great for Russia.”

    Researchers at Antibot4Navalny, a Russian anti-disinformation research group that has been closely tracking a Russian disinformation network known as Doppelganger on X, shared data exclusively with WIRED that shows a network of bot accounts previously linked to the Doppelganger campaign has been deployed online in the past week to discuss the Texas issue.

    […] Caroline Orr, a behavioral scientist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland who tracks disinformation online, wrote in her newsletter Weaponized that the term “Free Texas” in Russian was being “used extensively [on X], and nearly exclusively, by Russian accounts associated with the notorious Internet Research Agency, which housed the 2016 election interference operation.”

    […] There also appear to be a number of Russian accounts on X posing as pro-Texas groups, in another echo of 2016 when an account that claimed to be run by Tennessee Republicans was outed as Russian-run.

    […] On Sunday, the account claimed “we are a Texan organization, not Russian. We can definitely assure ya’ll [sic] that we’re not Russian.” […]

  5. says

    The previous chapter of The Infinite Thread accumulated 500 comments, and then it automatically rolled over to begin again at comment #1.

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

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-3/#comment-2210737
    The right-wing misreading of ‘Blazing Saddles’ is so telling

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-3/#comment-2210725
    In Virginia, Arlington’s first guaranteed income pilot boosted quality of life for poorest residents

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/01/07/infinite-thread-xxx/comment-page-3/#comment-2210714
    Among the fake electors is Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald, who has pushed to bypass the state-run presidential primary to nominate a Republican presidential nominee, instead opting for a party-run caucus

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    Mike Johnson Gathers Far-Right Christians to Cast Out Demons

    House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and two dozen members of Congress assembled at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., last week for the second-annual National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance. The event was chock-a-block with Christian nationalist pastors and featured a clarion call for spiritual warfare, with members of Congress beseeching fellow Christians to “tie the hands of Satan” and to “bind the demonic forces” that are supposedly possessing America…

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hartwick professor presents paper on abortion laws

    A recent study on public attitudes toward abortion laws reveals that increased knowledge about pregnancy leads to a higher likelihood of opposing legislation restricting women’s access to abortions, according to a media release from Hartwick College.

    The study, conducted by a research team that included Laurel Elder, a political science professor and department chair at Hartwick, also indicates that laws limiting abortion after 12 weeks do not enjoy greater support compared to those limiting access after six weeks.

    “This research study is part of a larger book project we are working on examining the shift in public opinion on abortion in the wake of the 2022 Dobbs decision,” Elder said. “Our research shows the complete bans on abortion enacted over the past year and a half, as well as arguably more moderate six-, 12- or 15-week bans, are very unpopular with the American public.” …

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine preparing to launch mass production of Lancet drone analog

    Ukraine will sign first contracts for the mass production of attack drones similar to Russian Lancet drones “in the coming weeks,” Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said on Feb. 7.

    The Lancet is a kamikaze drone with a range of 40 kilometers produced by ZALA Aero Group, a subsidiary of Russian arms giant Kalashnikov Concern…

  9. John Morales says

    Reginald, he’s not recommending him, according to your cited headline; he is floating him.
    Stopping him from sinking, no? But supporting is not recommending, right? Or am I being too pedantic?
    Do I need to click on the link to know to what it truly refers?
    After all, as CA7746 has pointed out, hyperbole is the order of the day.
    Could be pretty much anything.

    (Why are you so very lazy as to not bother to even put up a pullquote? I can but speculate, but it is a fact that is how you prefer to cite stuff. Just a naked headline. Which, however, is informative about you)

    But hey, keep posting naked links with no further context other than a snarky remark.
    Surely you will prosper thereby. And I might become inured to such laziness.

  10. Jazzlet says

    whheydt @495 That has recently been put in the UK Highway Code too, though it will be years before it has much effect – most drivers don’t bother to keep up with the updates.

    John Morales @494 wise advice or as I tend to put it (and I am also a car driver) “assume all other road users are out to get you and act accordingly”. I once came a cropper on a substantial Black Country woman, I was turning left at a traffic light, railings to my left, cars to my right, there was no where to go when she tried to nip between the cars, and not enough time to brake. The left end of my handle bar hit her, the bike flipped and I ended up with on my back on the road being shouted at, she only stopped when I staggered up and the blood from the head would started pouring down my face. Point being “even pedestrians can be out to get you!” ;-) And yes when they became available I did start to wear helmets.

  11. John Morales says

    Jazzlet,

    … she only stopped when I staggered up and the blood from the head would started pouring down my face …

    Please reassure me that she then became concerned and helpful towards you, instead of “the victim”.

    Because that’s what I’d expect, most people posture but when things come get real they generally become reasonable, in my experience.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    Marianne Williamson suspends long-shot Democratic presidential campaign

    Author Marianne Williamson has announced she is suspending her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    “I appreciate greatly all the incredible credulous people who accompanied me on our political journey over the last ten months. While the level of our failure is obvious to all, a level of success is real nonetheless,” Williamson said in a lengthy statement emailed to supporters…

    OK, I confess; I changed one word.

  13. says

    MAGA cult followers have devised another way to attack Taylor Swift:

    Taylor Swift is being targeted again by deepfakes, with supporters of Donald Trump posting manipulated media falsely showing her supporting Trump and engaging in election denialism.

    The viral images and clips on X, which have been viewed millions of times, come just over a week after fake nude images of Swift went viral on the platform, putting a spotlight on X’s inability to control the spread of malicious inauthentic media. […]

    Some of the deepfakes showing Swift supporting Trump have content labels warning that the media is inauthentic, but many shares of those posts and reposts did not initially have the same labels. […]

    The most prominent pro-Trump deepfake video of Swift uses a recent video of her on the Grammys red carpet, posing for cameras. But the video is edited to show her holding a sign that says “Trump won” and “Democrats cheated!” One post containing the video on X (formerly Twitter) has over 10.3 million views, according to X’s metrics. It has a community note that says that the video is edited and that Swift was not really holding the flag.

    NBC News found 13 other posts containing the fake video. Eight of them did not have community notes or manipulated media labels. One of the unlabeled posts had over 72,000 views as of publication, according to X’s metrics. None of those videos had been removed as of Thursday evening despite appearing to violate X’s policies against manipulated media. […]

    A representative for X wrote “The team was made aware of this AI-generated video and we took action on almost 100 posts on February 4, 2024, under our Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy. We’re actively monitoring and when posts are found they will also be labeled as manipulated media.”

    The manipulated media appeared to originate from a pro-Trump X account that has over 1 million followers and is enrolled in X Premium, which gives the account a blue verification check mark and the ability to make money from ads. Many of the video posts viewed by NBC News have links leading back to that account, which is one way for users to share videos, but while the original post has a manipulated media label, the reposts do not carry the label with them.

    […] A post on Monday contained an edited video of Swift’s album of the year acceptance speech at the Grammys, which appeared to use voice-cloning technology to make it sound as though she was saying “Trump won,” “F— Joe Biden” and “Trump 2024 bit—-, let’s go.” That post has over 750,000 views, according to X’s metrics, and it did not contain a manipulated media label or a community note indicating it is fake until after NBC News reached out to X for comment on Wednesday.

    X appears to be the primary mainstream social media platform where manipulated media that shows Swift supporting election denialism is circulating. […]

    Link

  14. says

    Donald Trump’s fundraising emails:

    They’ve wrongfully ARRESTED me four times, took a MUGSHOT of me, forced me off the campaign trail and into the courtroom for SHAM TRIALS, unlawfully REMOVED my name from the ballot, GAGGED and CENSORED me, are attempting to JAIL me for life as an innocent man, and are even seeking the ‘corporate death penalty’ against me and my family.

    And despite all this, with YOU at my side, I’ve never been more confident that WE will prevail in our noble mission . . . just as we always have.

    Commentary written by Naomi Fry for The New Yorker:

    […] Where does one even begin? I guess we might as well start with the e-mail’s inexplicable ransom-note-style font decisions. Why is YOU capped but not italicized, whereas WE is capped and italicized? Why is the first paragraph bolded (and in red type), whereas the second is not? Why is “corporate death penalty” both scare-quoted and italicized?

    The typographical chaos mimics the legal, political, and psychic chaos in which Trump operates; and yet his relentless energy seems to emerge from this very chaos, as he paranoically and insistently narrates his woes in a kind of stream of consciousness, by turns slinging mud at the so-called haters, proclaiming his perseverance, and flattering and wheedling his supporters.

    He is Jesus on the cross, but he will survive! The strength of the words, too, depends on their ability to capture the ex-President’s oratorical cadence. The all-caps, tabloidesque feel of arrested, mugshot, sham trials, and so on mirrors the rhythmic ebb and flow of Trump’s speech, apparently so intoxicating to his followers.

    […] An e-mail from January 23rd opens with these words:

    This is President Trump, and I’ll never stop loving you.

    Why? Because you’ve always loved me!

    You stuck by me every single time the Radical Left tried to KICK ME DOWN.

    Even when they took my mugshot at the Fulton County Jail.

    I felt your love even when they RAIDED MY HOME.

    Through all the HOAXES, WITCH HUNTS, and FAKE INDICTMENTS, you never left my side!

    This is a bond that is based on persecution, and the harsher the torment the more ardently tender the bond becomes […]

    The former President considers each and every “Patriot” he is addressing in his e-mails as “the real star of our country,” and is raffling off a V.I.P. visit to Mar-a-Lago among those who contribute just one dollar to the campaign. In the appended picture, a technicolor Trump with his thumb up, grinning strenuously as if laughing at a gag just beyond frame, is crudely photoshopped onto an aerial image of the country club and the blindingly turquoise ocean beyond it. Not only will the winner “get to take a special photo with yours truly so that you can remember this amazing night forever!,” Trump writes, but they’ll also “get to enjoy drinks and hors d’œuvres on me,” and receive “an autographed hat from your favorite President. […]

  15. tomh says

    Re: #497 from previous page on Florida Supreme Court deciding if an amendment to the state constitution on abortion rights can go on the ballot.

    Florida requires 60% approval to amend their constitution. In 2006 the Florida legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the ballot to require a 60% approval vote to amend the constitution. The measure passed with 57% of the vote. Although abortion rights measures have passed everywhere they have been put to voters, even conservative states, none have reached the 60% level so this will be a high bar for Florida voters to get over.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    Deepfakes: if you see Donald Trump say something genuinely witty, or compassionate.

  17. KG says

    The viral images and clips on X, which have been viewed millions of times, come just over a week after fake nude images of Swift went viral on the platform, putting a spotlight on X’s inability to control the spread of malicious inauthentic media. – Lynna, OM@15 quoting nbcnews

    I’d say attributing the circulation of these “malicious inauthentic media” to “X’s inability” is itself dishonest: there is zero evidence Musk has any intention of preventing it.

  18. John Morales says

    Thanks, KG.

    I shall try to be merely properly pedantic; everything in moderation, no?

    See, hereabouts, “floating” an idea is seeing whether it gets traction by exposing people to it, not advocating for it. So, it doesn’t make that much sense.

    (A bit like rooting, doesn’t mean the same thing)

  19. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@500,

    True. But Ms. KG and I recently rewatched Mel Brooks’ The Producers. The ageism, homophobia and most of all the sexism (turned up to 11) were fingernails-on-chalkboard excruciating. I’ll have to rewatch Blazing Saddles to see how it holds up!

  20. KG says

    everything in moderation, no? – John Morales@24

    Not that I suppose you ever would, but you should never carry moderation to extremes!

  21. John Morales says

    So, in that spirit, regarding #22, what about malicious authentic media?
    Heck, what about non-malicious inauthentic media?
    Or is it merely malicious inauthentic media that is of relevance?

    (Pointing out the distinction between media and content would be a tad too pedantic for some, I’m getting that now. But still, the media is not the messages, contrary to the literal meaning of McLuhan’s coinage)

  22. KG says

    Next, ‘Parked car strikes bicyclist’. – John Morales@490

    I’ve experienced it! As I was cycling past, on a busy road, the driver’s door was opened and knocked me off. Fortunately (for me, at any rate), no vehicle was close behind me, and I came away with a grazed knee and bent mudguard. Ever since then (this was around a quarter of a century ago) I always check whether the driver’s seat is occupied before passing a parked car witihn range of the door.

  23. Reginald Selkirk says

    Russian billionaire Anisimov renounces citizenship

    Businessman Vasily Anisimov has renounced his Russian citizenship, becoming the seventh billionaire to do so after Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine, Forbes Russia reported on Feb. 8, citing documents provided by Anisimov himself.

    Anisimov is a former partner of sanctioned tycoon Alisher Usmanov and the founder of Trustconsult and Coalco International. Forbes estimates his fortune at $1.6 billion…

  24. Reginald Selkirk says

    Pakistan cuts off phone and internet services on election day

    Pakistan has temporarily suspended mobile phone network and internet services across the country to combat any “possible threats,” a top ministry said, as the South Asian nation commences its national election.

    In a statement, Pakistan’s interior ministry said the move was prompted by recent incidents of terrorism in the country. The internet was accessible through wired broadband connections, local journalists posted on X earlier Thursday. But NetBlocks, an independent service that tracks outages, said later that Pakistan had started to block internet services as well…

  25. says

    Senator Tim Scott is emblematic of the problem:

    […] Republicans killed the compromise plan they demanded, said security aid and border reforms must be kept separate, and signaled support for a security aid measure without unrelated provisions, which is what Democrats wanted in the first place.

    Democrats — who keep saying yes to GOP directives — tried to advance a new bill focused on security aid, only to once again run into Republican resistance.

    And why, pray tell, are GOP senators once again looking askance at the proposal they endorsed? A Semafor report, published a couple of hours ago, summarized the matter nicely:

    Senators are expected to vote today on whether to advance a foreign aid package including help for Kyiv, Israel, and Taiwan, minus the border deal Republicans deep-sixed earlier this week. But despite the support of Republican leaders, the effort is facing possible trouble. The reason? GOP lawmakers want a chance to add amendments on — wait for it — border security.

    A Politico report added, “The Senate GOP’s contortions are almost comical: Having first rejected the immigration-and-foreign-aid bill for its immigration portion, some senators are now demanding immigration amendment votes for the foreign aid-only bill […]”

    As the bewildering drama unfolded on Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina appeared on Fox Business and said he opposed a stand-alone security aid package because it didn’t include provisions related to the U.S./Mexico border. [WTF?]

    [Video at the link] Of course, a couple of hours earlier, Scott voted against a bipartisan bill that addressed both security aid and border reforms. [True]

    One NBC News reporter referred to this as the Senate Republicans’ “endless doom loop.” They oppose security aid unless it includes border reforms, so Senate Democrats offer them security aid that includes border reforms, which GOP senators also oppose. So Democrats remove the border reforms, only to find Republicans still aren’t satisfied.

    The GOP minority wants the two unrelated policies to be tied together, except when they don’t, and then do again.

    As the day on Capitol Hill wrapped up, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber was recessing to “give our Republican colleagues the night to figure themselves out.” […]

    Link

  26. says

    Rachel Maddow:

    “It was helpful, I think, for us as a country…that they [the federal appeals court] did outright mock the claims that you have to be impeached and convicted in the Senate before he could be put on trial for committing murder or committing any of these other crimes.”

    That’s an excerpt from a longer segment.
    YouTube link

    “[The Court] was very blunt about these things that there have been efforts to obfuscate.”

  27. birgerjohansson says

    Sunak’s Treble Disaster Yesterday
    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=wqzWuL4a7Zs   

    Wow. The talent pool of the British Conservative Party must be very shallow.
    Remember, in order to run for parliament 2019, tory MPs had to pledge ro support BoJo’s Brexit deal. In a fell swoop this purged the tory MPs of people with a smidgeon of a realistic outlook, and/or integrity.

  28. says

    Steve Vladeck just tweeted:

    My bet: Between 7-2 and 9-0 for the very specific proposition that states can’t unilaterally disqualify candidates running for President on the ground that they engaged in insurrection.

    That’s just a prediction based on the oral argument—not what I think the Court *ought* to do.

  29. says

    Joyce Vance:

    […] I want to take a moment to discuss what’s going on in the Mar-a-Lago case. Judge Aileen Cannon continues to make rulings that are disturbing. Perhaps we’d view any one of them, on their own, as a judicial aberration. But the pattern of ruling upon ruling that is out of the legal mainstream and results in delay well past the point where this case should have been ready for trial is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Judges should not put their fingers on the scales of justice either for or against a defendant or any other party. Here, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the scales are being tipped.

    We are, after much delay, getting to the part of the pre-trial proceedings where the Judge must make rulings about the provision of classified information in discovery to the defendants and its use at trial. By now, you’re probably familiar with the idea that there’s a statute called the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) that we’ve been discussing since this case was indicted, which governs those decisions and lets prosecutors take an appeal in advance of trial if they believe the district judge gets it wrong.

    We’re not quite there yet because the CIPA Section 4 hearing, the event most likely to trigger an appeal if the government can’t live with the rulings it gets from the Judge, won’t take place until next Monday and Tuesday.

    […] But on Tuesday, Judge Cannon entered an order in the case that is worth paying attention to. Trump and his Florida co-defendants filed a consolidated motion on January 16, 2024, asking the court to order the government to turn over more discovery to them than it had provided. We talked about the pending motions in this week’s The Week Ahead edition of Civil Discourse, if you want a refresher. The defendants’ motion was filed with lots of redactions because it repeatedly referenced classified material that couldn’t be made public without specific permission from the court. They simultaneously asked the court for permission to file mostly unredacted versions of the motions.

    The Special Counsel filed a response, opposing making information public if it revealed the identity or any personal identifying information of any potential witness for the government, or any transcripts or other documentation of statements or testimony they may have given. The Special Counsel justified this because of the need to protect witnesses’ safety and protect them from intimidation. [Yes, that is reasonable.]

    The Special Counsel also pointed to “certain additional discrete sensitive information” that should remain out of the public’s view. It’s plain that Trump wants to intimidate potential witnesses and suggest that the classified material he and his co-defendants are accused of mishandling and withholding from the government isn’t of any particular significance.

    […] Most Judges would give serious consideration to protecting this type of information, at least at this stage of the proceedings. Judge Cannon decided to protect some, but not all of it. She held that “Following an independent review of the Motion and the full record, the Court determines, with limited exceptions as detailed below, that the Special Counsel has not set forth a sufficient factual or legal basis warranting deviation from the strong presumption in favor of public access to the records at issue.”

    She seemed to find fault with Jack Smith’s concern for his witnesses, despite a record that is replete with Trump’s cavalier treatment of people he views as enemies. Cannon wrote, “the Special Counsel’s sparse and undifferentiated Response fails to provide the Court with the necessary factual basis to justify sealing.” Cannon also rejected Smith’s concern that revealing witness identities at this point could impact the testimony of other witnesses or even impact the pool of potential jurors, making it more difficult to seat a jury when the time comes. She concluded that the identities of potential witnesses could be publicly disclosed.

    […] The ruling is a mixed bag, and after reviewing her order, although reasonable people can (and I do) disagree with her decision to leave witness identities and confidential FBI information exposed to public view, this isn’t likely the kind of decision, standing alone, that prosecutors would seek to appeal. Cannon granted DOJ’s request to redact the national security information—the most important information in the motion. The real problem with her ruling is that in ordering the disclosure of other information, she held the government to an unrealistically high standard for protecting information—and witnesses. Smith’s best option may be asking her to reconsider, providing still more evidence to support the contention, for instance, that permitting Trump to disclose the identity of potential witnesses against him puts them at great personal risk given past history. Smith did a fine job of this in his pleadings, and the Judge’s dismissive tone towards the government suggests that there is little they can do to persuade her.

    […] Whether they would apply that rule to Cannon remains to be seen. Forced recusals are rare. But at this late date, even if the 11th Circuit were to move quickly, as it has in the past, and force Cannon to step aside, it would take a new judge some time to get up to speed. There are no quick fixes for the damage Judge Cannon has done. […]

    Link

  30. says

    From the Guardian liveblog:

    Plaintiffs’ attorney warns that eligibility question could ‘could come back with a vengeance’ if supreme court keeps Trump on ballot

    Jason Murray, the attorney for the people challenging Donald Trump’s eligibilty, just wrapped up his arguments, but before he did, liberal justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wanted to hear his thoughts on the implications if the court turns him down.

    “If we think that the states can’t enforce this provision, for whatever reason, in this context, in the presidential context, what happens next in this case? I mean, is it done?” Jackson asked.

    In his reply, Murray argues that Trump’s eligibility could become an even more relevant issue if he wins the upcoming election, and members of Congress wonder if he is indeed eligible for the office:

    If this court concludes that Colorado did not have the authority to exclude President Trump from the presidential ballot on procedural grounds, I think this case wouldn’t be done. But I think it could come back with a vengeance, because ultimately members of Congress may have to make the determination after a presidential election if president Trump wins about whether or not he’s disqualified from office, and whether to count votes cast for him under the electoral count Reform Act. So, president Trump himself urges this court in the first few pages of his brief to resolve the issues on the merits, and we think that the court should do so as well.

  31. says

    Excerpts from TPM’s live coverage of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments over whether Donald Trump is disqualified under the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause:

    Roberts Lifts Eyebrow At Trump Argument That He Can’t Be Stopped From Running For Office, Just From Holding It

    Roberts teased out a hypothetical where a person from Indiana says they want to run for office in Illinois despite never having lived there. “The Secretary of State can’t say, no you can’t?” Roberts asked incredulously.

    Sotomayor Pokes Holes In Trump’s Best ‘Self-Executing’ Evidence

    She pointed out that the 1869 decision from then-Chief Justice Salmon Chase was a non-precedential Supreme Court case, and that Chase later did describe Section 3 as self-executing.

    Alito: Even If Congress Passes A Law To Enforce, Still Wouldn’t Work

    Alito is basically taking the Trump argument a step further here, saying that Congress passing an enforcement mechanism for the disqualification clause would still be impermissible because it would still be adding a disqualifier for office too early. This is an extension of Trump’s “you can stop people from holding office, not from running for office.”

    Sotomayor: Are You Setting Up a Trump Third Term?

    Justice Sotomayor asked Trump’s attorney Mitchell just now: with all of these arguments over what constitutional qualifications states can and cannot enforce, “Are you setting it up so that if a president runs for a third term a state can’t disqualify him from the ballot?”

    “Of course not,” Mitchell replied.

    We’ve Reached The ‘Making The Poor Sociology Professor Sound Insane’ Part Of The Proceedings

    This is my favorite b-plot in the Trump filings. A sociology professor testified about Trump’s language on/leading up to Jan. 6 in the context of how extremists often speak to each other in veiled language that gives them plausible deniability. The Trump camp has delighted in portraying this man as a total looney tune.

    Examples:
    – “But this Court should not allow a candidate’s eligibility for the presidency to be determined or in any way affected by testimony from a sociology professor who claims an ability to decipher ‘coded’ messages.”
    – “The fact remains President Trump did not commit or participate in the unlawful acts that occurred at the Capitol, and this Court cannot tolerate a regime that allows a candidate’s eligibility for office to hinge on a trial court’s assessment of dubious expert-witness testimony or claims that President Trump has powers of telepathy.”

    Alito faithfully led Mitchell to this ever-giving well.

    Sotomayor: ‘That’s A Bit Of A Gerrymandered Rule Designed To Benefit Only Your Client’

    She’s pointing to the argument that Trump — by virtue of having no political experience — wiggled out of taking any other oath to the U.S., which Trump’s camp says carves him out of being eligible for disqualification.

    Justices Expressing Lots Of Interest In Legislative Enforcement Mechanism

    This is the argument prong they’ve returned to most so far. Barrett currently asking whether such a law would be in conflict with impeachment. They’re showing interest in how this would work in practice, and whether it’s in tension with removing the disqualification.

    Barrett Brings Up Abandoned Trump Arguments On Due Process

    Initially, the Trump camp spent a lot of time complaining that his due process rights had been trampled in Colorado, in terms of delays in the case. The Anderson team shot back that the delays were virtually all at Trump’s request. The Trump camp has largely abandoned those arguments at this level.

    Jackson Finally Brings Up Question Of Whether Jan. 6 Counts As Insurrection

    This has, surprisingly, not come up yet today. Mitchell is saying an insurrection must be “organized” and Jan. 6 was a “riot” not an “insurrection.”

    Alito, Thomas Focused On Whether States Can Disqualify Federal Candidates

    Alito in particular has made clear that he doesn’t think they can. [Roberts and Kavanaugh also sided with Alito.]

    Gorsuch Pushes ‘Holding’ Not ‘Running For’ Office Argument

    He’s talking like he buys the Trump camp argument.

    Gorsuch: ‘I Won’t Say It Again’

    Gorsuch has been getting…pretty chippy with Murray. He doesn’t like Murray’s answers so he’s started scolding him.

    Sotomayor Asks Question Premised On States Being Blocked From Disqualifying

    This seems to be the majority position of the justices. She’s now probing whether Congress can do it.

    Kavanaugh Touts That Trump Hasn’t Been Convicted For Jan. 6

    He said we already have the “tool” to determine if someone is disqualified: A conviction for insurrection. […]

    It’s looking very much like the Supreme Court will rule that states cannot disqualify Trump for supporting an insurrection.

  32. says

    Tonight, Republicans Will Conduct Their Dream Election: One Where Hardly Anyone Can Vote

    The Nevada GOP designed its caucus to fend off imaginary fraud—and real voters.

    Thanks to a new law, Nevada residents seeking to cast a ballot in the Democratic or Republican presidential primaries on Tuesday were able to vote early, vote by mail, show up and use any polling station, and register to vote on Election Day.

    But for Republicans, Tuesday’s open-arms primary will not dictate the party’s delegates to the national nominating convention. Instead, Nevada Republicans have insisted on reserving that role for their own caucus system, which will take place Thursday night. And unlike the state-run primary, the GOP caucus seems to feature nearly every measure Republicans have pined away for over the past 20 years to restrict access to the ballot.

    […] So will caucus procedures that require Nevada’s 650,000 or so registered Republicans to vote only in person, between 5 and 7:30 pm on Thursday night, in their own precinct. Everyone will need official ID. The only people allowed to submit an absentee ballot are those in the military and, technically, people with disabilities. But good luck to them: Chattah says people requesting ADA accommodations must submit an affidavit, photo ID, and proof of disability to get a mail ballot.

    Chattah doesn’t seem too concerned that the restrictive rules might depress turnout. “Historically, people that participate in caucuses,” she explains, are “the people that participate in politics.” In other words, activists and party insiders who are likely to know the rules will still turn out to vote for Trump.

    […] If the situation in Nevada seems a little screwy, that may be because the party leaders responsible for it have promoted the lie that the 2020 election was stolen; several actually tried to help President Donald Trump attempt to overturn the results. Three of the state party’s top seven officials were indicted in December after taking part in the Trump campaign’s fake electoral voters scheme. They face state felony charges that could send them to prison for up to nine years, with a trial slated for early March.

    But until then, the fake electors are in charge of Thursday’s caucus, and its aftermath—including ensuring that hand-counts of paper ballots from more than 1,500 precincts are tabulated and released before midnight as promised. […]

  33. says

    Updates regarding Trump’s reactions, which are as expected: Even though an appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Trump does NOT have presidential immunity from prosecution regarding the January 6th insurrection, Trump claimed again today that he does have immunity.

    In reference to the Supreme Court hearing today, Trump blamed President Biden for Colorado’s ruling to remove Trump from the ballot in that state. Trump said, “Every one of these cases comes out of the White House.” [Not true.]

    In reference to the Supreme Court hearing today, Trump said the hearing was “a beautiful process.” [He must have been listening to Gorsuch and Kavanugh.]

  34. says

    From Lynna’s #44:

    Tonight, Republicans Will Conduct Their Dream Election: One Where Hardly Anyone Can Vote

    And not only has the media’s reporting on this been woefully inadequate and misleading, but they’ve paid no attention to how Trump, in the lead-up, has been casually boasting about how he’s already won it (because he knows they rigged it for him). That he wants and expects things to be rigged in his favor is an important aspect of this process and of his so-called candidacy, but it’s not even remarked upon.

    So will caucus procedures that require Nevada’s 650,000 or so registered Republicans to vote only in person, between 5 and 7:30 pm on Thursday night, in their own precinct.

    As a Republican strategist pointed out on MSNBC the other day, Nevada is a 24-hour state. Plenty of potential voters there don’t work 9-5 jobs, so this is disproportionately exclusive in that state. Of course, that’s exactly what Trump’s henchmen in charge of the Republican Party there want, as the article notes.

  35. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Senate advances Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan aid bill

    The Senate has advanced legislation that will send assistance to the militaries of Israel and Ukraine, as well as provide aid to Taiwan.

    The legislation cleared the 60-vote threshold necessary to get around a filibuster, with 67 votes in favor, and 32 opposed.

    The Senate’s vote to advance a bill that will provide assistance to three countries Washington considers national security priorities is a sign of progress in what has been a tortuous and chaotic process.

    Democrats have wanted for months to approve aid to the three countries, but the GOP, which controls the House and can block passage of legislation in the Senate using the filibuster, demanded they also agree to hardline immigration policy changes. But when those changes were announced earlier this week after months of bipartisan negotiation, Republicans decided they did not like them either, and Republican House speaker Mike Johnson said a bill pairing the border security changes with foreign aid money would not get a vote in his chamber.

    Yesterday, the Senate voted down that version of the legislation after Republicans and some Democrats objected. The Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer immediately moved to put up for a vote the legislation that funds only Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, without addressing immigration policy at all. The Senate just a few minutes ago voted to advance that legislation.

    But the story is far from over. It’s unclear if the House will approve the legislation, and Schumer said Senate Republicans want to make amendments before final passage:

    We hope to reach an agreement with our Republican colleagues on amendments. Democrats have always been clear that we support having a fair and reasonable amendment process. During my time as majority leader, I have presided over more amendment votes than the Senate held in all four years of the previous administration. For the information of senators, we are going to keep working on this bill until the job is done.

  36. says

    And to expand on #46…: Trump would almost certainly have won a free and fair primary in Nevada in a landslide. He doesn’t want to win democratic elections; he wants to legitimize authoritarian power grabs.

  37. Reginald Selkirk says

    No need to quibble over whether The Orange One “engaged in” insurrection, there is absolutely no doubt that he “gave aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” (the united States)

  38. birgerjohansson says

    KG@ 25
    Yes, even as a teenager I found these things to be problematic. Old films rarely stand up to the expectations of modern audiences, especially where humor is concerned. And a thriller with a young Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase in the seventies for instance made fun of short people.

  39. Reginald Selkirk says

    Correction
    @ prev414

    Viral news story of botnet with 3 million toothbrushes was too good to be true

    In recent days you may have heard about the terrifying botnet consisting of 3 million electric toothbrushes that were infected with malware. While you absent-mindedly attended to your oral hygiene, little did you know that your toothbrush and millions of others were being controlled remotely by nefarious criminals.

    Alas, fiction is sometimes stranger than truth. There weren’t really 3 million Internet-connected toothbrushes accessing the website of a Swiss company in a DDoS attack that did millions of dollars of damage. The toothbrush botnet was just a hypothetical example that some journalists wrongly interpreted as having actually happened.

    It apparently started with a January 30 story by the Swiss German-language daily newspaper Aargauer Zeitung. Tom’s Hardware helped spread the tale in English on Tuesday this week in an article titled, “Three million malware-infected smart toothbrushes used in Swiss DDoS attacks.” …

  40. says

    Politico:

    On Monday, Fox News host Martha MacCallum grilled Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) as to whether she’d actually read through all 370 pages of the legislation. Mace said her team is still working through it but argued that the bill keeps the border “wide open” with many “loopholes,” and that it “waters down” the asylum laws. “It’s exactly the opposite,” MacCallum responded. “That’s why I’m asking.”

    Commentary:

    If the GOP congresswoman had read the bill, she would’ve known that her claims weren’t true. But Mace didn’t bother, preferring instead to appear on national television to peddle bogus talking points on legislation she hadn’t read.

    A day earlier, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told CNN, “You gotta read the bill. I mean, don’t be ignorant. Read the bill.” That was good advice, which too many of his colleagues did not take to heart.

    To be sure, Mace was hardly the only one who failed to do her homework before condemning the legislation. In fact, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the Republican co-author of the bipartisan bill, told NBC News this week, “Quite frankly, I was surprised at some folks that said, ‘It’ll take me days and weeks to be able to read through the bill,’ yet within a few minutes they tweeted out their opposition.”

    In other words, at least some GOP senators denounced the bipartisan package before knowing what was in it.

    None of this came as a shock. Congressional Republicans might’ve demanded this border deal, but once it was ready, a combination of factors — Donald Trump’s instructions, the desire to deny President Joe Biden an election-year “win,” the GOP base’s expectations — guaranteed that they wouldn’t take yes for an answer.

    But there’s also a larger pattern of behavior to consider — because as a matter of course, too many Republicans simply don’t read things that deserve their attention.

    For example, many Republican officials didn’t read Donald Trump’s criminal indictments. Or the Mueller report. Or the Durham report. Or the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings on the Russia scandal. Or the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the investigation into the Russia scandal.

    During Trump’s Ukraine scandal, which led to the then-president’s first impeachment, a variety of GOP officials conceded they hadn’t read highly relevant documents that were directly relevant to the investigation. Also during the Trump era, many Republicans didn’t read their own health care plan — and soon after they also didn’t read their own tax plan.

    During the Obama era, Republicans railed against the international nuclear agreement with Iran, even as some in the party conceded they hadn’t read the policy they were condemning. (The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank noted at the time, “This is legislating by reflex — a mass knee-jerk by the Republican majority in Congress. Those who howled ‘read the bill’ during the health-care debate couldn’t be bothered to read the nuclear agreement before sounding off.”)

    There are explanations for this, of course. But at the heart of the matter is an unsettling truth: Many of the GOP officials who don’t take the time to read relevant materials are simply indifferent to substantive details. Why bother reading legislation and other policy documents when partisans are simply going to stick to lazy talking points anyway?

    Whether such indifference is logical isn’t the core point. Rather, what matters most are the implications of Republicans’ reluctance to learn from the written word: How do elected officials in a democratic system expect to have meaningful debates about governing when too many members of one major political party choose not to read the documents that warrant their time?

    Link

  41. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohansson @ #52 (re: McDaniel)…
    So she completed doing a good job and now it’s time move on? Sounds like a winning ploy. Just so long as the Democratic National Committee doesn’t decide to hire her because she has “experience”.

  42. says

    […] according to Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister who is currently in the European Union parliament, Tucker Carlson could potentially get his lilywhite ass sanctioned for his little Russian adventure with his true daddi-mir Vladimir. Verhofstadt wants them to look at a travel ban for Tucker. He says Tucker is Vladimir Putin’s “mouthpiece” and furthermore, that “[a]s Putin is a war criminal and the EU sanctions all who assist him in that effort, it seems logical that the External Action Service examine his case as well.”

    Sounds fine to us. […]

    Luis Garicano, a former MEP, told Newsweek he agreed with Verhofstadt’s stance. “He is no longer a newsman, but a propagandist for the most heinous regime on European soil and the one which is most dangerous to our peace and security,” Garicano said of Carlson.

    The man is not wrong. (Though we might quibble with the phrasing “no longer a newsman,” as it implies a previous time of being a newsman.)

    Nor is this man wrong:

    “First of all, it should be remembered that Putin is not just a president of an aggressor country, but he is wanted by the International Criminal Court and accused of genocide and war crimes,” MEP Urmas Paet, who previously served as Estonia’s foreign minister, told Newsweek.

    “Carlson wants to give a platform to someone accused of crimes of genocide—this is wrong. If Putin has something to say he needs to say it in front of the ICC. At the same time Carlson is not being a real journalist since he has clearly expressed his sympathy for the Russian regime and Putin and has constantly disparaged Ukraine, the victim of Russian aggression.

    “So, for such propaganda for a criminal regime, you can end up on the list of sanctions. This concerns primarily travel ban to EU countries.”

    More power to them if they try, even if it just serves to a shine a light. […] the European Union has clarified these conversations are not happening on an official level at this point.

    Doesn’t mean MAGA isn’t squeeeeeeealing. They are so easily triggered.

    JoeMyGod collected a few. “For what? Asking another human questions?” complained one.

    “The same EU globalist scum are trying to bully ⁦@elonmusk in to censorship with criminal prosecution threats. Now they are moving in on Tucker! We must stand together for free speech.” That was the wailing of […] Alex Jones, who apparently can’t read far enough into these articles to find out what they actually say, at least not before his blood pressure spikes into the danger zone.

    And then there’s this babbling from some boy named Collin Rugg, one of those MAGA personalities who has 800,000 Twitter followers but it’s still nigh impossible to figure out who he is: [screen grab at the link]

    The text:

    JUST IN: The European Union is considering imposing a travel ban against Tucker Carlson for interviewing Putin. EU lawmakers are now furious that a journalist flew to Russia to do journalism. They now want to slap Tucker with sanctions for “assisting” Putin. [quotes of the same European officials we quoted above] Being mad because a journalist did journalism makes YOU the propagandist.

    Whatever that means.

    Of course, is Tucker a journalist? Stop laughing, it’s a real question. […]

    Tucker claims he’s doing this for journalism, and the ass-licking Putin fanboys who surround him are protesting that the EU would be attacking journalism itself if they banned him from traveling there. This conveniently ignores how Putin murders journalists, how Putin has journalists like the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Alsu Kurmasheva in prison […]

    Or is Tucker Carlson the Kremlin’s most effective propaganda dispenser in the Western world (perhaps less so ever since he got consciously uncoupled from his job), who hides behind the pretenses of journalism, but gets his priss up and yelps “Well, I never!” whenever somebody suggests he’s just one of Putin’s loyal spigots?

    Hmmmm. What’s Tucker really doing in Russia right now?

    He’s helping Putin get the message to Republicans — at a very crucial time for that message, considering what’s happening in Washington — that if you just cut off Ukraine’s aid right now, Putin can complete his murders and annex the country he delusionally believes was given to him by the Russian Orthodox God. […] Today’s MAGA Republicans are fine with all this.[…]

    […] So that’s what Tucker is helping with, on this trip and in his upcoming interview. It’s not meant for the wider world to see, not really. It’s meant for the MAGA base and the politicians who serve it.

    And Tucker knows exactly what he’s doing. Whatever specific term the CIA or MI6 would use to describe Tucker’s relationship with the Russian federation — Agent? Asset? Rentboy? — we’ll leave to the experts. But he’s not confused.

    He’s consistently blamed the United States for starting the war in Ukraine, as if Putin is the true victim of Western aggression and had to attack before giant monster Ukraine swallowed his country whole late one night after it got drunk. He blood libels the Jewish president of Ukraine and we’ve seen rumors that in his big interview with Putin, they’re going to talk about the Kremlin lie that the US and Ukraine are together manufacturing bioweapons in secret labs. Tucker’s been all too keen to spread that one.

    […] If he loves Putin so much, let him stay [in Russia]

    We hear it has electricity sometimes.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/eu-could-sanction-tucker-carlson

  43. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hawaii bill to ban candidates for insurrection passes first hearing

    A bill that could bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on November’s Hawaii election ballot received considerable pushback Tuesday from his supporters, some of whom came to the state Capitol dressed in patriotic wear.

    Senate Bill 2392 — introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads (D, Nuuanu­-Downtown-Iwilei) — passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Rhoads chairs, during its initial hearing. It would exclude political candidates who are disqualified by a constitutional or statutory provision…

    Seems to be a response to the claim that 14.3 is not self-enforcing, but requires legislation to enact it. I am not sure how this fits in with the current Supreme court case.

  44. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fani Willis Turns the Tables on Her Accusers


    In that filing, citing previous court rulings, Willis argued personal relationships are not uncommon. She wrote: “Personal relationships among lawyers—even on opposing sides of litigation—do not constitute impermissible conflicts of interest.”

    She added: “It is worth noting that there are at least two personal relationships among the collection of defense attorneys representing the Defendants that, under the standard urged by the Roman’s motion, would almost certainly require disqualification.

    “Amanda Clark Palmer, counsel representing Defendant Ray Smith, and Scott Grubman, representing Defendant Kenneth Chesebro, are publicly known to be in a personal relationship. Since Defendant Chesebro has plead guilty and agreed to testify for the State in the upcoming trial against Defendant Smith and the other remaining defendants, one who was illinformed about the standard for attorney disqualification in Georgia might argue that the personal relationship between Clark Palmer and Grubman could rise to the level of a conflict given potential testimony by Grubman’s client inculpating Clark Palmer’s client.

    “That, of course, would be an incorrect conclusion to draw. Similarly, counsel for Defendant Jenna Ellis are married law partners, working together and representing Defendant Ellis throughout these proceedings.”

    She added that these relationships do not create legal conflict…

  45. John Morales says

    Reginald @59, that’s just fluff. Probably mostly written by an AI.

    (The “lifestyle” sections are basically that, and they are generally aimed at women)

  46. Jazzlet says

    John Morales @13
    Nah, she bustled off in a huff. I was helped by a woman who worked for NUPE (a public sector union), took me and my bike to the office, let me ring Mr J, and let us leave the bike in the office while Mr J took me off to A&E. I had my head glued up and Mr J was given the usual “we think she’s ok, but observe for concussion” instructions. I was shaky for a couple of days, but fine after that.

    Lynna OM@53
    That business of not reading legislation seems like a complete dereliction of the purpose of their being elected.

  47. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Attorneys for Joe Biden objected to special counsel Robert Hur repeatedly mentioning the president’s memory problems in his report.

    Referring to his conversation with Mark Zwonitzer, ghostwriter of his 2017 memoir “Promise Me, Dad”, Hur writes: “Mr. Biden’s recorded conversations with Zwonitzer from 2017 are often painfully slow, with Mr. Biden struggling to remember events and straining at times to read and relay his own notebook entries.”

    He later goes on to describe Biden as showing “diminished faculties and faulty memory” in his conversations with Zwonitzer.

    In a letter written to Hur dated earlier this week and included in the report, the president’s special counsel Richard Sauber and personal attorney Bob Bauer took issue with the special counsel’s language:

    We do not believe that the report’s treatment of President Biden’s memory is accurate or appropriate. The report uses highly prejudicial language to describe a commonplace occurrence among witnesses: a lack of recall of years-old events. Such comments have no place in a Department of Justice report, particularly one that in the first paragraph announces that no criminal charges are ‘warranted’ and that ‘the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt.’

    They continue:

    Not only do you treat the President differently from other witnesses when discussing his limited recall of certain years-ago events, but you also do so on occasions in prejudicial and inflammatory terms. You refer to President Biden’s memory on at least nine occasions – a number that is itself gratuitous.

    Sauber and Bauer requested Hur “revisit your descriptions of President Biden’s memory”. He apparently did not do so.

    Outrageous. What an infuriating day.

  48. says

    Jazzlet @62:

    Lynna OM@53, That business of not reading legislation seems like a complete dereliction of the purpose of their being elected.

    I agree! It looks like they think they were not elected to represent people, and they were not elected to do the work. What is their purpose?

  49. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Objection: “But He Hasn’t Been Convicted Of Anything”

    Some critics have made the argument that Section Three cannot or should not be used to constitutionally disqualify a person from office for having engaged in insurrection or rebellion without that person first having been charged and convicted of the statutory federal crime of insurrection, under 18 U.S.C. §2383…

    In fact many of these invocations of 18 U.S.C. §2383 misunderstand §2383 itself. The federal criminal statute in question was not enacted as a device for enforcing Section Three. As we set forth in our original article (see pp. 82-84), the criminal prohibition of insurrection, now codified at 18 U.S.C. §2383, was enacted in 1862 – in the middle of the Civil War, as Section Two of the “Second Confiscation Act” – several years before the drafting of the Fourteenth Amendment…

    And the amicus brief of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and 177 Other Members of Congress makes the same claim in an even more emphatic, and embarrassing fashion, arguing that Section Three must not be self-executing because if it were “there would have been no reason for Congress to state expressly in §2383 that a conviction for insurrection would result in disqualification from holding certain offices. Under Baude and Paulsen’s view, Section 3 would already have automatically barred such individuals from office.” Not in 1862, when the criminal statute was first enacted! Again, this is like saying that there would have been no reason for Congress to enact the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1789 because modern precedents such as New York Times v. Sullivan already protected the freedom of speech…

  50. says

    SC @63, those scurrilous remarks about President Biden’s memory were way out of line. Hur’s report included that derogatory text when it was not necessary to his conclusion, namely that he declined to prosecute President Joe Biden for his handling of classified documents.

    Those shocking lines about Biden’s memory will keep the story in the headlines longer, and will play right into Trump’s campaign strategy. Fox News will have field day.

    “Infuriating” is the right word for it.

    Some time in the last five years one of my teeth broke off near the gumline. I had the tooth replaced. Do I remember what year that was? No, I don’t. I’d have to look it up in my records. It looks to me like Hur took every opportunity he had to make Biden look forgetful.

    Defenders of the president quickly pointed out that he sat for the interview in the days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Biden, giving previously scheduled remarks on Thursday, appeared to nod to that, saying, “I was in the middle of handling an international crisis.”

    He also added that he was “especially pleased” that the special counsel “made clear the stark differences between this case and Donald Trump.”

    […] “As the Special Counsel report recognizes, the President fully cooperated from day one,” he said in a statement. “His team promptly self-reported the classified documents that were found to ensure that these documents were immediately returned to the government because the President knows that’s where they belong.”

    “[…] the most important decision the Special Counsel made — that no charges are warranted — is firmly based on the facts and evidence.” […]

    NBC News has also previously reported that the special counsel had interviewed Hunter Biden as well, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    With Hur’s announcement, Donald Trump remains the only president in history to face criminal charges, which include seven criminal charges in connection with mishandling classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. According to the indictment in that case, Trump had more than 100 classified documents at his Florida home, including documents with “Top Secret” classification markings.

    NBC News link

  51. Reginald Selkirk says

    The BBC gets it wrong

    Who is Tucker Carlson, the man interviewing Vladimir Putin?

    American journalist Tucker Carlson is the first Western journalist to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin since…

    Tucker Carlson is not a journalist.

    You Literally Can’t Believe The Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox’s Lawyers

    Now comes the claim that you can’t expect to literally believe the words that come out of Carlson’s mouth. And that assertion is not coming from Carlson’s critics. It’s being made by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York and by Fox News’s own lawyers in defending Carlson against accusations of slander. It worked, by the way.

    Just read U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil’s opinion, leaning heavily on the arguments of Fox’s lawyers: The “‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’ ” …
    (Sept 2020)

  52. says

    Good News, as reported by The Hill:

    A federal D.C. judge on Thursday denied ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro’s bid to stay out of prison while he appeals his recent contempt of Congress conviction for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

    Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison last month after being convicted in September on two counts of contempt of Congress — one for failing to produce documents related to the probe and another for skipping his deposition.

    Commentary:

    Federal judge Amit Mehta dismissed Mister Navarro’s arguments that the prosecution was political with this: “Defendant’s cynical, self-serving claim of political bias poses no question at all, let alone a ‘substantial’ one.”

    And there being no substantial questions of law remaining, Mister Navarro was ordered to report to prison at the direction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. […]

    Link

  53. Reginald Selkirk says

    Dinosaur Evergreens Thought Extinct for 2Mil Years Discovered by Park Ranger–the Grove is the ‘Find of the Century’

    From Australia comes a story too cool to believe. Like a vegetable version of Jurassic Park or King Kong, a copse of pine trees from a species that evolved in the Cretaceous Era were found high in the mountains.

    These living fossils, to use the classic phrase, survived both the comet impact and subsequent global firestorm that killed the dinosaurs, as well as two intervening ice ages to make it to our time, and Australian botanists are treating the specimens as a top-secret national treasure.

    The Wollemi pine evolved 91 million years ago and went extinct according to the fossil record 2 million years ago, but in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, a stand of 90 specimens were found high in the more remote peaks in 1994.

    For the past three decades, and in extreme secrecy, a team of specialists from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of Australia has been gradually planting small clumps of the Wollemi pine in other locations to help ensure it has every chance to see another 91 million years…

  54. John Morales says

    Reginald, no, the BBC did not get it wrong.
    Yes, Tucker is a journalist, as per the meaning of that word.

  55. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna #65:

    It looks like they think they were not elected to represent people, and they were not elected to do the work. What is their purpose?

    WKUK – Clint Webb for Senate (1:43)

    Together we can piggyback some of our state’s legitimate needs onto my unquenchable lust for self-glorification.

    Eric Swalwell – Republicans’ WWE approach to politics (2:25)

    Gaetz […] would laugh at himself about how stupid he had to act to keep the act going. […] If you’re a pro wrestler, it doesn’t matter that you hit me over the head in the ring with a steel chair. […] I don’t even know what these guys believe. […] To these guys, it’s not even real. It’s not real.

  56. lotharloo says

    @Lyanna, SC:

    You guys are deluding yourselves if you think Biden is not senile. He is referring to dead European leaders:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/second-mixup-week-biden-talks-meeting-dead-european-leaders-rcna137823

    President Joe Biden on Wednesday twice referred to the late German chancellor Helmut Kohl instead of former Chancellor Angela Merkel while detailing a 2021 conversation at campaign events.

    It was the second time this week that Biden had recalled speaking with a European leader who had died years earlier.

    And

    Speaking at an event in North Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday, Biden confused François Mitterrand, the former French president who died in 1996, for French President Emmanuel Macron in retelling an encounter with the French leader at a summit during his first year in office.

    It’s fucking obvious. Whenever your grandparents start referring to politicians from 30-40-50 years ago, you know something is wrong and you don’t elect them as fucking presidents. Biden is going to lose. Helmut Kohl and Fracncois Miettrand are names familiar from my childhood but they are almost forgotten. I would not confuse them with anyone. It’s a really bad sign your guy suddenly starts talking about them.

  57. John Morales says

    lotharloo, both Lynna and SC are women. Not guys. Just so you know.

    (Also, Trumpet is only 3 years younger, and he’s actually cognitively feebler already, but that’s an aside)

  58. lotharloo says

    @John Morales:
    Right, good point. Is there a gender neutral version of “guys” in that context?

  59. KG says

    Helmut Kohl and Helmut Kohl and Fracncois Miettrand are names familiar from my childhood but they are almost forgotten. are names familiar from my childhood but they are almost forgotten. – lotharloo@77

    Oh, dear, my memory must be going! Helmut Kohl I recall, but Fracncois Miettrand? No memory of him at all!!! ;-)

    Seriously, I agree that this is somethnig I’d be somewhat concerned about in an elderly relative (such as myself!), as possible symptoms of mild cognitive decline. No-one of the age of either Biden or Trump should be standing for such a vital and demanding office. But unless he gets worse rapidly, or falls ill in some other way, Biden’s going to be the only thing between the world and the triumphant and vindictive return of Trump. Which is scary.

  60. Reginald Selkirk says

    Scientists Find Magnetic Anomaly in Lake Over Dormant Volcano

    Today a serene and picturesque locale on New Zealand’s North Island, scientists believe Lake Rotorua was formed in the aftermath of an Earth-shattering eruption some 220,000 years ago. The volcano responsible, now dormant, lies beneath the lake. Its hydrothermal systems live on, but the extent of their involvement in the lake’s ecosystem was long unclear.

    Now, researchers at New Zealand’s GNS Science Institute have extensively mapped the bottom of Rotorua, revealing telltale signs of hydrothermal activity, including a host of small craters riddling the lakebed — as well as a curious “magnetic anomaly.”

    “You finally put those glasses on, and you can see the fine print,” Cornel de Ronde, a principal scientist at the GNS Science, told Live Science…

  61. quotetheunquote says

    @SQB #76 –
    Thanks! Saved my an (admittedly easy) search. I was wondering why the name Mojo Nixon was so familiar, couldn’t put my finger on it… I think he was pretty often played on the Dr. Demento show, back when I was listening to that.

  62. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tucker Carlson: Putin takes charge as TV host gives free rein to Kremlin

    Vladimir Putin lectured, joked and occasionally snarled – but not at his host.

    Tucker Carlson laughed, listened – and then listened some more.

    During the American’s much-hyped encounter with the Russian president, his fixed, fascinated expression slipped a few times.

    Especially when Putin’s promise of a 30-second history lesson became a 30-something minute rant.

    But for the most part, Carlson seemed to lap up what Russia’s president was telling him.

    Putin was fully in charge of this encounter and for large parts of it his interviewer barely got a word in…

  63. lotharloo says

    @KG:

    But unless he gets worse rapidly, or falls ill in some other way, Biden’s going to be the only thing between the world and the triumphant and vindictive return of Trump. Which is scary.

    No, he is not. He is very likely going to lose because you can’t gaslight the whole country to vote for someone who is visibly senile. Maybe a year ago there was a case for him because he has the advantage of incumbency, which is generally huge but at this point the downsides remove all of the advantage and turns it into a disadvantage.No, he she step aside and let someone younger to step in. There are a lot of people who can beat Trump but because it is the Democratic party we are talking about, fucking ruled by dinosaurs, so Pelosi, Biden, Feinstein, and the other fucking people from 5 generations ago want to still be in charge until they die at the wheel. It’s infuriating.

  64. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 89

    “No, he is not. He is very likely going to lose because you can’t gaslight the whole country to vote for someone who is visibly senile.”

    Yeah, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, late October, 2016.

  65. lotharloo says

    @90:
    Why don’t you engage with the argument instead of making passive aggressive irrelevant points?

    Here is the list of presidents of France, from mid 70s:
    Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1974–1981 [fr]) François Mitterrand (1981–1995 [fr]) Jacques Chirac (1995–2007) Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012) François Hollande (2012–2017) Emmanuel Macron (2017–present).

    So Biden skips over 3 other presidents and recalls someone from 30 years ago. How do you explain it?

  66. Reginald Selkirk says

    @92: Why don’t you come to a more complete realization of your importance in the world? No one owes you a response.

    The way American democracy works, you don’t get to choose your own president. You just get to choose from the candidates offered by the major parties. Suppose that Biden were old and mentally feeble. Is the other choice better? No. So if you present to us that Biden is too mentally feeble to be president without exploring the alternatives, you are being dishonest.

    Or, if that is too many words for you to deal with, go fuck yourself.

  67. Rob Grigjanis says

    lotharloo @92: Akira did engage with your argument. Biden got the French president wrong by decades. Several years ago, Trump said the Continental Army took over British-controlled airports during the Revolutionary War, well over a century before there were airports, or aircraft. And that is only one of many howlers from Trump. So your argument applies to Biden, but somehow not to Trump (which was, pretty obviously, Akira’s point)?

  68. says

    We all make mistakes and age affects things. What do the set of errors and other patterns that deviate from reality look like as a set?
    I don’t reasons for “senile”. I see an error when errors happen, and Biden is far more correctable. He won’t decide it’s something else because he can without receptivity to others to nearly the same extent as Trump even if age is having an effect .

  69. birgerjohansson says

    Myself I certainly mix up the names of French presidents…I recall Macron, I recall Mitterand and Chirac because they were around forever, the cynical bastards. And I recall that old geezer DeGaulle and the one who died on his job, Pompidou. But in between them there were others.
    And I only recall a few of the German chancellors, I don’t even remember the name of the current one.
    I am an European, so I am supposed to keep up with the bigger neighbours. But memory only goes so far.

  70. whheydt says

    Re: French leaders….
    This is also complicated since France, typically of parliamentary systems, separates the head of state (president) from the head of government (prime minister).

  71. says

    Trump has the thing where he contradicts himself and acts like it’s fine “I never met her.” within 30 seconds of describing how he met her. And no one had the courage to go “Stop. Which of those is the lie? Your words can’t be trusted.”

    There’s a basic level where Trump doesn’t care what is real, he will say what he thinks he needs to and then “bulldozes”, pushes what he’s saying without acknowledgement of the other thing and goes “how dare you?” when questioned. Trump has been able to live without serious social pushback, Biden is much better there.

  72. says

    President Biden’s response to the Hur report:

    […] “I’m well meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing,” Mr. Biden told a Fox News reporter who asked him about the report after his statement. “My memory is so bad I let you speak.” [laughter in the audience of reporters]

    Mr. Biden was especially irked that the special counsel indicated that the president could not remember the year his elder son, Beau, died of cancer, a particularly sensitive subject for him. “How in the hell dare he raise that?” Mr. Biden said, sounding emotional.

    But even as he sought to dispel suggestions that he might not be up for the job, he confused the presidents of Mexico and Egypt in response to a question about negotiations to release hostages held by Hamas, making exactly the kind of mistake that his staff presumably hoped he would avoid at a time when his mental acuity is being questioned.

    “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top,” Mr. Biden said. “I think that as you know, initially, the president of Mexico, el-Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in.” He evidently was referring to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, not Mexico. [yep, that’s not good]

    The remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House came just hours after the special counsel, Robert K. Hur, cleared him of criminal charges in the handling of classified documents but sharply criticized his conduct and suggested that one reason he could not be prosecuted was because of his memory lapses.

    In an unflattering 300-plus-page report, Mr. Hur said Mr. Biden had left the White House after his vice presidency with classified documents about Afghanistan and notebooks with handwritten entries “implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods” taken from White House briefings. Mr. Hur criticized Mr. Biden for sharing the content of the notebooks with a ghostwriter who helped him on his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” even though he knew some of it was classified. [Nope. The material shared with the ghostwriter was not classified. That’s an error on Hur’s part.]

    But the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Mr. Hur, a former Trump Justice Department official appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in January 2023 to lead the inquiry after classified files were found in the garage and living areas of Mr. Biden’s home in Delaware and his former office in Washington.

    The president and his team welcomed the decision not to lodge criminal charges, but were clearly worried that the report’s description of Mr. Biden’s mental capacity could be damaging. At 81, Mr. Biden is already the oldest president in American history and would be 86 at the end of a second term.

    Former President Donald J. Trump, who is 77 and has inspired questions about his own cognitive health by making confusing statements at public rallies, has been charged with 40 felonies for taking classified documents with him when he left the White House and attempting to hide them from government officials who tried to retrieve them. He complained bitterly on Thursday that Mr. Biden was not charged.

    “I did nothing wrong, and I cooperated far more,” Mr. Trump wrote on social media, not mentioning his refusal to turn over documents that had been subpoenaed and other efforts to thwart investigators. “What Biden did is outrageously criminal.” [Oh FFS!]

    […] Mr. Biden used his nighttime appearance to respond directly to the report. He said Mr. Hur’s conclusion that he “willfully” retained documents was “misleading” and “just plain wrong” and denied that he had shared classified information with his ghostwriter. He said a memo he wrote to Mr. Obama on Afghanistan that he shared should have been considered simply “private.”

    He said his retention of documents was not comparable to Mr. Trump’s behavior. […] And he blamed his staff for any mistakes in handling classified documents, saying, “I take responsibility for not having seen exactly what my staff was doing.”

    But more than anything, Mr. Biden bristled at questions about his age. “That is your judgment,” he snapped at one reporter. Asked why he should not step aside for a younger successor, Mr. Biden said that he was the most qualified person in the country to be president and that he should “finish the job that I started.”

    New York Times link. Video of President’s Biden’s speech is available at the link.

    Video of Biden’s full remarks on the the special counsel investigation of classified documents is also available here on NBC. Biden quoted extensively from the actual document to debunk the headlines that included the phrase “willfully retained classified documents.” The Hur report itself debunks that “willfully” characterization on several different pages.

    Yes, President Biden occasionally stumbles and shows lapses in memory. He is in no fucking way as bad as Trump. I do think that focusing on what the Biden administration has accomplished is a good idea in general. We note what he has done, we note where he has failed. Good to have a complete picture. He is flawed. It is not delusional to take that approach.

    I think that Biden’s mistakes are going to be repeated just as often (or perhaps more often) than “Hillary Clinton’s emails”. And that repetition might bury any other news. It’s a dangerous situation.

  73. says

    Followup to comment 103.

    FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT DOOCY: “The special counsel said in his report that one of the reasons you were not charged is because, In his description, you are a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

    BIDEN: “I’m well-meaning and I’m an elderly man and I know what the hell I’m doing. I’ve been president, I put this country back on its feet. I don’t need his recommendation.”

    FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT DOOCY: “How bad is your memory, and can you continue as President?”

    BIDEN: “My memory is so bad I let you speak!”

  74. Reginald Selkirk says

    US funds $5B chip effort after lagging on semiconductor innovation

    <

    blockquote>
    The Biden administration announced investments Friday totaling more than $5 billion in semiconductor research and development intended to re-establish the US as a global leader manufacturing the “next generation of semiconductor technologies.”

    Through sizeable investments, the US will “advance US leadership in semiconductor R&D, cut down on the time and cost of commercializing new technologies, bolster US national security, and connect and support workers in securing good semiconductor jobs,” a White House press release said…

  75. says

    Biden’s booming economy:

    For the past two years, until the last few months, economic experts and major media outlets were all predicting an economic downturn if not a full on recession. Story after story talked to men who said the economy was so much better under Trump and how terrible it was under Biden. […]

    What was rarely reported on over the past two years of the Biden recovery was how much better the economic situation was for women under Biden than under Trump. Men who stayed healthy had it pretty good even in the worst of the pandemic but women got hammered by job losses, loss of childcare and responsibility for school age children when schools closed. The increased child tax credit passed by Joe Biden and the Democrats kept families from sinking into poverty during the pandemic but times were tough for working moms. Since the relaxation of pandemic restrictions the demand for services has boomed […]

    Clearly, the return of women to the job market has boosted the economy and held back increases in the costs of services, but inflation, jobs and economic growth numbers are too good for that to be the only explanation […]

    […] this is reported by a company in the Fox News family:

    Analysts at institutional brokerage Strategas led by Don Rissmiller […] also point to another factor at work: immigration. “There are good reasons to believe the U.S. has benefited from positive supply effects, ie, there’s surprisingly solid real economic growth (~3%) along with more tame inflation (~3%) as we start 2024,” they say in a presentation. And the upside really appears to be U.S. specific rather than global.

    … paragraph edited out …

    So that’s where immigration plays a role, helping to offset the aging of the U.S. workforce. “To the extent U.S. immigration has been tough to fully measure in recent years, the reported data may be underestimating this boost. The policy enacted by some states to relocate migrants from the southern border to larger cities may have also had the (likely unintended) effect of matching individuals to regions where there was an ability to work, even if informally. Such an occurrence could then help explain other U.S. data anomalies (e.g., missing workers in the household employment survey, missing income in the gross domestic income calculation)”

    …. paragraph edited out…

    What are the market implications? “My most immediate concern is that if there’s a substantial change in the U.S. government’s policy regarding the border, that could set the stage for a second wave of inflation,” […]

    […] despite all the very serious problems associated with the recent increase of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border, immigration has made a large positive impact on the U.S. economy.

    […] Of course, our immigration system could be improved so that there would be fewer serious problems and negative local. impacts. The asylum system is so underfunded and so understaffed that it may take many years to get a hearing. In 2023 the average time to a hearing was reported as 4.3 years. This slow process causes serious problems for both asylum seekers and the communities hosting them. What is clear from many studies over the years is that an immigration system that is flawed but lets immigrants in is better for the economy that one that stops immigration.

    An award winning investigation of the impacts of immigration reported on NPR’s “This American Life” showed how immigration restored a town in decline in Alabama while surrounding towns continued to decline. It’s well worth a listen and it’s based on sound social science.

    The American economy is once again the envy of the world under Joe Biden’s leadership. Joe Biden and the Democrats have wisely spent money to invest in American infrastructure to improve the economy and it is working. The main reason that the stock markets are at record highs while the economy is growing rapidly with falling inflation, a modern economic miracle, is immigration.

    Link

  76. tomh says

    Although claiming to be impartial, the special prosecuter Robert Hur, a registered Republican and former member of Trump’s DOJ, referred to Biden’s memory on at least nine different occasions. He characterized these lapses quite differently from other witnesses who also couldn’t recall dates or details of events that happened years ago. In so doing he went way beyond his mandate of determining whether crimes were committed. In fact, he determined that crimes were not committed, although that has been buried beneath the sensationalist headlines. It’s all reminiscent of the report by Comey on Hilary’s emails before the elections.

  77. says

    Tucker Carlson interviewed Putin, and boy, did that go off the rails fast

    Former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson released his interview with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on Thursday evening, and it turned out to be the one thing no one expected: hilarious.

    During the two-hour program, Putin spent more than 50 minutes delivering a rambling, inaccurate history lesson that started with the Vikings and included dragging up documents from the 17th century. During this segment, Carlson was left slack-jawed, staring at Putin while he was unable to get in a single question.

    If Carlson was expecting to get some justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that didn’t involve events in the ninth century, Putin never gave it. And if Carlson was expected to get ammunition that Republicans could use to defeat the Ukrainian assistance package in the Senate, he came up dry there as well. But if he meant to spawn a thousand memes … the interview was absolutely aces.

    Perhaps the least helpful moment of the interview from the perspective of somehow making Russia the good guys in this struggle came with Putin’s extended, passionate defense of Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland. [video at the link]

    Yes, Putin blamed Poland for Hitler’s invasion of the country, and it would seem to be all that anyone needed to hear to understand how Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine. And if anyone was wondering about that part where Carlson confronted Putin over Russia’s role in dividing Poland with the Nazis or how Russia slaughtered the Polish resistance … that never happened.

    If there were other “highlights” of this incoherent, long-winded, and ultimately boring presentation, one of them was surely when Putin paused in the middle of his droning lesson on history-that-never-happened to poke fun at Carlson for having attempted to join the CIA and getting rejected. [video at the link]

    Someone in Russia must have made it clear that bad things would happen if Carlson decided to do any editing because otherwise it’s hard to see why he would have left this in.

    When Carlson finally got the chance to talk near the end of the interview, he asked Putin if, “as a sign of your decency,” he would release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Putin responded by making it clear that he was all out of decency. [video at the link]

    That moment might as well be the emblem for the evening. Carlson, when allowed to speak, tossed Putin softballs designed to give the Russian strongman some opportunity to score diplomatic points or at least earn a favorable review in MAGA land. Putin gave him Hitler, no decency, and stories that involved “Yaroslav the wise.”

    The closest Putin came to giving Carlson anything to talk about was in complaining that Canada had accidentally applauded a Nazi. But since this came after Putin’s defense of Hitler, it seems the real objection was that this particular Nazi fought against Russia instead of alongside them.

    Overall, Carlson came off as a stooge, staring open-mouthed for hours as Putin either ignored his few questions or openly sneered at him. Putin came off, appropriately enough, as a self-important fascist jackass who was willing to justify anything with an hour’s worth of “Drunk History.” In terms of providing some reasonable defense of Russia, or something for the right to leverage against aid to Ukraine, Carlson came up bone-dry.

    But don’t be surprised if your MAGA friends are eager to tell you a fairytale about how some lesson from Yaroslav the wise proves that Ukraine is not a real country. Or maybe they’ll just go straight to “if it was good enough for Hitler …”

    But hey, Sarah Palin liked it.

    And now … memes. [Examples of memes and other responses at the link]

  78. says

    Maybe it’s easier to go easy on Trump? Abusive people like to be more trouble than they are worth and the media with access and establishment are cowards. They shouldn’t be there if threats from Trump supporters matter.

  79. Reginald Selkirk says

    Why I would vote for a brain-dead Biden over any Republican this year:

    Stefanik says she ‘would not have done what Mike Pence did’ on Jan. 6

    House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said that she would not have allowed 2020 election results to be certified on Jan. 6, 2021, had she been in former Vice President Mike Pence’s position…

    Trump is not only incompetent and demented, he is also malevolent. And pandering to him is the official Republican position.

  80. says

    tomh @109, exactly!

    In other news:

    I’m flabbergasted. Peter Baker of The New York Times is acknowledging that yes, the Republican Party is now seemingly the Party of Putin.

    As Baker wrote Thursday:

    With the help of a populist former Fox News star and America’s richest man, Mr. Putin has gained a platform to justify his actions even as Russian and American journalists languish in his prisons. His favored candidate is poised to win the Republican presidential nomination while Congress weighs abandoning Ukraine to the tender mercies of Russian invaders.

    Mr. Putin’s filibuster-style appearance with Tucker Carlson on Elon Musk’s social media platform amid the security aid debate on Capitol Hill driven by Donald J. Trump offers a moment to reflect on the head-spinning transformation of American politics in recent years. A Republican Party that once defined itself through muscular resistance to Russia has turned increasingly toward a form of neo-isolationism with, in some quarters, strains of sympathy for Moscow.

    “In some quarters?” That’s awfully mushy, isn’t it? And “strains of sympathy” seems like an awfully weak characterization of the reality.

    […] we should just let Baker be Baker! Oh, wait! He still has some concerns.

    […] the former president’s enigmatic affinity for the Russian ruler remains pronounced and, to many, still baffling.

    “Enigmatic affinity?” Perhaps Mr. Baker should spend more time reading his own publication. In 2019, The New York Times found the following:

    Donald J. Trump and 18 of his associates had at least 140 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition, according to a New York Times analysis.

    But “no criminal conspiracy” was found—just 140 innocent contacts! Pretty “enigmatic!” Nothing to see here, amirite?

    Not that the Senate actually investigated three years ago, or anything.

    The nearly 1,000-page report outlines the “breathtaking level of contacts between Trump officials and Russian government operatives that is a very real counterintelligence threat to our elections,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

    Guess you just disregarded those “contacts” before you wrote this piece, Peter. But really, not sure how Trump’s “affinity” to Putin could be “enigmatic” or “baffling” at this point. Trump adores Putin, very probably owes something to Putin, and wants to emulate Putin. Is that really so “enigmatic?” Or “baffling?”

    What baffles you, Peter? Is it just impossible for you to wrap your head around the fact that the current Republican presidential frontrunner is almost certainly an abject Putin stooge? And that his party is following him straight down the rabbit hole?

    Or Is that just too much for you to comprehend? […]

  81. says

    Hello! Score Is I, Vladimir Putin: One, Weird Boy-Man Tucker Carlson: Zero

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/hello-score-is-i-vladimir-putin-one

    Greetings, feeble Cossack fucknuggets of Wonkette! It is I, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, and I would make the speaking with you today except I am very tired from making the speaking with American capitalist preppy Tucker Carlson for two hours this week. Bozhe moy! Did you see interview? Such strange little man! He looked so confused the whole time. Like little puppy with first chew toy. He bite, toy squeak, he hop away and stare at toy for two minutes as if it might bite back. Then he bite again, toy squeak, he yip, Vladimir laugh at him.

    Of course it did not look like Vladimir laugh. It look more like Vladimir squint in irritation when diseased jackal Tucker Carlson dare interrupt him. Did Tucker not appreciate thirty-minute history lesson that opened interview? Look, went like this:

    VLADIMIR: Then, in 1062, Peter the Pusilanimous surrendered false Ukraine province to Lithuanian duchy …

    TUCKER: Mr. President …

    VLADIMIR: Great Russian people rebelled against the cowardly Peter. In confusion, Poland sent flocks of Baltic geese to poop all over Moscow …

    TUCKER: This is great. I’m just not sure it’s relevant.

    VLADIMIR: You will see relevance if you are patient and stay quiet. Now, Baltic geese have insatiable love of Russian tvorog. So glorious Russian people fed them much tvorog until they grow fatter and lazier than American teenager and can no longer poop. Was great victory. The Lithuanian duchy then retreated …

    You see? I give very important lesson to Americans about why Russia is greatest, most ingenious country in world, and Tucker Carlson wants to ask Vladimir’s opinion about some silly American hallucination like democracy or homosexuals, neither of which we even have in Mother Russia. Perhaps he also would have asked who Vladimir is betting on in American Super Bowl next if I had not grown irritated with his nattering and ended interview.

    Kansas City Indigenous Men, by the way. Defending champs with Patrick Mahomes, and your bookies have them at +2.5? Take the points! Moneyline is also good bet. Don’t take Gold Diggers and then cry to Vladimir later, I will laugh and say I told you so. Then I will have bodyguards shoot you.

    Anyway. I think Tucker had good time in Moscow. He visited Kremlin. He saw snow. No one shot him. He attended theater that did not get attacked by Chechen separatists in middle of Act Two.

    But was not all fun and games. He told depraved Americans he was only journalist to interview Vladimir since start of special military operation. Is not true! Only Western journalist, perhaps. But Western journalists want to ask things like “Mr. President, why did you invade peaceful neighbor for no reason” and “President Putin, are you a war criminal?” Which is why I never talk to Western reporters, they lie like good Azerbaijani rug.

    Tucker, on other hand, would ask good questions like how Vladimir is right about phony nation of Ukraine and how Vladimir is very smart and how Russia is good moral Christian country while America is decadent craphole.

    Look at way American media jumped on your President Biden on Thursday for being barely sentient CIA cuckold. […] Vladimir would have had entire press corps driven straight from White House to Siberian labor camp if they attacked him like common democracy activist or degenerate lesbian basketball player or Wall Street Journal reporter.

    Not that I am complaining! By all means, American reporters, keep spotlight on Joe Biden’s age while ignoring that Donald Trump cannot walk two steps without babbling like taiga lynx with head injury about border or rigged elections or Taylor Swift. You might save great Russian intelligence services much time and effort setting up sock puppet accounts on your social media sites to exploit anger and get Trump elected again.

    Theoretically! We have never meddled in such a way before. You heard nothing! Please continue to use great Elon Musk Twitter site, for democracy!

  82. says

    Robert Hur Is A Partisan Hack Piece Of Sh*t Who Wishes He Had A Case Against Joe Biden

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/robert-hur-is-a-partisan-hack-piece

    Robert Hur, the former Trump US attorney and Republican special counsel Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed to investigate Joe Biden’s classified documents, has released his report.

    The bottom line and all that matters is that there ain’t dick this guy can charge Biden with, or he would. And that little partisan hack is mad about that.

    So, like a common James Comey giving a press conference where he explained that he wasn’t angry with Hillary Clinton’s emails, just disappointed, and that although “no reasonable prosecutor” could bring a case, he just hopes this very naughty girl learns her lesson, Robert Hur set about writing his report.

    Oh, the dramatic flourishes […]

    Robert Hur would like us all to know that Joe Biden is simply too old and forgetful to charge with crimes. Does this mean since Donald Trump is currently charged with 91 of them, he must be fit to stand trial? Hur does not say.

    (Speaking of, reminder! This all came about because Joe Biden instructed his lawyers to check around for any stray documents, in light of how Donald Trump had stolen a bunch of state secrets, refused to give them back, and lied to the government about it for a year.)

    The report goes out to 388 pages, like this pissant Hur thought he was doing the Mueller investigation. Luckily, the first words of the executive summary are “We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter.” (And of course, according to Justice Department policy, you can’t indict a sitting president. Which Hur admits.)

    Hur […] He says he found evidence that Biden knew he had some Afghanistan documents at one point at his Virginia house, specifically a few words he said to a ghostwriter in 2017 about “just found all the classified stuff downstairs.” Of course Hur didn’t find any corroborating evidence Biden had classified stuff at that house, about Afghanistan or otherwise, surely nothing he could prosecute.

    Hur notes that the FBI picked all the docs up from Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, house. (When Biden’s lawyers called and said hey, we found some stuff that probably shouldn’t be here, come get it.)

    Hur then goes through all the reasons jurors would find reasonable doubt, […] For instance, there’s a lot of evidence these documents might have been long forgotten. And a certain number of them might not have been stored or retained personally by Biden at all.

    Hur also acknowledges that there are “other innocent explanations for the documents that we cannot refute.” That’s on page 10 of 388. […]

    As for Biden’s personal notebooks, in which he had scribbled some things that were classified, Hur finds Biden was aware he had them. But importantly, Hur adds at the last minute, “Contemporaneous evidence suggests that when Mr. Biden left office in 2017, he believed he was allowed to keep the notebooks in his home.” Hur says he thinks Biden is wrong, but also admits that Ronald Reagan did virtually the exact same thing. Regretfully, he thinks jurors might be sympathetic to Biden’s and Reagan’s interpretations, even if misguided.

    Oh, and one other BIG thing. Robert Hur clearly doesn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about how Donald Trump is currently charged with one million federal crimes for stealing state secrets and lying about it and lying to the feds for a solid fucking year. But he must reluctantly spell out that there are some differences here:

    Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating facts.

    Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite. According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it. In contrast, Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to the search of multiple locations including his homes, sat for a voluntary interview. and in other ways cooperated with the investigation.

    Yes, we guess that’s kind of fucking different.

    Everything up to this point was factual. Now let’s talk about Robert Hur’s FEELINGS.

    Alas, Robert Hur must provide some editorial commentary […] You see, Joe Biden is just too damned forgetful to prosecute, dodder dodder dodder dodder dodder!

    Mr. Biden’s memory was significantly limited, both during his recorded interviews with the ghostwriter in 2017, and in his interview with our office in 2023. And his cooperation with our investigation, including by reporting to the government that the Afghanistan documents were in his Delaware garage, will likely convince some jurors that he made an innocent mistake, rather than acting willfully-that is, with intent to break the law-as the statute requires.

    […] Aw, bless his heart! Any jury’s gonna see this sweet old forgetful man and ask him for butterscotches and they won’t have the heart to convict him, they just won’t!

    Did Robert Hur need to write these things? And were they intended for an audience of lawyers, or for Fox News […] (Rhetorical question.)

    And as to the “need to write” question, we should note that on page 208, Hur feels the need to mock the fact that during one interview, Biden couldn’t seem to remember correctly what year his son Beau died. (A letter from Biden’s attorneys notes that this five-hour series of interviews took place the day after the October 7 Hamas attack, and the day after that. He might have been a bit preoccupied.)

    So fuck anybody who thinks we are unfairly impugning Hur’s motives. As former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted last night:

    Let’s be clear–the special counsel isn’t a dummy and we should be very careful not to take the bait after Comey pulled this in 2016. Hur, a lifelong Republican and creature of DC, didn’t have a case against Biden, but he knew exactly how his swipes could hurt Biden politically.

    Did Robert Hur get some good belly scratches from those people last night? We sure hope so.

    Speaking of people who roll over for belly scratches from the MAGA media and its Republican employees in Congress, Peter Doocy asked Biden last night if he was just too darn forgetful to continue as president. Biden told Doocy to go fuck himself.

    Let’s watch: [video at the link]

    […] We encourage you after you’re finished here to go read Brian Beutler’s furious reaction to all of this, which notes how not only has Robert Hur — who again, admits multiple times in his report that he doesn’t have the evidence to prosecute fuckall — given Fox News and Republicans a wet reach-around with all his editorializing, he’s also given one to the Beltway media, which is frankly too fucking idiot to handle something like this.

    Oh, the both-sides-gasm is going to be messy. But her emails but her emails BUT JOE BIDEN’S DOCUMENTS […]

    Beutler rants about what a PAB Merrick Garland was to appoint a sniveling Trump appointee like Hur in the first place, and the fact that Garland let the report be released without making Hur delete all his LiveJournal babbling about his feelings about Joe Biden. (And oh my GOD, can we stop pretending that all FBI directors and special counsels need to be Republicans? Fuck.)

    And he rants at cowardly Democrats, who never ever ever will learn how to be absolute motherfuckers about things like this, because they think having more integrity and better policy will get them into heaven, because they think they can bring their pristine integrity and policy to a knife fight, Jesus fucking Christ, grow up.

    Beutler also has some recs for how Biden should play this going forward, to expose what a vapid partisan hack, and most importantly incorrect partisan hack Robert Hur is.

    So yeah go read that.

    Wonkette will yell more about this as needed.

  83. says

    Washington Post:

    Tourniquets. Live-shooter drills. Emergency communications centers. Election officials across the country aggressively prepare for the presidential election.

  84. says

    Sigh, from really bad to even worse: Palestinians fear time is running out in ‘last stop’ Rafah as Israel orders evacuation ahead of ground assault

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that civilians would be able to flee the city in southern Gaza before an expected ground operation that has raised U.S. fears of a “disaster.”

    Palestinians in Rafah, the packed city on Gaza’s southern border, were terrified Friday of an impending Israeli ground assault — which the United States and aid groups have warned risks “disaster.”

    More than half of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have sought shelter in Rafah, crowding tents in refugee camps stalked by growing hunger, disease and more recently fear that there will be nowhere to escape if troops enter the city.

    Washington said it could not support such an operation without proper planning, world leaders voiced growing alarm, and aid officials warned of a “bloodbath.”

    In the face of that pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Friday that civilians would be able to flee before the expected ground assault, which he said was necessary in the campaign against Hamas.

    […] Israeli airstrikes and bombs haven’t spared Rafah in this war — and have ramped up in recent days — but a ground offensive would make an already dire humanitarian situation much worse.

    NBC News spoke to several residents who described mounting anxiety in the city, the last major population hub in Gaza that has not been taken over by Israeli troops.

    “The last stop was supposed to be Rafah,” Isra Shehada, 33, told an NBC News crew on the bustling streets. “After Rafah, we only have God. Where can we go next ?”

    But while Palestinians like Shehada saw Rafah as a last refuge, with at least basic infrastructure and aid present, Israel made clear this week that it views the city on the Egyptian border as a last remaining stronghold for Hamas.

    […] Rafah was home to an estimated 250,000 people before the war, but has since been “stretched beyond its limits,” according to humanitarian officials, as Palestinians heeding Israeli evacuation calls and chasing relative safety fled to the city.

    […] Satellite imagery shows the sprawling growth of makeshift shelters and tents that have transformed the enclave’s southernmost city over the past two months. [images at the link]

    […] The city has been beset by soaring food prices, contaminated water and spreading disease. Incidents of theft have hampered what little aid is coming through, which charities describe as a “drop in the ocean” compared to the need.

    “Rafah is already a disaster,” Amira Riyad, 30, said from an overcrowded hut. She said she was sharing a toilet with more than 50 people and struggles to find diapers for her 1-year-old daughter.

    […] As Palestinians have been pressed toward Egypt’s doorstep, towering concrete walls stand ominously at the border — a reminder of their perilous situation. Egypt has warned against any action that could force a mass displacement of Palestinians across its border. […]

  85. says

    More Republican pundits are aghast at last:

    Like most of us here, I have no use for David Brooks. He has long been a defender of everything that is wrong with our politics and society. Still, today’s column title caught my eye and I decided to just take a look. It was quite a surprise:

    I thought I was beyond shockable, but this week has been profoundly shocking for me. I spent the bulk of my adult life on the right-wing side of things, generally rooting for the Republican Party, because I thought that party best served America. People like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump chased me out of the Republican orbit (gradually and then all at once), but I have still held out the hope that my many friends on the right are kind of like an occupied country. They have to mouth the Trumpian prejudices to survive in this era, but somewhere deep inside, the party of Reagan still lives in their souls.Trump Came for Their Party but Took Over Their Souls

    My progressive readers are now thinking: Have you not been paying attention? Donald Trump has owned this party for years. If he told them to kill the immigration compromise because he needed a campaign issue, they were going to kill that proposal.

    To which I respond: I don’t think you quite understand what just happened. This wasn’t just about Republicans cynically bending their knee to Trump. Rather, I’m convinced that Trumpism now pervades the deepest recesses of their minds and governs their unconscious assumptions. Their fundamental mental instincts are no longer conservative, but Trumpian.

    Here are some of the convictions that Republicans had to assent to in order to do what they did this week: . . .

    Democracy is for suckers. . . . Republicans . . . have adopted the Trumpian logic that under him, they will never have to compromise.

    Entertainment over governance. . . . Showmanship has eclipsed even simple governance.

    Foreigners don’t matter. . . . People like J.D. Vance really seem to believe that if we let Vladimir Putin win his wars of conquest in Europe, it will have no consequences for us back home. Somewhere even Neville Chamberlain is gaping in disbelief.

    Lying is normal. . . . Trump has erased the assumption that credibility is a nice thing to have.

    America would be better off in a post-American world. [Republicans] operationally . . . share many of Xi’s and Putin’s goals — to reduce America’s role in the world, to destroy America’s confidence in its ability to project power, to reduce America to a regional superpower.

    The American economy is enjoying one of its greatest growth periods of our lifetimes, and yet many Republicans have persuaded themselves that the nation is in ruins and can’t afford foreign commitments.

    […] Each of those lines is followed by paragraph after paragraph of examples.

    […] Brooks still misses some things. First, he doesn’t give the Democrats credit for the economy or for anything else, really. More to the point, he ignores the reality that Republicans have been moving in this direction anyway, long before Trump […] Trump took over the car that was heading for the cliff and jammed on the accelerator. The GOP’s path to the destruction of our democracy goes back at least to Nixon’s day, when they realized they were never going to persuade a majority of Americans to vote for their policies, and decided that, rather than change those policies, they would change the ability of people to vote. (And also to reduce the ability of Americans to think critically about their policies as well. This is a multi-pronged attack.)

    Still, it does say something about the dysfunction, the chaos, the incoherence of the whole GOP that have now — finally — lost David Brooks.

    Link

  86. says

    […] Biden also did not call Israel “Iran,” as House Speaker Dipshit McWhitebread did on Sunday.

    Confession: I blanked on Mike Johnson’s name while typing that, then recalled it without any problem while admitting the brain fart just now. That’s how brains work! But then I would say that, both to excuse my own decaying mental acuity and Biden’s, now wouldn’t I? […]

    “I think that — as you know, initially, the president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate.

    “I talked to Bibi to open the gate on the Israeli side. I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard, to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza. There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying. And it’s got to stop, number one.

    “Number two, I was also in the position that I’m the guy that made the case that we have to do much more to increase the amount of material going in, including fuel, including other items. I’ve been on the phone with the Qataris. I’ve been on the phone with the Egyptians.”

    There was more, of course. But he said “Mexico,” so all the rest goes into the shredder and Joe Biden is “confused.” Like hell he is. He says the wrong name sometimes, and that’s really it. He’s always done it, and while Yr Doktor Zoom is not a medical Doktor, our cursory googling into research on verbal slips like this suggests it’s a common brain thing, not related to age. Thing is, most of us aren’t on camera when we call the kids the wrong name.

    That’s probably just how memory works when it comes to names, per a 2016 study published in Memory & Cognition, which looked at everyday misnaming, like when we mix up the kids’ names. (The study did not, it’s true, look at presidents talking about other world leaders, but perhaps we can generalize.)

    The researchers note that such slips aren’t entirely random, but involve others in the same social group — if you call your kid the wrong name, it’ll almost always be the name of another child or family member, not “Mikhail Gorbachev,” for instance. (Also a fun detail: Such slips often include the name of the family dog, but seldom a cat or other pet. Could be because only dogs respond to their names, so we may slot them into the name category of “family members I talk to.”)

    Crucially, lead author Samantha Deffler, and her coauthors Cassidy Fox, Christin Ogle, and senior researcher David Rubin, all cognitive scientists at Rollins College in Florida at the time, found that such slips aren’t related to “bad memory” or to aging. Rather, Deffler called it “a normal cognitive glitch” in how the brain sorts names.

    So let’s extrapolate a bit regarding Joe Biden, who has always mixed up names, including that wonderful 2008 goof where he introduced his running mate as “the next president of the United States, Barack America.” LOL. My own pet theory is that when he was recalling the trouble with opening the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, his brain simply inserted the name of another country where border issues have been a headache lately. My other pet theory is that my cat is named Thornton.

    Oh! But what about Biden’s clearly senile delusional “memories” of talking to European leaders who are actually dead, huh? How will you explain away his conversations with GHOSTS?

    Again, kindly get the fuck out. They were similar category errors, swapping “François Mitterrand” (died in 1996) for “Emmanuel Macron,” […] He also substituted “Helmut Kohl” (died in 2017) for Angela Merkel while discussing a 2021 G7 meeting. Notice that even the slips had logic: right country, wrong leader’s name. Embarrassing, and entirely common. And also entirely different from calling Nancy Pelosi “Nikki Haley” while insisting the woman against whom Trump is running was in charge of Congress and the riots on January 6.

    Honestly, it’s so much horrible bullshit, but there we go making excuses for the senile guy again. Let’s elect the fascist rapist instead.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/joe-biden-had-a-press-conference

  87. says

    One of Donald Trump’s great magic tricks has been his ability to convince the MAGA world that he is a great orator, all while being a super-dubious gaffe machine. His history of forgetting things and mixing up important historical facts and people is something to behold.

    Here’s a list of nine of Trump’s recent … blunders.

    1 – During a videotaped deposition in writer E. Jean Carroll’s civil case against him, Trump mistook Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples. The kicker here is that one of Trump’s defenses was that Carroll was “not my type.”

    2 – There was his brief word-salad speech at the “Pray Vote Stand Summit,” in Washington, D.C., last September. It was here that Trump voiced his fears that President Joe Biden, in 2024, would soon lead us into World War II.

    3 – Who could forget Trump’s rally in Sioux City, Iowa, where he had to be reminded where he was during the rally?

    4 – Trump has not only shown a predilection for the comfort of authoritarian leaders but also an inability to remember which wannabe dictator leads which country, like when he said Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán led Turkey.

    5 – And the time Trump said North Korea leader Kim Jong Un ran a country of 1.4 billion people, which is the population of China. North Korea’s population (roughly 26 million) is a little less than 2% of that.

    6 – Trump started 2024 by boasting about acing a cognitive test. Problem is, many of the examples that he claimed were included in the test—which is aimed at detecting dementia, not assessing intelligence—have never appeared in any version of the test, according to its creator.

    7 – Then there are the seven times, according to Forbes’ count, that Trump confused current President Joe Biden with former President Barack Obama.

    8 – In January, Trump confused former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is running against him in the Republican presidential primary, with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming that Haley was in charge of security during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

    9 – During a September speech, Trump boasted, blamed, and confused former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for his brother George W. Bush, the former president. It was a real doozy as Trump boasted that he beat Jeb in South Carolina, then claimed that Jeb “got us into the Middle East.” Understand? Of course you don’t!

    Finally, just in case you have forgotten the very stable genius of Trump, here’s a clip of Trump saying we should try injecting disinfectant to treat COVID-19. [video at the link]

    Link

  88. says

    Yesterday Judge Lewis Kaplan made it official, entering the jury’s judgment into the record and ordering Donald Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million for defaming her and lying about raping her in 1996. After hundreds of public insults, the years of abuse spewed on social media have finally stopped as it finally occurred to Trump that lies have a cost.

    [snipped details of Trump’s lawyer asking for a mistrial and the Judge explaining to Alina Habba that, no, that wouldn’t work, and there would be no mistrial]

    So, no, Trump is not getting a mistrial. And he’s got 30 days from the date of yesterday’s judgment before Carroll can move to collect against his assets. When he appeals, he can hold off collections by posting the entire amount in the form of cash or a bond with the court. In the first trial, he ponied up the $5 million out of pocket. But $83.3 million is a lot of money, even for a “billionaire” who’s using PAC money to pay his legal bills.

    And in the meanwhile, just down the block from Judge Kaplan’s chambers, Justice Arthur Engoron is working on his verdict in the civil fraud trial. The New York Attorney General wants a $370 million fine for the Trump Org’s eleventy-seven fraudulent financial statements. As The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery points out, the interest rate under state law is 9 percent per year, and it’s retrospective to the commencement of the investigation in 2018. Which isn’t chump change unless your name is Jeff Bezos. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/carroll-judge-tells-trump-its-time

  89. Reginald Selkirk says

    @122: They left out one of my favorites, which dates all the way back to 2016. Hillary Clinton’s tech staff, in the email case, had wiped a hard drive. Hopefully you all know that you can’t just delete the files; that leaves the contents on disk and just removes the directory pointers to the files. You need to wipe the entire hard drive surface. They used an open source software package to accomplish this, one named BleachBit. In Donald Trumps addled mind this quickly transformed into the use of actual chemical bleach. And then, since that wasn’t weird enough, it further transformed into his repeated claim that they had ‘acid-washed’ her emails. Because WTF.

    I repeat, this happened in 2016, when Donald Trump was 7-8 years younger than now; the mistakes were repeated many times, and they are thoroughly documented.

  90. says

    S&P 500 stock index crosses 5,000 milestone for the first time.

    Washington Post link

    The S&P 500 stock index crawled past 5,000 for the first time ever Friday, reaching an important symbolic landmark as continued economic optimism fanned the flames of a rally […]

    The broad-based index closed at 5,026.61, up less than 1 percent for the day, setting yet another closing record. It has gained more than 5 percent in the first five weeks of the year.

    Analysts attribute the market’s continued gains to positive economic data suggesting the Federal Reserve has tamed inflation without breaking the economy, giving investors confidence that interest rate cuts could be on the horizon.

    Speculative assets in the technology sector also look increasingly appealing, pushing companies like Microsoft and Nvidia to ever-higher valuations.

    “This is another flex-the-muscles moment for the tech bull market with the historical 5k reached on S&P 500,” said Dan Ives, a prominent technology analyst with Wedbush Securities. […]

  91. says

    NBC News:

    The special counsel [Jack Smith] prosecuting Donald Trump has asked the judge [Aileen Cannon] in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case to reconsider an order the government argues could identify more than two dozen witnesses and threaten their safety and testimony.

  92. says

    NBC News:

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un restated he has no desire for diplomacy with South Korea and that the North would annihilate its rival if provoked, state media said Friday, in the latest of his belligerent statements that are raising tensions in the region.

  93. says

    From CNBC, good news regarding inflation:

    The prices consumers pay in the marketplace rose at an even slower pace than originally reported, according to closely watched revisions the government released Friday. Updates to the consumer price index showed that the broad basket of goods and services measured increased 0.2% on the month, less than the originally reported 0.3%, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

  94. says

    Representative Elise Stefanki, as interviewed by Kaitlan Collins:

    COLLINS: You just said that you would be willing to serve in a Trump administration. Had you been vice president on Jan. 6, 2021, what would you have done?

    STEFANIK: I stood up for the Constitution …

    COLLINS: But what would you have done if you were vice president?

    STEFANIK: I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don’t think that was the right approach. I specifically stand by what I said on the House floor, and I stand by my statement, which was there was unconstitutional overreach. … There was unconstitutional overreach in states like Pennsylvania, and I think it’s very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution, have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020. And tens of millions of Americans agree with me, Kaitlan.

    COLLINS: I would say the Supreme Court and the state of Pennsylvania said that that Republican-passed changes to their law was constitutional. But it’s notable to hear you say, given you’re in the running to be the vice president, that you would have rejected those votes. Come this election, when Vice President Harris is in that position, would you be okay if she rejected the votes if Donald Trump wins?

    STEFANIK: Listen, we need to make sure the election is constitutional and legal …

    COLLINS: It was legal.

    STEFANIK: It was not, Kaitlan. It was unconstitutional when they were circumventing state legislatures, unilaterally changing election law. I stand by my statement on the House floor, and again, tens of millions of Americans agree with that statement and have questions about the validity and legality and constitutionality …

    COLLINS: Because the Republicans are so in doubt about the election.

    STEFANIK: No, no, that’s because the American people have rightful questions on the constitutionality …

    COLLINS: Because Republicans are so in doubt about it.

    STEFANIK: And let me say this for you. When it comes to this election, we are seeing the Democrats trying to remove President Trump from the ballot. That is not constitutional. That is not a legal and safe, secure election. That is literally what’s being discussed at the Supreme Court today, because radical leftists can’t stand that Donald Trump continues to skyrocket in the polls and Joe Biden continues to plummet. And when you get outside of CNN … and talk to hardworking American people like in my district, like across this country, they want to see new leadership in President Trump, and that’s why he’s going to win.

    Commentary:

    […] So asking the courts to evaluate Trump’s constitutional eligibility to hold office after he violated the clear language of a constitutional amendment is … unconstitutional. But encouraging a bloodthirsty mob to hang Pence is just more proof that Trump loves his country. Tell us more, Elise!

    [More of the interview transcript:

    COLLINS: You deleted a statement that was on your website recently calling Jan. 6 a tragic day. Why have you deleted those?

    STEFANIK: I have all my public statements from the current Congress, you can access all my previous public statements …

    COLLINS: But why was it deleted from your website?

    STEFANIK: I only have the press releases from this current Congress. All of those statements are available since I was elected on multiple social media accounts, and you can access it there.

    COLLINS: So it wasn’t a retraction of what you said.

    STEFANIK: No, certainly not.

    Commentary:

    […] Of course, you’ll be happy to know we’ll never have another Republican president, because apparently all you have to do is nitpick individual states’ elections, and no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court or the states themselves say, you can unilaterally reject electors you don’t like. Which means Vice President Kamala Harris can choose the next two presidents, and her Democratic successors can follow suit—on and on into infinity. Yay! America’s saved!

    As Stefanik clearly knows, Trump’s numerous post-election legal challenges were thoroughly vetted by the courts—including the U.S. Supreme Court—and he came up short in all but one of them. Mostly because they were ridiculous and would have thrown the election—and our democracy—into chaos. But why should anyone care about the peaceful transfer of power when some states went to outrageous lengths to make it easier for people to vote without dying in the middle of a global pandemic? […]

    Also, “tens of millions of people agree with me” has never been a valid argument for anything, ever. Tens of millions of Americans believe Adam, Eve, and Adam’s platonic fishing buddy, Steve, had to flee Eden because the local velociraptors suddenly acquired a taste for meat after Eve bit into the apple.

    Meanwhile, here’s that statement Stefanik deleted from her website. It was recirculated by former Rep. Liz Cheney, whose leadership position Stefanik assumed after lifelong Republican Cheney took the radical left-wing position that stealing American elections is wrong. For some reason, Stefanik didn’t want people to know she once thought violent extremists who try to end American democracy should be held accountable.

    As you can see, she once insisted the Jan. 6 rioters should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    For some reason, she now calls them “hostages.” [Tweet and Elise’s statement at the link]
    […]

    Link

  95. Reginald Selkirk says

    Illinois bill would give tax credit to residents fleeing states with abortion, gender-affirming care bans

    People and health care providers forced to leave states with laws limiting access to gender-affirming medical care and abortion may soon be eligible for a $500 tax credit if they move to Illinois.

    Legislation filed Thursday by Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat, would create the income tax credit. The benefit would be available only to taxpayers who permanently relocate to Illinois from a state with more stringent abortion laws or laws that restrict access to other “lawful health care,” including gender-affirming care, for the purposes of either providing or receiving treatment.

    Public school teachers who relocate to Illinois because of “content-based restrictions” in their home state that prevent them from addressing subjects like race, gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom would also be eligible for the tax credit, according to Cassidy’s bill…

  96. Reginald Selkirk says

    Congressional age limit proposed in North Dakota in potential test case for nation

    North Dakota would be the first state to set an age limit for U.S. Senate and House candidates under a measure that could go before voters in June, though it’s unclear whether a state limit on federal officeholders would violate the U.S. Constitution…

    The proposal states, “No person may be elected or appointed to serve a term or a portion of a term in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives if that person could attain 81 years of age by December 31st of the year immediately preceding the end of the term.” …

    How peculiarly specific.

  97. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Lost your wallet? It may not end badly

    Our understanding of honesty, up until now, has largely come from laboratory work […] real world activity has been far from clear.
    […]
    to test […] “civic honesty” […] they went to 355 cities across 40 countries and handed in 17,303 “lost” wallets to banks, theatres, museums, post offices, hotels and various public offices, including those of branches of law enforcement.
    […]
    Classic economic theory says that the wallets containing money should be returned at a lower rate than those without. […] the exact opposite was true.

    In 38 of the 40 countries, “citizens were overwhelmingly more likely to report lost wallets with money than without”. This effect was even more pronounced when the amount of money was increased sevenfold. […] the presence of a key, something valuable to the wallet’s owner but useless to the “finder” […] also increased the likelihood
    […]
    the psychological cost of viewing oneself as a thief can often outweigh any economic benefit. […] we can be slightly less worried next time we lose our loaded wallets.

  98. John Morales says

    CA7746:

    the psychological cost of viewing oneself as a thief can often outweigh any economic benefit. […] we can be slightly less worried next time we lose our loaded wallets.

    Evidently, many, many people can cope with the psychological cost, since thievery is obviously a thing.

    (Presumably, that “we” refers to the writers of that piece, because that does not reassure me one bit)

  99. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Sekirk @ #133…
    If they applied it to presidential candidates, it would apply to both Biden and Trump. (I don’t think they can add qualifications for office for Federal elections…but no doubt the courts will get to decide on that.)

  100. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 132
    You know what they say about stopped clocks sometimes being right.
    The war in Ukraine has given the tory government the opportunity to for once be on the right side of history. But I should remind you that pre-war, leading tories -including BoJo- were alarmingly chummy with Russian oligarchs, including ones with a history with Russian intelligence organizations.

  101. birgerjohansson says

    Time…
    I managed to clear out the last 2013 stuff from the archive at work last week, so we have room for the new batch of paper from “the paperless office” that we were promised a long time ago. And still no flying cars.
    Merica will test the big self-exploding rocket later in February, if it stays intact we are at least partway into the future.

    BTW -25 °C at 7 this morning, with wind chill it is -30.
    I envy people in Stockholm. Also, the hibernating bears. For animals whose closest relatives are dogs and other canids, they are pretty smart about how to spend winter.

  102. says

    So. That AI-written George Carlin special that there was a comment about a few pages back? Turns out it wasn’t AI-written after all. The script was written by an actual person. This of course does not make it better. Nor will it stop the creators from getting sued.

    Excerpt from the article:

    “The YouTube video ‘I’m Glad I’m Dead’ was completely written by Chad Kultgen,” a spokeswoman for Sasso told the Times. (A spokesperson for Kutgen, the report mentions, did not respond to requests for comment; we may have to wait until the next episode of Dudesy for that.)

    To watch this video a couple weeks ago was an exercise in determining how well an AI could impersonate a figure like Carlin. To watch it now is something else, an exercise in determining how well a comedian could impersonate AI impersonating a figure like Carlin. It’s only within that second funhouse-mirror-like context that Dudesy’s stunt becomes remotely interesting.

  103. John Morales says

    In the news: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/09/head-of-unwra-says-he-followed-reverse-due-process-in-sacking-accused-gaza-staff

    UNRWA staff accused by Israel sacked without evidence, chief admits

    Philippe Lazzarini says summary dismissal of nine employees was ‘reverse due process’ after Israel’s claims they aided Hamas attack

    Emine Sinmaz in Jerusalem
    @Emine_Sinmaz
    Sat 10 Feb 2024 04.33 AEDT
    Last modified on Sat 10 Feb 2024 05.05 AEDT

    The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said he followed “reverse due process” in sacking nine staff members accused by Israel of being involved in Hamas’s 7 October attacks.

    Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, said he did not probe Israel’s claims against the employees before dismissing them and launching an investigation.

    At a press conference in Jerusalem, Lazzarini was asked if he had looked into whether there was any evidence against the employees and he replied: “No, the investigation is going on now.”

    He described the decision as “reverse due process”, adding: “I could have suspended them, but I have fired them. And now I have an investigation, and if the investigation tells us that this was wrong, in that case at the UN we will take a decision on how to properly compensate [them].”

    Lazzarini said he made the “exceptional, swift decision” to terminate the contracts of the staff members due to the explosive nature of the claims. He added that the agency was already facing “fierce and ugly attacks” at a time when it was providing aid to nearly 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

    “Indeed, I have terminated without due process because I felt at the time that not only the reputation but the ability of the entire agency to continue to operate and deliver critical humanitarian assistance was at stake if I did not take such a decision,” he said.

    “My judgment, based on this going public, true or untrue, was I need to take the swiftest and boldest decision to show that as an agency we take this allegation seriously.”

  104. John Morales says

    Via BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68261286

    By Lucy Williamson
    BBC News, Jerusalem

    A six-year-old girl who went missing in Gaza City last month has been found dead, along with several of her relatives and two paramedics who tried to save her.

    Hind Rajab was fleeing the city with her aunt, uncle and three cousins when the car they were travelling in appears to have come face to face with Israeli tanks, and come under fire.

    Audio recordings of calls between Hind and emergency call operators suggest that the six-year-old was the only one left alive in the car, hiding from Israeli forces among the bodies of her relatives.

    Her pleas for someone to rescue her ended when the phone line was cut amid the sound of more gunfire.

    […]

    One paramedic told journalists that Hind was among the six bodies found inside the car, all of which showed signs of gunfire and shelling.

    A few metres away were the remains of another vehicle – completely burnt out, its engine spilling onto the ground. This, the Red Crescent says, is the ambulance sent to fetch Hind.

    Its crew – Yusuf al-Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun – were killed when the ambulance was bombed by Israeli forces, the organisation says.

    Thus Israel defends itself.

  105. Reginald Selkirk says

    DNC accuses RFK Jr. campaign and super PAC of colluding on ballot access effort

    The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that it is filing a Federal Election Commission complaint against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ‘s independent presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting him on allegations the two are colluding to get Kennedy ballot access.

    On Dec. 5, super PAC American Values 2024 announced it would invest $10 million to $15 million in ballot access, with the aim of getting Kennedy on the ballot in at least 10 states.

    In the FEC complaint, the DNC claims that in the states in which American Values 2024 has announced a ballot access initiative, each “requires the candidate to submit a draft signature petition for state approval, turn in the completed forms, identify the individuals who collected the signatures, and obtain certification for circulators.”

    The DNC complaint alleges that the super PAC is coordinating “its activity with Mr. Kennedy and his campaign in a way that violates federal campaign finance laws.” …

  106. birgerjohansson says

    Researchers discover one million new components of the human genome”
    .https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-02-million-components-human-genome.html

    “Long non-coding RNA exons, which are autonomous but often have no known function, have been connected to the development of cancer. Of the roughly 1.25 million known and unknown exons the team found through exon trapping, almost four percent were long non-coding RNA exons.”

    A modest proposal: Use germ-line GM to purge those exons from our genome (along with known harmful genes).

    And insert those anti-senescence genes many other vertebrates have, but were purged from mammals during the mesozoic (small burrowing snacks for dinosaurs had little use for those genes).

  107. Reginald Selkirk says

    MyPillow Guy Launches MyStore, the Amazon From Hell

    Mike Lindell … Over the past few days, Lindell has been on a media tour (mostly on extremist podcasts and his own video platforms) to promote a new eCommerce website called MyStore. Lindell calls it a “mini-Amazon” for “patriots” where “entrepreneurs” can sell their goods without being “copied by China.”

    There’s no word on how selling through MyStore will prevent “China” from copying you, aside from the fact that fewer people will see the website in the first place. Lindell did tell Newsweek that MyStore is only intended for American-made products, and his team has already caught sellers “trying to sneak in” Chinese wares…

  108. says

    Ukraine update: Zelenskyy shakes up military as popular general is removed from command, by Mark Sumner

    Rumors have been swirling for weeks, but on Thursday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made it official: the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military forces, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, is being replaced.

    The move comes two months after Zaluzhnyi gave an interview in which he said that the fight against Russia’s illegal invasion had entered a “static and attritional fighting” phase, and made a statement: “Just like in the First World War we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate.” He followed this by saying: “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”

    The use of the term “stalemate” and the pessimistic report on the future of the counteroffensive reportedly caught Zelenskyy off guard. The Ukrainian president moved quickly to say, “I don’t think that this is a stalemate.”

    There are certainly more important reasons why Zelenskyy thought this move was necessary, but that moment certainly didn’t help Zaluzhnyi’s long-term prospects.

    Zaluzhnyi’s assessment may have been accurate, but Zelenskyy was likely concerned about how these statements could dampen support from Western partners. With U.S. assistance still hanging in the balance, Zelenskyy has good reason to worry about any suggestion that Ukraine can’t win—especially when that suggestion comes from the man in charge of winning.

    The big summer counteroffensive followed Ukraine’s striking victories at Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson. With shipments of modern Western arms over the winter, including main battle tanks, and troops spending months training away from the front, expectations were huge. Zaluzhnyi had worked wonders the previous year. Now he had more men, better machines, and time to plan a massive assault. What couldn’t he do?

    As The Washington Post reported in December, the U.S. wanted Ukraine to mass forces and drive into the Russian line at a single point, cutting through supply lines to reach the Sea of Azov. But Zaluzhnyi didn’t agree. Facing a long Russian front, the Ukrainian commander advocated for moving against three locations: two in the south, and one near Bakhmut.

    Right from the start, Russian defenses along the southern line proved to be much more formidable than anyone expected. Not only did tanks and armored vehicles end up trying to pick their way through dense, extensive minefields, they were harried in their movements by both artillery and drones. Just four days into the offensive, Zaluzhnyi determined that a straightforward approach wasn’t going to work. He pulled back forces and began probing the Russian line, seeking less well-defended positions.

    Months later, Ukraine has picked up barely a dozen kilometers at any of its points of attack. Meanwhile, Russia is closing in on the city of Avdiivka, which could be the first Ukrainian city to fall since Bakhmut. [Tweet and video at the link]

    But for all the headlines around the world claiming that Zaluzhnyi has been fired, the former commander of U.S. forces in Europe, Gen. Mark Hertling, has a different perspective.

    He points out that since the day of the invasion, Zaluzhnyi has been the commander of forces engaged in the “toughest fight we’ve seen in the 21st century.”

    Zaluzhnyi entered this war without a fully modern army. He’s had to train troops, defend against a much larger and better-equipped opponent, and integrate the hundreds of new weapons systems and pieces of equipment provided by Western allies. For two years, Zaluzhnyi has commanded a 2,000-kilometer tactical front, developed strategy, and dealt with over 50 allied militaries that constantly provided advice (but not troops). In addition like every other general, he has seen tens of thousands of the men he sent out to fight return home in flag-draped caskets.

    Hertling suggests that the real problem with Zaluzhnyi is that he’s simply exhausted. [Tweet and photo at the link: Truthfully, he came into this invasion as an inexperienced and untrained senior level commander, and he carried himself as a leader of a great army and an emerging nation. But – and there’s always a but – he likely is physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausted]

    Hertling rates Zaluzhnyi’s overall performance as “masterful.”

    Now command of Ukrainian forces passes to Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, who is less popular with the troops and is seen as an old-style Soviet commander with little concern about casualties. How the changeover affects both strategy and morale is still to be determined.
    ———————————-
    [Tweet and video at the link: Zelenskyy presented state awards to Ukrainian defenders, including Valerii Zaluzhnyi and Kyrylo Budanov.

    The President remarked, ‘Ukraine has already managed to stop Russia. Ukraine has learned to defend itself in the way needed for victory. And we must continue on this path to achieve Ukrainian goals.’]
    ————————————-
    ❗️ First picture of a F-16 with Ukrainian markings, taken at a European air base where Ukrainians are being trained. https://t.co/Zx8dZADuBd pic.twitter.com/Udve2xNaMb
    ———————————-
    [List of Russian losses]

  109. says

    Trump has made his pick for the new head of the RNC—and he’s really something

    Ronna McDaniel’s position as chair of the Republican National Committee has been on life support for some time. The Republican Party took in only $87.2 million in donations during 2023, compared with $176.6 million in 2022, ending the year with a scant $8 million in the bank. That’s barely enough to run one 30-second Super Bowl ad, much less power Donald Trump through his 2024 election. It certainly won’t cover his legal bills.

    Trump’s heavy-handed hints finally drove McDaniel to call it quits at the end of the Republicans’ no good, very bad day on Tuesday. That leaves the party with the top seat sitting empty at a time when primaries are already underway and the general election is rapidly approaching. This is not the best time for a round of musical chairs in the party hierarchy.

    Trump reportedly has a new pick in mind. His choice is Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and also head of “elections integrity” efforts at the RNC. Whatley has repeated many of the “Big Lie” top 10, including claiming that there was “massive fraud” around the county, even if Trump could produce no evidence.

    And Whatley already has an election to inspect over possible issues of fraud: The election of Michael Whatley.

    […] In a year when more than $10 billion could be spent on campaigns, Republicans are off to a very slow start in gathering funds. Trump is hoovering up the cash, the party’s well is dry, and what other candidates are going to do is anyone’s guess.

    How Whatley is supposed to improve that situation isn’t quite clear. A former Senate staffer and energy lobbyist, he might be expected to have some contacts in his old industry, but those guys have already laid out the money for Trump. It’s not a coincidence that Trump says when he becomes dictator “on Day One,” he will declare, “Drill, baby, drill.”

    Whatley may not give the party a cash infusion, but he does offer one thing that Trump finds irresistible: full support of the Big Lie.

    He repeated false claims that Republican observers in Michigan and Pennsylvania were shut out of polling stations. Whatley claimed there was widespread voter fraud in Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. And he accused Democrats of going to court to overturn recounts—when all those recounts actually upheld Joe Biden’s victory. It was Trump who took the results to court.

    Following Jan. 6, Whatley also made false claims that those arrested ”were not necessarily Republican voters” or Trump supporters.

    Though Whatley complained about the possibility of the elections being settled in the courts in 2020, he had changed his mind a few months later, telling fellow Republicans that lawsuits (or at least threats of lawsuits) are the “key to fair elections.”

    But it may have been something else that endeared Whatley to Trump. Because if you Google “Michael Whatley election fraud,” something more than his current role at the RNC pops up. That something is that Whatley himself cheated to win the top position in the North Carolina RNC.

    Like many state parties, North Carolina Republicans elect their officers at a convention. To cast a vote at that convention, delegates have to be on the floor of the convention center when the vote is cast. But in 2023, Republicans built a mobile app allowing delegates to cast their votes electronically rather than dealing with paper ballots or a hand count. Whatley’s opponent for the state chairmanship says the use of the app “violated several rules blatantly.”

    The three delegates suing Whatley claim that the app was built so that delegates not on the floor could still slip in a vote. And, taking Whatley’s advice, they launched a lawsuit last June saying that Whatley was not duly elected and shouldn’t be in the role.

    All of this may make Whatley more valuable to Trump. McDaniel’s replacement may not know how to raise cash, but he knows how to cheat. In 2024, Trump may believe that’s more important.

  110. says

    Studies Used To Ban Abortion Drug Retracted For Being Loads Of Crap

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/studies-used-to-ban-abortion-drug

    In response to a lawsuit brought by anti-abortion groups last April, federal judge and Evil Alan Tudyk Matthew Kacsmaryk banned the distribution of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in chemical abortions.

    The for-lack-of-a-better-word logic of the decision was that the Food and Drug Administration had not properly vetted mifepristone when it came on the market 20 years ago, and that unforeseen emergencies from using the drug could lead to the medical system being “overwhelmed.”

    The fact that this overwhelming had not yet happened in the 20 fucking years the drug had been in widespread use was of course beside the point, since the rabidly anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ Evil Alan Tudyk was placed on a federal court for one purpose, which was to rubber-stamp whatever culture war bullshit venue-shopping conservatives could slap in front of him, regardless of the merits of the legal case or whether the plaintiffs had standing or anything else approaching legal precedent or common sense.

    Now, just in time for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, one of the scientific papers EAT relied on for his decision has been retracted by its publisher. We’d say “whoops,” but really, the paper could have been written in crayon on the side of a cardboard box, and Kacsmaryk would have still cited it and SCOTUS still would not have cared.

    Still. From NPR:

    Sage, the publisher of the journal, retracted the study on Monday along with two other papers, explaining in a statement that “expert reviewers found that the studies demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor that invalidates or renders unreliable the authors’ conclusions.”

    It also noted that most of the authors on the paper worked for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of anti-abortion lobbying group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and that one of the original peer reviewers had also worked for the Lozier Institute.

    That second graf is important because, according to the publisher’s statement, the paper’s authors had not bothered to disclose that wee conflict of interest. It’s a bit like if a bunch of doctors insist football players never get concussions, and then a couple of years later we find out that the doctors worked for the NFL-funded There Is No Risk of Head Injuries in Football Institute and also the guy who reviewed their study also got paid by the same excellent institute.

    One of the papers’ authors claims his work is being canceled because his findings have been cited in legal cases, which, yeah we know, buddy, that’s the problem. Like the rest of the anti-abortion movement, he seems shocked that he didn’t get the last word forever on the subject.

    […] law professor Mary Ziegler told NPR:

    “We’ve already seen, when it comes to abortion, that the court has a propensity to look at the views of experts that support the results it wants … The majority [opinion] relied pretty much exclusively on scholars with some ties to pro-life activism and didn’t really cite anybody else even or really even acknowledge that there was a majority scholarly position or even that there was meaningful disagreement on the subject.”

    Now all the conservatives on the Court and their clerks have to do is continue to not read any non-right-wing media that might have reported this story, or if they do, continue to not grow consciences, and they’ll be all set.

    […] It’s bad enough the wingnuts fought and continue to fight to make sure no woman in America has the right to control her life. Watching them do it on the back of made-up evidence they know is completely made up and just don’t care is just an extra cherry on this fecal sundae.

  111. says

    A Republican lawmaker in Idaho introduced a bill on Thursday meant to expand the state’s cannibalism law to make it illegal to feed people to other people who don’t know they’re eating people.

    Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, explained that she had heard about this whole human composting thing that’s been legalized in several states in the last few years and became very concerned about the possibility of this leading to people being served “the flesh or blood of a human being” without their “knowledge or consent.”

    “I didn’t want to see that in my Home Depot stores,” Scott said, assuming that this would actually mean she could go to the hardware store and pick up a bag full of wood-chipped human flesh to spread around her backyard garden.

    Human composting, of course, does not work like that. As weird as it may sound initially, it’s actually an environmentally responsible way to dispose of human remains. (Rebecca is a huge fan and intends to be carted off to Washington state.) Though really — is it that much more weird than burying said bodies in the ground, in an obscenely expensive box that no one is ever going to see again or setting them on fire? Not so much! Also, many religions have long chosen to go with casket-free “natural burials” for their adherents. This is really just that with some wood-chips, straw and microbes thrown in there in order to ensure that the body decomposes in a way that is good for the soil.

    It feels important to note here that even if someone did grow tomatoes in that soil, it would not mean their marinara was made out of people.

    But this was not Scott’s only concern. You see, she was on an airplane recently and she watched a show where they fed people “human sausage” and didn’t tell them until afterwards. She even sent the clip she saw to the Idaho Statesman as proof. [video at the link]

    “They didn’t tell the people, they fed it to them,” she said, though she did acknowledge that it could be a “spoof.”

    It doesn’t seem like she watched the whole clip, because if she had, she would have definitely known it was a “spoof,” as she would have heard the part where the host tells the contestants of the very real-sounding and looking game show “What’s In My Mouth?” that they are actually on Dana Carvey’s new TruTV prank show. […]

    In addition to that clip, Scott also sent the Statesman another clip of a Chinese official denying that the country sold Zambia human flesh disguised as tinned corned beef and light tuna, a previously debunked hoax.

    Idaho is, actually, the only state that actually has an explicit law against cannibalism, though in other states that often comes under desecration or abuse of a corpse. It is definitely not legal to eat people anywhere in the United States, nor is it legal to serve people human flesh without their consent […] [Sweeny Todd video]

    That is all very illegal anywhere you might go.

    The laws on buying human bodies for research are, however, surprisingly pretty lax, so I suppose it would be theoretically possible for someone to legally buy a human body part and then eat it — but it’s very expensive, and while an arm and a leg won’t cost you an arm and a leg, they will probably cost you about $800. It really doesn’t seem like it would be worth it […] it does seem that between OSHA and existing laws against murder — and, in Idaho, cannibalism — that it is already pretty darned illegal for someone to do that.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/idaho-lawmaker-moves-to-ban-non-consensual

  112. says

    Experts said relying on special counsels has upended a central Justice Department principle: Don’t prejudice the public against people who aren’t charged.

    Here is some information I summarized from a Washington Post article:

    From the executive summary portion of the Hur report:

    “Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

    Page 215 of the Hur report said the “exact opposite” of the executive summary being quoted in news reports.The Hur report also says evidence suggests Biden did not willfully retain documents found at the University of Delaware and that he did not willfully disclose classified information to someone not authorized to receive it.

    In many cases, the special counsel decided that the documents were mishandled by mistake. The report concludes it cannot claim that Biden willfully kept this information.

    As for the Afghanistan memo: The report concludes that Biden did not think this memo was classified and it probably was not.

    About moving some documents from an old Biden office to a center affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania: The report exonerates Biden and blames staff error.

    About materials Biden donated to the University of Delaware: The report exonerates Biden and blames staff error.

    So there you have it, this part of the executive summary in the Hur report, “Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen” is a lie. That lie is debunked by the report itself.

    President Biden:

    “I’ve seen the headlines since the report was released about my willful retention of documents. This assertion is not only misleading, they’re just plain wrong.”

    Biden is correct.

  113. says

    […] Illegal drugs have long flowed from Mexico to the more remote parts of the U.S. But with the rise of fentanyl, cartel associates have pushed more aggressively into Montana, where pills can be sold for 20 times the price they get in urban centers closer to the border, state and federal law enforcement officials said.

    Some areas of the state have become awash with drugs, particularly its Indian reservations, where tribal leaders say crime and overdoses are surging.

    On some reservations, cartel associates have formed relationships with Indigenous women as a way of establishing themselves within communities to sell drugs, law enforcement officials and tribal leaders said. More frequently, traffickers lure Native Americans into becoming dealers by giving away an initial supply of drugs and turning them into addicts indebted to the cartels. [photos at the link]

    “Right now it’s as if fentanyl is raining on our reservation,” said Marvin Weatherwax, Jr., who serves on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council and represents the 15th district in the Montana House of Representatives.

    Cracking down on the drug trade is especially challenging in a state as vast as Montana where law enforcement struggles to police the wide-open spaces and Indian reservations rely on under-funded and short-staffed tribal police forces. On at least one reservation, tribe members formed a vigilante group in a desperate bid to fight drug-related crime.

    But Montana authorities have made inroads in the last couple of years. The arrest of the former Mexican police officer was part of a massive bust that ensnared 21 other members of a drug-trafficking ring tied to the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. And since last April, 26 suspects have been charged in a second federal drug case involving Mexican cartel associates and members of two Native American tribes.

    “People are surprised,” said Jesse Laslovich, the U.S. attorney for Montana, who has been overseeing the investigations. “You’re as far north as you can get in the United States, and yet we have the cartel here.”

    […] The state is sometimes referred to as “the last best place” in America. Its 1.2 million people are spread out across 150,000 square miles of mountains, rivers and mostly rugged terrain.

    Locally made methamphetamine was long Montana’s primary drug scourge. But in the mid-2000s, the once-plentiful meth houses in the Midwest and northern states began to disappear amid new restrictions banning access to the drug’s precursor chemicals. Mexican cartels saw an opportunity and began capitalizing, law enforcement officials said, flooding the U.S. with a super potent form of meth and targeting indigenous communities in particular.

    […] A counterfeit fentanyl pill that can be made for less than 25 cents in Mexico sells for $3 to $5 in cities like Seattle and Denver where drug markets are more established, but up to $100 in remote parts of Montana.

    […] Women are often prime targets. Cartel associates have pursued single women on reservations, according to law enforcement and tribal officials, and then used their homes as bases of operations.

    “They know who to choose,” said Stephanie Iron Shooter, the American Indian health director for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. “Just like any other prey predator situation — that’s how it is.”

    The drug crisis has been felt most acutely on Montana’s Indian reservations.

    Between 2017 and 2020, Montana’s opioid overdose death rate almost tripled (from 2.7 deaths per 100,000 residents to 7.3). In the decade leading up to 2020, the rate of overdose deaths among Native Americans was more than twice that of white Montana residents, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

    […] The Northern Cheyenne tribe relies on two federally funded Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal police officers per shift to patrol more than 440,000 acres of land home to roughly 6,000 residents, according to the tribal council. The adjacent Crow Reservation, the largest in the state, has four to six police officers per shift to patrol a swath of land the size of Rhode Island, according to Quincy Dabney, the mayor of Lodge Grass, a town on the reservation.

    “When we don’t have the boots on the ground and people aren’t being held accountable, it really becomes the Wild, Wild West,” said Laslovich, the U.S. attorney. “I think you see that in Indian Country, here in Montana, more than we should.”

    […] “The cartel’s business model involves first locating and ingratiating themselves upon the local distributors. Then, when the bills started coming due, they brought in other, less friendly individuals,” the lawyer, Matthew Claus, wrote.

    […] The cartel extracted tens of thousands of dollars in cash, guns and vehicles from the Crow Reservation. Money and guns flowed out of state and out of the country and then the cartel left. In their wake, they left addicted, strung out, impoverished tribal members facing prosecutions and lengthy prison sentences […]

    The Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana was rocked by tragedy in March 2022. Over a single week, 17 people suffered fentanyl overdoses, four of them fatal.

    […] n 2022, the Northern Cheyenne tribe filed a federal lawsuit against the Interior Department and its Bureau of Indian Affairs, alleging that the federal government had breached its obligation to keep residents on the reservation safe by failing to provide adequate law enforcement officers. […] Wetherelt was notified by a tribal police chief that a reorganization of the federally funded force meant the number of officers and other staff was slashed from 19 to seven, according to members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council.

    “We’re not asking very much from the government,” Weatherelt said. “We are asking for basic law enforcement to help our people…”

    Her voice cracked with emotion and then she briefly went silent.

    “I’m sorry, but this really makes me emotional,” she continued. “We just can’t seem to get anywhere.”

    Link

    My niece recently died of a drug overdose.

  114. says

    Yep, there were deadly weapons present:

    Newly unearthed footage from Jan. 6, 2021, appears to show a rioter — a man identified in an NBC News story nearly two years ago — firing a gun into the air outside the Capitol during the attack.

    […] that man, John Emanuel Banuelos, told Salt Lake City police that he was at the Capitol and had been captured on film with a gun.

    […] Now, footage released by another Jan. 6 rioter appears to show Banuelos firing the gun into the air twice during the chaotic scene on the west side of the Capitol, as rioters battled with police. Online sleuths also surfaced U.S. Capitol Police surveillance footage previously released in connection with another Capitol attack case that shows the man they’ve identified as Banuelos appearing to fire the gun. They found multiple other videos in which the gunshots can be heard.

    The footage is the first showing a rioter firing a gun on Jan. 6. The incident took place at 2:34 p.m., which is about 10 minutes before an officer inside the Capitol shot and killed Ashli Babbitt as she jumped through a broken window leading into the Speaker’s Lobby. The incident with the gun outside the Capitol was not previously known to online sleuths and has never been mentioned in any court filing. At the time and location where the shots appear to have been fired, the Capitol grounds were in chaos, with law enforcement firing their own nonlethal rounds of crowd-control munitions following sustained, repeated assaults on officers, which could explain why the sound of two gunshots didn’t grab much attention.

    Despite repeated false claims from conservative media figures that the mob that stormed the Capitol was unarmed, a multitude of defendants were armed with deadly or dangerous weapons, including several who carried firearms, as the Justice Department has proven in court. Among Jan. 6 rioters who were proven to have carried firearms during the Capitol attack are Christopher Alberts, who was sentenced to seven years in prison; Mark Mazza, who carried two guns and was sentenced to five years in federal prison; and Guy Reffitt, who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after he became the first Jan. 6 defendant to go to trial. […]

    Link

    Photo at the link.

  115. says

    Hungary’s president resigns over a pardon to a man convicted in a child sexual abuse case

    Katalin Novák, 46, announced in a televised message on Saturday that she would step down from the presidency, an office she has held since 2022.

    Hungary’s conservative president has resigned amid public outcry over a pardon she granted to a man convicted as an accomplice in a child sexual abuse case, a decision that unleashed an unprecedented political scandal for the long-serving nationalist government.

    […] Her decision came after more than a week of public outrage after it was revealed that she issued a presidential pardon in April 2023 to a man convicted of hiding a string of child sexual abuses in a state-run children’s home.

    “I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest for many people,” Novák said on Saturday. “I made a mistake.”

  116. Reginald Selkirk says

    @152

    A Republican lawmaker in Idaho introduced a bill on Thursday meant to expand the state’s cannibalism law to make it illegal to feed people to other people who don’t know they’re eating people.

    That sounds like an attack on Catholicism, doesn’t it?

  117. John Morales says

    That sounds like an attack on Catholicism, doesn’t it?

    No. Not in the least.

    I presume you refer to the concept of transubstantiation, but that’s an example of theophagy, not of cannibalism.

  118. Reginald Selkirk says

    @164: If you knew anything about Catholic theology, you would know that they insist that not only did Jesus H. Christ exist, but that He was both fully God and fully human.

  119. Reginald Selkirk says

    Can money buy happiness? Income may boost emotional well-being more than we thought

    Money does indeed buy happiness, and it increases with a bigger paycheque more than economists previously believed, a recent analysis has found.

    Widely reported findings by two Nobel Prize-winning economists in 2010 cemented the idea that money could buy happiness only to a certain point — and that point was said to be about $75,000 at the time.

    “The [Daniel] Kahneman and [Angus] Deaton paper in 2010 found that the relationship between income and happiness, or emotional well-being, flattens out at around $75,000,” said Kostadin Kushlev, a happiness researcher and assistant professor at Georgetown University’s department of psychology in Washington, D.C.

    Now one of those researchers says he was wrong about the $75,000 part — and not just because everything is so expensive these days.

    A paper Kahneman co-authored with Matthew Killingsworth and Barbara Mellers in 2023 concluded that the 2010 research had overstated the plateau effect because it used an unreliable method of measuring happiness from a Gallup survey, which asked study subjects to recall if they smiled the previous day…

  120. says

    Thank you to those whose offered condolence after I posted that my niece had died of a drug overdose. I appreciate it.

    In other news: ‘Where’s her husband?’: Trump’s latest ‘JAQ’ attack on Nikki Haley is extra awful

    […] Donald Trump never fails to go low.

    In a Saturday speech in Conway, South Carolina, the former reality star scraped the barrel’s bottom when he mocked his opponent, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, because her husband Michael hasn’t been at her side during the contentious 2024 GOP presidential primary.

    Watch: [video at the link]

    But he’s just asking questions, right? So where IS Haley’s husband?

    Let’s go high on this one, folks, and find the facts.

    Maj. Michael Haley is a commissioned officer with the SC National Guard and is currently deployed with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in the Horn of Africa.

    Yes, Trump is mocking a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. It’s not the first time he’s mocked the spouses of women who challenged him. It probably won’t be the last.

    As for Maj. Michael Haley? The New York Times answered Trump’s mean-spirited question on Sunday.

    Even in his absence, Maj. Michael Haley, a National Guardsman serving a voluntary, yearlong deployment in Africa, has played an outsize role in his wife’s increasingly lonely attempt to snatch the Republican nomination from former President Donald J. Trump.

    In nearly every stump speech, Ms. Haley describes her husband and his military career as one of her motives for running. She frequently refers to his struggles after returning from a war zone in her promises to improve health care for veterans. She suggests that his work has informed her foreign policy. […]

    And if anyone wanted to go low, and bring up another former FLOTUS? Well, fine! The New York Times has got you covered, too.

    Since leaving the White House, Melania Trump’s world has gotten smaller.

    Just how she likes it.

    Cloistered behind the gates of her three homes, she sticks to a small circle — her son, her elderly parents and a handful of old friends. She visits her hairdressers, consults with Hervé Pierre, her longtime stylist, and sometimes meets her husband for Friday night dinner at their clubs. But her most ardent pursuit is a personal campaign: helping her son, Barron, 17, with his college search.

    What Melania has not done, despite invitations from her husband, is appear on the campaign trail. Nor has she been at his side for any of his court appearances. […]

    Anyway, if you skew a little low, you’re not alone. Obama has some advice for you, too. [video at the link]

  121. says

    Good news:

    Starting this year, employers can match employees’ student loan repayments as 401(k) contributions, a policy that experts say can be a “game changer” for Black women, who have the highest student loan debt on average.

    When someone makes a student loan payment, their employer can contribute that same amount of money to the employee’s retirement plan under Section 110 of a federal law known as the SECURE Act 2.0. The policy, which stands for Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement, “permits an employer to make matching contributions under a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, or SIMPLE IRA with respect to ‘qualified student loan payments.’”

    Signed into law in 2022, the contribution option comes at a time when many Americans are burdened with student loan debt — especially women. Up to 61.4 percent of women with bachelor’s degrees have federal student loans, compared with 52.2 percent of men who hold a bachelor’s degree, according to the Education Data Initiative. The research institution, which focuses on collecting and distributing U.S. education system statistics, reported that Black women have the highest amount of debt — $29,051 — compared with other groups of women.

    “This outsized burden of student loans, coupled with the wage gap between men and women — particularly women of color — exacerbates the gap that already exists between these groups in retirement contributions, savings and confidence,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Maryland Democrat and member of the Senate Finance Committee who has supported similar legislation in the past.

    This latest provision “aids those who are missing out on available matching contributions for retirement plans because they must prioritize paying off their student debt,” Cardin told The 19th. […]

    “If it’s adopted by more employers, it could certainly be a game changer for so many women who’ve really been locked out of saving for retirement but, in essence, it doesn’t do a whole lot to address what is already the gender pay gap,” she said. Blackwell also explained that even with the policy, there were limits to what employees could expect “because it’s voluntary, and it will be dependent upon the capacity, the decisions, the values and even the whims of employers.” […]

    Link

  122. John Morales says

    @164: If you knew anything about Catholic theology, you would know that they insist that not only did Jesus H. Christ exist, but that He was both fully God and fully human.

    I think I’ve probably forgotten more about Catholicism than you ever knew, Reginald. As in, raised in a mandatory Catholic milieu and spending years in Jesuit boarding schools and being an altar-boy until I was 15 and spending a couple of weekends in a seminary because my mom wanted me to become a priest. As in going to the three prayers per day and reciting the long version of the Rosary and doing Lenten stuff and so forth. Obs, I got good at the LARPing, good enough to pass. I know this stuff.

    See, in that mythos, he was both fully man and fully God and fully part of the Trinity until he ascended into Heaven, then his body became glorified. Still fully human and fully God, but with a glorified body. Here: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/what-was-christs-resurrected-body-made-of

    No. It’s 100% theophagy. No cannibalism. The transubstantiation is not a measurable physical change.
    It’s a miracle. A Holy Mystery. Holy Communion is a partaking of Divinity. Etc.

    (Boy, did you pick the wrong person to whom to try to show your erudition regarding Catholicism!)

  123. says

    The political press runs with Hur’s scurrilous partisan attack

    A Trump-appointed prosecutor dropped an unfalsifiable partisan bomb on President Joe Biden Thursday, playing into a years-long right-wing media campaign — and U.S. political journalists decided to treat it as a valid and impartial charge.

    Biden, who has a 40-year record of public service in the U.S. Senate, as vice president, and in the Oval Office, is a self-described “gaffe machine” with a well-documented stutter. He is also, at 81, the oldest president in U.S. history.

    […] Republican political operatives surface out-of-context snippets of Biden’s misstatements and try to blow them up into national stories, and it is rarely-disputed canon in the right-wing media that the president is a mentally failing dementia patient.

    This argument blew up in their faces when Biden performed so well in a debate against then-President Donald Trump that the GOP resorted to accusing him of taking performance-enhancing drugs, and again in 2023, when his canny dealings with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy led McCarthy to describe him as “very smart” and Republicans to question how they’d been outmaneuvered by someone purportedly in mental decline. But undeterred by reality, the right has maintained the drumbeat over Biden’s mental status, driving up public concern over the president’s age.

    [Yep, and its the repetition that worries me. We’ve seen it work before, as in “Hillary Clinton’s emails.”]

    Enter Robert Hur. Attorney General Merrick Garland presumably selected him as a special counsel to investigate Biden’s possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records because he thought he could quell potential complaints of political bias by putting in charge a former clerk to right-wing judges whom Trump appointed as a U.S. attorney with every incentive to do maximum political damage to the Democratic president. This is a regular pattern — Republican and Democratic administrations each appoint Republicans to investigate both Republicans and Democrats […]

    […] Hur’s argument that lawyers for the sitting president of the United States would argue in court that he shouldn’t be convicted of a crime because he is a senile old man is facially absurd. Indeed, Biden forcefully pushed back on the critique during a White House appearance Thursday night.

    The special counsel’s actions drew sharp criticism from the legal community. […] On MSNBC, former FBI counsel Andrew Weissmann called the claims “wholly inappropriate,” “gratuitous,” and “exactly what you’re not supposed to do, which is putting your thumb on the scale that could have political repercussions.” Neal Katyal, the former acting U.S. solicitor general, likewise said that based on his tours in the Justice Department, Hur’s statements were “totally gratuitous” and a “too-clever-move-by-half by the special counsel to try and take some swipes at a sitting president.” And Ty Cobb, a former Trump lawyer, said on CNN that he had served on an independent counsel probe that declined to prosecute someone due to “health issues, but we didn’t tell the world that,” suggesting that such statements by Hur were inappropriate.

    […] Hur put an official seal on a partisan attack.

    […] Republican politicians and right-wing commentators falsely claiming that the special counsel had found that Biden “is not competent to stand trial” and “has dementia.” Some called for the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and remove him from office.

    The mainstream political press, meanwhile, turned Hur’s insinuations about Biden’s mental health — and not his declination to prosecute — into the report’s big takeaway. Here’s a sampling of top headlines from major newspapers, political tipsheets, and digital outlets on Thursday and Friday. [list of headlines is available at the link]

    […] The storyline is particularly toxic because no matter how many times it is repudiated by Biden’s public actions or the statements of people who have spoken to him privately, it cannot be falsified. The White House physician can release health summaries calling him “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” Democrats who have recently spoken to the president, like Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), and reporters who have recently interviewed him, like John Harwood, can attest to his mental acuity at the time of his special counsel interview. But Biden is still Biden, so he’s going to keep making gaffes, as he did Thursday night when he referred to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as “the president of Mexico,” leading journalists to downplay his newsmaking statements about the Israel-Hamas war and fixate instead on what the statement says about his mental health.

    […] It’s true that Trump’s own verbal missteps have not coalesced into an overarching narrative about his mental fitness for office. But the reason why is obvious: Political journalists decided to treat Biden’s missteps as a big problem, and Trump’s as a small one. They’re setting the agenda, following the lead of the Republican Party, the right-wing media, and now, Hur.

  124. says

    New York City is trying to streamline its spending on migrants. Fox News hypes false claim that it’s giving them “prepaid credit cards.”

    Fox News is aggressively pushing a false story that New York City under Mayor Eric Adams is providing “credit cards” that migrant families can use for frivolous or illicit purposes. In fact, the city is trying to streamline the aid it has provided migrant families for food and baby supplies by replacing packaged aid with debit cards, which the migrants can use for only those purposes.

    New York City is not giving new money to migrants — the city is trying to cut the spending it’s already doing.

    The Associated Press has published a useful fact check of the story, containing a number of important points. First of all, the city is not creating a new benefit for migrants, as it has already been providing them with nonperishable food boxes. The intention of this new program is to provide direct financial assistance instead, which the migrants can spend only at local stores and only for either food or baby supplies.

    Moreover, if the 500-family pilot program works as intended, the city projects that it will actually spend less money helping the migrants than it has been spending. The city has allocated $53 million, hoping to save $600,000 per month or $7.2 million annually from what it has been doing.

    Also, in technical terms, they are not “credit cards,” as that would involve the migrants borrowing money from banks. Instead, the prepaid debit cards will be loaded with $12.52 per person, per day, and last for 28 days before needing to be refilled.

    “We need to dispel the rumor that we gave American Express cards to everyone,” Adams said at a press conference Monday. “That is just not true.”

    […] Fox News hyped the story and is actually being less truthful than the New York Post [Examples are available at the link]

  125. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump attacks Haley for absence of her husband, who is deployed

    Former President Donald Trump used a rally in South Carolina on Saturday to attack rival Nikki Haley in her home state — and to mock the absence of her husband, who is deployed overseas.

    “Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away. … What happened to her husband? Where is he? He’s gone,” Trump said at his rally in Conway, his first visit to the state this year.

    Michael Haley is deployed in Africa with the South Carolina Army National Guard in support of the United States Africa Command, his second active-duty deployment overseas.

    Nikki Haley fired back at Trump’s comments later Saturday, saying, “If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone being president of the United States.” …

  126. John Morales says

    Reginald, you seem to have missed my response, but you have posted since I made it.

    You asked, I answered, you doubled-down, I retorted; so… do you still think the Sacrament of the Eucharist is cannibalism?

    (Or are you just gonna conspicuously ignore me in order to salve your damaged pride?)

  127. John Morales says

    Still ignoring me, Reginald?

    The answer to your question is still “no”.

    Care to attempt to sustain your claim that Catholics are cannibals?

    (Other than by blustering about my lack of knowledge about Catholicism, I mean)

  128. Jean says

    John Morales,

    You posted this a few weeks ago that I thought at the time showed some self-awareness:

    I know I’m a bit of an imposition; my thing is to critique and critisize more so than to endorse and go along, hence I’m more likely to complain than to enthuse. Makes me seem contrarian, and makes me annoying.
    Also, I find it hard to let go of issues until they are sorted. Gets irritating quickly, even in real life.

    […]I am merciless and blunt and relentless about my complaints[…]

    Usually when people make such declarations, they try to correct what they correctly perceive as being negative. You seem to have taken your declaration as absolving you of any past and future negative interaction as you’ve actually been even more antagonistic since. Or maybe you were actually bragging and you enjoy being a prick?

    I mostly lurk around here and enjoy most posts and posters. My few posts seem to have been either uninteresting, useless or asinine so I mostly don’t post and I’m fine with it. And if this post is also seen this way, let me know and I’ll just shut up. But this thread is not improved by posts like #176 and #178, to say the least.

  129. John Morales says

    Jean:

    Usually when people make such declarations, they try to correct what they correctly perceive as being negative.

    What made you imagine I somehow thought that was negative?
    I’m explaining the basis upon which I tend to be misperceived, it’s not some sort of mea culpa.

    You seem to have taken your declaration as absolving you of any past and future negative interaction as you’ve actually been even more antagonistic since.

    To what supposed antagonism do you refer? Responding to comments is not being antagonistic, it’s engaging with whatever the topic may be.

    Or maybe you were actually bragging and you enjoy being a prick?

    Nope. I’m noting how others might misperceive my commenting style.
    The very thing you here exemplify.

    I mostly lurk around here and enjoy most posts and posters. My few posts seem to have been either uninteresting, useless or asinine so I mostly don’t post and I’m fine with it. And if this post is also seen this way, let me know and I’ll just shut up.

    What? You’re not being either uninteresting, useless or asinine, merely mistaken.
    But at least you are not trying to ignore me, unlike Reginald.

    And you are most certainly not beholden to me in regards to your commenting here; you want to interact, do it.

    But this thread is not improved by posts like #176 and #178, to say the least.

    Not in your opinion. See how that works? You get to express yourself, as I do.
    In my opinion, it is. See, I am about as much of a Catholic-basher as anyone has ever been, but I know that to properly do so one has to be correct in one’s claims, and misunderstanding such as basic concept as the Eucharist as being cannibalistic is counter-productive. Any actual Catholic could just glom onto that stupid misunderstanding and ignore the rest of whatever one says, since it is a very silly mistake. After all, if one misapprehends such a basic tenet of the religion, they’re unlikely to be right about the rest of it, no?

    Anyway, to what did you imagine I referred when I wrote (as you quoted) “I am merciless and blunt and relentless about my complaints”?

    I am being merciless and blunt and relentless. Exactly as I wrote. And Reginald only encouraged that by initially engaging in a condescending manner, then trying to fade away upon my retort.

    Personally, I don’t think this thread is improved by people essaying silly claims and then ignoring their import once they are called out about them, nor by misrepresenting religious beliefs in a mocking but uninformed fashion.

    Anyway, FWIW, I am very happy for you to comment and engage with others’ comments, just as you have right there engaged with mine. Please don’t stop on my behalf.

  130. Jean says

    You made your point in #171. Adding #176 and #178 is just pettiness and confrontation for confrontation’s sake. And I actually was not really addressing you asking about my post but others seeing your posts and mine as an external opinion (granted that was not clear).

    So I was wrong about you expressing some self-awareness. You actually think people misperceive you but you are wrong; some people (many?) do find you annoying. But you obviously don’t care because you think others are the problem. I guess I’ll just have to ignore your posts; it just makes this thread a lesser one. But again, I may be alone in my view of the situation and the one to be ignored (or should I say the other one to be ignored?). I’ll see if there are other opinions.

  131. John Morales says

    That’s the spirit, Jean! Good on ya.

    You made your point in #171. Adding #176 and #178 is just pettiness and confrontation for confrontation’s sake.

    A simple acknowledgement from Reginald that I had made my point would have sufficed in preventing #176 and #178. Remember, “merciless and blunt and relentless”, as you quoted.
    Principle being, most sentient creatures follow the “once bitten, twice shy” approach.

    (Operant conditioning)

    In short, responding the once in an attemptedly patronising fashion and then blatantly ignoring the response is also a form of pettiness, in my estimation, and also a passive-aggressive form of confrontation.
    Not the best approach to me, but the best some people have.

    Me, I am generally more overt. Blunter. Need not be, of course.

    So I was wrong about you expressing some self-awareness. You actually think people misperceive you but you are wrong

    So, you concede that you were wrong regarding how you perceived what I wrote, but still claim that I am wrong in thinking people misperceive me. Pretty typical.

    And I actually was not really addressing you asking about my post but others seeing your posts and mine as an external opinion (granted that was not clear).

    Close; you thought you were doing that, but you were not.
    After all, you addressed me explicitly and directly, no?

    some people (many?) do find you annoying.

    Um, you literally just quoted me: “Makes me seem contrarian, and makes me annoying.”
    So yes, obviously I know that.

    But you obviously don’t care because you think others are the problem.

    That’s a rather flawed inference; did I truly not care, whyever would I try to explain myself?
    Nor do I think others are “the problem”. It is you who imagines there’s some sort of problem at hand.

    This is about freethinking; true exhange of viewpoints, of ideas, of attitudes, of discussion.

    (de gustibus non est disputandum)

    I guess I’ll just have to ignore your posts; it just makes this thread a lesser one.

    Well, you quite obviously don’t have to ignore my posts, but that would probably make you feel better, so it’s probably a good guess. Obviously, not a thought-out inference, because those aren’t guesses.

    (How you think that ignoring my posts would supposedly make this thread a lesser one is left to speculation; I would have thought that the more viewpoints, the better)

    But again, I may be alone in my view of the situation and the one to be ignored (or should I say the other one to be ignored?).

    Nah, you’d not be the only one who thinks thus.
    Nor the only one to be passive-aggressive when addressing me..

    I’ll see if there are other opinions.

    Obviously, there are other opinions; what you will see is whether they are expressed.

    Me, I shall see whether or not Reginald acknowledges my retort about this Catholic cannibalism thingy, or just carries on as if I hadn’t responded.

  132. Jean says

    Ok. Keep polluting this thread. I’ll ignore you. I guess all this makes you feel superior or something. Pathetic…

  133. John Morales says

    You truly do make it hard not to feel superior, Jean.

    You: “My few posts seem to have been either uninteresting, useless or asinine so I mostly don’t post and I’m fine with it. And if this post is also seen this way, let me know and I’ll just shut up.”
    Me: “FWIW, I am very happy for you to comment and engage with others’ comments, just as you have right there engaged with mine. Please don’t stop on my behalf.”
    You: “Ok. Keep polluting this thread. I’ll ignore you. I guess all this makes you feel superior or something. Pathetic…”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior

  134. Jean says

    From your link:

    Culturally, the ambiguous “passive-aggressive” label is misused by laypersons and professionals alike.

    And if what you quote makes you feel superior, I pity you. I thought I was socially misfit (awkward, inept) but now I don’t feel so bad. And that’s not a passive statement…

  135. birgerjohansson says

    Personally, I am not interested in what Catholics stuff into their mouths. But during the days of the spanish inquisition getting the issue wrong could get you burned at a stake.
    And that tells me all I need to know about catholic doctrines; they are bloody dangerous whenever the hardliners are in charge. Sorta like the dwarwen grags on Discworld.

  136. says

    @Reginald (191), it seems as if Trump thinks NATO countries need to pay the USA, which they don’t. They’ve committed to spending at least 2% of their GDP on their military, which they’ve fallen short of since the break up of the Soviet Union. Latest number I heard for The Netherlands is 1.95%, which is close enough as far as I’m concerned. Also, Russia’s neighbours are spending more.

    Inviting Russia to attack other NATO members is on par or even worse then his “hey Russia, if you’re listening”.

  137. Rob Grigjanis says

    SQB @193:

    Inviting Russia to attack other NATO members is on par or even worse then his “hey Russia, if you’re listening”.

    Apparently Trump is unaware of Article 5. No surprise there.

  138. birgerjohansson says

    Climate Mitigation Plans Unrealistic & Potentially Dangerous, New Study From University of Melbourne Says

    .https://youtube.com/watch?v=l8SQbsLWS9I
    .
    Remember, if Republicans wanted to win they could simply support the other candidate in the primaries. Their delusions are ultimately the best ally Joe Biden has.
    Let Trump continue flinging feces, it will impress his cult while scaring away the rest.
          

  139. says

    https://twitter.com/Manolo_Ele/status/1756324080561598840

    English translation:

    English Translation:

    The island of Tobago is facing a massive environmental crisis due to an oil spill originating from a sunken ship.

    The situation has led authorities to consider declaring the incident as a level three disaster, the most severe on the emergency management scale.

    – Origin of the Disaster:The disaster began on February 7, 2024, when a capsized ship was reported near the coast. The vessel, visually identified as “Gulfstream,” though not matching any international records […]

    Efforts to contain the spill have been complicated by the ongoing oil leak, which has already severely impacted beaches and even reached main roads. Divers inspecting the ship reported damage to the nearby reef and found no signs of life on board, suggesting that the vessel may have been abandoned.

    – Response and Containment Measures: The government of Tobago, along with agencies such as the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), has launched a massive cleanup operation. Containment barriers and cleanup teams have been deployed in an effort to mitigate the environmental impact of the spill. To date, 67 people are working on cleanup tasks on the affected beaches.

    – Impact on the Community and Environment: The situation has raised deep concerns among fishermen and tour operators on the island, fearful of the effects on their livelihoods and Tobago’s tourism reputation. The pollution not only poses a risk to marine life but also to the local community’s food security. Additionally, there is fear that cruise ships may choose to avoid Tobago’s waters due to the contamination.

    – Call for International Help: Given the magnitude of the challenge, the Chief Secretary of the Tobago Assembly, Farley Augustine, has expressed that it might be necessary to request international assistance to address the consequences of the spill. Meanwhile, cleanup continues, and the situation is constantly evaluated to determine the next steps to be taken.

    More coverage of the oil spill: Link. Photos available at the link.

  140. says

    Discussing Jill Biden’s Response to the Special Counsel’s Smear

    Like most of us , I was totally appalled by the nauseating report issued by the Special Counsel. Joe Scarborough said it best, I think: “He couldn’t indict Biden legally so he tried to indict Biden politically.” I guess the Republicans were so thrilled with how well Director Comey torpedoed Hillary Clinton that they thought they’d stick with a winning technique, no matter how unethical or downright vile it is.

    I don’t normally open all of the deluge of campaign stuff that hits my inbox, but I paused when I saw a note from Jill Biden pass by. I’m glad I paused to open it. It is one of the most eloquent responses to a malfeasance I’ve ever seen. Without resorting to calumny or insult, her message is both elegant and forceful.

    Probably many of you have already seen it, or let it go by as I almost did, but for those of you who haven’t, I think it is important enough to reproduce in its entirety. It deserves to be spread far and wide:

    I’ve heard from so many of you asking about the Special Counsel’s report this week. Thank you for your love and support.

    You probably know the basics: Joe cooperated fully with a Special Counsel’s investigation and they found he did nothing wrong — no criminal charges were warranted. […]

    The reason I’m writing is because of what else was in the report: Inaccurate and personal political attacks about Joe. Rather than just saying the case was closed, as they have for others, the Special Counsel claimed that Joe “couldn’t remember the year his son died.” Believe me, like anyone who has lost a child, Beau and his death never leave him.

    I hope you can imagine how it felt to read that attack — not just as Joe’s wife, but as Beau’s mother.

    I don’t know what this Special Counsel was trying to achieve. We should give everyone grace, and I can’t imagine someone would try to use our son’s death to score political points. If you’ve experienced a loss like that, you know that you don’t measure it in years — you measure it in grief.

    May 30th is a day forever etched on our hearts. It shattered me, it shattered our family.

    So many of you know that feeling after you lose a loved one, where you feel like you can’t get off the floor. What helped me, and what helped Joe, was to find purpose. That’s what keeps Joe going, serving you and the country we love.

    Joe is 81, that’s true, but he’s 81 doing more in an hour than most people do in a day. Joe has wisdom, empathy, and vision. He has delivered on so many of his promises as President precisely because he’s learned a lot in those 81 years. His age, with his experience and expertise, is an incredible asset and he proves it every day.

    Look at all he’s accomplished: He brought our country back from COVID. He brought our economy back from the brink. He created 14 million jobs. Gas prices are down. Inflation is down. Energy costs are down. He got bipartisan legislation passed — even in the midst of this hyper-partisan environment. The media may not give him credit, but I’m thankful you realize all he’s done for this country.

    Joe is the most resilient person I’ve ever known. When he gets knocked down, he gets back up and gets back to work. That’s what he’s doing.

    […] At some point in our lives, we’ll all experience grief or loss. We’ll go through challenging moments and twists and turns. But we find joy together, we persevere together, and ultimately we’ll prevail together. […]

    Love,
    Jill

  141. says

    Followup to comment 197.

    I remember clearly the details of the day that my mother died, right down to the last time she struggled to say my name. I could not tell you what year she died without looking it up.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    I remember every thing that occurred the night my dad died. However, I often blank out at the exact date. I remember the year but the exact date mmm. I can tell you every event that occurred that night.

    It was horrific and sitting with my mom awaiting the release of the body to the funeral home, to seeing a man who could no longer swallow and then stopped breathing. I remember how long it took for the doctor to return and I remember having to notify sibling.

    Mr Hur is ANOTHER EVIL TRUMP FORCE.

    He merits complete disdain. His lack of integrity and ethics defies all and Mr Garland for allowing this slander to be released similarly merits nothing. I call upon him to make a public apology on air and then resign.
    ——————————-
    I too remember every moment of the day my father died. I can tell you the month… it was March, a cold and cloudy day. I cannot tell you the year, date, or even the day of the week
    ————————–
    I don’t have the exact date my daughter died etched in my memory but the feelings of that day are like yesterday. The events and feelings are etched in my mind.

    Ms. Biden is correct. It was a political hit job. What Biden remembers about the classified documents is important, but what he remembers about his son’s death is not.
    ——————————
    Merrick Garland should be asked some very pointed questions why he signed off on a political hit-piece.
    —————————
    He’s [Garland’s] so terrified of looking partisan that he can’t do his job. Give him the boot!!
    ——————————
    The message is that he’s a senile old man that shouldn’t have the helm. Yeah, we’d be so much better off with defendant Trump in charge./s It’s a false narrative […]
    ———————————
    Merrick Garland ALSO appointed Jack Smith. Give him some credit. He is NOT just an Republican hack.
    ——————————-
    Here are the keywords we need this year: Character, integrity, and judgement.
    ———————————
    It was really unprofessional. And how in blazes did Garland allow such to get into this document? Did Garland see the deposition and yet allow this partisan attack?
    —————————————-
    Biden is many things- but he is not a great communicator.

    Mental stability and overall health are probably more important. And this brings us to Trump. Trump is in my opinion a true sociopath. He is a severely delusional, clinically narcissistic man with some level of diminished mental capacity that in turn leads to increasingly unhinged, dangerous behavior. He is fully supported by a major American political party that actually encourages his worst propensities.
    ————————————–
    Robert Hur may be a good civil servant and a conscientious Special Counsel, but he is not a grief counselor or a psychiatrist. He has no expertise with which to diagnose a person’s state of mind or his/her memory any more than Mike Lindell, the pillow guy, had expertise in identifying and treating COVID.
    ——————————–
    Bottom line, I am not interested in Mr. Hur’s personal observation/opinion of Biden’s mental state, for which he has no expertise to even comment.

  142. says

    Followup to comments 191, 193 and 194.

    Josh Marshall:

    Marco Rubio meanwhile says he has “zero concerns” about Trump’s claim that he’ll encourage Russia to invade NATO allies if they don’t up their defense budgets.

  143. says

    Trump’s NRA speech was loaded with lies, flubs, and WTF moments. Did the media notice?

    Donald Trump had another normal one on Friday night. He gave an NRA rally speech that was chock-full of lies, gaffes, bizarre asides, wild, unsupported exaggerations, and enough flop sweat to drown a Shetland pony. […]

    Of course, whenever President Joe Biden stammers, flubs a word, or stumbles on his way up to Air Force One, the media descends on him like a flock of flying monkeys who’ve just finished ransacking a Boone’s Farm truck. Case in point: The histrionic reactions to the recent special counsel report/hit job in which Trump appointee Robert Hur tried his darndest to Jim Comey the 2024 election.

    […] while speaking to an NRA crowd, he disgorged the kind of lie that should boost his standing with gun violence aficionados but will almost certainly be poison in the general election.

    Promising that, if elected, “no one will lay a finger on your firearms,” Trump claimed that the years he served as “president” were the salad days for the gun rights movement: “During my four years nothing happened. And there was great pressure on me having to do with guns. We did nothing. We didn’t yield.”

    […] POLITICO remembers it differently.

    While in the White House, Trump supported loosening gun restrictions for hunting and fishing on public lands. He declared gun stores, shooting ranges and weapons manufacturers “essential services” during the pandemic. And he appointed more than 200 federal judges with conservative records on Second Amendment rights.

    But Trump and the NRA were at times at odds. Trump encouraged states to pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or Red Flag laws, which allow people to seek a court order to prevent a potentially dangerous person from purchasing or having a gun. And the Trump administration banned bump stocks, a firearm attachment that enables semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns. The devices have been used in some of the worst mass shootings.

    What do you know? Another baldfaced lie, along with an implicit promise to make the most murderous nation in the developed world just a wee bit more murder-y. […]

    In a single speech tonight, Trump has:

    • confused Friday with Saturday

    – said he charged China hundreds of millions in dino-dollars

    • claimed he saw someone shoplift a refrigerator

    […] nearly every day #45 swan dives off the deep end into a heaving vat of Ayahuasca-spiked Yoo-hoo—and the press just plows ahead with its mutually agreed-upon narrative that Biden is too old, feeble, and confused to be president. [Examples of headlines available at the link.]

    White House Hits Back at Trump With 28 misstatements he made last night alone. […] Trump misstated all of the following during his speech in Harrisburg, Pa:

    1) Trump falsely said he won the Virgin Islands caucus “100%.”

    2) Trump falsely said he won PA twice.

    3) Trump falsely said Biden wants an open border.

    4) Trump falsely said terrorists were taken into this country by the millions.

    5) Trump falsely said we had the safest borders under his presidency.

    6) Trump falsely said Biden will confiscate guns and take away the right to self-defense.

    7) Trump falsely said no one died in Afghanistan during his presidency.

    8) Trump falsely claims “nothing happens” to people who commit assault or murder.

    9) Trump falsely said he worked with the FBI and said that Biden made recovering the documents very difficult.

    10) Trump falsely claimed he was “covered by the Presidential Records Act” when he destroyed documents.

    11) Trump falsely says Catholics are being persecuted. […]

    13) Trump falsely said “We never had a country that was doing so well as it was during the Trump four years,” but he left office with fewer jobs than he entered.

    14) Trump falsely claimed he got Mexico to send 28,000 soldiers to the border.

    15) Trump falsely said Mexico took 32% of our car industry.

    16) Trump falsely said everyone coming to the country is a man between 18 and 25. […]

    18) Trump falsely said Biden tried to ram through an “open border bill.” […]

    21) Trump falsely said Democrats cheated in the 2020 election. […]

    23) Trump falsely said we don’t have free speech. […]

    25) Trump falsely said he did better in PA in 2020 than 2016.

    26) Trump falsely said they’ll change the name of PA if he’s not elected. […]

    28) Falsely said Biden is going to empower America’s enemies […]

    […]

  144. says

    Senate advances Ukraine aide over conservatives’ blockade

    The Senate voted for the third time in the past week to advance funding for Ukraine and Israel despite strong opposition from conservative Republicans who balked at the package not including a House-passed bill to tighten the southern border and questioned the end game for the war in Ukraine.

    The Senate voted 67-27 Sunday afternoon to move the $95.3 billion package another step toward final passage, assembling in the chamber shortly before the Super Bowl kickoff.

    [That’s a great first step. Good news.]

    […] Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remarked on the rare occasion of voting on Super Bowl Sunday but reminded colleagues of the high stakes of the moment.

    “As we speak, Vadimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has rendered parts of Eastern Europe a war zone the likes of which we have not seen in those regions since the Second World War,” he said on the floor.

    “Ukraine is dangerously low on supplies, including ammo and air defenses. If America doesn’t assist Ukraine, Putin is all too likely to succeed,” he warned.

    The Senate floor debate has spilled into what was supposed to be a two-week recess because conservatives led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) protested the legislation by refusing to speed up votes.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), speaking right after Schumer, warned that failing to support Ukraine would put America’s allies at risk by giving China a “green light” to project power in Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

    “Our partners don’t have the luxury of pretending that the world’s most dangerous aggressors are someone else’s problem. And neither do we,” he said. “It is not exaggeration to say that the eyes of the world are on the United States Senate.”

    McConnell’s pointed admonishment about America’s role in preserving global security came in response to the sharp criticisms from conservative colleagues, who are lambasting him for working with Schumer.

    […] “Everybody talks about this being a Ukraine issue. This is a national defense issue for this country. We’re rebuilding supply lines, we’re rebuilding our arms, munitions, right now. A lot of the money we’re spending is all being spent in the United States,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who voted to advance the package.

    Despite that impressive vote in the Senate, when the bill goes to the House, Speaker Mike Johnson might refuse to even bring it up for a vote.

  145. Reginald Selkirk says

    Nebraska upsets No. 2 Iowa: Caitlin Clark 8 points from scoring record

    Heading into Sunday, only 39 points separated Caitlin Clark from women’s college basketball history.

    Clark scored 31 points in the 82-79 loss to the Nebraska Huskers — she went scoreless in the fourth quarter —and is now just eight points from breaking Kelsey Plum’s all-time scoring record of 3,527 points. Iowa’s next game is scheduled for Thursday against Michigan in front of her home crowd. It will be broadcast on Peacock…

    Caitlin Clark becomes just sixth woman to record 1,000 assists…

    With 5 games remaining in the regular season, Clark seems sure to set the points record. I don’t know if post-season points count or not.

  146. Reginald Selkirk says

    Woman firing long gun in Joel Osteen’s church killed by 2 off-duty officers; young boy with her hurt

    A woman in a trenchcoat opened fire with a long gun inside celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Texas before being gunned down by two off-duty officers who confronted her, sending worshippers rushing from the building between busy Sunday services, authorities said.

    The woman entered the Houston church with a 5-year-old boy shortly before 2 p.m. and the child was shot and critically injured. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the child was struck by the off-duty officers who returned fire. He said a 57-year-old man also was shot and wounded.

    The child was in critical condition at a hospital, while the man was stable with a hip wound…

  147. birgerjohansson says

    Terry Talks Movies
    . https://youtube.com/watch?v=FLppCXE_qc8   
    A German, english-language splatter superhero film comedy guaranteed to gross you out.
    One of the superheroes, ‘Jesus, Space Preacher’ goes up against the baddies ‘Worried Christian Fathers’ who want to torture him because he is not the kind of Jesus they want. Mutants and monsters. Lots of nudity.
    Uwe Boll has a cameo as American president. All good taste is banished but if you like this kind of film it can be fun.

  148. John Morales says

    lotharloo, care to try adumbrate this claimed new evolutionary theory about gender balance in China in a few words, or does one have to watch the video? Too complex for a synopsis for you?

    Also, are you quite sure it’s mind-blowing? Because, presumably, you watched it before recommending it, yet you don’t seem entirely demented.

    (Yes, CA7746, it’s hyperbole, no doubt. But also very very uninformative, and rather lazy of lotharloo)

  149. lotharloo says

    Don’t take life too seriously JM. If you don’t have the time, don’t watch it.

    FYI: YT has speed control and fast forward capabilities.

  150. John Morales says

    lotharloo:

    Don’t take life too seriously JM.

    Life, I take seriously. You, not so much.

    If you don’t have the time, don’t watch it.

    You had the time to tell me that if I had the time, I should not watch it, just not the time to briefly lay out a quick summary or gist of it.
    I do indeed have the time to watch, of course, but not the inclination without some more information, which you are most reticent about even attempting to provide.

    Do you realise you could have spent the time you spent telling me that in adumbrating the supposed mindblowing thesis you spruiked to PZ?

    FYI: YT has speed control and fast forward capabilities.

    Indeed, except for the “shorts”, which do not.
    It also has auto-generated transcripts:
    “so I don’t know if you know but Tucker
    0:01
    Carlson is now calling his show the
    0:03
    Tucker Carlson
    0:05
    encounter Oh weird I know isn’t that
    0:07
    kind of weird it’s it sounds like
    0:09
    something you read about in like The
    0:10
    Hollywood Reporter when there’s a you
    0:11
    know damages announced when you’re
    0:13
    talking about an alien that’s true also
    0:16
    he is a little bit like wearing a human
    0:18
    skin suit well that’s the right mindset
    0:20
    to be in the sort of tinf foil hat here
    0:21
    cuz Brett Weinstein was on um the uh
    0:24
    Tucker Carlson encounter and he had a
    0:26
    theory about this uh this China border
    0:29
    stuff that you guys might want to clock
    0:31
    here I wrote an essay years ago about
    0:35
    the one child policy and the paradx of a
    0:39
    heavy bias in favor of males no matter
    0:42
    how different males and females are in
    0:44
    their maximum reproductive capacity they
    0:46
    tend to default to one to one if you
    0:49
    have a society that has too many females
    0:51
    you should produce a male and if you
    0:52
    have a society with too many males you
    0:54
    should produce a female which tends to
    0:56
    balance these things out that logic
    0:58
    should have applied to
    1:00
    China the fact is there were lots of
    1:03
    excess males and if you put yourself in
    1:06
    the mindset of a Chinese person having a
    1:09
    child if there are too many males you
    1:12
    should want to produce a female a male
    1:14
    is very unlikely to find a mate a female
    1:16
    is certain to find one and what’s more
    1:18
    she has her pick of the litter yes pause
    1:20
    it for one second I just have a question
    1:22
    does Brad Weinstein have any kids do we
    1:25
    know I don’t believe he does actually
    1:27
    okay okay because is is I I don’t know I
    1:31
    can just tell you right now as a father
    1:33
    of two children I will tell you exactly
    1:36
    what I did not think
    1:38
    about at any part of the
    1:41
    process the
    1:44
    conception the birth the raising of the
    1:47
    child it never occurred to me am I doing
    1:52
    my proper uh duty to the demographic
    1:56
    needs of the country in any part of the
    1:59
    any any part of the any part of any part
    2:01
    of the act that I engaged in to um
    2:05
    create and uh you know raise raise those
    2:09
    children he has a I think he is a father
    2:11
    it looks like him and Heather so yeah oh
    2:13
    I wonder if they made that concern I
    2:15
    just wonder because this is like said by
    2:16
    someone who like the idea of like
    2:17
    parenting is completely foreign to them
    2:19
    also I mean I I’m also confused a little
    2:22
    bit about the level of agency that he’s
    2:24
    ascribing to regular people having sex
    2:26
    and then having children is this on a
    2:27
    group darwi level I think he’s going to
    2:29
    be talking I think bioengineering or
    2:31
    something very malevolent maybe after
    2:33
    the fact okay there are too many males
    2:36
    you should want to produce a female a
    2:37
    male is very unlikely to find a mate a
    2:39
    female is certain to find one and what’s
    2:42
    more she has her pick of the litter yes
    2:44
    so that logic should have caused sex
    2:47
    ratio to return to 50/50 and yet it did
    2:50
    not which caused me all those year”

    and so forth.

    See, I know that channel, and I know it’s this dude’s opinions about stuff.
    Impresses you, but does not impress me.

  151. John Morales says

    So slow! Here, a few seconds’ worth of copysearchlook:

    So, lotharloo, is it this?

    https://europeanconservative.com/articles/dreher/in-praise-of-conspiracy-theories-from-the-camp-of-the-saints-to-camps-in-the-darien-gap/

    ast week, the American journalist Tucker Carlson interviewed Bret Weinstein, a professional biologist who became a public intellectual after he and his scientist wife were driven out of their woke university for refusing to cooperate with a diversity program they regarded as racist. Though he has been a lifelong leftist and atheist, Weinstein’s iconoclastic observations and commentaries have been embraced by conservatives who are more interested in truth than ideological conformity. It turns out that people like him, who find themselves thrust outside the bubble of epistemic closure, often see things that the rest of us do not.

    I reckon it is. No theory there, of course. Does not blow my mind.

  152. lotharloo says

    JM you are such a bore. Brett’s opinions are hilariously stupid. I put the video to not spoil the joke and the stupidity because it’s funnier that way. Also, you are tryharding too much to pretend that you are not taking it seriously. Anyways, since apparently you don’t have two minutes to watch it here’s the synopsis in catspeak, just for your pleasure:

    Brett Weinstein: “I haz theorized before that evolooshun liek 50/50 mail fimail split but China weird. Y too many mails? Cuz evolution haz a mekanism to produz armies! So China produz males! China produz armies! China produz INVASION!!!”

    Tucker Carlson nods with his usual stupid frown

  153. John Morales says

    lotharloo, thanks for responding.

    JM you are such a bore.

    A deep bore. :)

    I put the video to not spoil the joke and the stupidity because it’s funnier that way.

    So, it was supposed to be a joke?
    Well, now I know.
    Didn’t mean to spoil it.

    Brett Weinstein: “I haz theorized before that evolooshun liek 50/50 mail fimail split but China weird. Y too many mails? Cuz evolution haz a mekanism to produz armies! So China produz males! China produz armies! China produz INVASION!!!”

    Ah, right. So, another recent interview between those two people, though not the one I cited, because there it’s quite the different take from the conservative perspective. That one I can quote: “Weinstein has a theory that he concedes is just that: a theory. He thinks it’s possible that the Chinese have bought off American politicians to turn a blind eye to the invasion. Is he wrong? Maybe. It does seem like a nutty thing to say. But the scientist says he cannot come up with a better explanation for what he saw at the Darién Gap.”
    Quite the contrast, no?

    Actually, it’s a well-known phenomenon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy#Disparity_in_sex_ratio_at_birth

    Tucker Carlson nods with his usual stupid frown

    Tucker Carlson got a scoop very recently, being the first Western journalist to get an interview with Putin since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2020. Stupid his nod may be, but he achieved what others could not, and has had success with his shtick.

    Yes, I know, on this thread someone claimed Carlson was no journalist, though the definition is perfectly clear: “A journalist is an individual who collects/gathers information in the form of text, audio, or pictures, processes it into a news-worthy form, and disseminates it to the public. The act or process mainly done by the journalist is called journalism.” — Wikipedia.

    Whether or not he is a good journalist is a matter of opinion, of course — but a crooked cop is still a cop, a corrupt politician is still a politician, and so forth.

    Actually, there’s quite an interesting take on Carlson’s interview with Putin by
    Anders Puck Nielsen. Here: How to get Putin out on thin ice

    Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin has started a discussion about what critical questions to the Russian president would actually look like. Many western journalists get this wrong, because their ideas about sensitive topics are very different from Putin’s. He would be absolutely comfortable with questions about war crimes. To get Putin out on thin ice, you have to ask about things where there is something at stake for him.

    0:00 Tucker Carlson’s interview
    0:36 Putin repeats himself
    2:00 Tucker Carlson and Putin
    2:58 What would a journalist have asked?
    3:58 The problem with questions about war crimes
    6:07 What are the tough questions to Putin?

  154. Reginald Selkirk says

    Senator Defending Putin Sparks Furious Backlash

    Senator Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, has received harsh criticism online for defending Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired an interview that he did with Putin earlier in the week on his website on Thursday evening. It was Putin’s first interview with Western media since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

    Tuberville took to X, formerly Twitter, on Friday to share his thoughts about Carlson’s sit-down with the Russian leader.

    “Last night’s @TuckerCarlson’s interview with Putin shows that Russia is open to a peace agreement, while it is DC warmongers who want to prolong the war. That is why I’m voting to stop 60 BILLION MORE of our tax dollars to this conflict,” the senator wrote…

  155. lotharloo says

    @JM:

    Yeah I was going to paste Anders’ video because it is non-obvious for a Western citizen/journalist what type of questions would be tough questions to ask Putin.

  156. Reginald Selkirk says

    Crowd Sets Waymo Car On Fire

    A crowd in San Francisco vandalized a Waymo self-driving car carrying no passengers on Saturday night, breaking its windshield and setting it ablaze. Once firefighters got the situation under control, only a burned husk of the Waymo remained…

  157. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Appalled’: Reagan’s Daughter Says Dad Would Want Nothing To Do With Today’s GOP

    Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, said he doesn’t think her father would be embraced by today’s Republican Party ― and that the feeling would be mutual.

    “I don’t think he would… and I don’t see how he would want to be in it,” she told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday. “It’s so diametrically opposed to what he believed and to the dignity that he felt that people in government should have.” …

    Is that so? Are we talking about the same Ronald Reagan who said

    I think you all know that I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.
    source

    That’s a strange form of ‘dignity’

  158. quotetheunquote says

    @Reginald Selkirk #207

    That’s awful! What a waste of a young life with so much more to do. His Chicago Marathon win was an astonishing feat.

  159. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 225

    The populism of Ronald Reagan -and his endorsement of the religious right- started a slide to the bottom that ended in fascism that is too stupid to even seize power permamently.
    But the process was speeded up by Rupert Murdoch. And assorted yellow democrats who endorsed ‘neo-liberalism’ and permanent war.

  160. birgerjohansson says

    I remember the shock I and my Swedish friends felt when Reagan was elected. By contrast the election of Trump felt just like a continuation of an awful trend.

  161. says

    The Real “Robert Hur Report” (Versus What You Read in the News), by Andrew Weissmann and Ryan Goodman

    The Special Counsel Robert Hur report has been grossly mischaracterized by the press. The report finds that the evidence of a knowing, willful violation of the criminal laws is wanting. Indeed, the report, on page 6, notes that there are “innocent explanations” that Hur “cannot refute.” That is but one of myriad examples we outline in great detail below of the report repeatedly finding a lack of proof. And those findings mean, in DOJ-speak, there is simply no case. Unrefuted innocent explanations is the sine qua non of not just a case that does not meet the standard for criminal prosecution – it means innocence. Or as former Attorney General Bill Barr and his former boss would have put it, a total vindication (but here, for real).

    But even without the prompting of a misleading “summary” by Barr, the press has gotten the lede wrong. This may be because of a poorly worded (we’re being charitable) thesis sentence on page 1 of Hur’s executive summary. Hur writes at the outset: “Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.” You have to wait for the later statements that what the report actually says is there is insufficient evidence of criminality, innocent explanations for the conduct, and affirmative evidence that Biden did not willfully withhold classified documents. […]

    The press incorrectly and repeatedly blast out that the Hur report found Biden willfully retained classified documents, in other words, that Biden committed a felony; with some in the news media further trumpeting that the Special Counsel decided only as a matter of discretion not to recommend charges.

    To clarify thinking about this topic, let’s consider another way Hur could have represented his actual findings on page 1 of his executive summary:

    “We have concluded that there is not a prosecutable case against Biden. Although there was a basis to open the investigation based on the fact that classified documents were found in Biden’s homes and office space, that is insufficient to establish a crime was committed. The illegal retention or dissemination of national defense information requires that he knew of the existence of such documents and that he knew they contained national defense information. It is not a crime without those additional elements. Our investigation, after a thorough year-long review, concludes that there is an absence of such necessary proof. Indeed, we have found a number of innocent explanations as to which we found no contrary evidence to refute them and found affirmative evidence in support of them.”

    Below we first identify the relevant contents of the Hur report. We then provide a sampling of the erroneous press pronouncements.

    [Details available at the link. Example: “the evidence does not show that when Mr. Biden shared the specific passages with his ghostwriter, Mr. Biden knew the passages were classified and intended to share classified information.” (p. 9-10)

  162. says

    Looks like Trump is begging for Taylor Swift’s attention.

    Trump Says It Would Be ‘Disloyal’ for Taylor Swift to Endorse Biden.
    New York Times link

    Extending a weekslong right-wing meltdown over Taylor Swift’s political preferences, former President Donald J. Trump declared on Sunday that it would be “disloyal” for Ms. Swift to endorse President Biden for re-election, given that Mr. Trump signed legislation that made it easier for artists to collect royalties when their songs are streamed.

    “I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform, referring to a 2018 bill that passed Congress with near unanimous support from members of both parties. “Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will. There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money.”

    “Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me!” Mr. Trump added.

    Ms. Swift and the aforementioned boyfriend — Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the Super Bowl on Sunday — have been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories for months, since Ms. Swift urged her fans to register to vote and tens of thousands obliged, and since Mr. Kelce appeared in a Pfizer ad campaign urging people to get Covid and flu vaccines.

    […] Ms. Swift was a household name long before Mr. Biden became president, and before Mr. Trump ran in 2016.

    Trump specializes in being petty and transactional.

  163. birgerjohansson says

    Yes! Finally my kind of science. Bring in the ancient aliens and the continent of Mu!

    “When Fake Archaeology Uses Fake Science”

  164. Reginald Selkirk says

    Court orders Elon Musk to testify for SEC, rejects his claim of “harassment”

    A federal court ordered Elon Musk to comply with a subpoena issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, rejecting Musk’s claims that the SEC is “harassing” him and exceeding its authority to investigate.

    In an order issued Saturday, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler wrote that “the SEC has broad authority to issue subpoenas.” The information it seeks from Musk is relevant to the agency’s investigation into “possible violations of the federal securities laws in connection with the respondent’s 2022 purchases of Twitter stock and his 2022 statements and SEC filings relating to Twitter,” Beeler wrote.

    Musk testified twice in July 2022, but the SEC said it has obtained thousands of new documents since then and wants him to testify a third time. Beeler’s order granted the SEC’s application to enforce the subpoena and ordered the SEC and Musk to “confer within one week and settle on a date and location for the testimony. If they cannot agree, then they may submit a joint letter brief with their respective positions, and the court will decide the dispute for them.” …

  165. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vaccine shows promise against cytomegalovirus, a virus that causes birth defects

    An experimental mRNA vaccine against human cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that can infect babies during pregnancy, elicited some of the most promising immune responses to date of any CMV vaccine candidate, according to a study by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators.

    The study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, provided evidence that the new mRNA vaccine candidate, which is manufactured by Moderna, Inc., may protect adults against CMV. Thus, it could potentially prevent women from passing the harmful infection to their babies during pregnancy…

  166. Reginald Selkirk says

    “Very sick” pet cat gave Oregon resident case of bubonic plague

    An Oregon resident contracted bubonic plague from their “very sick” pet cat, marking the first time since 2015 that someone in the state has been stricken with the Black Death bacterium, according to local health officials.

    Plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis, circulates cryptically in the US in various types of rodents and their fleas. It causes an average of seven human cases a year, with a range of 1 to 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cases tend to cluster in two regions, the CDC notes: a hotspot that spans northern New Mexico, northern Arizona, and southern Colorado, and another region spanning California, far western Nevada, and southern Oregon…

  167. says

    Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe exposes Hur

    On today’s “Jack” podcast, co-host/Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe aired his knowledge and (mostly negative) opinions about Special Counsel Robert Hur, and it was eye opening. […]

    The entire segment (and the weekly podcast) are well worth listening to, but I will try to distill what McCabe says into bullet points.

    What McCabe said last year:
    – Hur was part of the Trump DOJ leadership team.
    – Hur was Rod Rosenstein’s “point man” for the Mueller investigation and as such he and Rosenstein “presumably very carefully and quietly curtailed the investigation.” He was involved in keeping the investigation “in a lane.”
    – There was a lot of “questionable or uncomfortable bleed over” between White House politics and DOJ operations.

    McCabe’s current points about the Hur investigation:
    – The Special Counsel is supposed to follow DOJ policies re: not impugning the character and reputation of people who are not being charged with crimes outside of the facts of the case. Hur crosses the line in his statements about Biden’s supposed memory issues and other things.
    The report creates headlines and then contradicts itself by saying there is “insufficient evidence” to support ideas such as that Biden “willfully detained” classified material.
    The part about the recording with the ghostwriter in which Biden mentions classified documents being stored nearby is especially (and seemingly purposely) misleading. Hur states in several places that these documents are about policies related to Afghanistan but then much further along in the report Biden never says what classified materials he was talking about and classified information isn’t included.
    – The materials related to Afghanistan were found in a different place years later.
    – The conclusions Hur draws were not related to the facts contained in the report.
    – The real reason Biden wasn’t indicted isn’t because he is “old and cute” but because of the lack evidence and also that Biden would likely have successful defenses.
    The appointment of Hur seems like a misstep by Merrick Garland. If Garland wanted to seem non-partisan he should have chosen a Republican who didn’t serve in the Trump administration.

    McCabe does also note in a spirit of full disclosure that Hur was personally involved in several of the aspects of McCabe’s firing. As you probably remember, McCabe, who stepped into the Acting Director of FBI role after the Comey firing, was himself fired for opening an investigation into Trump. The firing occurred just before McCabe retired. It was a transparent effort to punish him by depriving him of his pension. The DOJ also tried and failed to indict McCabe on (forgive the pun) trumped-up charges. McCabe sued for his pension and eventually reached a settlement with the US government.

    I am sure more dirt will turn up about hatchet man Hur in the coming days. Meanwhile, Garland seems to be coming under increasing fire for his naivety about just how low Trump and his loyalists will go to get and keep power in Washington.

  168. Reginald Selkirk says

    Swiftposium: Inside a world-first Taylor Swift academic summit

    From the moment she slipped the Fearless record into her CD player as a 14-year-old, Georgia Carroll has been fascinated by Taylor Swift.

    A decade and a half on, she’s now touted as the only person in the world with a PhD on the superstar.

    And this week she’s among scores of experts who have descended on Melbourne for an international academic symposium attempting to explain just how Swift has become so powerful and influential.

    The event – the first of its kind – is a curtain raiser to the Eras Tour in Australia, and has attracted more than 400 submissions from dozens of study disciplines and academic institutions around the world – sparking a flurry of excitement and global headlines…

  169. says

    MRFF gets military unit’s outrageous “Jesus Wants You To Be His Valentine” event canceled

    Whether it’s a Halloween “Bible Contest” for soldiers “who do not wish to honor Satan” or a commander’s “Puritan Pilgrim” Thanksgiving, Christian zealot officers and NCOs in our military just can’t seem to resist turning any holiday or observance into an excuse to proselytize their subordinates. This includes Valentine’s Day, as we’ve seen here at Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) many times over the years.

    There was the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) distributed at the Air Force Academy in 2015 whose description of Valentine’s Day began, “Christian celebration of the love of God presented in Jesus and in the lives of Christian believers,” only secondarily mentioning that “This day is widely observed in the USA as a secular celebration of love.”

    And the chaplain at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, who, back in 2013, wrote of St. Valentine:

    “He was a man who was on fire with love, and spread this fire of God’s love wherever he went. This is the universal love of sweethearts by St. Valentine – not a romantic love but a sacrificial love of God. … This is sacrificial love, this is the spirit of St. Valentine, love, forgiveness and reconciliation, for all couples and youth. St. Valentine followed the example of his Lord Jesus who loves us and took our guilt upon himself.”

    This co-opting of Valentine’s Day to make it all about Jesus has hitherto just been in writing — chaplains’ articles on military websites, e-mails, etc. — but for this year’s Valentine’s Day some fundamentalist Christian officers and NCOs at one military installation wanted to really ramp it up.

    Last week, a group of 38 junior enlisted service members came to MRFF, completely taken aback by the e-mails their unit was receiving about a Valentine’s Day event to be held during duty hours in what they described as “our largest HQ facility assembly area,” at which they were “advised to be in uniform.”

    As the group described the planned event in an e-mail to MRFF (emphasis added):

    “The ‘theme’ was to be ‘Jesus Wants You To Be His Valentine’. At first we thought it was some type of bad joke. But then we saw in the follow on comms. that a military chaplain stationed here who is a Capt. would attend and would deliver a Valentine’s sermon on how the ‘greatest love of all is Jesus’ love for all of us’. After the sermon there was to be something called an ‘altar call’ for those attendees who wanted to accept Christ right then and there as their personal savior.”

    Yes, an altar call, where the junior enlisted personnel could publicly accept Jesus as their personal savior and get in good with the fundamentalist Christians in their chain of command who had organized the event.

    When two of the junior enlisted service members went to the event’s organizers — two of them officers and two senior enlisted — to object to their Valentine’s Day proselytizing scheme, they were met with a good dose of anger and accused of being “anti-Christian and woke” by their military superiors who want Jesus to be everybody’s Valentine.

    So, after finding MRFF online, the group contacted Mikey Weinstein, who immediately contacted the unit’s commander.

    As a harbinger of how things are going to work once the Department of Defense issues the regulations that it is mandated to issue according to Section 1049 of the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) regarding the handling of religious complaints from non-military entities, Mikey told the commander that he was not making an official “complaint,” but merely giving the commander a friendly “FYI” to allow them to do the right thing. And the right thing the commander did, immediately ordering that the “Jesus Wants You To Be His Valentine” event be canceled and initiating a formal investigation into how, why, and by whom it was planned, as the commander confirmed to Mikey in the following e-mail:

    From: (Active Duty Military Commander’s e-mail address withheld)
    […]

    Dear Mr. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,

    This e-mail is to confirm the telecon we had within the last 24 hours wherein you had informed me in my capacity as the Commander of (military unit name withheld) at (military installation name withheld) of a certain matter of unauthorized Christian proselytizing which was to occur at a scheduled “Valentine’s Day Celebration”. This event was to occur during duty hours at our HQ building facility with military members in uniform.

    […] This e-mail is to confirm with you that I have ordered that this event be immediately cancelled. I have also initiated a formal investigation as to how, why and by whom it was initially planned and organized.

    Thank you Mr. Weinstein for bringing this to my personal attention […]

    Thank you and the MRFF for caring for our nation’s military members. […]

    Needless to say, the group of junior enlisted personnel who were called “anti-Christian and woke” for objecting to the event are very pleased, although still somewhat worried about potential retaliation by the now-canceled event’s organizers, as they wrote to MRFF:

    [Letter available at the link: […] To Mr. Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF organization. […]

    We are 38 junior enlisted (military branch withheld) members on active duty stationed with the (unit designation withheld) at (military installation name withheld). We are proud war fighters in a combat ready unit. 27 of us are Christians and the rest are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and those of our battle buddies who describe as nonreligious. […]

    Now we knew for sure that this was as jacked up and FUBAR as possible!

    […] The only thing now is whether any of us who protested will face any kickback reprisal? […]

    [I snipped a lot of the letter]

  170. says

    RFK Jr. Very Sorry His Family Offended By Super Bowl Ad He Continues Promoting Anyway

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/rfk-jr-very-sorry-his-family-offended

    Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign is, unfortunately, going better than expected, with the poll averages in which he is included putting him at about 17 percent nationally. This is at least partially due to his family name. But his family? They’re not so thrilled about it […]

    They were especially unhappy about a new $7 million ad aired by his PAC during the Super Bowl and the fact that it included images of several members of their family who were unable to consent to appearing in the ad on account of how they are deceased. [Yep. And the the ad was also so bad that I had a hard time watching it. Multiple WTF? moments.]

    “My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces and my Mother’s. She would be appalled by his deadly health care views,” wrote Bobby Shriver, son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. “Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA. She strongly supported my health care work at ONECampaign & RED which he opposes.”

    The ad was more or less a chopped up version of a famous ad for RFK’s uncle, John F. Kennedy, but with pictures of RFK replacing those of JFK. Clearly that whole $7 million was spent on the ad time, because hell, I probably could have done this, and I am very bad at editing. [Ditto]

    Here’s the original, which makes sense given the context of JFK’s presidential campaign, as it addresses his young age and (vaguely) his Catholicism, which was an issue for voters who were concerned he would be answering to the Pope on everything weird bigots. [video at the link]

    And here is the RFK remix, which has nothing to do with his candidacy outside of reminding voters who he is related to: [video at the link]

    Shriver wasn’t alone in finding the ad distasteful. His brother Mark and his sister Maria retweeted his sentiments themselves.

    Upon seeing the tweet, RFK replied to Shriver and apologized, saying he had nothing to do with the ad and it was all his PAC’s doing.

    “Bobby. I’m so sorry if that advertisement caused you pain,” he wrote. “The ad was created and aired by the American Values Superpac without any involvement or approvals from my campaign. Federal rules prohibit Superpacs from consulting with me or my staff. I send you and your family my sincerest apologies. God bless you.”

    He also apologized from his own account, saying more or less the same thing. Alas, it did not ring all that sincere because he still had the ad as his pinned tweet — and still has it, as I am writing this. [Pinned tweet at the link]

    “Our momentum is growing. It’s time for an Independent President to heal the divide in our country,” he wrote, though it’s a bit hard to imagine how a guy who is opposed to vaccines would go about healing anything.

    So … that disingenuous, lying dunderhead has one thing going for him, the Kennedy last name. Well, actually he has two things going for him: people who want to defeat Biden and support Trump are funding Kennedy’s campaign.

  171. says

    Satan and the Super Bowl:

    […] I look forward to the Super Bowl every year. Do I actually watch the Super Bowl? I do not, because I truly have no idea what those people are even doing so it’s not very interesting for me to watch. No, I look forward to it because every year a bunch of weirdos freak out about the halftime show and its various imagined shoutouts to the Illuminati and Satan, which is just adorable.

    But this year, most of the Illuminati/Satanist freakout was not, in fact, halftime show related, despite the fact that Alicia Keys did sport a whole sparkly red unitard. Instead, they lost their shit over Ice Spice, who did not even perform and was sitting with Taylor Swift. […]

    What did she do? Not much of anything! She wore a cross necklace that could have been an upside-down cross [Does not look like an upside down cross to me. It just looks like a cross. Could also just be jewelry and meant to be a religious symbol] and threw up the “sign of the horns” with her fingers and … adjusted her turtleneck in a way that people thought looked like she was showing off the upside -down cross.

    That is it!

    Honestly, if I were Satan, I would be a little bit insulted. First of all, the “sign of the horns” or “mano cornuto” or “fare le corna” or whatever you want to call it has a variety of meanings. Heavy metal types mean it in a tongue-in-cheek “Hail Satan” kind of way, while in Italy and other Mediterranean cultures it is a way to ward off the evil eye, or the same way we cross our fingers. Like, you would say “Spero che i Chiefs vincano il Super Bowl” (I hope the Chiefs win the Super Bowl) and I would say “Facciamo le corna!” while making that sign, meaning like, “knock on wood!” or “got my fingers crossed!” or something to that effect. Of course, we don’t need to do that because the Illuminati obviously rigged the game so that Taylor Swift’s boyfriend could win.

    The kind of funny thing about the mano cornuto even being a sign invoking “the devil” is that it comes from Ronnie James Dio doing it during concerts. Dio did it because his Italian grandmother used to do it to ward off the evil eye, but heavy metal types assumed “devil horns” and went with it. Gene Simmons actually tried to copyright the gesture, but “his version” of it, which is actually the sign for “I love you” in ASL. So like, he planned on going around and suing a bunch of deaf people, I guess?

    As for the cross, it can be used to represent Satanism, but it can also be “St. Peter’s cross,” which is a Catholic thing — and Ice Spice did go to Catholic school. Or it can just be a cute necklace that doesn’t mean jack shit. Also have these people never worn a turtleneck before? Sometimes you just need to let a little air in there!

    […] Apparently Usher also danced in an “Illuminati sun,” whatever the hell that is supposed to be. [images at the link]

    […] I was a little surprised that no one accused H.E.R., who made a brief cameo during the halftime show, of selling her soul to Satan at the crossroads in order to play guitar that well, but I suppose that would be too obvious.

    Honestly, with the way these people come up with shit, it would take an incredible amount of work to avoid doing anything they might decide is Satanic or Illuminati-related. [Not possible in my opinion.]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/how-did-we-worship-our-lord-satan-907

  172. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump asks Supreme Court to delay presidential immunity ruling in 2020 election case

    Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily halt a ruling rejecting his claim that he is immune from being criminally charged with trying to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.

    “Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in an application for the Supreme Court to pause the ruling from a lower court…

    Hear, hear! Let’s get away from “the Presidency as we know it” and go back to the Presidency as it was before 2016.

  173. John Morales says

    Reginald @242, heh. I had to check, because it was so evidently not true that she is “the only person in the world with a PhD on the superstar”. I can see the hype, but no; her PhD is in Sociology, not on Taylor Swift.
    Of course, she could be “touted” as anything at all, but I’m sure many credulous people would read that and take it at face value.

    Looking for an expert in fandom and fan engagement? You’ve come to the right place.

    I have a PhD in Sociology from the University of Sydney, where I specialised in fan and celebrity studies (with case studies on Taylor Swift and Supernatural). As one of the only researchers in Australia with this speciality, I’m who you want to speak to if you’re looking to learn more about fans and fandom.

    My research explored the commodification of fandom communities, exploring what motivates fans to spend money on their favourite celebrities. Combined with my experience as a talent-based publicist and community manager, I’m a leading fan engagement expert ready to help you and your organisation.

    (https://www.georgiacarroll.com/)

  174. Reginald Selkirk says

    Michigan GOP lawmaker stripped of committee, office staff after ‘great replacement’ post

    House Speaker Joe Tate on Monday stripped an Oakland County Republican lawmaker of his office staff and budget and committee assignment for sharing a racist population conspiracy theory on social media.

    Tate’s office said GOP state Rep. Josh Schriver of Oxford will still be able to vote on the House floor but his service on committees and access to office resources is subject to the “discretion and pleasure” of Tate, D-Detroit. Under House rules, the speaker controls the allocation of staff and money for each representative’s individual office.

    The speaker’s punishment comes about a week after Schriver, a first-term lawmaker, reposted a social media post about the “great replacement” theory, a theory that there’s a coordinated global effort to diminish the influence of White people…

  175. John Morales says

    Let’s get away from “the Presidency as we know it” and go back to the Presidency as it was before 2016.

    What? The Bush era? Wow.

  176. Reginald Selkirk says

    Charlotte the stingray, possibly impregnated by shark, about to give birth at NC aquarium

    A North Carolina aquarium and shark lab are expecting a stingray to deliver a miracle any day now.

    What’s the miracle?

    Charlotte the stingray, who is 12-14 years old, hasn’t been around any male stingrays in her tank.

    At first Brenda Ramer, the founder of Team Ecco, didn’t believe it.

    “People have written and said well they can hold male sperm for years and I’m like she’s never been around a male, until we put those two little boys (sharks) in here,” she said in an interview with ABC affiliate WLOS.

    That’s when she noticed the bite marks on Charlotte’s body, a habit of mating sharks. That means one option for how Charlotte got pregnant is that she mated with Moe or Larry.

    The other explanation, and the more likely scenario, Charlotte is going through a very rare process called parthenogenesis. That is when the eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of their mother…

  177. says

    Israeli army rescues two hostages amid deadly airstrikes on Rafah

    Washington Post link

    Israel’s military rescued two hostages overnight Monday under the cover of deadly airstrikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, unleashing a wave of hope across Israel and dread among the 1.4 million Palestinians who have sought refuge in the area.

    The two hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Luis Har, 70, both dual Israeli Argentine citizens, were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct. 7. They were taken captive with three female relatives who were released during a week-long pause in fighting in late November.

    Israel’s military said Marman and Har were both in “good medical condition.” They were transported via military helicopters to Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Israel, where the medical staff said their condition was “stable” and where they were reunited with their families.

    […] At least 67 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed in the operation, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

    Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said the rescue mission, based on extensive military intelligence, began at 1:49 a.m., when special forces broke into a second-floor apartment in Rafah.
    “The necessary preparations were made and we waited for conditions that would allow it to be executed,” Hagari said in a statement Monday morning.

    Armed Hamas militants were guarding the men and were also spread throughout the building, he said. A minute later, he said, Israel carried out a series of airstrikes; Israeli soldiers shielded the hostages with their bodies as other troops exchanged heavy fire with Hamas fighters.

    […] It was only the second successful rescue mission since the start of the ground incursion into Gaza in late October — on Oct. 30, the IDF rescued a female hostage. More than 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, in addition to 29 others who are believed to be dead, most of them killed during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, according to Israeli officials.

    […] David Tsur, former head of Yamam, the special counterterrorism unit that was among the agencies involved in the overnight mission, said that because the talks have been so far unsuccessful, the Israeli army took advantage of the “very short window of opportunity” to free the hostages. But he said it will have consequences for future operations.

    “This will definitely cause Hamas to enhance their security measures,” he said.

  178. says

    Associated Press:

    President Joe Biden is hosting Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Washington Monday and the two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing effort to free hostages held in Gaza, and growing concern over a possible Israeli military operation in the border city of Rafah. It is the first meeting between the allies since three American troops were killed last month in a drone strike against a U.S. base in Jordan.

  179. says

    NBC News:

    Russia launched a drone attack on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, killing seven people, including three small children, triggering blazes and damaging infrastructure and residential houses, regional officials said Saturday.

  180. says

    NBC News:

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was recently under general anesthesia for ‘non-surgical procedures,’ according to a statement released by the Pentagon on Monday. The procedures were related to a bladder issue after Austin was hospitalized and then admitted to a critical care unit on Sunday.

  181. Reginald Selkirk says

    The US government makes a $42 million bet on open cell networks

    The US government has committed $42 million to further the development of the 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) standard that would allow wireless providers to mix and match cellular hardware and software, opening up a bigger market for third-party equipment that’s cheaper and interoperable. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grant would establish a Dallas O-RAN testing center to prove the standard’s viability as a way to head off Huawei’s steady cruise toward a global cellular network hardware monopoly…

  182. says

    Associated Press:

    Kansas’ attorney general [Kris Kobach] is telling public schools they’re required to tell parents their children are transgender or nonbinary even if they’re not out at home, though Kansas is not among the states with a law that explicitly says to do that.

  183. says

    The New York Times is determined to make ‘but his age’ the new ‘but her emails’

    If there’s anything The New York Times seems to enjoy, it’s coming up with a focused attack on a Democratic candidate and then running that attack over and over and over again. Maybe their writers enjoy the simplicity of copy-pasting their remarks. Maybe there’s pleasure in patchwriting existing articles into something “new.” Whatever it is, once the Times has latched on to their Great White “But Her Emails,” they are inclined to never let it go.

    For Joe Biden, the line of attack doesn’t even require misunderstanding how email servers work, a pretense that some kind of rule has been broken, or James Comey coming in with a holier-than-thou hot take. Because Biden is old. Case closed. Break out the Xerox machine and just keep slapping that copy button.

    Over the weekend, The New York Times filled every slot on its editorial page with a piece attacking Biden’s age and memory. That didn’t just include the Times’ conservative columnists calling for the president to step down, but the paper’s editorial board jumping in to tell you that Americans think Biden is too old. As for 77-year-old Donald Trump? Now there’s someone who “does not appear to be suffering the effects of time in such visible ways.” [JFC!]

    […] “Why the Age Issue Is Hurting Biden So Much More Than Trump”
    And the subhead:
    “Both Donald J. Trump and President Biden are over 75. But voters are much less likely to worry that Mr. Trump is too old to serve.”

    And then there’s this paragraph about Trump, which has to be read in its entirety to appreciate how embarrassing it would be to Kim Jong Un’s publicist.

    Mr. Trump, by contrast, does not appear to be suffering the effects of time in such visible ways. Mr. Trump often dyes his hair and appears unnaturally tan. He is heavyset and tall, and he uses his physicality to project strength in front of crowds. When he takes the stage at rallies, he basks in adulation for several minutes, dancing to an opening song, and then holds forth in speeches replete with macho rhetoric and bombast that typically last well over an hour, a display of stamina.

    Strength. Physicality. Stamina. Those are the words attached to Trump.

    In the previous paragraph, the same article had different words for Biden: Tentative. Frail. Stiff.

    […] On Monday, a story on Biden’s age and memory is still at the top of The New York Times’ editorial page. Even if the contents of that story are far less caustic than the articles that ran over the weekend, it’s still written from a tedious middle-of-the-road perspective that is not far off special counsel Robert Hur describing Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” It also serves to keep “Biden,” “Age,” and “Memory” right at the top of the headlines.

    What’s especially convenient about this storyline for the Times is that they’ve already been doing it for decades. Here are a few past headlines:

    Biden Veers Off Script on Taiwan. It’s Not the First Time.

    Biden Verbally Fumbles, Twice, During Campaign Trip in Florida

    The Many Ways That Joe Biden Trips Over His Own Tongue

    Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing

    Biden living up to his gaffe-prone reputation

    The first two items on this list come from the last couple of years. The middle pair are from 2019, when Biden was only starting to gear up for his campaign to win the White House. The last item on that list is from 2008, when Biden had just been selected as Barack Obama’s running mate.

    […] If The New York Times assigns someone to cover a Biden speech, they know what’s expected: Forget everything else—just bring back the moment when Biden mixed up a name or mispronounced a city. Just as the Grey Lady had its fixed set of things to say about Hillary Clinton, which it trotted out on any occasion, for Biden it’s always there to catch even the slightest slip. “Gaffe-prone” Biden has been their schtick for decades, which conveniently ignores Biden’s well-documented (and largely successful) effort to overcome a severe stutter. […]

    Occasionally the Times will mount a small, milquetoast defense, like the piece titled, “I’m a Neuroscientist. We’re Thinking About Biden’s Memory and Age in the Wrong Way” […]

    Compare that bland language to the explicitly negative editorial columns over the weekend that called Biden “decrepit” and insisted he should step aside. Or a piece that kicks off by comparing Biden to an aging parent with dementia. […]

    The New York Times, along with other media outlets, has created an opinion ouroboros. The publication provides stories that emphasize how Biden is old, slipping, and gaffe-prone. Then they circulate the news that people, shockingly, believe them. Then they use those poll results as an excuse to do it all again.

    When it comes to Trump … don’t worry about it. He dyes his hair and wears makeup and talks for a long time. According to the Times, that means you shouldn’t be concerned about his age. In fact, they have a poll that shows you’re not concerned. And now, here’s an article about how you’re not worried about Trump’s age. Watch him dance.

  184. KG says

    one option for how Charlotte got pregnant is that she mated with Moe or Larry.

    The other explanation, and the more likely scenario, Charlotte is going through a very rare process called parthenogenesis. That is when the eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of their mother… – REginald Selkirk@251 quoting abc11.com

    A third possibility which I’m surprised they don’t mention: Charlotte has been impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and is about to give birth to Jesus (or maybe his younger sibling)!

  185. KG says

    A remarkably absurd by-election is taking place in the UK constituency of Rochdale. It results from the death of the sitting Labour MP, and Labour was odds-on favourite to retain the seat, until remarks made by their candidate, Azhar Ali, emerged. What first emerged (via the Daily Heil), was that he’d alleged the Israeli government let the Hamas attack of 7th October happen so it could invade Gaza. When this came out, Ali withdrew the remark and apologised to “the Jewish community” (his allegation was not made against Jews in general, just the Netanyahu government, so it’s not clear why). At that stage, Labour continued to back him as their candidate, but the Heil then followed up with further extracts, which it said:

    …show he also blamed ‘Jewish’ elements in the media for inciting criticism of a pro-Palestinian Labour MP, claimed Israel wanted to depopulate Gaza so it could grab the land and said he didn’t see ‘any difference at all’ between Sir Keir and Rishi Sunak.

    …and Labour disowned Ali, but can’t replace him as their candidate. (The first of these further remarks does in my view amount to antisemitism – it’s not Jews in general, or Jews only, who attack any pro-Palestinian Labour speaker – the second would seem to be simply a rather obvious truth, maybe it was the third that really offended Starmer, because it hits home.) Coming on top of the stupid, cowardly and bungled dropping of a “Green” spending pledge by Starmer, this series of events certainly undermines Starmer’s supposed competence as opposition leader.

    But this only begins to describe the bizarre nature of the by-election. As is often the case, it attracted a number of independents, and a candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, but three other candidates have a history of being disowned by their party or in one case, disowning themselves.
    * George Galloway, “Workers Party of Britain”. The “Workers Party of Britain” is just the George Galloway Party. Galloway was in 2003 expelled from Labour (“for bringing the party into disrepute over his prominent opposition to the Global War on Terror.” according to Wikipedia). Good on him for that (Americans may remember him cleaning Christopher Hitchens’ clock in the wake of the latter’s cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq), but he has made a number of disreputable statements, is in my view actually antisemitic, and has an ego of near-Trumpian proportions.
    * Simon Danczuk, Reform Party. Danczuk, was suspended from Labour while MP for Rochdale when sexually explicit messages he’d exchanged with a 17-year-old girl emerged (Danczuk actually had a good record in combatting child sexual abuse before that). He resigned from the party when told he wouldn’t be allowed to be a candidate for them. The Reform Party are far-right “populists”; Danczuk standing as their candidate looks like opportunism on both sides.
    * Guy Otten, Green Party of England and Wales. Otten has in effect disowned himself! That is, he’s said he’s decided to “leave the stage”, and not campaign. This is because of social media posts he made some years ago, which AFAIK have not been publicly revealed, but were apparently “criticising Palestinians and the Islamic religion”.

    Were I unlucky enough to live in Rochdale, I’d probably vote for one of the independents, “Reverend” Mark Coleman, a long-time climate campaigner and Just Stop Oil supporter who was imprisoned for taking nonviolent direct action.

  186. Reginald Selkirk says

    Venus has a quasi-moon and it’s just been named ‘Zoozve’ for a sweet reason

    The Small Bodies Nomenclature Working Group (WGSBN) – the folks responsible for assigning names to minor planets and comets – last week published a bulletin [PDF] in which it gave 29 small celestial bodies their very own names.

    One of the newly named bodies has been given the moniker “Zoozve” and it is remarkable – for several reasons.

    One is that it’s the first identified quasi-satellite of a major planet.

    Zoozve is an asteroid that, as described by its discoverers in a 2005 paper, has an orbit that “takes it quite far afield from Venus – it dives in towards the Sun, passing within the orbit of Mercury, and travelling outwards just beyond the orbit of the Earth at its furthest from the Sun.” That path traces a shape that resembles a butterfly shape that comes about because the asteroid and Venus are travelling around the Sun nearly in lock-step.

    “This means that VE68 has a very special property as seen from Venus,” the paper states. “It appears to travel around the Venusian sky about once every Venus year. If you didn’t know that VE68 is really travelling around the Sun, you might declare that Venus has a moon (or satellite) of its own.” …

  187. says

    @KG, 264:

    When this came out, Ali withdrew the remark and apologised to “the Jewish community” (his allegation was not made against Jews in general, just the Netanyahu government, so it’s not clear why).

    Almost all sides are having a hard time differentiating between Israel in general, its current government, and Jews and Jewish communities.

  188. Reginald Selkirk says

    Senate passes a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but fate in the House is uncertain

    The Senate early Tuesday passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, pushing ahead after months of difficult negotiations and amid growing political divisions in the Republican Party over the role of the United States abroad.

    The vote came after a small group of Republicans opposed to the $60 billion for Ukraine held the Senate floor through the night, using the final hours of debate to argue that the U.S. should focus on its own problems before sending more money overseas. But 22 Republicans voted with nearly all Democrats to pass the package 70-29, with supporters arguing that abandoning Ukraine could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and threaten national security across the globe…

  189. says

    @Reginald, 267: yet the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bidens are routinely accused of being “a dynasty”. Yet again, we dance the Projection Shuffle, reluctantly.

  190. Reginald Selkirk says

    Neo-Nazis Swarm Home of New England Governor

    Dozens of Neo-Nazis demonstrated outside the home of Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) on Saturday night, in an intimidating display of hate. Members of the group NSC-131 — which seeks to create a white-only ethnostate in New England — marched Saturday night through the Boston suburb of Arlington, uniformed in khakis, black jackets, face masks, and baseball caps…

  191. Reginald Selkirk says

    Rand Paul is an idiot, but you already knew that.

    ‘Pop the cork.’ Kentucky’s Rand Paul filibusters over package to give more aid to Ukraine

    Sen. Rand Paul initiated a filibuster of a $95 billion foreign aid package Monday, openly chastising GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for working with Democrats to provide more money to Ukraine when the U.S. is saddled with a $34 trillion debt.

    “Open the champagne, pop the cork. The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv. They’ve got $60 billion they’re bringing. I don’t know if it will be cash in pallets, but they’re taking your money to Kyiv,” Paul said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon…

    Apparently he is too stupid to know that Ukraine gets weapons, and the pallets of cash go to weapons manufacturers, mostly in the USA.

  192. Reginald Selkirk says

    Tesla’s Cybertruck may not be so stainless after all

    … However, corrosion reports may stem from owners believing that “ultra-hard stainless steel” doesn’t require much care. Tesla, it appears, would vehemently disagree.

    Another thread from January included a screenshot of Cybertruck’s maintenance documentation, where it is said that the car does not have a clear coat. Clear coat is the outermost layer of transparent paint that serves as a protective barrier, preventing UV radiation and weather from damaging the colored paint layer. Clear coat also takes abrasions that might otherwise scratch the paint job.

    The user warns: “The Cybertruck’s exterior is susceptible to corrosion, as acknowledged in the manual. Once the oxide barrier is compromised, corrosion initiates. The manual advises prompt removal of corrosive substances, emphasizing not to wait until the Cybertruck is scheduled for a full wash.” …

  193. KG says

    Almost all sides are having a hard time differentiating between Israel in general, its current government, and Jews and Jewish communities. – SQB@268

    Are they? I’m not, especially when marching beside Jews against the destruction of Gaza. Nor are other non-Jewish participants in those rallies, who invariably give Jewish speakers a warm reception.

  194. Reginald Selkirk says

    France uncovers a vast Russian disinformation campaign in Europe

    RUSSIA HAS been at the forefront of internet disinformation techniques at least since 2014, when it pioneered the use of bot farms to spread fake news about its invasion of Crimea. According to French authorities, the Kremlin is at it again. On February 12th Viginum, the French foreign-disinformation watchdog, announced it had detected preparations for a large disinformation campaign in France, Germany, Poland and other European countries, tied in part to the second anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the elections to the European Parliament in June.

    Viginum said it had uncovered a Russian network of 193 websites which it codenames “Portal Kombat”. Most of these sites, such as topnews.uz.ua, were created years ago and many were left dormant. Over 50 of them, such as news-odessa.ru and pravda-en.com, have been created since 2022. Current traffic to these sites, which exist in various languages including French, German, Polish and English, is low. But French authorities think they are ready to be activated aggressively as part of what one official calls a “massive” wave of Russian disinformation…

  195. Reginald Selkirk says

    Army fielding new helmet that protects against small arms fire

    Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division received the Army’s newest helmet today, the first combat helmet capable of withstanding small arms fire without added protection.

    The Next Generation Integrated Head Protection System is a 3.27 pound helmet — in its large size — that may look identical to its predecessor, the Integrated Head Protection System, but offers another level of protection, officials told Army Times…

    Older helmets are made from materials called aramids, commonly known by the commercial name Kevlar, De Groot added. That hard, brittle material protects by disintegrating on impact. But polyethylene, the newer material being used, “acts like a catcher’s mitt,” De Groot said. The material deforms on impact, dissipating energy…

  196. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 280
    I wonder if the next step will be to supplement the polyethylene with an outer, thin shell of metal foam containing hollow steel spheres in a metal matrix. It would help with the hard penetrator core of high-velocity armor-piercing bullets.

  197. says

    Trump’s threat to abandon NATO allies is worse than it seems, by Mark Sumner

    It took some time before Donald Trump’s Saturday night statement that he would not come to the aid of European NATO allies and would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to get the attention it deserved in the media. The initial response was to largely ignore the statement, as the national press seems to ignore most Trump statements.

    But after a day in which both President Joe Biden and European leaders pointed out the immeasurable importance of this statement, coverage began to grow. Not so much that it displaced stories about Biden’s supposed memory issues, but it did rate front-page coverage in many outlets by Monday morning.

    But even as the story gathered attention, and as Republicans hustled to once again show that they placed their loyalty to Trump over anything else, the reporting on the topic continued to miss major aspects of this story, including what might be the most important factor: What Trump is threatening to do isn’t just to abandon allies, but to abandon the Constitution.

    NATO was founded in 1949 when the original 12 members signed the NATO charter, which includes Article 5. That article is the core of NATO, providing the requirement for mutual defense.

    The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

    In the 74 years that NATO has existed, this article has been invoked just one time. The nation that pushed that button was the United States.

    On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, within hours of the attacks by terrorists, the United States called on its allies. An organization founded on protecting Europe and North America found itself helping to fight a war in the cities, mountains, and deserts of Afghanistan.

    NATO forces would remain in Afghanistan, fighting alongside American troops, for nearly 20 years. Every NATO member contributed to the effort, establishing bases across the country. Other nations, including Australia, New Zealand, and Mongolia, sent forces to fight in Afghanistan, even though they were not members of NATO.

    From 2003 on, NATO led the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Other non-NATO members contributed to this force, including Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine had troops in Afghanistan for 14 years, only bringing its final small contingent home in 2021.

    NATO members including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Spain, Romania, Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Finland, Portugal, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, and Montenegro all lost service members in Afghanistan. Those people died answering the call of their U.S. ally.

    Which of these nations did Trump say he would leave for Russia to “do whatever they want” with?

    Beyond this obvious betrayal of nations that came when the United States called and who lost their young men and women in the dust of Afghanistan, there’s an even bigger reason why Trump’s statement that he would ignore a call from a NATO ally should be shocking.

    That’s because Article VI of the Constitution declares, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … and all Treaties made” are the “supreme Law of the Land.” Trump is not just saying that he will break treaty obligations to U.S. allies and hand them over to Russia, he is flat-out saying that he will break the law. Because treaties are law.

    […] a direct failure to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It seems like someone should be making a big deal about this. But that doesn’t seem to feature in the coverage.

    […] Republicans are proving once again that they have an unlimited ability to dismiss anything that Trump says. That includes Sen. Marco Rubio, who blew off Trump’s statement by saying, “He doesn’t talk like a traditional politician.”

    Maybe Rubio thinks the threat of Trump is contained because in December, Congress passed a bill that would prevent any president from withdrawing from NATO without a two-thirds vote of Congress. Rubio was one of the sponsors of that bill.

    But trying to build a wall around Trump by passing a law is about as pointless as Trump’s wall along the border. After all, just ignoring Article 5 is ignoring the supreme law of the land. If Trump can ignore that law, he can ignore any law.

    […] Meanwhile, European leaders are consigning U.S. leadership to the dustbin and preparing for a world in which America is an afterthought.

  198. says

    After remarks on NATO, Trump’s ‘appeasement’ policy is too much even for the Murdoch-owned WSJ

    The Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal isn’t buying Donald Trump’s claim he was just trying to persuade NATO countries to increase defense spending when he threatened that the U.S. would not fulfill it’s treaty obligation to protect them in the case of Russian attack.

    At a campaign rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump claimed he once had a conversation with the leader of a NATO ally who asked how he’d respond if a NATO member that hadn’t spent enough on defense was attacked by Russia.

    […] Trump sure came off sounding like a mob boss running a protection racket.

    So in an editorial published Monday, the Wall Street Journal wrote:

    But this isn’t 2020 any more. Russia has invaded Ukraine, bombed its cities and civilians, mused about using nuclear weapons, and threatened Finland and Sweden for seeking to join NATO. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty pledges every member of the alliance to aid another treaty member if attacked. The only time it has been invoked was after the 9/11 attacks on America.

    Deterrence depends on a combination of force and the will to use it. Mr. Trump’s boasts that he wouldn’t aid an ally will sow doubt in the minds of our allies and might encourage Mr. Putin to think he could get away with another invasion. Mr. Putin has all but said that the Baltic states are rightfully Russia’s.

    The editorial then quoted a response to Trump’s remarks by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

    While visiting Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, Stoltenberg issued a statement that said: “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”

    Stoltenberg diplomatically added that he expects that “regardless of who wins the presidential election, the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”

    The WSJ editorial board then wrote:

    Mr. Trump’s riff also comes in the context of his lobbying against more U.S. military aid for Ukraine. He boasts about his admiration for Mr. Putin, and his bromance with the dictator during their 2018 Helsinki summit was a low point of his Presidency. Mr. Trump now says he’ll end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours, even before he’s inaugurated. The only way to do that is to deny Ukraine more weapons and tell President Volodymyr Zelensky to give Mr. Putin what he wants. The word for that isn’t peace; it’s appeasement.

    The editorial was published before the Senate early Tuesday passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Hopefully, it might help shake loose a few Republican votes in the House to pass the aid package despite the opposition of Trump and hardline GOP members to the legislation.

    […] Reading between the lines, it’s clear that the editorial board would have preferred a conservative Republican nominee like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who would support Ukraine and NATO. But that’s not likely to happen. And Fox News continues to give a platform to Trump and his MAGA Kool-Aid cult drinkers who oppose aid for Ukraine and are soft on Vladimir Putin.

    And the editorial concludes with an outlandish claim about Biden weakening U.S. deterrence when in fact his policies have strengthened unity among NATO members. […]

  199. says

    How Chesebro’s Most Radical Theories Entered Trump Campaign Planning for Pence and Jan. 6

    Some of the most radical legal theories which animated Donald Trump’s 2020 coup attempt filtered in from a once-obscure Wisconsin attorney.

    Ken Chesebro, an appellate lawyer and former acolyte of Harvard Law professor Larry Tribe, wound up as an ideas man for the Trump campaign’s last, most desperate grasps at power in late 2020 and early 2021, a trove of documents obtained by TPM shows.

    He was the architect of the fake electors plan and, emails, texts, and memos reveal, played a critical role in developing the idea that Mike Pence had the power to gum up Congress on Jan. 6. That, Chesebro claimed, would start a chain reaction that could somehow lead to Trump’s re-inauguration on Jan. 20. […]

    The trove of documents obtained by TPM reveals the division of labor between the three. [Chesebro, John Eastman, and Boris Epshteyn]

    […] TPM obtained the trove of documents after Michigan prosecutors received records from Ken Chesebro as part of their investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. […] It’s one tranche of evidence in a coup attempt that was much broader — it spanned months and involved hundreds of people — and was provided as Chesebro sought to avoid prosecution in Michigan.

    […] Chesebro also emerges from the emails and texts as a far more influential figure than previously understood. The records show that he provided substantial edits to the “Eastman memo,” which pushed the idea that Pence could unilaterally reject electoral votes on Jan. 6 […]

    Chesebro volunteered the idea that Pence could throw a wrench in this process by declining to open Biden votes from swing states, instead using the fake electoral slates that Chesebro convened as a reason to not open any votes from those states. He brought this idea to an eager Trump campaign weeks ahead of the climactic series of meetings before Jan. 6 where Eastman and Trump sought to pressure Pence into stoking as much chaos as possible.

    […] if Republican senators and Pence cooperated, the Jan. 6 election certification vote could be extended for days, perhaps until Jan. 20, at which point the Senate could “resolve the impasse” by electing Pence vice president.

    […] Three years later, Chesebro would tell Michigan prosecutors that he knew at least some of their work made it to Trump’s inner circle via Epshteyn, who he described as “funneling” it out to GOP senators. […]

    I snipped a lot of details. Refer to the article for all of the details. This is the second part of a TPM exclusive. Links to all parts are available at the link provided above.

    Commentary:

    Talking Points Memo has gained access to a trove of documents that lay out how Kenneth Chesebro and other Trump attorneys planned to keep the 2020 election from being certified for days, until the Supreme Court would be forced to step in to settle. As a subscriber to TPM, I got an email from Josh Kovensky telling about it, and what they plan to do with the information. Here’s the text of the email:

    What would have happened if Jan. 6 never ended?

    That’s what Ken Chesebro and other Trump attorneys envisioned: weeks of chaos and Congress locked in a stalemate, unable to certify the election. It was part of a gambit to apply maximum pressure on the Supreme Court or whoever else might be able to step in and declare that Donald Trump had won.

    The events of December 2020 and January 2021 comprise the only real coup attempt in American history — and TPM has obtained a trove of documents that provide striking new details about it.

    Today, we published a story — the first in a three-part series based on the documents — which reveals Trump’s attorneys theorizing about how a never-ending Jan. 6 could be engineered, and what it might look like. They envision hearings in Congress over the endless, mythical voter fraud claims which abounded after Trump refused to concede the 2020 election and, most of all, appeals to the Supreme Court to do in 2020 what it did in 2000: step in and resolve the count in favor of the GOP.

    Chesebro appears to have live-tweeted his plans along the way, via an account I uncovered called “Badger Pundit.” He cuts a bizarre figure: a well-credentialed outsider, willing to take on the persona of influential White House attorney at exactly the moment when the Trump campaign is desperately searching for a legitimate-seeming means to postpone the inevitable: recognizing that it lost the election. […]

    […] While it looks like many of the legal and political assumptions they were working from can best be described as delusional, it is clear that Mike Pence refusing to go along with their schemes may have been even more critical than we knew. It certainly explains why Trump was willing to let the mob hang Pence, assuming he understood just how much they were counting on Pence to sabotage confirming the votes. […]

    Link

  200. says

    Followup to comment 287.

    Posted by readers of the articles:

    People keep forgetting that the plan was to have thousands of fascists occupying the entire Capitol grounds and surrounding offices by force. That huge cache of weapons being stored at a hotel across the river was for this purpose. They intended to have armed fascists completely seizing the area for weeks. HELLO why do we have to keep reminding people how serious this was?
    ————————–
    “Through delay or chaos they were setting up a constitutional crisis,” said David Becker, a former DOJ attorney who now works on election security with local officials at the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

  201. says

    Moscow Exchange abruptly halts stock market trading

    Interesting news out of RusPutinstan today from Reuters:

    Moscow Exchange, Russia’s largest bourse, on Tuesday said it had suspended trading on the stock market at 1:58 p.m. Moscow time (1058 GMT), without providing a reason for the disruption.

    “The time of the resumption of trading will be announced additionally,” the exchange said in a statement.

    The bourse provided no further comment on the suspension. Currency and other trading continued uninterrupted.

    Newsweek provides further info:

    The Moscow Exchange, the largest exchange group in Russia, was halted at 1:58 p.m. Moscow time (5:58 a.m. ET). The platform said that trading on the stock market would resume at 3:45 p.m. Moscow time. […]

    Part of the issue is that Russia has relied on Western microchips to power items such as laptops and smartphones. However, sanctions imposed on the country following Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine have meant the Kremlin has faced obstacles in procuring foreign-made chips and is now attempting to ramp up domestic production.

    The Moscow Exchange said the issue was caused by a hardware error on the main server. “According to the exchange’s procedures, in case of such an error occurring, a switch to the backup server is carried out, which takes a little over an hour,” it said in a statement.

    The Moscow Exchange previously halted trading for four hours on September 13, 2023. Earlier, in 2015, the trading platform experienced 11 simultaneous failures caused by technical issues.

    Independent Russian news outlet The Moscow Times reported on Tuesday that technical issues surged in Russia last year, driven by Western sanctions imposed in response to President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

    Damn, I was hoping this might signify the onset of something more substantive in the Evil Empire, but i guess it’s just another Tuesday. OTOH:

    Mikhail Sizov is managing partner of Mobius Technologies, a Russian technology consulting firm. He told local publication Kommersant that demand from Russian companies for the repair of hard drives, tape drives, controllers, motherboards and other components of foreign computer equipment increased fivefold in 2023, compared to the previous year.

    “Last year, 80 percent of our requests for repairs occurred in the second half of the year. We plan to develop this area by expanding the list of components that we can restore,” Sizov told the outlet. He added that he believed this surge was linked to “sanctions pressure and problems in the logistics of equipment supplies.”

    Sizov said there is a lack of spare parts in the Russian market, and many crucial components are sold at an inflated price.

    In September 2023, Kommersant published a government document that said Russia won’t be able to ditch critical Western technology any time soon, despite the fact that Russian officials are asking that the use of microchips from the West be phased out by 2035.

    So maybe Western sanctions are really starting to bite?

    That plan to phase out the use of microchips from the West by 2035 sounds delusional.

    From a reader:

    The tricky part is figuring out if it is regular Russia dysfunction or war related Russia dysfunction.

  202. says

    Senate Just Passed Ukraine Aid Over Hysterical Screams From Elon Musk And All Putin’s MAGA Boys.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/senate-just-passed-ukraine-aid-over

    Next up, figuring out how to get this around that extremist creep who’s running the House.

    They finally did it. Despite the fact that MAGA Republicans really really really support Vladimir Putin’s genocidal fantasies and really really really want him to win, the Senate managed to push through its Ukraine aid package last night. It was a 70-29 vote, it was $95 billion, and it also included aid for Israel and Taiwan. (Ukraine is the biggest chunk, at $60.1 billion.)

    And ohhhhhh how those MAGA Republicans have been screamin’, before, during and afterward.

    Trump screamed this weekend that foreign aid should only be done as loans, at the same time as he’s prematurely ejaculating about the idea of abandoning NATO allies to Russia’s murderous intentions. As The Bulwark notes, that was enough to get Lindsey Graham to roll over and play dead for Trump, even as he has been a defender of Ukraine in the past.

    During the hearing, Rand Paul tried to turn it into a talking filibuster, babbling about whatever Rand Paul babbles about. Lindsey Graham continued showing his ass, shouting at a printed out tweet from the Polish prime minister, which said, “Dear Republican Senators of America. Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. Shame on you.” Lindsey Graham did not like that. [video at the link]

    “To the Prime Minister of Poland: I could care less what you think. To the Prime Minister of Poland: If Ronald Reagan were alive today, we wouldn’t have this broken border. To the Prime Minister of Poland: I want to help Ukraine. I want to help make a stronger NATO. But my country is on fire. We’ve had seven million people come across a broken border. How would you feel if seven million people came in illegally into Poland? Would you have this attitude? We’ve got to put Ukraine ahead of Poland? I am not going to put Ukraine, Israel, or anybody else ahead of America.”

    So dramatic! Also so not true!

    Out there in the hinterlands, Putin’s biggest little fan boy Elon Musk held a panicked “X Spaces” Twitter circle jerk last night with Republican Senators Ron Johnson, JD Vance, and Mike Lee, plus yappy hanger-on Vivek Ramaswamy, where they all screamed their opposition to saving Ukraine from being murdered and raped by Putin.

    Elon said there’s “no way in hell” Ukraine can win, because that’s a thing the Russia apologists really love saying. Here’s a bunch more quotes, courtesy of the Daily Beast:

    Sen. Johnson opined that the “only way” that the war in Ukraine could end “is in a settlement.” He added that sending another $60 billion in aid would senselessly add “fuel to the flames of a bloody stalemate.” “As evil a war criminal as Putin is, he’s not going to lose this war, and our colleagues here just aren’t willing to accept that reality and they’re living in a fantasy world thinking Ukraine can win this thing—they can’t.”

    “That’s exactly right,” Musk agreed.

    They can’t, they just can’t! Wethinks these motherfuckers doth protest too much.

    (“Putin will not lose,” Johnson also said on a different right-wing propaganda outlet yesterday, while [complaining] about the fact that we still have sanctions on Russia. And these people wonder why everybody thinks they’re traitors.)

    [Musk] said that losing lives in war “must be for a purpose” and “not just a mile here, a mile there” like those lost on a daily basis in Ukraine. “For what purpose?” he asked. “As you say, there is no way in hell that Putin is going to lose.” He also claimed that if the Russian leader backed off from the war then “he would be assassinated,” likely leading to an even more “hardcore” replacement.

    Who is filling Elon’s impressionable head with all these silly notions? And when Elon’s head is getting filled, does it require a Russian-to-English translator?

    At the end of the conversation, Musk said: “Hopefully the public, American public, is able to listen to this and indeed contact their elected representatives.”

    “The really important thing to bear in mind here is that this spending does not help Ukraine,” Musk said. “Prolonging the war does not help Ukraine. This is very important to appreciate.”

    Wow, he just never turns that Russian propaganda spigot off, does he?

    Never mind that actual Ukrainians want to keep fighting to save their country, which Vladimir Putin invaded based on his sick fantasies about the divine right of Russia to own any lands it’s ever controlled at any point during the last 1,200 years.

    Elon Musk says they’re dying for no reason, and he’s panicking over Congress actually getting it together to fund Ukraine.

    Tucker Carlson, who can still probably smell Putin on the clothes in his suitcase, is panicking over Congress getting it together to fund Ukraine.

    They are all just very panicked.

  203. says

    Trump scrambles to buy time with immunity appeal to Supreme Court

    As special counsel Jack Smith pushes to bring Donald Trump to trial, Trump’s legal team continues to look for ways to delay his prosecution. Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, talks with Rachel Maddow about how Trump’s team has found a way to add a step in the process of appealing the district court’s rejection of his presidential immunity claim to the Supreme Court.

    3:15 minute video is available at the link.

  204. says

    Calling Mike Johnson’s bluff.

    Yesterday, as he was trying to threaten and bark Senate Republicans out of sending the House a foreign-aid-only supplemental spending bill, Speaker Mike Johnson said that he would not allow a vote on the bill because the House had not yet “received any single border policy change from the Senate…”

    This is true, in a way, in the sense that a kid who’s killed his parents asks the judge to have mercy on him as an orphan. In response to House demands, the Senate spent months negotiating a compromise border bill, heavily tilted toward GOP demands, which Johnson promptly refused to allow a vote on. Johnson put in a full court press insisting that the Senate kill its own compromise bill and thus not send it to the House. Senate Republicans went along with this, agreeing to filibuster the bill that they’d spent months crafting.

    In other words, Johnson is now using their non-vote on that bill which included what they’ve been demanding for years as the reason he now won’t allow a vote on the foreign aid bill. The essence of the matter has always been clear. House Republicans need to prevent bills from getting a House vote because, as Freedom Caucuser Andy Biggs put it candidly this morning, “If it were to get to the floor, it would pass.” But Johnson’s latest appears to have been a round of gaslighting mind-f&$#ery too far for a critical faction of Senate Republicans. They’ve called his bluff, passed the bill and sent it to the House.

  205. says

    Trump officially takes over the GOP

    It took a few days, but Donald Trump has erased the last idea that the Republican Party exists as anything other than an extension of his will. As expected, Trump has endorsed Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, to lead the Republican National Committee. In a more surprising move, Trump has also named his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, as his pick for co-chair of the party.

    The fact that Trump can dictate RNC leadership and put his daughter-in-law in place as co-chair shows that the RNC is simply a shell. But it’s been that way for years. The platform of the Republican Party since 2020 entirely consists of expressing enthusiasm about Trump’s “America-first agenda” and a promise to re-up their oath to Trump when the platform committee fruitlessly gathers again in 2024.

    There’s no doubt that Trump’s selections will become the new leadership of the party. Nor is there any doubt that the RNC is now, more than ever, merely an extension of the Trump campaign. Sorry, other Republicans, go find your own party. This one is taken.

    Lara Trump’s credentials for being co-chair of the party are about what you would expect from someone who has spent a decade in the griftiest family in griftdom. She’s been on the receiving end of campaign money funneled through Brad Parscale, a senior advisor to Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign. She helped fundraise for far-right conspiracy theorist Lara Loomer’s 2020 congressional bid. And she was one of the speakers on at the pre-insurrection rally on Jan. 6 where she declared, “We are in this fight to the bitter end.”

    She was also involved with a charity supposedly meant to rescue dogs that funneled almost $2 million into Trump properties. That’s not quite as bad as using charity funds to buy giant self-portraits, but it’s still worth noting in a family that’s also been forced to pay out $2 million for misusing charities.

    Whether any of this means that Lara Trump has the capacity to raise funds—which is the heart of her potential RNC job—is unclear. She may be a fine surrogate for spreading Donald Trump’s threats. But she doesn’t seem to have any other skills. And she may not need them.

    As bad as all this sounds, this isn’t the first time the RNC has been so deeply in the pocket of one man. Then-President Ronald Reagan’s daughter took the co-chair slot in 1987. Nepotism. It’s what Republicans mean when they say “family values.”

    Whatley seems to have earned Trump’s attention for his willingness to repeat lies about the 2020 election. Whatley claimed that Democratic cities had engaged in “massive fraud.” Despite an utter lack of evidence, Whatley claimed, “We know that it took place in places like Milwaukee and Detroit and Philadelphia.” That sort of persistent lying, undaunted by being caught, is very, very Trump.

    […] When Whatley and Lara Trump no doubt take their seats, the fusion of the Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be complete—no more pretense that the party exists for any reason other than promoting one man. […] it’s unclear whether there will be any time, attention, or money for anyone other than Trump.

    […] The RNC will soon be nothing more than another Trump surrogate run by Trump surrogates. And their job will be to police Republican candidates for any sign of disloyalty to Trump.

  206. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cryptocurrency maker sues former Ars reporter for writing about fraud lawsuit

    The cryptocurrency firm Bitcoin Latinum has sued journalists at Forbes and Poker.org, claiming that the writers made false and defamatory statements in articles that described securities fraud lawsuits filed against the crypto firm.

    Bitcoin Latinum and its founder, Donald Basile, filed a libel lawsuit against Forbes reporter Cyrus Farivar and another libel lawsuit against Poker.org and its reporter Haley Hintze. (Farivar was a long-time Ars Technica reporter.)

    The lawsuits are surprising because the Forbes article and the Poker.org article, both published in 2022, are very much like thousands of other news stories that describe allegations in a lawsuit. In both articles, it is clear that the allegations come from the filer of the lawsuit and not from the author of the article…

  207. says

    Christian Nationalists as elected officials, an update:

    Looks like Utah is the Goofus to Michigan’s Gallant. Gallant Michigan’s House Speaker more or less banished a House member for espousing white nationalist nonsense, while Goofus Utah’s House Speaker was out here doing Christian Nationalist nonsense his own self.

    Last month, Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz spoke at a Christian Nationalist event organized by a fellow House member and hosted by a far-right organization called “Patriot Academy,” all of which sounds a little Timmy McVeigh. Unsurprisingly, this led to a certain amount of criticism, to which his response was that he speaks at lots of events and was there to share his thoughts about “states’ rights.”

    “It’s no secret that I’m passionate about states’ rights and appreciate efforts made to push back on the federal government’s overreach,” Schultz said in a text message to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Rep. Ken Ivory invited me to speak on federalism and provide my perspective. I’m invited to speak at numerous events by countless of organizations each year and always appreciate the opportunity to share my insight.”

    He’s just really popular, okay? He can’t be bothered to see if the event he’s speaking at is held by people who want to turn our nation into a theocracy.

    […] the Salt Lake Tribune, respecting his busy social schedule, asked him for a copy of his calendar to see what other groups had invited him to speak. And boy, he did not like that.

    Via Salt Lake Tribune:

    Following that text exchange, The Tribune submitted an open records request under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act — or GRAMA — seeking access to Schultz’s calendar events related to his public role as a legislator.

    “The House of Representatives has no records that are responsive to your request,” they replied.

    A few days before the claim, House Chief of Staff Abby Osborne requested a meeting with a Tribune reporter about the request for Schultz’s calendar. During that meeting, Osborne said that the speaker’s calendar “is not a public record.”

    The Tribune has filed a formal appeal to the House’s decision to deny access to Schultz’s calendar.

    So either it’s not a public record (it is, according to the Utah State Records Committee, a public record) or, in an M. Night Shyamalan twist, it doesn’t exist and never existed at all.

    The event’s headliner, Rick Green, is the founder of Patriot Academy, which runs “biblical citizenship” training programs in hundreds of churches across the nation, designed to teach children that the founders actually intended for the United States to be a Christian nation, based in Christian values, with no separation of church and state, despite not mentioning that very important thing once ever in any of the founding documents they spent a very long time writing and debating over.

    […] There is a reason why you don’t see a lot of theocracies out there with fabulous human rights records and functioning democracies.

    It matters that these are the groups that Mike Schultz is speaking to and palling around with. The people of Utah have a right to know if these are things that Mike Schultz believes. Because quite frankly, I’m not so sure that Mormons would fare all that well in a nation run by evangelicals. […]

    As repulsive as it is that any state legislator is riding with this bigoted, unconstitutional nonsense, it is even more concerning given that he won’t let anyone see the rest of his calendar. Because whatever it is, it’s probably worse.

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/utah-lawmaker-doesnt-want-anyone

  208. says

    Tesla worker killed in fiery crash may be first ‘Full Self-Driving’ fatality.

    Washington Post link

    Evidence suggests the advanced driver-assistance system was engaged during a fatal crash that killed recruiter Hans von Ohain in 2022 [Audio and video available at the link.]

    EVERGREEN, Colo.
    Hans von Ohain and Erik Rossiter were on their way to play golf one afternoon in 2022 when von Ohain’s Tesla suddenly swerved off Upper Bear Creek Road. The car’s driver-assistance software, Full Self-Driving, was struggling to navigate the mountain curves, forcing von Ohain repeatedly to yank it back on course.
    “The first time it happened, I was like, ‘Is that normal?’” recalled Rossiter, who described the five-mile drive on the outskirts of Denver as “uncomfortable.” “And he was like, ‘Yeah, that happens every now and then.’”
    Hours later, on the way home, the Tesla Model 3 barreled into a tree and exploded in flames, killing von Ohain, a Tesla employee and devoted fan of CEO Elon Musk. Rossiter, who survived the crash, told emergency responders that von Ohain was using an “auto-drive feature on the Tesla” that “just ran straight off the road,” according to a 911 dispatch recording obtained by The Washington Post. In a recent interview, Rossiter said he believes that von Ohain was using Full Self-Driving, which — if true — would make his death the first known fatality involving Tesla’s most advanced driver-assistance technology. […]

    Since federal regulators began requiring automakers to report crashes involving driver-assistance systems in 2021, they have logged more than 900 in Teslas. A Post analysis found at least 40 crashes that resulted in serious or fatal injuries.

    […] Two years ago, a Tesla shareholder tweeted that there “has not been one accident or injury” involving Full Self-Driving, to which Musk responded: “Correct.” But if that was accurate at the time, it no longer appears to be so. A Tesla driver who caused an eight-car pileup with multiple injuries on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 2022 told police he was using Full Self-Driving. And The Post has linked the technology to at least two serious crashes, including the one that killed von Ohain.

    […] Von Ohain’s widow, Nora Bass, said she has been unable to find a lawyer willing to take his case to court because he was legally intoxicated. Nonetheless, she said, Tesla should take at least some responsibility for her husband’s death.

    “Regardless of how drunk Hans was, Musk has claimed that this car can drive itself and is essentially better than a human,” Bass said. “We were sold a false sense of security.”

    Von Ohain used Full Self-Driving nearly every time he got behind the wheel, Bass said, placing him among legions of Tesla boosters heeding Musk’s call to generate data and build the technology’s mastery. While Bass refused to use the feature herself — she said its unpredictability stressed her out — her husband was so confident in all it promised that he even used it with their baby in the car.

    “It was jerky, but we were like, that comes with the territory of” new technology, Bass said. “We knew the technology had to learn, and we were willing to be part of that.”

    […] On the day of the crash, von Ohain and Rossiter played 21 holes of golf, downing multiple drinks along the way. Though an autopsy would later show that von Ohain was legally drunk, Rossiter said he seemed composed and “by no means intoxicated” as they got in the Tesla and headed home.

    Rossiter, who was found to have a similar blood alcohol level, can recall only shreds of the crash: A bright orange glow. Careening off the road. Jumping out of the car and trying to pull his friend out. The driver’s-side door blocked by a fallen tree.

    As Rossiter yelled for help on the deserted mountain road, he remembers, his friend was screaming inside the burning car.

    Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Robert Madden, who oversaw the agency’s investigation, said it was one of “the most intense” vehicle fires he had ever seen. Fueled by thousands of lithium-ion battery cells in the car’s undercarriage, according to the investigation report, the fire is what killed von Ohain: His cause of death was listed as “smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.” Madden said he probably would have survived the impact alone.

    At the scene of the crash, Madden said, he found “rolling tire marks,” meaning the motor continued to feed power to the wheels after impact. There were no skid marks, Madden said, meaning von Ohain appeared not to have hit the brakes.

    […] “Once Hans passed away and time went by, there wasn’t any more discussion about him,” said the former employee, a member of von Ohain’s team who soon resigned.

    To von Ohain’s widow, Tesla’s silence seemed almost cruel.

    Though the company eventually helped cover the cost of her move back home to Ohio, Bass said, Tesla’s first communication with the family after the crash was a termination notice she found in her husband’s email

  209. Reginald Selkirk says

    Fake Michigan Certificate of Votes mailed to U.S. Senate after 2020 presidential vote, official says

    A fake Certificate of Votes was submitted to the U.S. Senate following Michigan’s 2020 presidential election, an official testified Tuesday during a preliminary hearing for six people facing forgery and other charges for allegedly serving as false electors.

    The “purported” Certificate of Votes didn’t match an official document signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and featuring the Michigan state seal, said Dan Schwager, who served in 2020-2021 as general counsel to the secretary of the Senate…

  210. Reginald Selkirk says

    Arizona Republican’s bill kicks Joe Biden off the ballot if Donald Trump is disqualified

    … One recent example is House Bill 2786, sponsored by Republican Rep. Cory McGarr.

    It’s a reaction to efforts in several states to bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot for having violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies anyone from holding office who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or who has “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” …

    Just in case, however, McGarr’s bill says if Trump is disqualified then Biden, too, must be disqualified.

    The … (let’s go with) … comical nature of that suggestion might best be exposed by way of a historic example in sports…

  211. Reginald Selkirk says

    Alejandro Mayorkas: House votes to impeach homeland security secretary

    The House of Representatives has narrowly voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, making him the first cabinet member to face impeachment in nearly 150 years.

    Many Republicans blame Mr Mayorkas for an unprecedented influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

    The Republican-led chamber voted 214 to 213 for the measure, after an earlier attempt failed last week…

  212. John Morales says

    Reginald @302, how often are people gonna get this concept wrong?

    The “purported” Certificate of Votes

    What is intended there clearly is ‘The purported Certificate of Votes’ — the scare quotes actually indicate that they are not actually purported, but real.

    (Good grief, how can so many get it so wrong so often?
    How can people just quote that without noting the glaring error?)

  213. tomh says

    NPR
    Democrat Suozzi wins special election to replace Santos in New York
    Deirdre Walsh / Updated February 13, 202410:13 PM ET

    Democrat Tom Suozzi has won the New York special election to the U.S. House, according to an AP race call. Suozzi will serve out the remainder of the term for former GOP Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House last year.

    The victory further narrows the already razor-thin majority for Republicans in the House. The race was seen as a test of Democrats’ ability to overcome attacks over President Biden’s handling of the U.S. border with Mexico and convince voters that Republicans are unable to legislate in Washington.

    Immigration politics have dominated the contest in a congressional district that sits thousands of miles from the U.S. border with Mexico. The race was between Suozzi, who served three terms in the House, and Nassau County Republican county legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip.
    […]

  214. says

    tomh @306, that is good news. Moreover, Tom Suozzi actually won with a comfortable margin. I don’t think all the votes have been counted yet, but Suozzi looks to have won about 54% of the vote.

    Democrats will need to flip about four more seats in November to take back control of the chamber.

    As expected, Trump posted on Truth Social that the Republican candidate, Mazi Melees Pilip, lost in the special election because she is a “very foolish woman,” who tried to distance herself from him. Trump also lied and wrote, “I have an almost 99% Endorsement Success Rate in Primaries, and a very good number in the General Elections, as well, but just watched this very foolish woman, Mazi Melesa Pilip, running in a race where she didn’t endorse me and tried to ‘straddle the fence,’ when she would have easily WON if she understood anything about MODERN DAY politics in America.” He does not have a 99% endorsement success rate.

    Too bad that Suozzi wasn’t already in Congress to vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. See comment 302.

    The Republican-led chamber voted 214 to 213 for the measure, after an earlier attempt failed last week…

  215. tomh says

    NYT
    Supreme Court Gives Prosecutors a Week to Respond in Trump Immunity Case
    By Adam Liptak / Feb. 13, 2024

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting former President Donald J. Trump, a week to respond to Mr. Trump’s emergency application asking the justices to halt an appeals court’s ruling that rejected his claim that he is absolutely immune from criminal charges.

    In asking Mr. Smith to respond by next Tuesday at 4 p.m., the justices did not set a particularly speedy schedule. The court often asks for quicker responses to emergency applications on what critics call its shadow docket. But nothing prevents Mr. Smith from filing sooner, and he probably will.

    The proceedings against Mr. Trump in his criminal trial on charges of trying to subvert the 2020 election will remain frozen in the meantime. Unless the justices move quickly, the trial could be pushed into the heart of the 2024 campaign, or even past the election.

    In asking the Supreme Court to intervene on Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers urged the justices to move at a deliberate pace.

    “President Trump’s claim that presidents have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts presents a novel, complex and momentous question that warrants careful consideration on appeal,” Mr. Trump’s application said.

    His lawyers added that the court should take account of the election campaign and what they said were Mr. Smith’s political motives in trying to move briskly.

    “Conducting a monthslong criminal trial of President Trump at the height of election season,” the filing said, “will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden — which appears to be the whole point of the special counsel’s persistent demands for expedition.”

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that he may not be prosecuted for actions he took while in office.

    The trial had been set to start on March 4, but Judge Tanya S. Chutkan has removed it from her calendar. If the justices deny Mr. Trump’s request for a stay, it will be rescheduled.

  216. says

    Ukraine Update: Russia lost an entire army, now they’re losing a second one

    A pair of reports were released this week providing analyses of Russia’s current fighting capabilities in Ukraine and prospects for the outcome of this illegal invasion. Each of these reports comes to the same conclusion: Fighting may continue for years before either Ukraine or Russia can reach anything like victory.

    Something could happen at any time to change the status of the war in Ukraine. A new technology may make the use of FPV drones in defense less powerful. A new strategy might turn those same drones into a key part of a successful advance. But at the moment, the combination of drones, artillery, and minefields is making any attempt to advance into a scrapyard of smoldering steel and torn flesh.

    Russia has lost an entire Russian army’s worth of men and machines. But that still may not be enough to keep them from capturing Ukraine if Western aid falters.

    Reuters has information from the latest version of the IISS Military Balance estimate of weapons available to each of the world’s militaries. That estimate suggests that Russia has lost more than 3,000 tanks, “the equivalent of its entire pre-war active inventory.” That number is about half the losses estimated by Ukraine’s general staff, but in line with the numbers of verified losses collected from videos and photographs.

    In addition to those tanks, Russia has lost thousands of armored transports, supply trucks, engineering vehicles, and artillery guns. It continues to lose dozens more every day. [List of losses at the link]

    In addition to all that gear, Russia has lost an army’s worth of soldiers. U.S. intelligence indicated that as of December, Russia had lost 87% of the forces it started with, and that was before another month of lopsided slaughter at Avdiivka. [Tweet and chart at the link: “Russian losses in the battle for Avdiivka are 13 times (!) higher than Ukrainian losses, based on visually confirmed data from OSINT analysts. I said this many times: give Ukraine the needed weapons and russia will be defeated.”]

    Any nation that charges into an invasion of its neighbor only to lose its entire military force would seem to fall solidly into the category of “loser.” However, IISS indicates that Russia has so far been able to replace its tank fleet.

    Production of new tanks is a relative trickle, but Russia has “enough lower-quality armored vehicles in storage” to last them years. That’s why lists of Russian losses now include things like venerable T-62 tanks and other pieces of decrepit hardware that were not part of Russia’s armory when Vladimir Putin first sent Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine.

    On the other hand, the quality of Ukraine’s equipment has actually improved over the course of the war thanks to Western shipments of more up-to-date tanks, armor, artillery, and other gear.

    Almost two years into the war, Russia has lost the army it brought to Ukraine and is instead fighting with a military utilizing archaic tanks and rusty transports hauled in from storage and hastily refitted. Ukraine is fighting with an army that is better trained, better equipped, and which—while suffering horrible losses—has not faced anything near the losses of Russia.

    However, IISS estimates that Russia is still able to put twice as many tanks on the field as Ukraine. And Russia is still willing to advance, even though drones, minefields, and artillery mean that each attempt to move forward only extends its horrible losses.

    Russia has lost one army. They’re willing to lose another because Putin believes that between the thousands of moldering hulks on Russia’s storage field and the millions of men that can still be dragged in from the countryside, there is always another army to be found.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is unwilling to destroy his army. In part because unlike Putin, he seems to care about the lives of his soldiers. In part because, unlike Putin, he doesn’t have a spare.

    That difference plays a role in why a second report from Rusi.org says that Russia “now believes that is winning.” This perception, that with the expenditure of enough men and enough military hardware, they can still capture all of Ukraine and get Putin his long-desired triumph through the streets of Kyiv has hardened Russian thinking about any negotiated peace.

    Russia is so convinced that this strategy will lead to victory that it is now reportedly unwilling to settle for an arrangement that gives them anything less than complete control of every oblast where they now have partial control. That includes not just all of Donetsk, but also Kharkiv and Kherson. Some of the suggested plans would require Ukraine to toss in the city of Odesa if they want to achieve peace.

    Except Russia isn’t really calling these terms for peace. They’re calling it “surrender terms.”

    And again, what happens from here is more likely to be determined in Washington, D.C., than on the muddy front lines south of Bakhmut.

    The Russian theory of victory is plausible if Ukraine’s international partners fail to properly resource the AFU. However, if Ukraine’s partners continue to provide sufficient ammunition and training support to the AFU to enable the blunting of Russian attacks in 2024, then Russia is unlikely to achieve significant gains in 2025.

    Rusi.org estimates that if Ukraine is well-supplied enough to carry this fight into 2025, the tide is likely to turn as Russia’s supply of men and material dries up. Each month of fighting that goes on after that increases the chance of a Ukrainian victory.

    Fighting another two years or more is a huge thing to ask of Ukraine. But it’s better than surrendering to Putin, and it’s only possible if we give them the help they need.
    ——————————-
    The situation at Avdiivka is becoming ever more dire. [Tweet and map at the link: “Russian units have severed the Industrial Avenue, a key ground line of communications between the coke coal plant and the rest of (what used to be) the city. It’s not the last one, yet Russian advances have gravely undermined Ukrainian logistics. The situation is critical due to the chronic and acute lack of everything, from munitions to equipment. Russians blanket Ukrainian units with scores of guided air bombs 24/7, and Ukraine has nothing left to counter that. The impediment of critical defense aid to Ukraine is taking its toll….]

    There are conflicting reports over whether Ukraine has sent reinforcements into the city. Local commanders insist reinforcements have arrived, but Russian positions make sending more troops beyond the industrial complex at the city’s northern edge something that can generously be called problematic, and would more accurately seem to be a death trap.

    Ukraine has cost Russia enormous losses at Avdiivka while suffering relatively few losses of its own. Whatever happens next, we can only pray it stays that way.
    —————————-
    [Tweet and video of Zelenskyy delivering message: “I am grateful to every US Senator who made a morally strong choice today. Such a choice matters right now, not just for Ukraine but for every nation whose independence is a target for Russian strikes, current and planned, including those planned for the coming years.

    Putin’s ambitions have never been limited to Ukraine. His goals are far broader. This means that our defense solidarity must be even broader.

    The next step is a vote in the US House of Representatives. We anticipate an equally strong moral choice and a decision that will work for the benefit of our shared security.”]

    The video has English subtitles. Zelenskyy begins with a battle status report. I did not include the entire translation above. “The aggressor must never win. Peace must be just.”

  217. says

    NBC News:

    CIA Director William Burns has arrived in Cairo for talks on a hostage release deal, which would include a temporary cease-fire and a better plan for getting aid into Gaza. David Barnea, director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, will also travel to the Egyptian capital, a senior Israeli official told NBC News.

  218. Reginald Selkirk says

    @302: Mayorkas impeached by a single vote margin
    @306 Democrats win another House seat

    Hmmm.

  219. birgerjohansson says

    A question for english-speaking commenters who know how to navigate the Merican interwebz…

    After the win, what is the new balance in the House, if we include everyone who is absent, sick or blind drunk?

  220. Reginald Selkirk says

    Ukraine says it has sunk another warship, disabling a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

    Ukraine claims it has now disabled a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet after its military intelligence said it sank another Russian warship in a sea drone attack off the coast of Crimea on Wednesday.

    Russia’s landing ship Caesar Kunikov was attacked with “MAGURA” V5 drones that punctured “critical holes” on its left side before sinking, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said on Telegram…

  221. birgerjohansson says

    Reginald Selkirk @ 314
    So if you can buy off three Republicans – who maybe do not have good chances of reelection anyway-, the House will pass Biden’s aid package.
    Can we use a GoFundMe?
    If no one bites, what does it cost to hire some “professional” from New Jersey to “solve” the problem?

  222. Reginald Selkirk says

    The US Government Is Suing Itself Over Silicon Valley Bank

    Can’t we all just get along? Not if you’re an employee of the federal government. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) just filed a lawsuit against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) over a $1.45 billion tax bill stemming from the bailout of Silicon Valley Bank.

    In other words, the US government filed a lawsuit against the US government. May the best bureaucracy win.

    Back in 2023, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed overnight. It threatened to take the entire global financial system down with it, so the US government stepped in to save the day. The FDIC took over the bank and promised to make its customers whole. Since then, the FDIC’s been gathering Silicon Valley Bank’s assets to try and pay back its deposits. That includes $1.93 billion in cash, but with those assets comes a massive tax bill, one that the FDIC feels like it shouldn’t have to pay. The IRS, on the other hand, would really like to have that money, please, according to a report in Reuters.

    In fact, the IRS wants it so bad it’s making a whole federal case about it. According to America’s top tax men, Silicon Valley Bank was on the hook for an estimated $1.45 billion for the period from 2020 through 2023. The FDIC denied the IRS’s tax claim, and now it’s up to the courts to decide…

  223. says

    The Mayorkas impeachment will be interesting. The whole thing is just a mirror of Trump’s impeachment and the House has no interest in it. I don’t think Trump has the same ability to put pressure on the House. I don’t believe it will go anywhere. Even if it did it looks pathetic since they are impeaching him for doing his job in a way they don’t like, every accusations I’ve seen is a political slogan like “open boarders” that is a lie on it’s face.

  224. Reginald Selkirk says

    Microsoft says US rivals are beginning to use generative AI in offensive cyber operations

    Microsoft said Wednesday that U.S. adversaries — chiefly Iran and North Korea and to a lesser extent Russia and China — are beginning to use generative artificial intelligence to mount or organize offensive cyber operations.

    The technology giant said it detected and disrupted, in collaboration with business partner OpenAI, threats that used or attempted to exploit AI technology they had developed…

  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    Madame Web: Critics savage Dakota Johnson’s Spider-Man spin-off

    Madame Web, the fourth film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, has been branded a “tangled mess” by critics, who have largely savaged it.

    Starring Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, both the film premise and the acting have come under fire in a string of one-star reviews…

    Madame Web Is Not the Worst Comic Book Movie of All Time, but It Ain’t Good

    Madame Web is a two-hour trailer for the movie you think you’re watching, but actually aren’t. If that’s confusing, welcome to the world of Madame Web, where everyone—the characters, the actors, the audience, and everyone in between—is confused about basically everything, all of the time. It’s a film that sets specific expectations in terms of story and payoff, proceeds to seed and tease those payoffs throughout the movie, and then never delivers on them. When a film has to pretend to be something it’s not to keep you interested, that’s not a good sign, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg with Madame Web…

  226. Reginald Selkirk says

    Scientists grow ‘meaty’ rice hybrid food for protein kick

    Scientists have created a new type of hybrid food – a “meaty” rice that they say could offer an affordable and eco-friendly source of protein.

    The porous grains are packed with beef muscle and fat cells, grown in the lab.

    The rice was first coated in fish gelatine to help the beef cells latch on, and the grains were left in a petri dish to culture for up to 11 days…

    My, but doesn’t that sound appetizing?

  227. says

    Campaign tidbits, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    * Democracy in Wisconsin took a step forward when the Republican-controlled legislature approved new legislative maps proposed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. As an Associated Press report noted, the move was “designed to prevent the liberal-controlled state Supreme Court from implementing maps that might be even worse for Republicans.”

    * By way of his social media platform, Donald Trump commented on New York’s congressional special election by saying GOP candidate Mazi Pilip would have “easily” won if she’d tied herself to the former president. In the same missive, Trump also wrote, “I WANT TO BE LOVED!”

    * On a related note, the former president also published an item on California’s U.S. Senate race, condemning Rep. Adam Schiff as “ONE OF THE TRUE LOWLIFES IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICS IN AMERICA.” This is, of course, likely to benefit the California Democrat.

    * Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley was apparently unimpressed when Trump endorsed a former adviser (Michael Whatley) and his own daughter-in-law (Lara Trump) to serve as the Republican National Committee’s new leadership team. “Think about what’s happening right now,” Haley said. “Is that how you’re going to try and take an election?”

    * On a related note, the former ambassador told NBC News in a new interview that she believes Trump is “more diminished” and “not the same person he was in 2016.” […]

    Link

  228. says

    GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik isn’t targeting New York Attorney General Letitia James on the merits, she’s targeting her in the hopes of impressing Team Trump.

    As the race to the bottom among Donald Trump’s prospective running mates continues, it was apparently House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s turn to try to impress the former president and his political operation. Evidently, the New York congresswoman took the cue. NBC News reported:

    House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik has filed a complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James over her multimillion-dollar civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump […]

    As part of the congresswoman’s complaint, sent to the New York Committee on Professional Standards, the state attorney general is “conducting a biased investigation and prosecution” of the former president. Stefanik added that she believes James made “highly inappropriate and prejudicial comments on social media.”

    NBC News’ report noted that, as part of the complaint, the House Republican Conference chair wants the Attorney Grievance Committee to investigate James and issue consequences, “such as disbarring or suspending her.”

    Does Stefanik’s complaint have merit? Not really. Will it likely lead to meaningful consequences for the New York AG? Probably not.

    But the point isn’t to punish James, it’s to impress Trump and his team. The former president hates the state prosecutor with the heat of a thousand suns, and through her actions, Stefanik appears to be effectively sending a message to Mar-a-Lago: “See? I’m going after the Democrat you hate.”

    This comes on the heels of Stefanik’s incoherent criticisms of a judge who’d just granted Team Trump’s request for a postponement in a civil case.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik claiming with a straight face that Trump hadn’t confused Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi, even after everyone saw him do exactly that.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik echoing Trump’s rhetoric about Jan. 6 rioters being “hostages” — a claim that even some in her party were not comfortable with.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik responding to Trump’s classified documents scandal by criticizing the National Archives, helping launch an effort to “expunge“ Trump’s impeachments, and joining a partisan crusade against federal law enforcement.

    Which came on the heels of Stefanik filing an ethics complaint against the judge overseeing Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York and pressing the Justice Department to prosecute Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who has since become a fierce critic of the former president.

    I continue to believe that no one should want to be vice president this badly.

  229. KG says

    Brony, Social Justice Cenobite@320,

    The Mayorkas impeachment will be interesting. The whole thing is just a mirror of Trump’s impeachment and the House has no interest in it.

    The Senate, surely?

  230. says

    For election watchers, the congressional special election in New York was the marque contest, but the legislative race in Pennsylvania mattered, too.

    For election watchers, the congressional special election in New York was clearly this week’s marque contest. A House Republican leader, campaigning in the Long Island district, went so far as to argue, “The nation is watching what happens here.”

    But as Democrats celebrated their success in the Empire State, there was another race election watchers were following in a neighboring state, which mattered, too. NBC News reported overnight:

    Democrats won a state House special election in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, preserving the party’s narrow majority in the closely watched battleground state, The Associated Press projected. In the race for the open seat in the 140th state House District, Democrat Jim Prokopiak, a school board member in Bucks County, defeated Republican Candace Cabanas.

    While those names won’t be familiar to national audiences, one of the reasons the results stood out is the larger legislative context: Had the GOP candidate in this race prevailed, Democrats would’ve lost their narrow majority in the Pennsylvania state House.

    But just as notable was the local geography. NBC News’ report added, “The win in Bucks County — a purple slice of the northern suburbs of Philadelphia — was hailed as positive news by national Democrats, some of whom had viewed the contest as an early bellwether of the party’s fortunes among suburban voters ahead of the 2024 election.”

    Note, in the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won this district by roughly 10 points. In the special election, the Democratic candidate appears to have won by roughly 35 points.

    What’s more, a Politico report noted that there have been six legislative special elections in Pennsylvania over the past year, and Democrats have won all of them. […]

  231. birgerjohansson says

    In Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s day is more about friendship
    (a wise choice, as friendship is less vulnerable to the vagaries of hormones. A lot of people are still friends after decades).

  232. says

    Trump Attorneys Gamed Out Which Supreme Court Justices Might Help Them Steal the Election

    […]Trump’s attorneys in 2020 thought that they had one advantage which nobody — not the Democrats, not lower-court judges, not Congress — could outmatch: the Supreme Court.

    At their most feverish, attorneys for Trump believed that the Supreme Court could eventually be bullied into declaring Joe Biden the loser of the 2020 election and Trump the winner. They deployed a series of strategies, detailed in a trove of documents given to Michigan prosecutors by attorney Ken Chesebro, aimed at stoking a chaotic stalemate in Congress, thereby forcing the Court to act.

    The same set of real-time emails and texts between Trump campaign officials and attorneys also shows how the group sought to influence individual justices as they filed lawsuits seeking to overturn Biden’s victory in several swing states. In the trove, attorneys game out which justices would view their claims most favorably, and speculate over how certain claims or lawsuits could create pressure to build a majority on the court.

    At times, the Trump attorneys recognized that their play for the Supreme Court was a Hail Mary. It’s from that desperation, the documents suggest, that the push for chaos and delay emerged — a nearly hopeless quest to leave the Supreme Court as the only actor left standing, with Congress buckling under procedural radicalism.

    […] This story largely plays out in the final weeks before Jan. 6, after the Trump campaign had finished convening slates of its own, fake presidential electors who were willing to cast ballots saying Trump, not Biden, had won their state. To the Trump campaign, that scheme, too, was a means to theorize the high court into wrenching states that it lost away from Biden. As Chesebro wrote in late November to several attorneys working on the campaign’s effort to invalidate the Wisconsin result, the point of convening fake electors would be “to benefit from an eventual U.S. Supreme Court ruling” voiding the election result, allowing the Trump electors to swoop in and replace the Biden electors from their state in the Electoral College.

    But it wasn’t until mid December, after the fake electors were sworn in — and after the Supreme Court signaled that it would not help the Trump campaign, rejecting on Dec. 11 a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas — that conversations about how to exert pressure on the justices began to accelerate.

    […] The trove of documents obtained by TPM paints a fuller picture. […]

    The documents provide new details about and insights into the Trump campaign’s legal maneuvering before Jan. 6, a story we told in part I and part II of this series. They tell another story, too: how a group of attorneys for the Trump campaign, including Chesebro, sought to use lawsuits before the Court to advance their goal of reversing Trump’s loss, including by:
    – Filing lawsuits before SCOTUS challenging the results in enough states to create the impression that more electoral votes were still in play than the margin by which Trump lost
    – Forcing SCOTUS to step in by causing a stalemate in Congress on Jan. 6
    – Bringing enough lawsuits to SCOTUS so as to pressure friendly justices to act more aggressively

    The story picks up in the weeks after the election, when the Trump campaign filed lawsuits across the country, seeking to invalidate or overturn the results in several states. They lost in nearly every case that they brought, and saw dozens more lawsuits dismissed. As time ran out, they had to decide: Which cases should they continue to pursue through appeals to the Supreme Court? [Details at the link]

    […] “Odds?” Eastman chimed in, responding to Clark’s request. He gave them odds: 10-20 percent that the Court would take the Pennsylvania case; “having Wisconsin in probably pushes that more towards the 20% side of the range or higher.”

    “Odds of the Wisconsin case getting granted? ZERO if we don’t file,” Eastman added. [screen grab of email available at the link]

    It was a carpe diem approach to seeking review from the Supreme Court, and one echoed by Chesebro, who wrote 10 minutes later that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and that he would defer to Eastman’s “personal insight” into which justices were the most distressed by the Trump campaign’s claims.

    [more details available at the link]

    […] Chesebro sketched] out a theory over several emails throughout the day, proposing a plan to pressure the Supreme Court to overturn the election: the campaign could file enough Supreme Court cases to persuade the justices that they held the power to “change the electoral outcome.” [screen grab of email available at the link]

    […] Eastman wrote that he believed the campaign was on solid legal ground, and so the odds were based not on “the legal merits, but an assessment of the Justices’ spines,” before exhorting the group to help the justices who were “willing to do their duty” by filing the Wisconsin case.

    After more back-and-forth, Eastman shared the theory that Chief Justice Roberts would likely be concerned, if the Court ruled in favor of Trump, about “the riots angle” — a premonition of what might come after handing Trump an election he lost. [screen grab of email available at the link]

    Clark, the campaign official, wrote in to the sprawling thread two hours after Eastman’s “riots” email with some skepticism: he said that the campaign wouldn’t pay the attorneys “unless we get some wins,” and, worse for Chesebro and Eastman, that his impression was that the odds of success in Wisconsin were zero. He also echoed Chesebro’s theory that, if the election certification in Congress could be derailed, Jan. 6 could extend for days […]

    The campaign eventually assented. On Dec. 29, Rudy Giuliani sent a certification authorizing the attorneys to ask the Supreme Court to hear the Wisconsin case.

    The Trump attorneys were also reviewing the option of Georgia. […] Chesebro replied within minutes that he saw an added benefit with Marks’ gambit: Georgia federal courts are in the 11th Circuit, which is overseen by Justice Clarence Thomas.

    Again, Chesebro wrote, the point was to make a statement via the Court.

    “Merely having this case pending in the Supreme Court, not ruled on, might be enough to delay consideration of Georgia, particularly if Pence has the legal ability and will to insert himself at least enough to win delay,” he wrote. “Realistically, our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress, is from Thomas […]”

    “I think I agree,” Eastman replied. All the Court needed to give was a “likely,” he wrote — some suggestion that a ruling which signaled some chance of winning down the line might be enough. After all, Eastman said, he was talking to Georgia lawmakers and Jan. 6 was one week away: all they needed was a small push to decertify Biden’s win in the state before the big day.

    By that point, the emails suggest, even the most optimistic Trump attorneys were losing hope of a clear-cut win before the Supreme Court. […]

    At this point,” he concluded, “the best we can likely hope for is a strident dissent from Thomas or Alito that maps out the illegal conduct and the constitutional actors who can provide a remedy.”

  233. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohannson @ #329…
    What? Tharsis Ridge and Olympus Mons isn’t sufficient evidence to demonstrate past vulcanism on Mars?

  234. says

    Tucker Carlson wishes America was more like Moscow

    On Monday, Tucker Carlson followed up his interview of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin with an appearance at the 2024 World Governments Summit in Dubai. Speaking with Egyptian journalist Emad Eldin Adeeb, Carlson praised Putin as “very capable” and fawned over Moscow, where he had just spent eight days as the dictator’s special guest.

    “It is so much nicer than any city in my country,” Tucker effused, adding, “it is so much cleaner and safer and prettier aesthetically—its architecture, its food, its service—than any city in the United States.”

    But it wouldn’t be Tucker without more negative hyperbole and nods to fascism. He proceeded to pontificate on how he didn’t believe the “average person” in the U.S. “cares as much about abstractions as about the concrete reality of his life. And if you can’t use your subway, for example, as many people are afraid to in New York City because it’s too dangerous, you have to sort of wonder, like, isn’t that the ultimate measure of leadership?”

    Tucker then gushed about other cities, including Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, that he thinks are nicer than those in America. “[T]hese cities, no matter how we’re told they’re run and on what principles they’re run, are wonderful places to live that don’t have rampant inflation, where you’re not going to get raped,” he said.

    Tucker’s fascistic dog-whistling about trains, based on a historic falsehood, is funny coming from a man who had a small television studio built in Maine in 2020 and doesn’t seem to have spent much time in New York City recently, and probably could count on one hand the number of times he’s ever ridden the New York City subway.

    And while rape and sexual assault are notoriously underreported, the compilations of the statistics available show New York state has one of the lowest reported rape statistics in the United States.

    But there is a trend in Carlson’s Cities I Love travel guide: Moscow, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi are located in countries that rank poorly in terms of freedom, according to Freedom House, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for human rights and democracy. In fact, Freedom House lists Russia and the United Arab Emirates as simply “not free.” Tokyo is the one example that aligns closest to our country’s civil liberties in the group, and Singapore is listed as a “partly free” place to live—unless you’re a rich American visiting with a camera crew, of course.

    Carlson then gave his prescription for what ails the cities of America—cities that never existed but that Tucker asserts were alive and well in his childhood’s imagination:

    So I’m 54. I was born in 1969. I grew up in a country that had cities like Moscow and Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Singapore and Tokyo, and we no longer have them. And what I have discovered is that’s a voluntary choice.

    Crime. Same. You don’t have to have crime, actually. If you don’t put—my children don’t smoke marijuana at the breakfast table. Why? Because I won’t allow them. It’s very simple. It’s a short conversation: No. And you can run your country the same way: We’re not going to put up with that, so don’t do it. And people understand that.

    Don’t let that intellectually vacuous and paternalistic analogy blow your hair back too far. Tucker then returned to attacking New York City, calling it “filthy” and complaining that nobody cleans up graffiti anymore.

    He forgets that you have to pay people to do those kinds of things. It’s called infrastructure. The Democratic Party and President Joe Biden passed a bill that forced politicians to put up or shut up while Carlson’s beloved Republicans, under Trump, failed to do anything for America’s cities.

  235. Reginald Selkirk says

    ‘Staff Exodus’ Hits Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Campaign — And That’s Not All, Report Says

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign has been hit with numerous resignations amid concerns over “lavish spending” and “self-serving” leadership, Mediaite reported on Tuesday.

    Citing multiple unnamed sources, the news outlet wrote that Kennedy24 lost 12 of its 25 field staff members, along with two main staff members, after they quit in January…

  236. says

    birger @330, Oh. I like that idea.

    In other news: Trump spent years exploiting immigrants he now claims are ‘poisoning’ our country

    Former President Donald Trump used language right from Hitler’s playbook when he claimed that immigrants coming to the U.S. are “poisoning the blood of our country.” What’s particularly scary is just how many Trump supporters embrace his fascistic rhetoric about immigrants. Rolling Stone reported on the results of a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll that found that 35% of Trump’s 2020 voters agree with his dark message about the threat posed by immigrants.

    But what they probably don’t realize is the total hypocrisy of Trump’s rhetoric. That’s because for decades, including during Trump’s presidency, his company relied on undocumented workers to fill jobs as housekeepers, waiters, groundskeepers, and stonemasons at his properties, The Washington Post reported.

    Using them brought a double advantage: Trump could reap the financial benefit of undocumented labor — the ability to pay his employees lower wages and fewer benefits — and the political benefit of attacking it.

    [Trump’s personal housekeeper at Bedminster, Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala said]

    “We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” Morales told The Times. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”

    […] the issue of Trump’s hiring of undocumented immigrants to work at or construct some of his properties during a February 2016 Republican presidential debate. But that didn’t stop Trump from winning the nomination with his promise to build a wall along the southern border and have Mexico pay for it.

    Someone has been poisoning our democracy, and it sure isn’t hard-working immigrants.

  237. says

    Is weak and cowardly Trump-serving House Speaker Mike Johnson going to get this Ukraine aid through the House? Or is he going to side with Donald Trump MAGA extremists in his caucus, the people who literally support Vladimir Putin’s genocide on innocent people, who truly in their hearts want Putin to win, to destroy Ukraine and put our European allies in grave danger?

    […] Playbook says the Ukraine aid the Senate passed 70-29 is going “nowhere fast.” Punchbowl says it “may be dead,” and explains “what can save it.”

    And let’s be clear: Mike Johnson knows the stakes. […] he’s apparently fine with letting Putin continue […] kidnapping Ukrainian babies, if that’s what’s necessary for his political ambitions. As Greg Sargent reports this morning, Democratic Rep. Jason Crow told him explicitly that Johnson has seen the intelligence, “has sat in briefings that I’ve sat in,” and knows exactly what happens to Ukraine if America abandons our ally to Russia.

    Sargent also reports that, according to Crow, senior House Republicans recently told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the aid would “easily pass,” and that the only thing really standing in the way is the fact that the Christian nationalist extremist with the gavel won’t bring it up for a vote.

    Got that? It. Would. Pass.

    […] Of course, it’s useful to remember that, though Johnson likes to believe otherwise, he’s kind of an airhead who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. And he’s desperately frightened of the terrorist wing of his caucus. […]

    We caught up last night with several House GOP insiders, and each one told us it appears as though Johnson is flying by the seat of his pants, polishing his reputation for dithering in the face of tough decisions. […]

    Johnson’s own senior leadership team remains entirely in the dark about what he’s thinking, and there are plenty in that cadre who say flat-out that this ain’t going anywhere — ever.

    “I’m as confused as ever about what he wants,” one House GOP insider told us. “He hasn’t given us any direction. … I think right now he’s in survival mode.”

    “Kevin would have a strategy, he’d shop it around, then he’d make a play call,” another said. “The more I’m around Johnson, the more it’s clear to me he doesn’t have a plan.”

    When people are looking fondly backward on the productive and efficient days of Kevin McCarthy …

    […] So what can Democrats and any Republicans who actually care do? There are options, and they are not necessarily easy. But they are doable, in theory.

    There’s lots of talk of this thing called a “discharge petition,” which would require Republican help, and would completely bypass Mike Johnson […] It would also require pretty much all Democrats to be on board, and Playbook says somewhere between 15 and 35 progressives might not be, because of the $14 billion in the Senate’s bill for Israel.

    Basically, without getting too far into the procedural weeds, 218 members would have to be in on it — a majority of the House — to bring a bill without Johnson’s blessing. And one of these discharge petitions already exists, with 213 Democrats’ signatures. Hence needing some Republican help to get it to 218 […]

    So that is why a lot of people are saying this is a longshot.

    There’s another thing called “defeating the previous question,” which, uh, let’s let Punchbowl:

    Here’s how that would go: Every time the House Republican leadership brings a bill to the floor under a rule, there’s a vote on “moving the previous question.” If that vote is defeated, the Democrat managing debate can amend the rule and effectively bring up any bill they want.

    There could be procedural hurdles here. For example, any bill the minority brings up would have to be germane. But Ukraine supporters can overturn that ruling with 218 votes.

    MAIN IDEA: If people want to get this shit done bad enough, they can.

    They just have to give enough fucks about not selling American, European and Ukrainian security as playthings for Vladimir Putin’s delusional murder fantasies. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/poor-coward-house-speaker-mike-johnson

  238. says

    Probably not what Republicans had in mind: After border bill failure, ICE considers mass releases to close budget gap.

    Washington Post link

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has drafted plans to release thousands of immigrants and slash its capacity to hold detainees after the failure of a Senate border bill that would have erased a $700 million budget shortfall, according to four officials at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.

    The bipartisan border bill that Republican lawmakers opposed last week would have provided $6 billion in supplemental funding for ICE enforcement operations. The bill’s demise has led ICE officials to begin circulating an internal proposal to save money by releasing thousands of detainees and cutting detention levels from 38,000 beds to 22,000 — the opposite of the enforcement increases Republicans say they want.

    The budget crunch and the proposal also present a difficult scenario for the Biden administration heading into the spring, when illegal crossings at the southern border are expected to spike again. On Tuesday, House Republicans voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas […]

    Former president Donald Trump, the 2024 Republican front-runner in the presidential campaign, boasted of his role in influencing lawmakers to block the border bill, which he said would have benefited Biden politically.

    […] ICE officials say the $700 million deficit is the largest projected shortfall the agency has faced in recent memory.

    […] Most of the detainees in ICE custody are not immigrants arrested in U.S. cities for crimes, but recent arrivals taken into custody along the Mexico border, ICE statistics show. Of the 38,500 detainees who were in ICE detention at the end of January, 72 percent were transferred by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    A major reduction in ICE detention capacity would be likely to lead to more deportation-eligible migrants getting released from U.S. custody along the border, DHS officials said. That would further undermine the Biden administration’s strategy of applying “consequences” — especially deportations and returns — to deter migrants who cross illegally and don’t qualify for asylum.

    […] John Sandweg, who was acting director of ICE under President Barack Obama, said many of the Republican lawmakers voting to impeach Mayorkas have attacked him for releasing border-crossers who should be detained. ICE doesn’t have the capacity for that, Sandweg said. […]

  239. Reginald Selkirk says

    Republican Michigan elector testifies he never intended to make false public record

    A Michigan Republican accused of participating in a fake elector plot after the 2020 presidential election testified Wednesday that he did not know how the electoral process worked and never intended to make a false public record.

    “We were told this was an appropriate process,” James Renner, 77, said during a preliminary hearing for a half-dozen other electors who face forgery and other charges…

    1) Told by whom?
    2) Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

  240. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @birgerjohansson #315:

    what does it cost to hire some “professional” from New Jersey to “solve” the problem?

    You were informed of the rule last week.

    For clarity, this broader wording was given to someone else.

    In this thread, we don’t wish physical harm on anyone. No matter how oblique (or humorous) the reference to physical harm, it is not acceptable.

  241. Reginald Selkirk says

    House Intel chair issues cryptic warning about “serious national security threat,” calls on Biden to declassify details

    The head of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed Wednesday that members of Congress were given access to information about an unspecified “serious national security threat” and encouraged President Biden to declassify all information relating to the threat.

    The revelation from Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence panel, came in a cryptic statement issued by the committee. It did not contain any details, except to announce that the committee “has made available to all members of Congress information concerning a serious national security threat.” …

  242. Reginald Selkirk says

    House bill would connect Texas’s ERCOT with national grid

    Reps. Greg Casar (D-Texas) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have introduced legislation that would connect Texas’s self-contained grid with the rest of the nation, three years after extreme winter weather knocked out the grid and killed hundreds of Texans.

    Casar and Ocasio-Cortez announced the legislation on Wednesday, the third anniversary of the winter storm. The Connect the Grid Act would place the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) under the purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It would also require the Energy Department and FERC to conduct a study on the benefits of connection with Mexico…

  243. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A company tracked visits to 600 Planned Parenthood locations for anti-abortion ads, senator says

    the largest publicly known location-driven anti-abortion ad campaign. […] data could also be used by certain state governments to prosecute women
    […]
    The company claims to have information on 1.6 billion people across 44 countries […] [Near Intelligence] filed for bankruptcy in December and is selling off the business and its assets, which could include the trove of data collected […] Wyden is asking the FTC to prevent Near from selling that data.

     
    Senators demand Justice Department halt funding to predictive policing programs

    a predictive policing algorithm developed by […] Geolitica disproportionately directed officers to patrol marginalized communities almost everywhere it was used. […] a dangerous feedback loop […] which further biases statistics
    […]
    The idea […] is that by feeding historical crime data into a computer algorithm, it’s possible to determine where crime is most likely to occur […] officials can then make proactive interventions
    […]
    investigation into Geolitica’s algorithm found that less than one percent of its predictions aligned with a crime later reported to police.
    […]
    a Florida Sheriff’s Office’s […] software was used as the basis for a campaign of intimidation and harassment of families […] identified as being likely to commit crime at some point in the future.
    […]
    One example of a different framework […] risk-terrain modeling […] combines data about where crime is […] with land use information to identify the environmental factors behind why crime tends to cluster […] In Newark, N.J., […] used to identify city-owned abandoned properties and vacant lots that attracted crime, which were then prioritized for the development of public parks or affordable housing.

  244. says

    Thank you, CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain, @343.

    Breaking news, as presented by NBC:
    At least 1 killed in shooting at Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration.

    Two people have been detained, officials said.

    At least one person was killed and nine others injured in a shooting shot in Kansas City, Missouri, after a rally Wednesday celebrating the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, authorities said.

    Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Hopkins said the victims were hospitalized. Their conditions were unclear.

    Five people, including three with gunshots, were hospitalized at University Health hospital, a facility spokesperson said.

    Two people were detained after the shooting near a garage west of Union Station, the Kansas City Police Department said in a statement.

    The department did not identify suspects.

    Link
    Video and additional details available at the link.

  245. Reginald Selkirk says

    Radio telescope with CU Boulder ties headed to moon’s South Pole

    Astrophysicists at CU Boulder will be part of the first United States science payloads to land on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. Their data could help reveal the sheath of charged particles that lies just above the moon, potentially giving the lunar surface a small electrical charge like a sweater coming out of the dryer.

    The effort is one piece of the first mission in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative—in which the space agency is, “working with several American companies to deliver science and technology to the lunar surface.” In mid-February, a NOVA-C lander designed and built by the Houston-based company Intuitive Machines is scheduled to launch for the moon’s South Pole. The vehicle will carry five NASA-funded scientific payloads, including an instrument called Radio wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the photo Electron Sheath (ROLSES).

    CU Boulder astrophysicist Jack Burns is a co-investigator on the ROLSES instrument, which is led by Natchimuthuk Gopalswamy at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. Burns and his students at CU Boulder are counting down the days…

  246. Reginald Selkirk says

    Vibrio natriegens: Low-cost microbe could speed biological discovery

    Cornell University researchers have created a new version of a microbe to compete economically with E. coli—a bacteria commonly used as a research tool due to its ability to synthesize proteins—to conduct low-cost and scalable synthetic biological experiments.

    As an inexpensive multiplier—much like having a photocopier in a test tube—the bacteria Vibrio natriegens could help labs test protein variants for creation of pharmaceuticals, synthetic fuels and sustainable compounds that battle weeds or pests. The microbe can work effectively without costly incubators, shakers or deep freezers and can be engineered within hours.

    The research was published Feb. 13 in PNAS Nexus…

  247. says

    Here is Trump’s post for this Valentine’s Day:

    “Dear Melania, I LOVE YOU! Even after every single INDICTMENT, ARREST, and WITCH HUNT, you never left my side. You’ve always supported me through everything. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without your guidance, kindness, and warmth. You will always mean the world to me, Melania! From your husband with love, Donald J. Trump. Please leave some kind words for the First Lady this Valentine’s Day! SEND YOUR LOVE. May God bless you, Donald J. Trump. 45th President of the United States.”

    JoeMyGod says if you click the words “SEND YOUR LOVE,” you don’t actually get taken to a place to send a love note to Melania, but rather to a page that asks for a suggested minimum donation of $47.

    Um, also kind of weird to sign a love note to your wife with “Donald J. Trump” and then even weirder to tack on a fundraising link and sign that with “45th President of the United States.”

  248. John Morales says

    Reginald @281, still trying to diss Catholics with ignorant claims? How foolish!

    Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year

    More chocolate for the godless as devout Catholics would never break their fast.

    It is indeed a day of obligation, and also a day of fasting — but that sort of religious fasting is not what you think. Basically, no meat (that begins after Confirmation, IIRC) and only one normal or maybe a couple of small meals per day. And that’s basically it. No prohibition on chocolate.

  249. John Morales says

    Also, those whose age, infirmity or sickness make fasting contra-indicated are exempt from the fasting rules.

  250. says

    Potentially good news: ‘The Campaign Is a Mess’: RFK Jr. Hit With Staff Exodus Over ‘Lavish Spending’ and ‘Amateurish’ Leadership

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is in disarray amid an exodus of campaign workers who say disorganization, lavish spending, amateurish leadership, and a severe disconnect between the campaign and the candidate’s values have led the long-shot bid for the presidency astray. [RFK has values? He seems to be all over the place when it comes to policy. For example, sometimes he comes off as an anti-vaxxer and then he later puts out a more nuanced statement but readers can’t really tell what he intends to say.]

    Fourteen members of Kennedy24 have resigned since the start of the year, including 12 field staff and two main staff […]One source close to the campaign pinned the turmoil on two leaders: Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, campaign manager and Kennedy’s daughter-in-law, and Del Bigtree, an anti-vaccine activist who serves as the campaign’s communications director.

    The source described Fox Kennedy and Bigtree as “self-serving” operatives who were “making decisions based on their own personal advancement opportunities, and not acting in the best interest of the candidate.”

    A major point of contention within the campaign has been the eye-watering payouts to campaign leadership revealed in FEC reports.

    Bigtree’s firm KFP Consulting was paid $35,000 in December; it has made $90,000 off the campaign in total so far. Starlight Saint, the LLC registered to campaign COO Matthew Sanders, makes $21,000 a month. More Beautiful World, the LLC registered to campaign adviser Charles Eisenstein, made $21,667 a month in October, November, and December 2023.

    “When the reports came out and everyone saw the obscene amount of money some people are making, while they are often paying for their own promotional materials out of pocket and can’t get their gas stipend covered, many people started thinking those people are scamming and skimming to line their pockets,” one campaign worker said. […]

    […] “Del is running around spending money lavishly,” another source said. “He’s doing Zoom calls from the slopes with champagne while many people are volunteers and not getting paid.”

    Fox Kennedy, meanwhile, “hired her nanny” Brigid Rasmussen as chief of staff, which was seen internally as a sign of incompetence for the director of a presidential campaign.

    A second campaign worker also griped about the hiring of Fox Kennedy’s nanny as the campaign’s chief of staff. “Although Brigid is a nice young woman, she has no idea how to operate in her role and is inexperienced. This is merely one red flag that indicates incompetence,” they said.

    “The campaign is not run like a business,” one source said. “There is no professional environment. It feels like a Spring Break party cruise. Del has been heard on multiple occasions saying, ‘We are like rock stars, and this is like being on tour with a rock band.’”

    […] One veteran political strategist who reviewed Mediaite’s reporting about the Kennedy campaign said the bloated consultant fees and small field operation (according to a source there were a total of 25 field staffers in January before the 12 resigned) indicates “this is not a serious campaign,” and Kennedy is “not serious about winning.” Instead, the source said, it suggests “they’re looking to line some pockets of consultants who are most likely looking to milk every penny of this campaign. Volunteers cannot put together a national campaign field operation.”

    Mediaite reviewed several resignation letters from campaign workers who quit in the latest exodus. […]

    Details at the link.

    If he can’t run a campaign, and can’t even properly staff a campaign, why does RFK think he can ran the government of the USA?

  251. says

    Followup to comment 348.

    At least one person was killed and as many as 15 others injured in a shooting in Kansas City, Missouri, after a rally Wednesday celebrating the Chiefs Super Bowl victory, authorities said.

    Of the injured, three were in critical condition, five were in serious condition and one person had non-life-threatening injuries, Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Hopkins said.

    Two people were detained after the shooting near a garage west of Union Station […]

    The department did not identify suspects. The shooting appears to be criminal in nature and not terrorism, according to a preliminary investigation, three law enforcement officials briefed on the incident said.

    Police asked people to quickly leave the area so victims could get medical aid.

    Thousands of people had gathered in downtown Kansas City for a celebratory parade and rally at Union Station after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win on Sunday. […]

    Link

  252. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A standard blood test can predict a heart attack

    risk factors have previously been verified in studies involving five to ten years of follow-up, where only factors that are stable over time can be identified.

    “However, we know that the time just before a heart attack is very dynamic. For example, the risk of a heart attack doubles during the month after a divorce, and the risk of a fatal heart event is five times as high during the week after a cancer diagnosis,”
    […]
    The research group had access to blood samples […] Within six months, 420 of these people suffered their first heart attack. Their blood was then compared
    […]
    “We identified around 90 molecules that were linked to a risk […] However, the samples that are already taken in healthcare now are enough to predict the risk. We hope that this will increase people’s motivation to take their preventive medicine or stop smoking, for example,”

    They created an online tool that predicts imminent heart attacks by presenting a form asking age, sex, education, height/waist measurements, HDL/LDL, diabetes & smoking status.
    Its model yields the percentage of mostly middle-age Europeans who would have a heart attack within 6 months with that combination.

  253. Reginald Selkirk says

    Musk’s X sold checkmarks to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, report says

    A watchdog group’s investigation found that terrorist group Hezbollah and other US-sanctioned entities have accounts with paid checkmarks on X, the Elon Musk-owned social network that still resides at the twitter.com domain.

    The Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a nonprofit that is critical of Big Tech companies, said in a report today that “X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is providing premium, paid services to accounts for two leaders of a US-designated terrorist group and several other organizations sanctioned by the US government.” …

  254. Reginald Selkirk says

    @344
    U.S. briefs Canada, other allies about national security concern involving Russia

    The U.S. has informed Congress, as well as Canada and other allies about a pressing national security concern involving Russia.

    The New York Times, citing unnamed officials, reported Wednesday that the U.S. revealed new intelligence about Russian nuclear capabilities that could pose an international threat. A senior source with direct knowledge of the briefing confirmed that Canada was among the allies briefed by the U.S. on the issue.

    Citing a current and a former U.S. official, the newspaper reported the new intelligence was related to Russia’s attempts to develop a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon.

    Current and former officials said the nuclear weapon was not in orbit, the newspaper reported…

  255. Reginald Selkirk says

    Clyburn to step out of Democratic leadership

    Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced Wednesday that he will step out of Democratic leadership, ending more than two decades in the top tiers of the party and opening the assistant leader spot to another aspiring lawmaker for the remainder of the 118th Congress.

    Clyburn, in his 32nd year on Capitol Hill, did not identify the reason for his decision, saying only that he’s notified Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) of his plan. Clyburn, 83, emphasized that he’s not retiring from Congress altogether and intends to return next year to help confront unnamed “threats” to the country…

  256. Reginald Selkirk says

    Conservative group tells judge it has no evidence to back its claims of Georgia ballot stuffing

    A conservative group has told a Georgia judge that it doesn’t have evidence to support its claims of illegal ballot stuffing during the the 2020 general election and a runoff two months later.

    Texas-based True the Vote filed complaints with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2021, including one in which it said it had obtained “a detailed account of coordinated efforts to collect and deposit ballots in drop boxes across metro Atlanta” during the November 2020 election and a January 2021 runoff.

    A Fulton County Superior Court judge in Atlanta signed an order last year requiring True the Vote to provide evidence it had collected, including the names of people who were sources of information, to state elections officials who were frustrated by the group’s refusal to share evidence with investigators.

    In their written response, attorneys for True the Vote said the group had no names or other documentary evidence to share…

    True the Vote’s assertions were relied upon heavily for “2000 Mules,” a widely debunked film by conservative pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza…

  257. John Morales says

    Hey, Reginald; you’ve now made multiple comments since I noted that Catholics’ religious fasting is not what you imagined it was. Did you perhaps miss that response? You’ve sure ignored it, if not.

    (Are you gonna keep demonstrating your ignorance about Catholicism in the future, or are you learning that perhaps a bit of checking before sniping at them may spare you some embarrassment?)

  258. John Morales says

    [personal]

    FWIW, Reginald: I’m married to a practicing Catholic. She went to Mass yesterday, of course, came back with the ash on the forehead, all that. Day of obligation, after all. No worries.

    We get along most excellently. She knows me very well, too — not like I make a secret of my atheism and my contempt for religion. We’ve been together since 1978, when we eloped. Her idea, in case you wondered, she is the one who has dreams and aspirations.

    The secret to our compatibility and happiness? She admits she can’t justify her religiosity logically, she acknowledges that without faith it seems very silly, but she tells me it makes her feel comfortable. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with her donating to the Church (we share finances, of course, just as we share our lives. No separate bank accounts for us, being married), because she has no less discretion about spending than I do. Nor do I have any problem with her volunteering to help clean the Church grounds or do other such activities; her choice entirely.

    We had a Catholic wedding to appease both our sets of parents, who were also Catholics. They all knew the reality, she most of all. Hey, did you know the priest interviews couples before the ceremony?
    I promised to try to have children, all the time lying through my teeth, because without that promise no ceremony, but the proprieties were kept. Not that I’m unethical; promises made under compulsion are not binding in my estimation.

    (Conveniently, once baptized and confirmed, one is considered a Catholic for life, regardless of actions.
    To save you possible future embarrassment, be aware that even excommunication does not stop you from being a baptised Catholic — all it means is that you can’t partake of the Communion)

  259. John Morales says

    Further to #168: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2024/02/trump-haley-republican-primary-michael-meme-tweet-wolf.html

    Pullquotes (was only gonna use one, but I like the snark in the second one):

    Michael Haley waded into the primary battle between his wife and Donald Trump this week, armed with … a meme? More specifically, armed with a photograph of a wolf, overlaid with this statement: “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.” A watermark on the image attributes it to the meme generator Mematic. The virile jab, at pub time, has more than 5.7 million views.

    […]

    We at Slate could not fact-check the veracity of the meme’s animal-IQ hierarchy claim. (Are we absolutely sure there aren’t other creatures out there that choose dumb pack leaders?) But we couldn’t help but correct the record on one inaccuracy: Humans, it should be said, are animals. Even if we sometimes “allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.”

  260. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Radiolab Podcast – Zoozve (45:02)

    a kid’s poster of the solar system. […] I was like, “That’s weird. I don’t remember Venus having a moon.” […] NASA website […] says, “Venus does not have a moon.” […] on the poster, Venus very much has a moon [labelled “Z00ZVE”].
    […]
    [The artist had] misread his own notes. […] long story short, there is a thing next to Venus, and it is called 2002-VE. […] it’s also not not a moon of Venus.
    […]
    “Even though it’s orbiting the Sun, It actually stays relatively close to Venus and loops around it.”
    […]
    the first quasi-moon known in our solar system. […] because of its polyamorous relationship with the Sun and Venus, it actually presents a mathematical conundrum known as the three body problem.

    Radiolab – Breaking Newsve About Zoozve (13:31)

    I’m very pleased to announce that the Working Group for Small Body Nomenclature has approved the name “Zoozve”.
    […]
    I also called […] the poster guy. […] your mistake is now etched in the heavens. […] that retroactively makes the poster correct.
    […]
    This whole time we’ve also been working and lobbying the same people, the International Astronomical Union, to open up fan submissions to name a quasi-moon of Earth. […] it’s gonna take a little while

  261. John Morales says

    CA7746, no worries. Just acknowledging Reginald’s prior adduction, I know yours was independent.

    I certainly find it quite interesting, and that was the first I’d heard of it.

  262. whheydt says

    Re: John Morales @ #364…
    You got it much more nailed down than I did. In order–as a non-believer–to get the priest’s assent to marry my Catholic wife, all I was asked was to permit that any children we had could be raised as Catholics. I thought about the phrasing and agreed truthfully and without qualms that I would agree to that. The effort raise them as Catholics ended sooner than I expected. Our son asked a Sunday School teacher a question she couldn’t answer, so she threw him out of the class. Our daughter promptly declared that he didn’t have to Sunday School any more, then she wasn’t going, either. They were both less than 10 at the time. I had thought blow up would have been when they were teenagers.

  263. John Morales says

    whheydt, I got lucky, I guess. And I was in the club anyway, so to speak.
    The issue was merely having children, or rather to try to have them.

    Again: I hope I pass away before my wife, selfish as that is, because I can’t imagine life without her.

    And on a personal note, I do admire your resilience, I don’t even want to think about feeling your pain.

  264. says

    Politico:

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Tuesday, ending a brief admission that began on Sunday. Austin is ‘well and resumed his full functions and duties Tuesday evening at 5 p.m.,’ a statement from the Pentagon read.

  265. says

    Washington Post:

    Paxlovid, the highly effective antiviral pill that can prevent covid from becoming severe, now has a list price of nearly $1,400 for a five-day treatment course. Thanks to an innovative agreement between the Biden administration and the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, Americans can still access the medication free or at very low cost through a program called Paxcess. The problem is that too few people — including pharmacists — are aware of it.

  266. whheydt says

    Re: John Morales @ #372…
    Thanks for the sympathy. She was a bit less than 7 years older than me. So, statistically, we should have died more or less at the same time. We used debate over which one would survive better without the other. In the end, she lost that debate. I expect to be in mourning for the rest of my life. Queen Victoria was for 41 years. Unlikely that I’ll manage for that long…simply because I consider surviving until I’m 114 to exceedingly unlikely. She asked me to try to live long enough for the grandchildren to be adults. For that I need to make it to 93, which is not impossible. I have (male) ancestors who lived that long. So the target is 2042. After that…I really don’t care.

  267. says

    Update on the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally:

    […] One person was killed, and 21 others were shot, including children, officials said.

    Three people are in custody.

    […] 22 people in all were shot near the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade and celebration but that the number could change.

    […] Today’s deadly shooting in Kansas City is the latest sports celebration in the U.S. to be marred by gun violence, following a shooting that injured several people last year in downtown Denver after the Nuggets’ NBA championship and gunfire last year at a parking lot near the Texas Rangers’ World Series championship parade.

    […] Most fans who attended the parade and rally didn’t have their belongings checked at the location.

    There were no noticeable metal detectors, and it’s not clear what security checks people would have had to go through to get right up to the stage outside Union Station.

    […] Biden, who noted that today is the sixth anniversary of the Parkland mass shooting in Florida, renewed his calls for Congress to pass tougher gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons.

    […] The pediatric patients taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital after today’s shooting were 6 to 15 years old, and all are expected to recover, the hospital’s chief nursing officer said. […] “Fear. The one word I would use to describe what we saw, and how they felt when they came to us was fear,” she said when she was asked how the children seemed when they arrived.

    […] “There is something so depressingly American about experiencing a mass shooting at a Super Bowl celebration on the anniversary of another mass shooting,” March for Our Lives posted on X.

    The student-led organization, which fights for stronger gun laws in the U.S., was formed after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed exactly six years ago today.

    […] Today’s mass shooting after the Chiefs Super Bowl parade and rally was the 49th mass shooting in the 45 days of 2024, the Gun Violence Archive said. The shootings have occurred in 19 states and Washington, D.C. […]

    Link

  268. Silentbob says

    @ 373 John Morales

    I take it you’re feeling in need of a good FLOOSH Juan Ramón.
    Understandable.

  269. John Morales says

    Hey SullenBlob, Nerd lost his wife some time ago and this place was a bit of his solace.

    He was a genuine mensch, not a fucking coward like you.

    Him, I miss. You, I will never, ever miss.

    You could use a good flushing down the loo, like the piece of shit you are.

    (FLOOSH!)

  270. John Morales says

    [sorry, Lynna, but this fucking fucker has been at me for years and years now, sniping and then fleeing]

    I tried, I really did. Here: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2024/02/01/someones-got-the-old-geezer-cranked-up-again/comment-page-1/#comment-2211671

    So.

    Are we resetting, or do we resume our previous dynamic?
    You should know I’m damn genuine about this offer.

    Entirely up to you.

    No response, of course. Then, in another thread, this piece of shit vomited his spew again.

    And now, obsessive that he is, he tries again. He has a thing about me.

    So, be aware that I shan’t cavil at retorting whenever he pulls his pud at me.

  271. John Morales says

    I mean, FFS!

    He was her carer. She was very sick. Then she died.

    And you fucking try to mock him, you fucker.

    You are slime, UnSilentBog. Scum of the earth.

  272. John Morales says

    He was the Nerd. She was the Redhead. He was the Nerd of Redhead.

    A love affair, the like such as you shall never know. That much is obvious.

    (That, if anything, is your fitting punishment for your disgusting and despicable attitude to those who have lost someone dear and near, whose life they shared for decades)

  273. Silentbob says

    Apropos of nothing – but I guess that’s what endless threads are for – my already high regard for long-time LGBT supporter (and gay man) George Takei was elevated even more when I found out he appeared in a low budget Australian movie about Japanese atrocities committed against Australians in WWII.

    He was by far the biggest “star” in this el cheapo movie (with a yet-to-be-famous baby Russell Crowe) but had no problem playing a committer of Japanese war crimes (which were very real) despite his own real Japanese-American family being interred in WWII. A guy of real integrity.

    “Prisoners of the Sun” 1990.

  274. John Morales says

    BTW, SoylentBug, he got an OM.
    Like you never did.
    That was in the hurly-burly days of ScienceBlogs.

    You think he is stupid and robotic, because he gave short shrift and he was preoccupied as his partner lost mobility and had a stroke and became hospitalised. But I can assure you, when he cares to try, he is far smarter than you, is far more perspicacious, and his mental acuity puts yours to shame.
    And he’s not slimy.

    Of course, LoquaciousBile, you wouldn’t get any of that. All you have is your spite. So weak, you are!

    (Industrial chemistry was his professional skill, though he retired a decade and a bit ago)

  275. John Morales says

    You crapulent piece of detritus, Bobiferous shit.

    This “look over there at the squirrel!” doesn’t cut it.
    It’s as obvious as could be what you’re trying to do, but it ain’t gonna work.

    You know, I’ve noticed that the only ever time you don’t try to snipe at me is in threads regarding trans issues. You have obnoxiously and repeatedly and formulaically accused me of trolling in every single other type of thread, but not on those.
    No surprise there, because when I’m dealing with transphobes, you are very happy to have me around, and so you choke your bile even when there are no such specimens, since you don’t want your precious topic to be derailed with your bilious hate.

    By the way, were I George Takei, I would hardly appreciate being called a “star”, in scare quotes.

    The best of a bad lot, eh? Such an encomium!

  276. StevoR says

    @ 377. whheydt : My deepest condolences and sympathies on your loss. I’m so sorry and can only begin to imagine.

    Also hope Nerd of Redhead is okay here too.

  277. StevoR says

    @ 377. whheydt : My deepest condolences and sympathies on your loss. I’m so sorry and can only begin to imagine.

    Also hope Nerd of Redhead is okay here too.

  278. birgerjohansson says

    Scrolling through the thread while half asleep, I picked up ‘zoozve’ and ‘Small Body Nomenclature’ and thought ‘they have a group to figure out a different word for short people… I can get that, but I don’t understand the odd word they chose “.

    We don’t have the star system in our films, suffice to say George Takei is one of those actors that can make a bad film watchable.
    Also, Klaus Kinski was a horrible human but a good actor, to the point where his appearences were the only redeeming things about several B films.

  279. KG says

    Vibrio natriegens: Low-cost microbe could speed biological discovery

    Cornell University researchers have created a new version of a microbe to compete economically with E. coli—a bacteria commonly used as a research tool due to its ability to synthesize proteins—to conduct low-cost and scalable synthetic biological experiments. – Reginald Selkirk@350

    Odds on Vibrio natriegens becoming a conspiracy culture* target?

    I’m following Naomi Klein’s example in refusing to dignify ludicrous tosh with the label “theory”.

  280. Reginald Selkirk says

    @266, 366, 390 “I picked up ‘zoozve’ and ‘Small Body Nomenclature’ and thought ‘they have a group to figure out a different word for short people… I can get that, but I don’t understand the odd word they chose “.

    The explain that at the link I provided.


    VE68? Yes, the asteroid has had various names and ID codes assigned to it, provisional or otherwise, including 2002 VE68, the highly memorable 524522, and now Zoozve.

    While the asteroid is the first of its kind to be observed in such an orbit, it’s small, poses no danger to Earth, and did not excite the public imagination at the time.

    But it did catch the eye of an artist named Alex Foster, who drew it on a poster of the solar system he designed for children and depicted it as a moon of Venus. He also misread the name of the asteroid and turned “2002 VE” into “Zoozve”

    As beautifully told by Space.com, scientist and podcaster Latif Nasser saw the poster and became intrigued by Zoozve. Nasser eventually lobbied for 2002 VE68 to be formally named “Zoozve.”

    And succeeded…

  281. Reginald Selkirk says

    Trump state prosecutions reach a critical point on the same day in two cities

    Two cases that could defy Donald Trump’s capacity to thwart prosecutions and even to overturn eventual convictions against him if he returns to the White House reach critical tests on Thursday with major implications for the 2024 election.

    In the latest remarkable twist of his multiple legal sagas, Trump is expected to show up in court in New York for a procedural hearing ahead of his trial over a hush money payment to an adult film star before the 2016 election. Trump wants the case to be dismissed, but a judge could confirm Thursday that it will go ahead at the end of March in what could mark the first time the fate of an ex-president and potential presidential nominee has been put to a jury in a criminal case.

    While Trump is in court in New York, he will be at the center of another drama in Georgia where a judge is holding an evidentiary hearing into an attempt to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and to throw out a vast racketeering case against Trump and associates over his attempt to subvert President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in the swing state. Judge Scott McAfee has already said that Willis could be disqualified if she benefited financially from a romantic relationship with a colleague she appointed to be a prosecutor in the case…

  282. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Hi all. I’m still here, just lurking. It’s hard to believe I lost the Redhead seven years ago. She is sorely missed.
    I don’t post much to keep my frustration l levels down, as my left hand is sometimes a bit wonkie, leading to an aggressive spellchecker making gibberish requiring major editing. Last time I tried turning on dictation mode it also gave much gibberish to be edited. It’s time to try that again.
    Hope everybody is doing well.

  283. StevoR says

    @397. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls : Good to know and FWIW my apologies for being a douchebag to you especially (as well as others) years ago.

  284. whheydt says

    My thanks to all the have expressed sympathy. In terms of all the memory kerfluffles that have been in the news…she died on 28 June 2022 of ALS. We were married on 8 May 1971.

    And, in turn, my sympathies to Nerd of the Redhead. I’m not sure the emptiness ever really goes away.

  285. says

    Donald Trump keeps using the word “sarcastic,” but I don’t think it means what he thinks it means.

    Ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump spoke a campaign rally and made an embarrassing mistake — twice.

    “Nikki Haley, you know they, do you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything, deleted and destroyed all of it,” the former president said, mixing up his former ambassador to the U.N. and House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. “All of it, because of lots of things like Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard, whatever they want. They turned it down.”

    There was no great mystery to the slip-up. Haley, his rival for the GOP’s 2024 nomination, was obviously on his mind just days ahead of a closely watched primary, so he accidentally referenced her name when he meant to peddle false claims about Pelosi.

    The story about the mistake generated some chatter before the political world moved on. At his latest campaign rally, however, Trump wanted to talk about it again. The Hill reported overnight:

    Former President Trump said he purposely conflated Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley during a speech last month. “So it’s very hard to be sarcastic when I interpose. I’m not a Nikki fan, and I’m not a Pelosi fan. And when I purposely interpose names, they said, ‘He didn’t know Pelosi from Nikki, from tricky Nikki,” Trump said Wednesday during a rally in North Charleston, S.C.

    His audience apparently found this persuasive. They shouldn’t have.

    For now, let’s put aside the obvious fact that he made a simple mistake in New Hampshire, and for him to suggest a month later that this was a misunderstood example of “sarcastic” humor is ridiculous.

    Instead, let’s focus on an increasingly strange rhetorical pattern.

    In 2020, for example, after the then-president suggested injecting Covid patients with disinfectant, Trump responded to public ridicule by saying the comments were intended to be “sarcastic.” He was obviously lying.

    But it was a familiar lie. When Trump argued publicly that Barack Obama was “the founder of ISIS,” he later defended the rhetoric by saying it was “sarcasm.” He referred to Jimmy Carter as the “late, great Jimmy Carter,” adding soon after that he was “just being sarcastic.”

    The Republican also said he wanted White House officials to treat him the way North Korean officials treat Kim Jong Un. When reporters pressed for some kind of explanation for what he meant, Trump said, “You don’t understand sarcasm.” (The video of his original comments makes clear he wasn’t being sarcastic.)

    In 2019, Trump reflected on his 2016 call for Russia to intervene in the elections on his behalf, telling a CPAC audience that it was another example of him being “sarcastic.”

    A year later, Trump confused Nobel Prizes with the Pulitzer Prize, only to defend the comments by claiming — you guessed it — that it was an example of “sarcasm.”

    The Republican keeps using the word “sarcastic,” but I don’t think it means what he thinks it means.

  286. says

    Nerd @397, good to see you. Glad to hear that you are doing mostly okay, (wonky left hand aside).

    In other news:

    Rep. James Clyburn announced this week that he’s giving up his position in the House Democratic leadership, but the longtime congressman is nevertheless running for re-election in South Carolina. [summarized from Roll Call]

  287. says

    Politico:

    Several senior Republican officials are concerned that Donald Trump’s expected takeover of the RNC will ultimately pave the way for the committee to once again cover his legal bills.

    Yep, that sounds about right.

    Trump recently suggested putting his own daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, in the co-chair position of RNC leadership.

    See comments 268, 294, 325,

  288. birgerjohansson says

    ALS is supposed to be a ‘rare’ disease, yet two co-workers of mine have died of it. As did Swedish/Canadian hockey player Börje Salming after a surprisingly rapid disease progression.

    It is one of those diseases competing with cancer for the title “The emperor of maladies”.

    I can only hope AI will help untangling the very complex interactions of the myriad molecules in the body, leading to cures during our lifetimes.

  289. whheydt says

    Re: birgerjohansson @ #408…
    ALS is believed to be an autoimmune disease. Causes are unknown, though some cases appear to run in families, suggesting that (some of the time) there is a genetic link. Other cases may be caused by unknown environmental conditions.
    Average life span after diagnosis is 2 to 6 years. In my wife’s case, it was 7 months. However, due to the big shift to telemedicine during the peak of the pandemic, it’s likely that it was caught later than it might have been.
    Not a good way to go. Sound mind trapped in an increasingly non-functional body. I’d rather have Alzheimers.

  290. tomh says

    WaPo:
    New York hush money case will be first Trump criminal trial, set for March

    NEW YORK — A judge said Thursday that jury selection for Donald Trump’s trial would begin March 25, setting a date with history for what would be the first criminal prosecution of an ex-president — one who also leads the Republican field of 2024 candidates for the White House.

    Trump watched from a defense table in Manhattan criminal court as New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said he will go forward with the trial on charges that Trump falsified business records during the heat of the 2016 political campaign to keep secret a past sexual liaison with an adult-film star. The judge said he expects the trial to take about six weeks.

    Defense attorney Todd Blanche pushed back, saying the defense team needs more time to prepare and that a trial will unfairly intervene with the former president’s quest to return to the White House. He also noted that Trump is scheduled for trial in late May in Florida on charges of illegally retaining classified documents and obstructing government attempts to retrieve them….

    “We have been faced with extremely compressed and expedited schedules in each and every one of those trials,” Blanche said.

    In response, Merchan told Blanche — who is representing Trump in multiple cases — that he had “proceeded at your own peril” by taking up the cases and the work demands associated with them.

    When Blanche tried to argue further, Merchan snapped, “Stop interrupting me please. … I’ve tried to work with you.”

    The discussion in the courtroom soon turned to jury selection, including what questions to ask of potential jurors to ensure that they can judge fairly in a trial that has no historical precedent and in which the defendant is a deeply polarizing public figure.

  291. says

    Mary Trump, TFG’s niece:

    After a nine-year hiatus from the Daily Show, Jon Stewart marks his return by HELPING my uncle with his both-sides bullshit about President Biden’s age. I have a lot to say. Read on.👇

    Are you kidding me?

    A lot has changed in the nine years since Jon Stewart was host of the Daily Show. One thing that hasn’t – Jon Stewart.

    Stewart brought back his 2015 “Indecision” tradition – the both-sides-are-problematic “joke.” Considering this is 2024, the decision is clear, and the stakes are existential: the result is an injustice to his audience, and to the truth.

    What Left Me Angry

    After some flat jokes about AARP cards and movie discounts, Stewart entered the Twilight Zone of bothsidesism:

    “We’re not suggesting neither man is vibrant, productive, or even capable… But they are both stretching the limits of being able to handle the toughest job in the world.”

    In what universe is Donald vibrant, productive or capable?? And this statement wasn’t even tongue-in-cheek. Stewart was making a straight-up comparison.

    There are no excuses here. Stewart knows who Donald is.

    Donald isn’t vibrant. He is compulsive and unhinged.

    Donald isn’t productive. He is inept.

    Donald isn’t capable. He is a disaster.

    Let me be clear: it’s not the comedy that’s the problem—especially since it’s not clear Stewart was even trying to be funny. I don’t even care that he brought up President Biden’s age… The fact of the matter is, Biden is old. It’s absurd to pretend otherwise, so, let’s just own it. It’s that Stewart is pretending, for what possible reason I can’t fathom given his stated politics, that Donald can be favorably compared to President Biden by any metric. This is a serious question: What possible purpose does that serve, especially since it is completely wrong?

    So, yeah, Donald and Biden are Both chronologically about the same age. Only Biden’s record shows that he can turn the stereotypes on their head [see below]:

    The Choice

    For an 81-year-old, President Biden’s accomplishments are astounding: record economic recovery; historic climate and infrastructure investment — massive achievements in an era of vanishing bi-partisanship. There is much more to do after the disastrous four years of the Trump administration and decades of Republican governance, but unlike his elderly, fascist, and cognitively impaired counterpart in the Republican Party, President Biden is an elder statesman with experience to get things done that can give American democracy a fighting chance.

    The alternative?

    A cruel, unfit, rapist who, in addition to being a criminal defendant under four indictments, sides with our enemies at every opportunity.

    There is no comparison.

    Every single time someone in the corporate media, or a comedian with the reach and influence of somebody like Jon Stewart, wants to highlight “both sides” at the cost of the truth, it’s up to you and me to get out the word. […]

    Documented Damage of Stewart’s “Both-Sides” Shrugging

    Not only is Stewart’s “both sides are the same” rhetoric not funny, it’s a potential disaster for democracy. Stewart helped wipe out the motivation generated by Obama’s 2008 message of Hope and Change, motivation that led to record turnout in 2008.

    The damage done by his “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” a DC rally/joke which inspired an entire generation to shrug off politics and ignore the dangers of the right-wing, cannot be overstated. It was, in no small part, responsible, for helping Donald come to power.

    It made a mockery of nuance, encouraged people to believe that all politicians are the same, that there was no daylight between Democrats and Republicans or Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In fact, it helped some people feel comfortable with their assessment that Clinton was worse. The result?

    Voter turnout dropped in 2012 presidential election. Turnout for the 2016 election was abysmal—a 20-year-low.

    Now Stewart is bringing back the same bullshit that got him rich in the 2000s, and helped get Donald elected in 2016.

    I know Donald — and we can never let them normalize him as a normal candidate. He isn’t. None of this is normal.

    The Real Age Problem

    Clearly, the problem lies with Stewart, Comedy Central, and the corporate media for refusing to adapt their out-of-date “both sides” inanity and instead responsibly and objectively cover our current political reality. […]

    Pretending that both sides are the same, as if that is somehow fair, completely ignores the central truth of our times—the Democratic Party is the pro-democracy party; the Republican Party is the party of fascism. The Democrat’s standard-bearer, Joe Biden, has accomplished more than almost any president in modern history; the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, is a racist, misogynistic insurrectionist who has openly stated his authoritarian intentions.

    It’s hard to believe that journalists and other influential people who should know better need to have this pointed out to them.

    The corporate media will NOT help save us from Donald. In fact, they seem determined to help get him into office again. After Special Counsel Robert Hur’s specious attack on Biden and the media’s amplification of it, Republicans were understandably galvanized. So we need to double, and triple our efforts to fight because the deck is stacked against us.

    https://marytrump.substack.com/p/jon-stewarts-danger-to-democracy

  292. says

    Former President Obama stood by President Biden’s commitment to the NATO alliance on Wednesday, days after former President Trump sparked concern around the globe by saying the US should not defend NATO allies who fall short of their defense spending targets.

    “President Biden is absolutely right,” Obama wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “The last thing we need right now is a world that is more chaotic and less secure; where dictators feel emboldened and our allies wonder if they can count on us. Let’s keep moving forward.” […]

    Link

  293. Reginald Selkirk says

    @206
    Caitlin Clark is on the cusp of the NCAA women’s scoring record. She gets a chance to do it at home

    It shouldn’t take long for Caitlin Clark to become the NCAA women’s career scoring leader when No. 4 Iowa hosts Michigan.

    Clark goes into Thursday night’s game needing eight points to pass Kelsey Plum’s total of 3,527 points. Clark has scored at least eight in the first quarter in 17 of 25 games this season, and she hasn’t gone into a halftime with fewer than that…

  294. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @birgerjohansson #415:
    A computational linguist advising a congressman.
    How should regulators think about AI? (transcript and video 5:43)

    this is a marketing term. It’s a way to make certain kinds of automation sound sophisticated, powerful, or magical and as such it’s a way to dodge accountability by making the machines sound like autonomous thinking entities rather than tools that are created and used by people and companies. It’s also the name of a subfield of computer science concerned with making machines that “think like humans” but even there it was started as a marketing term in the 1950s to attract research funding to that field.
    […]
    discussions […] become much clearer when we replace the term AI with the word “automation”. Then we can ask:
    What is being automated? Who’s automating it and why? Who benefits from that automation? How well does the automation work in its use case[?] Who’s being harmed? Who has accountability for the functioning of the automated system? What existing regulations already apply to the activities where the automation is being used?
    […]
    A very key thing […] is that the output of these systems don’t actually make sense. It’s that we are making sense of the output. It’s very hard to evaluate them because we have to take that distance from our own cognition
    […]
    the ability to create plausible sounding texts on just about any topic is quite dangerous because it looks like we have or are just about to have robo-lawyers, robo-doctors, robo-tutors, robo-therapists, etc., and we don’t.

     
    SC’s Behind the Bastards podcasts about the Tech Bro AI Cult are good too.
    Part 1 (w/ text), Part 2.

  295. Reginald Selkirk says

    FDA approves first treatment for severe frostbite

    The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the first treatment for severe frostbite to reduce the risk of finger or toe amputation in adults.

    Iloprost injection, marketed under the brand name Aurlumyn, is a vasodilator, a drug that opens blood vessels and prevents blood clotting.

    “Having this new option provides physicians with a tool that will help prevent the lifechanging amputation of one’s frostbitten fingers or toes,” Dr. Norman Stockbridge, director of the Division of Cardiology and Nephrology in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an FDA news release…

  296. John Morales says

    Lynna @411, other people have noticed that:
    https://slate.com/culture/2024/02/jon-stewart-daily-show-return-trump-biden-age.html

    Stewart’s main segment was classic bothsidesism, although it was at least devoted to an arena where there really are issues on both sides. After a few low-ball Super Bowl jokes to warm up the crowd, he dove into the special counsel’s report that raised issues about Joe Biden’s mental acuity, and especially his ability to lead the country into 2029. Juxtaposing Biden’s apparent lapses under Robert Hur’s questioning with Donald Trump’s repeated “I don’t remembers” from a 9-year-old deposition fell wide of the mark: There’s a difference between failures of memory and deliberate evasions. But he did eventually work his way around to some of Trump’s more bizarre utterances from the campaign trail, including the past weekend’s claim that Democrats have plans to change the name of the state of Pennsylvania.

  297. John Morales says

    Hey Nerd. Good to hear from you.

    (I remember the good old days when we were the brutes on troll patrol)

  298. says

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/one-million-moms-all-upset-over-jesus

    One Million Moms All Upset Over Jesus Foot Fetish Super Bowl Commercial

    It did say Jesus loved everyone, after all.

    You know, they say the country is divided, and in many ways, the Super Bowl made that all the more apparent this year. But there was one thing that pretty much everyone could agree on — and that was that we all* really, really hated the He Gets Us ad. You know, the one with all the foot washing.

    There was a cop washing a Black man’s feet, and other Nice Christians washing the feet of a Native American man, a woman who had an abortion, a girl who just kind of looks like she’s really into ska, a girl who had an abortion, an alcoholic, a hippie environmentalist lady, an immigrant, a Muslim, a girl protesting for free speech washing the feet of a girl protesting in favor of ‘cancel culture,’ a Black man and a white man washing their feet together in a bucket in Appalachia, a white Catholic priest washing the feet of a Black person who had been rollerskating all day in cutoff short-alls and who is clearly meant to register as queer in some nonspecific respect … followed up by the message that JESUS DIDN’T TEACH HATE, HE WASHED FEET.

    Those of us on the Left hated it because as progressive and queer-friendly as it was trying to be, we knew the He Gets Us campaign was a cynical evangelizing ploy initially created by Servant Foundation, a group that donated millions to the Alliance Defending Freedom and other anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion hate groups. The campaign is now managed by a group called Come Near. While not much is known about Come Near, we do know that one of the people sitting on its board is Mart Green, the son of Hobby Lobby founder David Green. Not a great sign!

    And those on the Right hated it because Jesus did so teach hate and he would have been really really mean to all of those people!

    Among those raging over it were the One Million Moms Who Are Actually Just One Mom Named Monica Cole.

    Monica Cole was specifically upset that while the minute-long ad mentioned Jesus’s love, it did not “share the Gospel” or tell people about how much Jesus hated sinning.

    The He Gets Us movement mainly focuses on the love of Jesus. Yet no matter how true the message is about the love of Jesus and loving our neighbor, this is not the entire mission, message, or teaching of Jesus Christ. It totally leaves out why, as the Son of God, Jesus came to save sinners. The Gospel message must be shared: Jesus is the only way to be saved. […]

    The website fails to mention individual accountability for sin – and the subsequent need for repentance for those sins. So once again, He Gets Us shares an incomplete message.

    Of course, they (she) weren’t the only ones! In what was perhaps the very first funny thing he ever wrote, Babylon Bee founder Joel Berry tweeted:

    There’s a reason the “He Gets Us” commercial didn’t show a liberal washing the feet of someone in a MAGA hat, or a BLM protestor washing an officer’s feet. That would’ve been actually subversive. Because they were strictly following oppressed v oppressor intersectionality guidelines.

    This tells me they were either:
    A) trying to sell Jesus to Leftists by hinting Jesus thinks just like them, or
    B) cynically using Jesus to sell a political movement.

    I don’t know that that would have been subversive so much as it would have just been J/O material for Babylon Bee readers.

    And yes, it is very obviously trying to sell Christianity to the Left and the point is to lure people in with super-nice Foot Fetish Jesus Who Loves Everyone in hopes that they can later just send them to conversion therapy or perhaps just introduce them to the joys of hate-mongering. [LOL Yes, true.]

    What I do find continually astounding is the absolute desperation some people have to not only be able to be shitty to people, but for the mandated response to that shittiness to be “Wow, what a fabulous, kind, Christlike person you are!” They want their bullying, for lack of a better word, to be seen as a good deed on par with helping the unhoused or rescuing someone from a burning building.

    So many of the comments on the YouTube page for the ad are along the lines of “Actually Jesus wanted us to be cruel to these people so they’d stop SINNING! Don’t you see we are helping them?” There really is nothing people fear losing quite like they fear losing their ability to be an asshole with impunity. [True.]

    As grotesque as this ad and the organization behind it are, we do have to salute them for making all these people say the quiet parts out loud.

  299. says

    In a hearing, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took the stand and denied allegations that Trump and one of his co-defendants made against her and the special counsel in the Georgia election interference case. Willis acknowledged that she and the prosecutor, Nathan Wade, have a personal relationship, but has insisted no impropriety occurred. Trump is trying to get her disqualified. Former Trump White House and campaign aide Michael Roman is represented by attorney Ashleigh Merchant, and it was Merchant who was the most obnoxious when questioning Fani Willis or Nathan Wade.

    Telling moments from the Georgia hearing:

    Merchant said the DA’s office objected to providing her with Delta records regarding travel involving Willis and Wade.

    “I object to you getting records,” Willis said. “You’ve been intrusive into people’s personal lives. You’re confused. You think I’m on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

    […] Willis said that Wade, whom she described as a “world traveler,” often booked their travel together through an agent and she would reimburse him.

    “He is the one that would book the travel,” Willis said. “I don’t consider him having taken me anyplace.”

    “I want this record to be abundantly clear,” Willis continued, detailing how Wade would often call his travel agent who would organize their travel arrangements “and then he tells me how much it is, and I give him the money back.”

    Merchant asked Willis about where the money comes from that she gives to Wade to reimburse him for travel.

    “I am sure that the source of the money is always the work, sweat and tears of me,” Willis said.

    Willis is asked where she got the cash to pay Wade for travel costs, and she explained she wasn’t making withdrawals because she generally has cash accessible to her in her home. She said her father told her to keep six months of money in cash at home at all times.

    “I always have cash at the house. That’s been all my life,” she said.

    “If you’re a woman and you go on a date with a man, you better have $200 in your pocket. So if that man acts up, you can go where you want to go,” she added.

    […] In some of her first remarks from the witness stand, Willis accuses Merchant of lying in her motion.

    “It seems today that a lawyer writes a lie, and then it’s printed for all of the world to see,” Willis said.

    […] In 2020 and a portion of 2021, Wade was battling cancer and said the Covid pandemic kept him from leaving sterile environments. So, he says, he didn’t date Willis — or anyone at all.

    […] Wade is asked if he filed for divorce on Nov. 2, 2021, one day after he was hired as a special prosecutor on the Fulton election interference case.

    He says after his wife had an affair in 2015, they agreed they’d stay together until their youngest child graduated high school. The reason he formally filed for divorce on the day he did, he says his wife was only in town briefly. There’s an attorney/client privilege objection.

    Wade says he’ll answer. “Joycelyn had relocated to Texas and was in Texas for months. She was only here for a brief period of time to drive our daughter’s car back with her,” he said. She was served at that time, he said.

    He says it was purely coincidental that the divorce was formally filed on the day after he signed his contract with the county.

    […] He also said they have not had sexual intercourse since they split up, but they are close friends. “Probably closer than ever because of these attacks,” Wade said.

    […] When asked about who paid for their trips, Wade said that Willis insisted on splitting costs, saying that she is a “strong, proud woman” and that her independence was at times a point of contention in their relationship.

    […] Wade said that his relationship with Willis began in March 2022.

    […] In Wade’s recently filed affidavit saying that he and Willis’ relationship did not begin until after his hiring as special prosecutor.

    In the divorce case in May 2023, he said he had not had an affair.

    Wade says his marriage was broken in 2015 but they didn’t get a divorce because his children were in school. After he dropped his daughter off for college, he filed for divorce. So, he doesn’t consider it an affair because the marriage was broken and he was free to date other people.

    […] Merchant filed a motion in early January about Willis and Wade’s relationship.

    Wade says he asserted privacy privilege after the motion was filed because he thought that Merchant was talking to his wife’s attorneys. [What he actually said was that the Trump team lawyers were colluding with his wife while divorce agreements were ongoing.]

  300. says

    Greece legalizes same-sex marriage in a first for an Orthodox Christian nation

    Greece will be the 16th European Union nation and the 35th country worldwide to legalize same-sex marriages.

    Greek lawmakers voted on Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage in a landmark decision that will make it the first Orthodox Christian country to do so.

    The passage of the law — which was drafted by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right government and had support from four left-wing parties — makes the nation the 16th within the European Union and the 35th worldwide to legalize same-sex nuptials, according to a tally from the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. Gay marriage is also legal in the territories of Taiwan and Greenland.

    A cross-party majority of 176 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament voted in favor of the bill. Another 76 rejected the reform while two abstained from the vote and 46 were not present for the vote.

    “People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us. And with them, many children (will) finally find their rightful place,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers ahead of the evening vote.

    Greece has allowed civil unions for same-sex couples since 2015. However, that law did not permit same-sex parents to both claim legal guardianship over their children. The new law amends this, though it still would prohibit same-sex male couples from having children through surrogate mothers in Greece, an option available to single women and heterosexual couples who require surrogates due to health reasons. […]

  301. says

    […] even plastic products that can be legitimately repurposed degrade in quality over time, and the cost of the process is more than that of producing entirely new plastic.

    “For decades, petrochemical companies and the plastics industry have known of the technical and economic limitations that make plastics unrecyclable and have failed to overcome them,” the report states. “Despite this knowledge, the plastics industry has continued to increase plastic production, while carrying out a well-coordinated campaign to deceive consumers, policymakers, and regulators about plastic recycling.” […]

    Hardly any plastics can be truly recycled, and producers have known for decades: Report

  302. says

    […] we have a real date for the beginning of one of Donald Trump’s criminal trials, and it’s March 25.

    Not the big federal election-stealing one. Special Counsel Jack Smith just filed his response to Trump’s appeal at the Supreme Court, where Trump is begging the justices to confer eternal sainthood and beatific immunity upon him, so that he may never be held accountable for the thousands of traitor crimes he’s always committing. (Smith would like that trial to please begin ASAP.)

    Not the one where he stole state secrets and willfully concealed them and lied to the government about them. That one will happen as soon as that idiot hack judge [referring to Aileen Cannon] runs out of ways to act as Trump’s defense lawyer, or never.

    This is the BOOBIES one. Specifically the porn peener payoff New York state criminal trial, the one involving his illegal campaign finance payoffs to porn stars before the 2016 election.

    This morning, the judge set the trial to begin March 25 with jury selection, which is not very long from now. Trump’s attorneys screamed in protest. The judge invited them to eat a brunch buffet of all the fucks he has to give.

    […] Reminder: Trump is indicted in New York on 34 felony counts of falsifying records, as part of his coverups to slime his way into the White House. When he is found guilty he will be […] probably not face prison time, say most of the experts we’ve read. […]

    Outside The Courtroom

    When Trump arrived he babbled about “migrant crime” that keeps him up late at night hallucinating, or maybe he just has dementia, or maybe he’s just a lying bigot. “Migrants are trying to beat up our police officers, they’re trying to do things that we’ve never seen before actually!” […] (There is no migrant crime wave.)

    Again revealing that his diseased mind is stuck in his own personal time-warped 1980s white supremacist nightmare, Trump claimed that New York is “so different from when I left,” and that “it’s dirty, and it’s crime ridden. I said hey, you walk down the street, you get mugged or you get shot.” (This is not how New York is. Crime is actually down, except for hate crimes. Shall we talk about the connections between Trump and hate crimes?)

    His usual racist point was that he didn’t do crimes, so please go after dark-skinned people. “Enjoy it, it’s a sad thing, it’s a sad day for New York,” he said, after admitting that they’re in court because “we want delays.” […]

    Inside The Courtroom

    Trump’s lawyers asked Judge Juan Merchan to dismiss the case. He told them to eat bricks.

    His lawyers whined it would be a “great injustice” to start on March 25. “We have been faced with extremely compressed and expedited schedules” in all the trials, bellyached lawyer Todd Blanche.

    LIFE HACK: Doing too many crimes at the same time makes scheduling all your criminal trials a real pickle! Try spreading them out, or Marie Kondo your life by only doing the crimes that spark joy.

    The judge noted that because of all the delays in DC and Florida, Trump is not currently in any criminal trials […] “You don’t have a trial date in Georgia, you don’t have a trial date in Florida.” CNN notes that Merchan also had to tell Blanche to stop interrupting him.

    Blanche continued his whining, though, and even said starting March 25 would be “unconstitutional” — stop laughing, he’s a real lawyer — because this could last all the way until May, and then when will they prepare for the next criminal trial? Also:

    “President Trump says it all the time and the media makes fun of him but it’s ‘election interference’ to make President Trump sit here in this courtroom,” Blanche added.

    LIFE HACK: If you’ve already committed 10,000 crimes and you know full well 10,000 indictments are heading your way, it might not be a good idea to announce a run for president. Avoid burnout by learning to say “no”!

    This is the best part of CNN’s reporting:

    “Thank you, Mr. Blanche,” Merchan said as he cut off the discussion on the trial date. “Mr. Blanche, please have a seat.”

    […] Just kidding, this is the best part of CNN’s reporting, from right at the end of the hearing:

    “We strenuously object to what is happening in this courtroom,” [said Blanche].

    “The fact that President Trump is going to now spend the next two months working on this trial instead of out in the campaign trail running for president is something that should not happen in this country,” Blanche said.

    But Merchan had already rejected Blanche’s attempts to push back the March 25 date for the start of the trial, and he wasn’t interested in continuing the conversation.

    “What’s your legal argument?” Merchan asked.

    “That is my legal argument,” Blanche responded.

    “That’s not a legal argument,” Merchan said, telling the lawyers he’d see everyone March 25 and adjourning the hearing.

    […] One funny thing CNN notes is that by March 25, Trump might be the Republicans’ presumptive nominee, after Super Tuesday and the contests that come just after.

    Won’t that be fun for the RNC? […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/p/march-comes-in-like-a-lion-and-out

  303. says

    Steve Bannon claims without evidence that Democrats stole the New York special election

    STEVE BANNON (HOST):The central beating heart of this issue is their ability to steal an election. They stole this election in New York, okay? […]

    The logistics and mechanics are, these guys are perfecting. The Marc Elias operation is perfecting the ballot harvesting, and the mail-in ballots are still there and they’re stealing this. Like I said in 2020, they’re stealing it by mail-in ballots and with these bad voter rolls and you can’t get away from that.

    No evidence, just the usual bluster and ratfuckery.

  304. says

    New York Times reports on the other mass shooting:

    Four students were shot in the parking lot of an Atlanta high school on Wednesday afternoon, the police said, in the latest burst of gun violence on an American school campus.

  305. says

    Washington Post:

    The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved the merger proposal of former president Donald Trump’s media start-up with a special purpose acquisition company, a critical step for a long-delayed deal that would make the owner of Trump’s website Truth Social a publicly traded company and unlock $300 million in investor funds.

    Bad news for the entire planet, but good new for Trump.

  306. Rob Grigjanis says

    Reginald Selkirk @424:

    Canada to acquire Swedish-made anti-aircraft system to protect troops in Latvia

    Some interesting history left out of the article: the Canadian army wanted to upgrade their air defence during the Harper years. The Conservative Harper government saw a handy way to ‘save money’. The Taliban didn’t have an air force, therefore, using Conservative logic, the army didn’t need air defence. They scrapped it. The Liberals have been slow to correct this (as is their wont), but they got there in the end.

    Fuck Conservatives, everywhere. It’s depressing as fuck that they seem to have pulled off the ‘Pierre Poilievre is a human being’ scam, with Conservatives leading in the polls.

  307. Reginald Selkirk says

    Special counsel charges FBI informant with lying to the bureau about Hunter and Joe Biden

    An FBI informant has been indicted on two counts of allegedly feeding the bureau false information about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

    Alexander Smirnov, 43, disliked Joe Biden and was arrested in Las Vegas after returning from a trip overseas, according to the Justice Department. The case grew out of the special counsel investigation being led by David Weiss, who is also leading the case against Hunter Biden. Weiss had been appointed by then-President Donald Trump as the top federal prosecutor in Delaware.

    The 37-page indictment alleges that Smirnov had been a confidential human source for the FBI since 2010 and “provided false derogatory information to the FBI” about both Bidens after Joe Biden became a candidate for president in 2020.

    Smirnov allegedly told the FBI — falsely — that officials with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that Hunter Biden worked for, had told him they hired Hunter Biden because he would “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Smirnov allegedly told the FBI — again, falsely — that Burisma officials had told him they paid Hunter Biden and Joe Biden $5 million and that it would take investigators 10 years to find the illicit payments to Joe Biden…

  308. Reginald Selkirk says

    Democrats walk out as Iowa GOP advances election bill to help keep Donald Trump on ballot

    Two Democrats walked out of an Iowa House subcommittee meeting Tuesday on an election bill that would make it more difficult for state residents to challenge Donald Trump’s place on the 2024 general election ballot.

    The wide-ranging election bill would allow federal candidates convicted of felonies to appear on Iowa’s ballot, ban ballot drop boxes, ban ranked-choice voting and change the deadline for when absentee ballots must be returned to a county auditor to be counted…

  309. Reginald Selkirk says

    Norwegian mass killer loses second attempt to sue the state for alleged breach of his human rights

    Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011, on Thursday lost his second attempt to sue the state for what he claimed was a breach of his human rights.

    Breivik, who changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, has been held in isolation since he began serving his prison sentence in 2012. He argued that this amounted to inhumane punishment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Oslo District Court rejected his claim against the Norwegian Justice Ministry…

  310. Reginald Selkirk says

    Jan. 6 defendant arrested at Obama’s home is hit with new felony charges

    A Jan. 6 defendant who was arrested near the Washington home of former President Barack Obama over the summer after former President Donald Trump posted a screenshot that included the address has been hit with five new charges.

    A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Taylor Taranto, who, as NBC News reported, was first identified by online sleuths back in 2021 but wasn’t arrested until last June when he showed up near Obama’s home.

    Three of the new charges relate to guns and ammunition that alleged to have been found in Taranto’s van when he was arrested. Taranto also faces a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding for his conduct on Jan. 6, 2021. He also faces a charge of false information and hoaxes, accused of falsely threatening that he was going to set off an explosive at the National Institute of Standards and Technology before his eventual arrest…

  311. Reginald Selkirk says