Sunday, May 16, 2021

Retrubution Execution, Con't

The Liz Cheney fight is over, and Donald Trump has claimed 100% victory with Elise Stefanik taking Cheney's role as House GOP conference chair. As CNN's Harry Enten notes, Republicans are now moving on to winning back Congress in 2022.

The House GOP's move to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position is widely seen as the latest move to placate the base at the risk of alienating the center of the electorate. Cheney had voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and has continued her critiques of him while most other Republicans seem to have a hard time distancing themselves from him. 
But a look at the statistics reveals that Republicans may be playing it right when it comes to Trump. 
The belief that Republicans should not try to placate Trump or his supporters comes down to the fact that he is unpopular and just lost a presidential election. 
That said, there's little sign that Trump is even on the minds' of most voters these days. He's not on Twitter, and Google searches for him are way down. Indeed, there's not much of a sign that the GOP's association with Trump is hurting them at this point. 
Take a look at the generic congressional ballot. Democrats hold a slight lead of about 3 to 4 points in an average of polls. Trump lost the 2020 election by 4.5 points, and House Republicans lost nationally by 3.1 points. 
In other words, Republicans are in no worse position than they were in the 2020 election. In fact, they're actually polling better now on the generic ballot than they were heading into the last election by about 3 to 4 points because polling across the board underestimated Republicans.
In other words, without Trump reminding people daily why the GOP is corrupt and terrible, they're actually doing better in the polls, better enough to win back Congress by a healthy margin. Biden's big legislative wins and the COVID vaccine progress aren't enough. People actually like Republicans more now, because they're the "outsider" party and everything is now the Democrats' fault because they're in control.

Unless Democrats find a way to make the GOP pay a price for their continued support of Trump, the Biden admin will be over and done in 2023 when Republicans take over Congress and impeach him three, maybe four times just to make sure Trump is no longer the "most impeached" Oval Office occupant.

You think I'm kidding. I'm being deadly serious.

Sunday Long Read: The Coldest Of Cases

This week's Sunday Long Read mystery doesn't get much more "cold case" than the disappearance of a group of skiers in the Ural Mountains during the Soviet era more than 60 years ago, but as author Douglas Preston tells us in the New Yorker, the mystery may finally be solved.

Igor Dyatlov was a tinkerer, an inventor, and a devotee of the wilderness. Born in 1936, near Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), he built radios as a kid and loved camping. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, in 1957, he constructed a telescope so that he and his friends could watch the satellite travel across the night sky. By then, he was an engineering student at the city’s Ural Polytechnic Institute. One of the leading technical universities in the country, U.P.I. turned out topflight engineers to work in the nuclear-power and weapons industries, communications, and military engineering. During his years there, Dyatlov led a number of arduous wilderness trips, often using outdoor equipment that he had invented or improved on. It was a time of optimism in the U.S.S.R. Khrushchev’s Thaw had freed many political prisoners from Stalin’s Gulag, economic growth was robust, and the standard of living was rising. The shock that the success of Sputnik delivered to the West further bolstered national confidence. In late 1958, Dyatlov began planning a winter expedition that would exemplify the boldness and vigor of a new Soviet generation: an ambitious sixteen-day cross-country ski trip in the Urals, the north-south mountain range that divides western Russia from Siberia, and thus Europe from Asia.

He submitted his proposal to the U.P.I. sports club, which readily approved it. Dyatlov’s itinerary lay three hundred and fifty miles north of Sverdlovsk, in the traditional territory of the Mansi, an indigenous people. The Mansi came into contact with Russians around the sixteenth century, when Russia was extending its control over Siberia. Though largely Russified by this time, the Mansi continued to pursue a semi-traditional way of life—hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. Dyatlov’s group would ski two hundred miles, on a route that no Russian, as far as anyone knew, had taken before. The mountains were gentle and rounded, their barren slopes rising from a vast boreal forest of birch and fir. The challenge wouldn’t be rugged terrain but brutally cold temperatures, deep snow, and high winds.

Dyatlov recruited his classmate Zina Kolmogorova, and seven other fellow-students and recent graduates. They were among the √©lite of Soviet youth and all highly experienced winter campers and cross-country skiers. One was Dyatlov’s close friend Georgy Krivonishchenko, who had graduated from U.P.I. two years before and worked as an engineer at the Mayak nuclear complex, in the then secret town of Chelyabinsk-40. Jug-eared, small, and wiry, he told jokes, sang, and played the mandolin. Two other recent graduates were Rustem Slobodin and Nikolay Thibault-Brignoles, of French descent, whose father had been worked nearly to death in one of Stalin’s camps. The other students included Yuri Yudin, Yuri Doroshenko, and Aleksandr Kolevatov. The youngest of the group, at twenty, was Lyuda Dubinina, an economics major, a track athlete, and an ardent Communist, who wore her long blond hair in braids tied with silk ribbons. On a previous wilderness outing, Dubinina had been accidentally shot by a hunter, and survived—quite cheerfully, it was said—a fifty-mile journey back to civilization. A couple of days before the group was due to set off, the U.P.I. administration unexpectedly added a new member, much older than the others and largely unknown to them: Semyon Zolotaryov, a thirty-seven-year-old veteran of the Second World War with an old-fashioned mustache, stainless-steel crowns on his teeth, and tattoos.

The party left Sverdlovsk by train on January 23rd. Several of them hid under seats to avoid buying tickets. They were in high spirits—so high that on a layover between trains Krivonishchenko was briefly detained by police for playing his mandolin and pretending to panhandle in the train station. We know these details because there was a communal journal, and many of the skiers also kept personal journals. At least five had cameras, and the pictures they took show a lively and strikingly handsome group of young people having the adventure of their lives—skiing, laughing, playing in the snow, and mugging for the camera.

After two days on trains, the party reached Ivdel, a remote town with a Stalin-era prison camp that, by then, held mostly criminals. From there the group travelled another day by bus, then in the back of a woodcutter’s truck, and finally by ski, guided by a horse-drawn sleigh. They slept in an abandoned logging camp called Second Northern. There Yuri Yudin had a flareup of sciatica that forced him to pull out of the trip. The next day, January 28th, he turned back, while the remaining nine set off toward the mountains. The plan was to end up at the tiny village of Vizhai around February 12th, and telegram the U.P.I. sports club that they had arrived safely. The expected telegram never came.

At first, the U.P.I. sports club assumed that the group had just been held up; there had been reports of a heavy snowstorm in the mountains. But, after several days passed, families of the group began placing frantic phone calls to the university and to the local bureau of the Communist Party, and, on February 20th, a search was launched. There were several search parties: student volunteers from U.P.I., prison guards from the Ivdel camp, Mansi hunters, local police; the military deployed planes and helicopters. On February 25th, the students found ski tracks, and the next day they discovered the skiers’ tent—above the tree line on a remote mountain that Soviet officials referred to as Height 1079 and that the Mansi called Kholat Syakhl, or Dead Mountain. There was no one inside.

The theories are quite entertaining as to what happened to the Dyatlov party, as good as some of Preston's novels featuring seminal New Orleans FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast. The reality may actually be a bit more frightening, however.

I avoid skiing anyway. Mountains will kill you, you know.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Israeli A Problem Here, Con't

We've now reached the inevitable "Israeli airstrikes destroy international press offices" stage of the 2021 iteration of Middle-East Peace™ and I'm wondering how President Biden will choose to respond.

An Israeli airstrike targeted and destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children, on Saturday.

The strike on the high-rise came nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate the 12-story building, which also housed Al-Jazeera, other offices and residential apartments. The strike brought down the entire structure, which collapsed in a gigantic cloud of dust. There was no immediate explanation for why it was attacked.

The earlier Israeli airstrike on the Gaza City refugee camp was the deadliest single strike of the current conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Both sides are pressing for an advantage as cease-fire efforts gather strength.

The latest outburst of violence started in Jerusalem and spread across the region over the past week, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities of Israel. There were also widespread Palestinian protests Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people.

The spiraling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising, when peace talks have not taken place in years. Palestinians on Saturday were marking Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. That raised the possibility of even more unrest.

U.S. diplomat Hady Amr arrived Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.N. Security Council was set to meet Sunday. But Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official said Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has pounded the Gaza Strip with strikes. In Gaza, at least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women; in Israel, eight people have been killed, including the death Saturday of a man killed by a rocket that hit in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

The strike on the building housing media offices came in the afternoon, after the owner received a call from the Israeli military warning that the building would be hit. AP’s staff and others in the building evacuated immediately, and were reported safe
It was nice of the IDF to warn the AP to evacuate before their Gaza office was deliberately targeted and bombed to hell so that they can no longer report on what the IDF will be bombing next.  
See, the IDF is friendly and full of the good guys!

The Big Lie, Con't

Well what do you know, we actually found voter fraud in the 2020 election, well this changes everything! I mean it's all over for Biden and the Democrats now, nobody...

...wait, I'm being told that this was Republican voter fraud to illegally help Donald Trump in Colorado, by a man accused of not just voting his estranged wife's ballot, but killing her as well.

Barry Morphew, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife who remains missing, is now accused of submitting a ballot for her in the November presidential election.

Suzanne Morphew was last seen in May 2020, and while she has not been found, the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) announced earlier this month the arrest of her husband Barry and said they believe Suzanne is no longer alive.

He was previously facing charges of:

  • First-degree murder after deliberation
  • Tampering with physical evidence
  • Attempting to influence a public servant

New charges were announced this week and include:

  • Forgery of public record
  • Election mail ballot offense

Back in October 2020, the Chaffee County Clerk reported to the sheriff's office that she had received a mail-in ballot for Suzanne Morphew, a person she knew was missing since May 2020, an arrest affidavit from CCSO for Barry Morphew's arrest says.

The ballot was provided to the sheriff's office and seized as evidence.

It did not have the signature of the voter as required and instead, the affidavit says, the name Barry Lee Morphew was handwritten on the line for the witness's legal name.

In April, Barry Morphew was interviewed about the ballot and asked why he submitted it.

He replied, "Just because I wanted Trump to win," the affidavit says. He further stated, according to the affidavit that "I just thought give him [Trump] another vote."

He went on to say, according to the affidavit, "all these other guys are cheating," and I know she [referring to his wife] was going to vote for Trump anyway."

When asked if knew submitting the ballot was illegal, he responded, "I didn't know you couldn't do that for your spouse," the affidavit says.
I have to say, if this guy killed his wife and then stole her identity to cast two ballots for Joe Biden, this would have been the leading news story on FOX for six goddamn months. It would have taken on BENGHAZI status. The trial would be covered daily, with Democrats constantly asked to disavow Biden's "obvious cheating" and for him to do everything up to and including resign.

But this asshole voted for Trump, so nobody cares.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Carlette Duffy felt both vindicated and excited. Both relieved and angry.

For months, she suspected she had been low-balled on two home appraisals because she's Black. She decided to put that suspicion to the test and asked a white family friend to stand in for her during an appraisal.

Her home's value suddenly shot up. A lot.

During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the first two appraisers who visited her home just west of downtown Indianapolis, valued it at $125,000 and $110,000, respectively.

But that third appraisal went differently.

To get that one, Duffy, who is African American, communicated with the appraiser strictly via email, stripped her home of all signs of her racial and cultural identity and had the white husband of a friend stand in for her during the appraiser's visit.

The home's new value: $259,000.

"I had to go through all of that just to say that I was right and that this is what's happening," she said. "This is real."

Now she wants justice. Along with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Duffy has filed fair housing complaints against the mortgage lenders and appraisers she accuses of undervaluing her home because of her race.

Housing experts and historians say residential real estate has been historically marred by discrimination. Across the nation, homes owned by Black Americans are significantly undervalued next to homes in comparable white neighborhoods, according to a study by Brookings.
Being Black in America costs you so much. There is a deliberate tax on everything we do, at every stage, at every turn, in every way, that white people do not have to pay or even think about.

In Indianapolis and cities around this country, being Black costs you more than half the value of your home.

That's just for starters.
It costs you wealth, opportunity, and security. It hurts your family, your ability to remain middle class, your ability to stay afloat.
It costs you status, peace of mind, and if the wrong person decides it, it costs you your life.

Every waking moment. The Black middle class has all been erased from existence. Every time we make progress, that progress is halted and reversed, and we are blamed for being too lazy to care about it.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Last Call For Meathead Matt's #MeToo Moment, Con't

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is desperately trying to change the subject from his almost certain upcoming federal indictment on child sexual abuse and sex trafficking charges for "dating" an underage girl, and the Sword of Damocles dangling above his head just lost a few hairs holding it up.
The former Florida tax official whose criminal case led to a sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to plead guilty to six of the charges against him and to cooperate with federal investigators, court filings show.

In a copy of the plea agreement submitted in federal court in Orlando on Friday, Joel Greenberg said he will plead guilty to charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor — a fraction of the 33 charges that prosecutors had already slapped him with.

The filing also said he agrees “to cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons, and to testify, subject to prosecution for perjury or making a false statement, fully and truthfully before any federal court proceeding or federal grand jury in connection with the charges in this case.”

If he cooperates fully, the government will seek a reduced sentence. A judge will hold a hearing on the proposed deal on Monday.

It's uncertain what the agreement means for the investigation into Gaetz, who has not been charged with any crime and who's repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Federal investigators are looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the internet to search for women they could pay for sex. They are also investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a minor and paid for her to travel with him, The New York Times reported.

According to the court filing, Greenberg spent over $70,000 in 150 transactions between 2016 and 2018 to pay women for sex.

One of those women was under 18 “for part of the time” Greenberg paid her for sex acts “with him and others.”
The clock is almost up for Gaetz. If Greenberg turns states' evidence on him and tosses him under the bus, and then levitates the bus 40 feet into the air just to drop it on him a few more times like I suspect is going to happen over the next several weeks, then this is going to get ugly fast. Gaetz doesn't have Daddy Trump or Bill Barr to protect him anymore, either. If he's indicted, he will be jettisoned by the rest of the GOP as soon as they can safely memory hole their relationships with him.
And Gaetz may be far from the only GOP lawmaker that this case ensnares.  Just sayin'.

Vaccination Nation, Congress Edition

Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are all vaccinated and proud of it. Even all but a handful of GOP Senators are too. But less than half of House Republicans are vaccinated, and that's a major problem.

Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have a 100% vaccination rate against Covid-19, a CNN survey of Capitol Hill found this week, significantly outpacing Republicans in the House and Senate and illustrating the partisan divide over the pandemic. 
For Republicans, at least 44.8% of House members are vaccinated and at least 92% of senators are, CNN found. 
In a follow-up to a March House-wide survey and interviews with members, CNN confirmed that 312 of the 431 members of the House -- just over 72% of the 431-member body -- have now received a Covid-19 vaccination. Of that, all 219 House Democrats have reported being vaccinated. Among the Republican conference, 95 of the 212 members -- 44.8% -- have said they are vaccinated. 
One hundred and twelve Republican offices did not respond to multiple CNN inquires. 
Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors except under special circumstances, the House mask requirement will remain in place until all members and floor staff are fully vaccinated. 
"No," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when asked if the rule mandating masks unless a member is speaking on the House floor would be modified. She then asked, "Are they all vaccinated?"
Now guess which House Republican is the proudest and loudest about not being vaccinated.
Go on, guess

One House Republican, Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky, said he is not vaccinated.

"The Pfizer and Moderna trials showed no benefit from the vaccine for those previously infected, so I will not be taking the vaccine," Massie said in a statement to CNN.

Both clinical trial and real-life data finds the mRNA vaccines are more than 95% effective at preventing severe Covid-19 illness, hospitalizations and death.

Ladies and gentlemen, of course it's my own Congressmoron, Thomas Massie. What a spectacularly performative dumbass.
Three other Republicans -- Reps. Greg Steube and Kat Cammack of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia -- said they did not want to share the information.

"I'm not going to talk about it. I don't think anybody should have to share their personal, private medical information with anybody," Steube told CNN.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania told CNN, "I have the antibodies" when asked if he had been vaccinated. But experts don't know how long antibodies last in a person who has recovered from Covid-19, and research suggests that coronavirus vaccines will provide better protection, especially when it comes to some of the worrying variants. One study found that people in South Africa who received the Pfizer vaccine after B.1.351 became the dominant circulating virus were still very strongly protected from infection, and that protection lasted for at least six months.

Even Insurrection Barbie is like "None of your beeswax!" But Rep. Massie?

Performative ignorance of the highest degree, and yet he'll easily be re-elected for as long as he wants.

Prince Of Darkness, Con't

So yes, the whole "Erik Prince brought in a British spy to train Project Veritas operatives to run Trump loyalty sting operations" thing was absolutely 100% true, and yes, they tried to infiltrate Democratic campaigns and unions as well. But their big targets were the FBI and the Trump White House itself.

A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of President Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations.

The campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks.

The operations against the F.B.I., run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the F.B.I. employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump.

The campaign shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump’s allies had about a shadowy “deep state” trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president.

Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group’s operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The efforts to target American officials show how a campaign once focused on exposing outside organizations slowly morphed into an operation to ferret out Mr. Trump’s perceived enemies in the government’s ranks.

Whether any of Mr. Trump’s White House advisers had direct knowledge of the campaign is unclear, but one of the participants in the operation against Mr. McMaster, Barbara Ledeen, said she was brought on by someone “with access to McMaster’s calendar.”


McMaster was targeted after a dinner with Oracle founder Larry Page and his wife, who ratted the former National Security Adviser's opinion of Trump out to the White House directly through Don McGahn.

To recap, Trump hired Erik Prince to train James O'Keefe and his merry band of grifters to be seekrit ageunts™ and they tried to run honeypot ops on Trump own national security team and the FBI.

This is who they always were, folks.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

If Joe Manchin's top secret plan for getting things passed in the Senate is suggesting reasonable things that Republican senators public take flaming dumps on, then I guess it's working like a charm.


It didn’t take long for a supposedly bipartisan compromise on voting rights legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is floating to get dumped on by a key Republican.

At a Thursday Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to vote on one of President Biden’s key Justice Department nominees, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) didn’t call out Manchin by name. But he referenced a proposal Manchin has recently floated — first to a local news outlet, and then more explicitly in an interview Wednesday with ABC News — for addressing voting rights.

Manchin is currently the lone Senate Democrat not publicly supporting the For The People Act, Democrats’ sprawling democracy overhaul legislation that would beat back many of the restrictive state-level voting policies advancing across the county. The For the People Act — also known as S1 — stands no chance of becoming law for as long as Manchin and other centrist Democrats oppose blowing up the filibuster to ram it through.

Manchin says he would not support major elections legislation done on a purely partisan basis. Instead, Manchin has suggested that lawmakers focus on a restoring the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court invalidated the formula that determined which states — based on their history of discriminating against minority votes — must get federal approval for changes to their election practices.

Manchin is now pitching a fix to the Voting Rights Act that would subject all 50 states to the so-called preclearance process. That goes farther than the VRA restoration legislation that has been previously introduced, which is moving separately from s1 so Democrats can create the kind of legislative record that will make the law more resistant to legal attack. Manchin nonetheless has described the approach as something to be done with bipartisan support.

On Thursday, Cornyn signaled that such an idea would not get much buy-in from the Republican Party.

He characterized it in suspicious terms. The idea of a 50-state preclearance system has only been outlined by Manchin in vague terms, which to Cornyn, meant that there is an “effort afoot” to do through the “back door” what S1 was trying to do through the “front door:” a supposed federal “takeover” of the U.S. election system


Subjecting all 50 states to VRA pre-clearance would remove the bias that the Roberts Court cited in 2013 when they ripped that entire section of the act out. Mitch McConnell has been blocking a fix to the VRA ever since, and he knows that if federal elections were free from GOP interference at the state level, that the GOP would never win again.
If Manchin's fixes are being tossed out as non-starters, then when does Manchin finally say "screw it" and kill the filibuster?
Answer: who knows?
But our entire democracy depends on his whims, and I'm rapidly getting sick of it.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn has reached a deal with the Justice Department on testifying about his former boss, to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee in a closed door session.

Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors about then-President Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, the House and the Justice Department announced in a court filing Wednesday night. 
The interview will happen "as soon as possible," and a transcript will be released in the days after, the court filing said. 
The committee members who interview McGahn can ask him about the incidents documented in the Mueller report of Trump's attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and block the Russia investigation, and about the Mueller investigation's accuracy. 
The Justice Department can assert executive privilege or McGahn can decline to answer on other topics, which would essentially block House Democrats from learning details McGahn might know about other major scandals during Trump's presidency.
McGahn served as the top lawyer on Trump's 2016 campaign and served as White House counsel until fall 2018. 
The agreement is a major concession from the executive branch after the Trump administration sought to broadly block former and current officials from testifying to Congress, and McGahn's recalcitrance ended up in court as the most potentially consequential case over testimony. Yet the agreement comes after much of the political jeopardy Trump faced as president passed -- leaving House Democrats with far less momentum in their investigations of Trump related to obstruction. 
"When the former President vowed to fight 'all of the subpoenas' aimed at his Administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction. We begin to bring that era of obstruction to an end today," Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. 
The agreement will put an end to the two-year standoff in court over McGahn's congressional testimony, which Democrats sought after Mueller documented multiple instances of Trump's obstructive acts. The Mueller investigation relied on McGahn as one of its most significant witnesses against Trump.
Could McGahn;s testimony be the key to a criminal referral of Trump to the DoJ?  Possibly, but I remain extremely skeptical of any federal charges for Trump, as I have said.

It's the right thing to do, but the price will be extraordinary.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

It's been true for years now, and it remains true today: the largest terrorism threat to the United States remains white supremacist domestic terrorists bent on destroying democracy in America and establishing a white ethno-state through military insurrection. The Biden Administration is not mincing words when it comes to the scope of the threat, either.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas told senators on Wednesday that the greatest domestic threat facing the United States came from what they both called “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”

“Specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,” Mr. Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The cabinet secretaries’ comments reflected a dramatic shift in tone from the Trump administration, which deliberately downplayed the threat from white supremacists and similar groups, in part to elevate the profile of what former President Donald J. Trump described as violent threats from radical left-wing groups.

Last year, a former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence branch filed a whistle-blower complaint in which he accused the department of blocking a report about the threat of violent extremism and described white supremacists as having been “exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent targeted attacks in recent years.”

Mr. Mayorkas told senators on Wednesday, “The department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally.”

As Mr. Garland and Mr. Mayorkas testified before the Appropriations Committee, former members of the Trump administration told the House Oversight Committee that Mr. Trump’s false claims to have won the 2020 election had fueled the domestic terrorism threat, a point many Republican lawmakers have rejected. Earlier on Wednesday, House Republicans ousted Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership position for publicly pushing back on Mr. Trump’s claims, in the latest sign of Mr. Trump’s continued hold on the party.

While the Justice and Homeland Security Departments have long been involved in countering violent extremism inside the country, Biden administration officials have said the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol showed an urgent need to focus more on domestic extremism.
Republicans are trying to do anything they can to change the subject from their own assistance to these Trumpist terrorists to blaming Black Lives Matter, because Republicans agree with the goals of these terrorists. Attorney General Merrick Garland was more than ready for the GOP.

Senate Republicans did not share that focus on Wednesday and instead grilled Mr. Garland and Mr. Mayorkas on border security issues.

The top Republican on the committee, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, said that Democrats were politicizing the issue by describing violent domestic extremists as coming from the far right.

He equated the Capitol riot to the protests against police violence last summer, and asked Mr. Garland why the Justice Department seemed to be prioritizing pursuing the perpetrators of the Jan. 6 attack over those who looted shops and attacked law enforcement during racial justice protests.

Mr. Garland said that “if there has to be a hard hierarchy of things that we prioritize,” the Jan. 6 attack would be at the top because it most threated democracy.

“I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Mr. Garland said, calling it “an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.”

“That does not mean that we don’t focus on other threats and that we don’t focus on other crimes,” he said.
I'm betting about now Mitch McConnell is maybe reconsidering his decision to block Garland's path to the Supreme Court. He'd still have a 5-4 conservative majority now, but Garland is way out of Mitch's league as AG.

We'll see how this goes. I still don't see any federal indictments for Trump officials in the future, the chance of deadly violence is just too high, not to mention making a martyr out of someone. I know it needs to happen, but the price is something we have to be willing to pay, and I don't think we're ready to even have that discussion yet.

I don't know. We'll see. Merrick Garland knows a lot of things that I do not, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

The Trump party just collected apostate Rep. Liz Cheney's head, removing her from the House GOP leadership in an unceremonious voice vote this morning.

In an extraordinary bow to former President Trump, House Republicans voted Wednesday to purge GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney from her leadership post, punishing the conservative Wyoming Republican for daring to refute Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

The decision was made by voice vote, meaning there will be no tally of the lawmakers who voted to dump Cheney, or of those who wanted her to stay on. Sources inside the closed-door vote said it was an overwhelming vote against Cheney. Some guessed the split was three to one.

That represents a remarkable shift from a similar challenge to her leadership status in February, when she won handily. And it marked the first time in recent memory that a congressional GOP leader was toppled by rank-and-file Republicans in the middle of their term through a formal vote.

Trump was not on Wednesday’s ballot, but he was the elephant in the room as Cheney’s colleagues voted to condemn her for what has become an unpardonable sin in today’s Republican Party: calling out the former president for his repeated falsehoods about his election defeat.

“You can't have a conference chair who recites Democrat talking points,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), former head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally, said after the vote.

Yet not all conservatives agreed.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another Freedom Caucus member, was a rare conservative supporting Cheney. A sharp critic of "cancel culture," Buck warned after the vote that Republicans likely alienated voters who agree with Cheney's criticisms of Trump — or at least her right to air them from a position of leadership.

"Liz didn't agree with President Trump's narrative and she was cancelled," Buck said. "We have to deal with this narrative at some point. There are major issues — the border, spending — there are major issues. But to suggest that the American people in 2022 won't consider the fact that we were unwilling to stand up to a narrative that the election was stolen, I think will be taken into consideration with their vote

It's all about Trump now.

Anyone who doesn't bow down to him will be removed. 
Anyone remaining in the party is okay with that.

Keep that fact in mind.

The Big Lie: Tarnished Brass Edition

Over a hundred retired US military generals and admirals signed on to The Big Lie this week, and the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin now have to confront the fact that our armed forces have long been a breeding ground for white supremacist insurrectionists with the training and knowledge to do real violence, and that the rot obviously goes way up the chain of command.
A day after 124 retired generals and admirals released a letter spreading the lie that President Joe Biden stole the election, current and former military officers are speaking out, calling the missive a dangerous new sign of the military being dragged into the trenches of partisan warfare.

The open letter on Monday from a group calling itself Flag Officers 4 America advanced the false conspiracy theory that the presidential vote was rigged in Biden's favor and warned that the nation is "in deep peril" from "a full-blown assault on our Constitutional rights."

“Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration,” they wrote, “our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”

The broadside also raises questions about “the mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief" and sounds the alarm about a host of hot-button issues, such as the border wall. It goes on to accuse congressional leaders of "using the U.S. military as political pawns with thousands of troops deployed around the U.S. Capitol Building."

The group's website claims that "we are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776."

As news of the letter spread, it set off a round of recriminations among current and former military members. One serving Navy officer, who did not want to be identified publicly, called it "disturbing and reckless."

Jim Golby, an expert in civil-military relations, called it a "shameful effort to use their rank and the military's reputation for such a gross and blatant partisan attack," while a retired Air Force colonel who teaches cadets at the Air Force Academy, Marybeth Ulrich, labeled it "anti-democratic."

"I think it hurts the military and by extension it hurts the country," said retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describing it as replete with "right-wing Republican talking points."

The talking points in the letter fall generally in line with die-hard loyalists in Trump's orbit, who question the results of the election despite the fact that the courts and Trump's own Justice Department said there was no reason to declare him the winner.

Several experts said it reminded them of the current crisis in civil-military relations in France, where dozens of retired generals were recently sanctioned after warning in an open letter in a right-wing magazine of civil war for the "protection of our civilisational values."

That letter was followed up by an anonymous one from current officers calling French politicians cowards for not dealing with the Muslim population, sparking calls for a purge of the ranks. The controversy has undermined public confidence in the French military and recalled the bitter feuds between the brass and elected officials during the early years of the Cold War.

The American letter was striking for several reasons. It is not unusual for retired officers to take sides in electoral politics and endorse candidates. But its fiery, even angry, language and conspiracy-mongering struck multiple long-time observers as particularly out of bounds and dangerous. Coming outside the campaign season was also seen as rare if not unprecedented.

This is a not-so-subtle reminder that if there are scores of flag officers willing to embrace the Big Lie, there are thousands of members of the Armed Forces who feel the same, and the letter all but calls President Biden unfit for command. The implication that current and former military personnel should ignore his commands and consider "righting this wrong" of his election are absolutely frightening.

The Pentagon ignores this at our peril. The potential for real, devastating violence is the highest it's been in generations.

It's far from over.

It's A Gas, Gas, Gas

I have to admit that Americans are very good at self-fulfilling prophecies of stupidity, I've been writing about that for going on 13 years now.
A growing number of gas stations along the East Coast are without fuel as nervous drivers aggressively fill up their tanks following a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, a critical artery for gasoline. The panic-buying threatens to exacerbate the supply shock. 
As of 4 pm ET Tuesday, 8.5% of gas stations in North Carolina and 7.7% in Virginia didn't have gasoline, according to outage figures reported by GasBuddy, an app that tracks fuel prices and demand. The Virginia figure was flat from 11 am ET, while North Carolina was up from 5.8% previously. 
Rising outages are also being reported at gas stations in Georgia (5.8%), Florida (2.8%) and South Carolina (3.5%), according to GasBuddy, which collects user reports and shares the information with the government during emergencies. 
"Panicked buying" is "running stations in the region dry," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN Business. 
He warned that the "irrational behavior" could prolong supply issues "for weeks." 
Tiffany Wright of AAA Carolinas criticized what she described as "irresponsible behavior at the pump." 
"People are taking their entire family fleet of vehicles to the gas station and filing up when they don't need to," Wright told CNN's Dianne Gallagher. "We are our own worst enemy in this situation because we are over-consuming at the pump." 
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm pleaded with Americans not to hoard gas as the pipeline attempts to resume operations. 
"Let me emphasize that much as there was no cause for say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline," Granholm said during Tuesday's White House press briefing, "especially in light of the fact that the pipeline should be substantially operational by the end of this week and over the weekend." 
Demand for information on gasoline availability is so intense that GasBuddy itself experienced outages. De Haan told CNN the platform is experiencing "slowdowns" because of "extreme traffic," so users may experience "periodic timeouts" on its website and app.

US gasoline demand jumped 20% on Monday compared with the prior week, according to GasBuddy. 
In just five states served by Colonial Pipeline — Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia -- demand was up by a collective 40.1%, GasBuddy said. 
"I got scared that I could not go to work or take my daughters to school," Florida resident Linderly Bedoya told CNN on Tuesday. "All the gas stations in my area were without gas and when I finally found one I had to stay an hour in line and I had to fill up with the premium unleaded."


So if you're a Republican governor, and you want to hurt this administration, what do you do?  You declare a state of emergency, which immediately makes demand and shortages even worse.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency due to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown on Saturday, May 7.

According to the executive order, on May 7, Colonial Pipeline, a major US fuel pipeline operator, was the target of a cyberattack that disabled certain computer systems responsible for sustaining pipeline operations.

As a result of the incident, Colonial Pipeline was forced to temporarily halt pipeline operations in order to contain the attack.

Colonial Pipeline is responsible for transporting a "substantial percentage" of fuel on the East Coast of the United States, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products, the executive order stated.

The closure of the pipeline poses a severe threat to the State of Florida and Gov. DeSantis said this requires immediate resources be taken to protect the continued delivery of fuel products to the state, the executive order read.

The executive order is to expire in 30 days from Tuesday, May 11, unless Gov. DeSantis extends it.
So now Florida is free from all commercial driving regulations for as long as DeSantis wants it, and shortages will sure make energy companies and GOP donors a shitload of money, while he sits back and blames Biden.

Bonus: He gets political cover for doing this from Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who also declared a state of emergency making everything worse.

You can bet that DeSantis will be playing news footage of long gas lines whenever he needs to do so, and I have to admit, he's crafty as well as evil.

Remember when I said the real threat was Trump, only without the baggage?



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Last Call For Israeli A Problem, Con't

As Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's legal prospects grow dimmer by the day in his corruption trial, he's walked away from the day-to-day management of Israel is order to save his own skin, and the neglect and dereliction means the worst possible instincts are being used to try to control the latest situation in Gaza with brutal force that threatens to create a much bigger problem for the entire Middle East.
Airstrikes left neighborhoods in Gaza trembling, killing at least two dozen people, and rockets rained on cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv, as some of the worst fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in years showed no signs of abating on Tuesday.

The immediate trigger was a police raid on an Islamic holy site in Jerusalem the day before, but by Tuesday the conflict had grown far broader, with civilians on both sides of the border paying a heavy cost.

In Gaza, at least 26 Palestinians, including nine children, were killed in at least 130 Israeli strikes on Monday and Tuesday, and 122 others were wounded, according to health officials.

In Israel, two people were killed in strikes on the seaside city of Ashkelon on Tuesday, and at least 56 Israelis have received hospital treatment, according to medical officials. As multiple salvos of rockets streaked out of Gaza in rapid succession, one hit a school in the city, just 13 miles up the coast from Gaza. And a giant fire raged on the outskirts of Ashkelon where an oil facility was hit.

The school was empty at the time because the Israeli authorities had ordered all schools within a 25-mile radius of Gaza closed in anticipation of rockets.

Several more slammed into the port city of Ashdod, a little farther up the coast, where at least one hit a house. The emergency services reported several people wounded slightly.

Shortly after 9 p.m., militants fired another barrage toward Tel Aviv, Israel’s second-largest city, with one rocket hitting an empty bus south of the city, wounding at least three people, including a 5-year-old girl. One person was killed by the barrage, the authorities said, and 11 people were injured, according to early media reports.

Palestinian militants said the barrage was revenge for an airstrike that toppled a tower that houses the offices of several Hamas officials.

In a late-night address to Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid, and will pay, a very heavy price for their aggression.” But he warned, that “this campaign will take time.”

The Israeli military, prepared for the latest eruption of cross-border fighting with militant groups in Gaza, designated a code name for its operation just hours after the deadly violence began: Guardians of the Walls, a reference to the ancient ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem. The militant groups had their own code name for their campaign: Sword of Jerusalem.

By early Tuesday morning, barely 12 hours after Hamas, the Islamist militant group that holds sway in Gaza, had launched a surprise volley of rockets toward Jerusalem, Israel had carried out at least 130 retaliatory airstrikes in the Palestinian coastal territory, according to an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Militant groups had fired nearly 500 rockets into Israel by the afternoon, according to military officials.

Things are rapidly spiraling out of control in Gaza, and while I don't think Netanyahu wants a third Intifada, he's going to take advantage of it if it comes to stay in power with a breathtakingly horrid crackdown where thousands may die. 

Like Trump, Netanyahu has set the stage for being rid of these troublesome Palestinians, and it looks like Israel's hardliners in the military are going to push this as far as they can.

I'm hoping President Biden can step in and calm things down, but I'm not holding out hope.

The Big Lie, Con't

Conspiracy theorists in Arizona, seeing the recount nonsense crumbling to dust before their eyes, are now petitioning the state's Supreme Court to throw out all 2020 election results and to remove the entirely of the state's elected officials immediately, where they would be replaced by a list of "ordinary Arizona citizens" that just happens to consist of the plaintiffs.

A group of Arizona citizens, including one Republican Congressional candidate, is asking the state’s Supreme Court to invalidate all election results since 2018 and remove all elected officials from their offices immediately.

And who should replace the ousted election officials? Well, the citizens who filed the lawsuit, of course.

The legal petition claims all officials elected in Arizona since 2018 are “inadvertent usurpers” because the elections they won were conducted by vote-counting equipment that was not properly certified.

The plaintiffs claim the evidence to back up this staggering claim will be provided in the lawsuit’s appendix, which unfortunately they had not submitted at the time of writing.

The plaintiffs claim that the court has the authority to void the terms of the named officials—which include Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs—and install themselves as appropriate replacements.

“When in the past citizens have been appointed by the Governor to finish out a Senate term due to unusual circumstances, the Governor has typically chosen pedigreed, well-known politicians, but this is not necessary. Any Arizona resident meeting the minimum qualifications is entitled to and has the right be appointed to a seat in unusual situations,” the lawsuit claims.

The legal filing is the latest harebrained effort by pro-Trump and QAnon supporters in Arizona to get the results of November’s election overturned. There is currently an audit of 2.1 million votes being conducted in Maricopa County. The GOP-sanctioned recount is being conducted by a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas, which has no experience conducting audits.

So far the group has used UV lights to look for watermarks that conspiracy theorists claim were placed on certain ballots by former President Donald Trump to prove election fraud. And last week they began examining the ballots for bamboo fibers, based on a false claim that 40,000 ballots were flown in from Asia to tip the election in President Joe Biden’s favor.

The new lawsuit was filed with the Arizona Supreme Court on Friday, and the plaintiffs in the case sought to have their names redacted. “Petitioners have chosen to redact their names and personal information and utilize initials due a reasonable concern for their safety,” the plaintiffs write in the lawsuit.

But the group does give some indication of who they are by calling themselves “We the People,” a widely used phrase in the QAnon community.

One of the people involved in the “We the People” group is Daniel Wood, a former Marine who was a Republican candidate for Congress in last November’s elections.

Wood, who was beaten by Democratic rival Rep. Raul Grijalva, is mentioned at the bottom of a press release about the lawsuit which was published by the right-wing website the Gateway Pundit.

Also listed on the press release is Josh Barnett, a businessman who says he is a Republican candidate for Congress in 2022.

“As average citizens of Arizona, from all walks of life, we have discovered that our past elections in 2018 thru 2020 are out of compliance per the U.S. Election Assistance Commission,” Wood and Barnett claim in the press release.

Wood and Barnett did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News.
This is absolute poppycock and the people behind this idiocy should be tossed into the clink for a few months, but it's going to be The Next Proof Thing™ of a massive conspiracy to not elect tinfoil crazies to run the state. They are literally asking a judge to hand the entire state over to some random assholes.
And eventually, these fools will turn to more violence. It's inevitable.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

Joe Biden's latest Associated Press poll shows him in pretty good shape at 63% favorability, with seven out of ten Americans approving of his pandemic response.

President Joe Biden is plunging into the next phase of his administration with the steady approval of a majority of Americans, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows Biden is buoyed in particular by the public’s broad backing for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the fourth month of his presidency, Biden’s overall approval rating sits at 63%. When it comes to the new Democratic president’s handling of the pandemic, 71% of Americans approve, including 47% of Republicans.

The AP-NORC poll also shows an uptick in Americans’ overall optimism about the state of the country. Fifty-four percent say the country is on the right track, higher than at any point in AP-NORC polls conducted since 2017; 44% think the nation is on the wrong track.

Those positive marks have fueled the Biden White House’s confidence coming out of the president’s first 100 days in office, a stretch in which he secured passage of a sweeping $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package and surged COVID-19 vaccines across the country. The U.S., which has suffered the most virus deaths of any nation, is now viewed enviably by much of the rest of the world for its speedy vaccination program and robust supplies of the shots.

“We are turning a corner,” said Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator.

The improvements have also impacted Americans’ concerns about the virus. The AP-NORC poll shows the public’s worries about the pandemic are at their lowest level since February 2020, when the virus was first reaching the U.S. About half of Americans say they are at least somewhat worried that they or a relative could be infected with the virus, down from about 7 in 10 just a month earlier.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, there is a wide partisan gap in Americans’ views of pandemic risks. Among Democrats, 69% say they remain at least somewhat worried about being infected with the virus, compared with just 33% of Republicans.

Despite the overall positive assessments of Americans, Biden’s advisers are well aware that the next phase of his presidency is potentially trickier. Vaccination rates have slowed, and the administration is grappling with how to persuade those who are reluctant to get the shots about their safety and efficacy.

Biden’s legislative agenda for the rest of this year also faces obstacles on Capitol Hill. Republicans are resisting his calls for passing a sweeping infrastructure package, and there’s insufficient support among Democrats for overhauling Senate rules in a way that would allow the party to tackle changes to immigration policy, gun laws and voting rights on its own.
The first 100 days of the Biden administration was the easy part. Putting out Trump's forest fires took months, but there were clear goals and people broadly supported them.
It gets much, much harder from here for Biden, and for us as a nation.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Last Call For The Big Lie, Con't

The recount of Maricopa County's votes by Arizona Republicans has now fully devolved into a circus, and Republicans are openly beginning to express regret that the lunatics running the show may not have been the best, most competent people to hire for the job. 

Directly outside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum near downtown Phoenix, the Crazy Times Carnival wraps up an 11-day run on Sunday, a spectacle of thrill rides, games and food stands that headlines the Arizona State Fair this year.

Inside the coliseum, a Republican-ordered exhumation and review of 2.1 million votes in the state’s November election is heading into its third week, an exercise that has risen to become the lodestar of rigged-vote theorists — and shows no sign of ending soon.

Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs noted the carnival’s presence outside the coliseum when she challenged the competence and objectivity of the review last week, expressing concern about the security of the ballots inside in an apparent dig at what has become a spectacle of a very different sort.

There is no evidence that former President Donald J. Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona’s presidential election in the fall was fraudulent. Nonetheless, 16 Republicans in the State Senate voted to subpoena ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and two-thirds of the state’s vote in November, for an audit to show Trump die-hards that their fraud concerns were taken seriously.

As recently as a week ago, officials said the review would be completed by May 14. But with that deadline a week away, only about 250,000 of the county’s 2.1 million ballots have been processed in the hand recount that is a central part of the review, Ken Bennett, a liaison between those conducting the review and the senators, said on Saturday.

At that rate, the hand recount would not be finished until August.

The delay is but the latest snag in an exercise that many critics claim is wrecking voters’ confidence in elections, not restoring it. Since the State Senate first ordered it in December, the review has been dogged by controversy. Republicans dominate the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which supervised the election in the county. They said it was fair and accurate and opposed the review.

After a week marked by mounting accusations of partisan skulduggery, mismanagement and even potential illegality, at least one Republican supporter of the new count said it could not end soon enough.

“It makes us look like idiots,” State Senator Paul Boyer, a Republican from suburban Phoenix who supported the audit, said on Friday. “Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”

Civil-rights advocates say political fallout is the least of the concerns. They say the Arizona review is emblematic of a broader effort by pro-Trump Republicans to undermine faith in American democracy and shift control of elections to partisans who share their agenda


As I've said before, I fully expect red states where Democrats win in 2024 to be annulled, especially in the presidential contest. I expect Republicans will simply ignore voters and send a slate of GOP electors instead, regardless of the outcome. It's going to happen in a state like Wisconsin or Arizona or (if things go badly) Virginia.

That's when we find out if we remain a democracy. The Big Lie is all about trashing elections to the point where they don't matter any more.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

So the cyberattack that brought down the Colonial Pipeline on Friday may be part of the Russian mob's revenge on US sanctions, in what should not surprise anyone.

A Russian criminal group may be responsible for a ransomware attack that shut down a major U.S. fuel pipeline, two sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The group, known as DarkSide, is relatively new, but it has a sophisticated approach to the business of extortion, the sources said.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Sunday that the White House was working to help Colonial Pipeline, the Georgia-based company that operates the pipeline, to restart its 5,500-mile network.

The system, which runs from Texas to New Jersey, transports 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply. In a statement Sunday, the company said that some smaller lateral lines were operational but that the main lines remained down.

"We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations," the company said.

Raimondo said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the effort to restart the network was "an all-hands-on-deck effort right now."

"We are working closely with the company, state and local officials to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren't disruptions in supply," she said, adding: "Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent. They're here to stay."

A White House official said Sunday that the Energy Department is leading the government's response. Agencies are planning for a number of scenarios in which the region's fuel supply takes a hit, the official said.
The Biden White House is at least taking this seriously as an attack on the country's infrastructure and economy, and "criminal groups acting with state blessing" is the hallmark of Putin's oligarch mafia. Trump of course would have refused to act for weeks until he could have found a way to blame China, and Americans would have suffered in the meantime.

The bigger short-term problem is gasoline futures are rising sharply, and gas prices on the East Coast are soon to follow.

Futures for fuel prices rose Monday, as much of one of the largest pipelines in the U.S. remains closed following a cybersecurity attack.

Gasoline futures rose 0.6% to $2.14 per gallon, pulling back from their highest levels of the overnight session. At one point, gasoline futures jumped as high as $2.216, levels not seen since May 2018.

Heating oil futures rose 0.6% to $2.02, also off the highest levels of the session.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, turned lower, giving up earlier gains. It was last down 0.2% to $64.78 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude traded at $68.69 per barrel, for a gain of 40 cents. Natural gas futures declined 0.5% to $2.91 per million British thermal units.

Colonial Pipeline said Sunday evening that some of its smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are once again online but that its main lines are still shut down.

In an attempt to maintain fuel supplies along the Eastern Seaboard, the U.S. declared a state of emergency in 17 states and the District of Columbia on Sunday evening.

It is not yet clear whether the shutdown will raise prices consumers pay at the pump, but analysts say a prolonged shutdown beyond five days could translate to higher prices.

The markets are expecting this to be over with shortly. If it's not, it's going to get bad, and fast.

Black Lives Still Matter

Remember, it's the people screaming about cancel culture and free speech who are doing everything they can to criminalize even saying that Black lives matter.

Two brothers, 8 and 5, were removed from their Oklahoma elementary school classrooms this past week and made to wait out the school day in a front office for wearing T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter,” according to the boys’ mother.

The superintendent of the Ardmore, Okla., school district where the brothers, Bentlee and Rodney Herbert, attend different schools had previously told their mother, Jordan Herbert, that politics would “not be allowed at school,” Ms. Herbert recalled on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has called the incident a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights.

On April 30, Bentlee, who is in the third grade, went to class at Charles Evans Elementary in a Black Lives Matter shirt, which Ms. Herbert said he had picked out himself to wear.

That evening, Ms. Herbert learned that the school’s principal, Denise Brunk, had told Bentlee that he was not allowed to wear the T-shirt. At Ms. Brunk’s direction, he turned the shirt inside out and finished out the school day.

On Monday, Ms. Herbert went to the school to ask the principal what dress-code policy her son had violated, Ms. Herbert said. Ms. Brunk referred her to the Ardmore City Schools superintendent, Kim Holland.

“He told me when the George Floyd case blew up that politics will not be allowed at school,” Ms. Herbert said on Friday, referring to Mr. Holland. “I told him, once again, a ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirt is not politics.”

Neither Ms. Brunk nor Mr. Holland responded to emails or phone calls seeking comment on Friday.

On Tuesday, Ms. Herbert’s three sons — Bentlee; Rodney, who is in kindergarten; and Jaelon, a sixth grader, all of whom are Black — went to their schools in matching T-shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” and an image of a clenched fist on the front.

Later that morning, Ms. Herbert received a call from Rodney’s school, Will Rogers Elementary, telling her that she needed to either bring Rodney a different shirt or let the school provide one for him, or Rodney would be forced to sit in the front office for the rest of the school day. Rodney did not change shirts, and he sat in the office until school was over
Ms. Herbert learned later that day that Bentlee had also been made to sit in his school’s front office, where he missed recess, and did not eat lunch in the cafeteria with his classmates.

Jaelon, 12, encountered no issues at Ardmore Middle School because of his T-shirt, his mother said.

In an interview with The Daily Ardmoreite, Mr. Holland suggested that the T-shirts were disruptive.

“It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school,” Mr. Holland told the newspaper. “I don’t want my kids wearing MAGA hats or Trump shirts to school either because it just creates, in this emotionally charged environment, anxiety and issues that I don’t want our kids to deal with.”
So ask yourself why a kindergartener is being told by the school that Black lives mattering is "creating a disruption". Meanwhile, how many active shooter drills have kids in these schools gone through?

Pretty sad when you decide to take out revenge, and this is what it is, revenge, mind you, on a five-year-old. What's the district's policy on Confederate flag t-shirts, something that is actually disruptive and hurtful? If those are banned, why are Black lives matter t-shirts treated the same way?
Of course, we know the answer to that rhetorical question, and that's why Republicans are doing everything they can to banish everything but the most anodyne interpretation of American history in the name of making white folk feel better about slavery, colonization, and genocide. We have to rewrite history and gaslight our kids to keep them from learning the truth about this country's history for the last 400 years.

I got a crash course on this nearly 30 years ago in high school during the Rodney King riots. I thank my lucky stars that the student and faculty where I went to school actually confronted that and brought the entire school body together to discuss what went on, and yeah, there were people who said nothing bad happened.

But the vast majority of us were pissed off, and we all learned about out own experiences involving race from one another, white, Black, Asian, Indigenous, all of us that April and May. That shaped my life to this day.

And three decades later, a generation later, we're still having this discussion.

Black Lives Still Matter.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Last Call For Jab And A Brewski

The idea of getting vaccinated had been rolling around in the back of Tyler Morsch's mind for weeks. As a 28-year-old, he didn't feel in any particular danger, but he finally decided he should start looking for a Covid-19 vaccination clinic this week. Then he heard the magic words. 
"Free beer," he said.

Saturday was the first day that Erie County worked with a local microbrewery to host its Shot and a Chaser program, offering individuals who got their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at Resurgence Brewing Company a free pint glass and coupon for the vaccinated person's drink of choice.

Under normal circumstances, it would be beyond strange for a brewery to host a vaccination clinic in the shadow of 1,000-gallon fermentation tanks, with a brick wall separating a bustling bar service from health care professionals handling syringes filled with the Moderna vaccine. But these are not normal times.

"Given the world we live in right now, it's not so weird," said Ben Kestner, Resurgence Brewing's director of taproom operations.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who was nursing his own drink in one hand while directing vaccine recipients to open table with the other, was happy to see the county's first Shot and a Chaser effort going so well. Before the vaccinations started at 11 a.m., there was a line out the door.

Programs like the Shot and a Chaser program are among the more creative outreach efforts to try and attract individuals who would otherwise not consider vaccination a priority, especially younger adults. New Jersey and Suffolk County have picked up on the idea, offering free drink vouchers at participating breweries for those who agree to get vaccinated.

Poloncarz said he's happy to see others pick up the idea.

"We're going to do more people today at our first-dose clinics than most of our first-dose clinics in the last week combined," Poloncarz said. "It's been a success. We figured it would be pretty good, but now we're seeing the results."

That's not a very high bar, given that many of the county's first-dose clinics have had less than two dozen people show up. At one site, only one person showed up, Poloncarz said. Comparatively, more than 100 people had been vaccinated at Resurgence by mid-afternoon, including some walk-ups and restaurant patrons who decided to get the vaccine at the spur of the moment
We've heard a lot about the stick end of the approach to incentivizing vaccinations and making it mandatory to return to the office or to in-person classes, for example. But there's a lot to the carrot approach too. 

Besides, you can always use another pint glass.

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