Friday, April 30, 2021

The State of DC Statehood, Con't

Forget the District of Columbia ever becoming a state any time soon, President Manchin won't allow it.
Sen. Joe Manchin III told reporters in his home state of West Virginia on Friday morning that he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, according to audio provided by the Democrat’s office and a report from WVNews.

Manchin, a key swing vote in the closely divided Senate, said he believed a constitutional amendment, rather than legislation, would be required to admit D.C. as a state. His stance deals a major blow to statehood advocates who were hoping for his support after the bill passed the House last week.

Manchin cited findings from the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and comments from then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in reaching his decision.

“They all came to the same conclusion: If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment. It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote,” Manchin said in a radio interview with Hoppy Kercheval of West Virginia’s MetroNews, the full audio of which was provided to The Washington Post by Manchin’s staff.

Manchin was among four in the Senate Democratic caucus who had yet to reveal their positions on statehood; all the other Democratic senators have said they support the idea, but Republicans have been vocally opposed. (One Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, co-sponsored a statehood bill in the last Congress but has not signed on as a co-sponsor this year.)

The Washington, D.C. Admission Act passed the House 216 to 208 last week, along strict party lines, for the second time in history. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said that “we will try to work a path to get [statehood] done.
Forget it, Chuck. It's Manchintown.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

The Bidens are getting a cat for the White House, and that means First Dogs Champ and Major Biden are in for some training.
Ruff times could be ahead for the Biden family dogs — they're soon going to be joined at the White House by the family's cat.

"She's waiting in the wings," first lady Jill Biden told NBC's "TODAY" show co-anchor Craig Melvin of the first feline in an exclusive interview with her and President Joe Biden.

Melvin noted the addition might be especially difficult for the younger of the Biden's two German shepherds, Major. The rambunctious 3-year-old rescue dog has had some trouble adjusting to life in the White House and has received some additional training after allegedly being involved in a pair of "nipping" incidents earlier this year.

Jill Biden said Major is prepared.

"That was part of his training. They took him into a shelter with cats," she said. "He did fine."
They're good dogs, Bront. 

Also, remember how the Former Guy didn't have any pets because the concept of loving /caring for something other than himself was that totally foreign and alien to him?


Meathead Matt's #MeToo Moment, Con't

Embattled child predator GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is going on a very loud Trumpian rally tour with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene next month to try to distract the public from his sexual assault problems.

Matt Gaetz is going on tour. With Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Rocked by a steady stream of leaks about a federal investigation into alleged sex crimes, the Florida congressman is planning to take his case on the road by holding rallies across the nation with Greene, another lightning rod member of Congress.

Their targets? So-called RINOs and “the radical left.“

Together, they plan to attack Democrats and call out Republicans they deem as insufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump, such as the 10 GOP House members who voted for his second impeachment after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Gaetz and Greene will kick off their barnstorming “America First Tour” on May 7 in the mega-conservative Florida retirement community known as The Villages, a must-stop for any Republican candidate hoping to win the state or generate grassroots excitement. The idea is to send a message from the two controversial Republicans: They’re not canceled, they’re not going to be quiet and the infamy their critics attribute to them is translatable as fame and power in the conservative movement.

“The radical left is coming for you. And they know I'm in the way. Come stand with me as we fight back together against this radical president and his far left agenda,” Gaetz says in a new radio ad rallying conservatives to The Villages event.

Gaetz’s decision to step forward comes after weeks of national headlines and top-of-the-news-hour TV coverage related to the revelation that he is the subject of a federal sex-crimes investigation.

Of course Gaetz might not be able to make the tour if he's, you know, indicted and remanded to court custody awaiting trial because he's an obvious flight risk.

A confession letter written by Joel Greenberg in the final months of the Trump presidency claims that he and close associate Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women—as well as a girl who was 17 at the time.

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the 17-year-old. “From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

The letter, which The Daily Beast recently obtained, was written after Greenberg asked Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump.

In late 2020, Greenberg was out of jail and in communication with Stone. A series of private messages between the two—also recently obtained by The Daily Beast—shows a number of exchanges between Greenberg and Stone conducted over the encrypted messaging app Signal, with communications set to disappear. However, Greenberg appears to have taken screenshots of a number of their conversations.

“If I get you $250k in Bitcoin would that help or is this not a financial matter,” Greenberg wrote to Stone.

“I understand all of this and have taken it into consideration,” Stone replied. “I will know more in the next 24 hours I cannot push too hard because of the nonsense surrounding pardons.”

“I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident,” Stone wrote to Greenberg on Jan. 13.

In a text message to The Daily Beast, Stone said that Greenberg had tried to hire him to assist with a pardon but he denied asking for or receiving payment or interceding on his behalf. He did, however, confirm he had Greenberg prepare “a document explaining his prosecution
So good luck with the rally tour, I'm guessing it's going to be cut short.
Real short.
And soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

Trumpist Republicans like Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt continue to literally criminalize dissent while screaming about how liberals might criminalize dissent, complete with broad winking and nodding to everyone that turning an "unlawful assembly" into racketeering conspiracy charges for people not present  would never be used against white Oklahomans, just the non-white ones.

Governor Stitt signed a bill adding unlawful assembly to Oklahoma's Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

“This is one of many bills passed this session that is aimed at curbing the increase in rioting we have seen over the past year,” said Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore. “Many otherwise peaceful protests are being co-opted by individuals whose goal is to create and escalate uncontrollable confrontation and mayhem, which is certainly not free speech. What is different about this bill is that it is targeted at those who organize, promote, and otherwise incite the riots, violence, looting, and property damage we’ve seen, even if they are not physically present. These bad actors need to be held accountable for their actions in order to keep both peaceful protestors and the public safe.”

Oklahoma's RICO Act is based on the federal government's statute by the same name which was passed in 1970.

The act allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering as part of a criminal enterprise.

Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville added, “Free speech and peaceful assembly are rights guaranteed under the constitution, and I have previously authored legislation protecting those rights—but riots are unlawful assemblies that can lead to the destruction of private and public property, injuries, and even death,” Daniels said. "Those who organize an unlawful assembly or arrange to disrupt a lawful assembly should be held accountable for their actions.”

We know Republicans are already criminalizing dissent to charge Democrats with felonies at the state level (and the only reason Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was ultimately not charged with two felony counts and a total possibility of eight years behind bars was that the Fulton County DA refused to press charges) so we shouldn't be even remotely surprised at this nonsense.

The bottom line however is that the law is patently unconstitutional, and very clearly targeted at turning any Black Lives Matter protest into an "unlawful assembly" allowing then police to round up "those who organize, promote, and otherwise incite" across the state.

Hopefully the courts rip this one to pieces, otherwise Republicans in Oklahoma will absolutely abuse this.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

So turns out that thanks to Bush-era Warren Terrah rules, the amount of explosives involved in the white supremacist domestic terrorism plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by Trumpist insurrectionists apparently qualifies for WMD charges against the terrorists.

A federal grand jury brought additional charges on Wednesday against three men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, saying they planned to use weapons of mass destruction to blow up a bridge.

Adam Fox, 40, of Wyoming, Michigan; Barry Croft Jr., 45, of Bear, Delaware; and Daniel Joseph Harris, 23, of Lake Orion, Michigan, were charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Fox, Croft and Harris along with Brandon Caserta, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks were arrested and charged in October with conspiring to grab Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home in Antrim County, a rural area in northern Michigan.

Prosecutors said the men, who face up to life in prison if convicted, were part of a plot by a right-wing militia extremist group known as the Wolverine Watchmen to abduct Whitmer in retribution for public health orders she imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In the new indictment, Fox, Croft and Harris were accused of planning to destroy a bridge near Whitmer's vacation home in order to hinder the response by law enforcement.

The indictment also said that on Sept. 12, 2020, Fox and Croft stopped to inspect the underside of a highway bridge for a place to mount an explosive charge.

The next day, Fox ordered $4,000 worth of explosives for an undercover FBI agent posing as a co-conspirator, the indictment said. It added that about three weeks later, Fox and Harris made payments toward the explosives, the indictment said.

The new indictment also accused Croft and Harris of possessing a "destructive device" that was not registered as required by federal law. It said Harris also possessed an unregistered semiautomatic assault rifle.

Lawyers for the men were not immediately available for comment.
And before we go "Hey Zandar, aren't you against PATRIOT Act abuses especially being used against American citizens?" the answer to that is an unqualified yes, but this is not an abuse. I remind you that this was an organized conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan, strap a bomb to her in order to hold her ransom, and to demand changes to COVID-19 public health regulations or to kill her otherwise. 

This is straight-up the textbook definition of terrorism here, the use of the threat of lethal force in order to enact political changes through fear or terror. Putting these guys in an iron box for a lifetime is not an abuse. (Killing them for it would be an abuse.)

Don't mistake me for a prison abolitionist. There's a wide area between "ban prisons!" and "Reform them to be humane!" and these guys are exhibit A as to why prisons exist in all countries.

These guys are terrorists. Lock them up.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

President Biden made his first joint address to Congress last night, laying out a massively ambitious program that Republicans instantly despised and gave no indication in GOP Sen. Tim Scott's rebuttal that anything has changed since the Trump regime, other than they believe Trump is still in charge.

President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session Congress was the most ambitious ideological statement made by any Democratic president in decades—couched in language that made it sound as if he wasn’t making an ideological argument at all.

Make no mistake that he was. He called for trillions in new spending in a robust expansion of government’s role in multiple arenas of American life in ways that would have been impossible to contemplate in Barack Obama’s presidency. He plunged into subjects—racial and class inequities, immigration, gun violence—that were rubbed raw until bleeding in Donald Trump’s.

Usually these issues are framed with a question: Which side are you on? Though Biden is rarely described as gifted orator, his speech was a remarkable performance in part because it didn’t soar and largely didn’t even try to. In plain-spoken language, he depicted a breathtakingly large agenda as plain common sense. Instead of imploring partisans to take sides, he projected bewilderment that any practical-minded person of any persuasion could be opposed.

Under a pose of guilelessness, Biden’s speech was in fact infused with political guile. The agenda he promoted to expand both free pre-school and community college, to subsidize the shift to a low-carbon economy, to fund a massive way of new public works construction by taxing the very wealthy, represented years of pent-up demand by progressives. But much of the money would be spent in ways designed to break up the Trump coalition, which was powered heavily by middle- and lower-middle class whites who do not have college degrees with contempt for many parts of the progressive agenda.

Referring to his infrastructure proposal, Biden argued: “Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. Seventy-five percent don't require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

The bet is that material gains—i.e. a recovery that produces lots of working class jobs and allows families to more easily educate their children—can trump the cultural grievances that sent many of these people into the conservative movement over the past two generations, beginning with George Wallace’s hardhat supporters and later becoming a flood of “Reagan Democrats.”

In fact there was a nod—was it subconscious, or were Biden and his speechwriters thinking of it explicitly?—to one of Reagan’s great arguments, made in 1981 when a 38-year-old Biden had already been in the Senate for eight years. At his first inaugural address, Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Speaking Wednesday to Congress, in which social distancing made the audience on the House floor a small fraction of its usual size for a presidential address, Biden explicitly rejected the conservative notion of government as an outside or hostile force, as distinct from average Americans. “Our Constitution opens with the words, ‘We the People.’ It’s time we remembered that ‘We the People’ are the government,” Biden implored. “You and I. Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over. It’s us. It’s ‘We the People.’”

The passage was a notable reminder of the arc of Biden’s career. For most of his half-century in government, Biden has been operating in a climate in which Democrats of his generally centrist ilk had to practice defensive politics. They knew that the union movement that had been the foundation of the old Democratic coalition was steadily weakening. They knew that decadeslong erosion of respect in government and nongovernment institutions had helped fuel a contempt-driven conservative movement. To support Democrats, many people needed constant reassurance that candidates weren’t brazenly or irresponsibly liberal.

The speech was another marker suggesting that the ideological pendulum may have finally swung again at the closing end of Biden’s half-century in Washington

For his part, Biden believes people are ready to support aggressively activist government if the debate is taken out of the realm of symbolism and political abstraction and into the realm of concrete realities of people’s lives. He celebrated the success in soaring far past his goal of 100 million vaccination shots in the first 100 days, and called vaccine distribution in his term, “one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen.”

Maybe less a pendulum swing and more a swift and badly needed correction after the horrible Trump regime, but I'll take it. After my generation being told from birth that "Government itself is evil, and must be fought every step of the way", we finally are coming around to "Government doing good for the people is possible if the right people are in charge" and it's...amazing.

Especially in the 21st century, the argument has gone from "Is government bad?" to "Can government be good?" to "Is government even necessary?"

The answer, in the Biden era, is the Obama promise given form: Yes we can.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

The GOP now exists to do Dear Leader Trump's bidding, and the purging of the heretical and the apostate continues as the party attacks the insufficiently loyal.


Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is calling on Georgia’s top law enforcement official to investigate Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for his handling of the 2020 election.

Loeffler sent a letter on Wednesday to state Attorney General Chris Carr requesting a probe into whether Raffensperger used his office to advance his personal political interests during the 2020 election cycle, alleging that he “politicized and minimized voters’ legitimate concerns about changes to Georgia’s elections” that came about in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This request is not about the outcome of an election, but about the loss of confidence in our elections and the importance of holding elected officials accountable for upholding the law and carrying out their constitutional duties,” Loeffler wrote.

“If voters don’t trust the electoral process and their elected officials, we risk sustained damage to voter participation in our state,” she added.

The letter lays out a slew of allegations against Raffensperger, including that he failed to adequately address absentee voting and other procedural issues in Georgia’s widely panned 2020 primary elections. The letter also faults Raffensperger for recording a January phone call with former President Trump, during which Trump sought to pressure him to “find” enough votes to reverse President Biden’s victory in the state.

Other charges listed in the letter include that Raffensperger entered into a consent decree that changed the signature verification process for absentee balloting without informing the Republican-led state legislature. That claim echoes one made in a lawsuit filed last year by pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood.

Raffensperger’s office has claimed that the consent decree did not significantly alter the signature review process, and that it therefore did not require the approval of the state general assembly. Carr himself was the one who signed the settlement agreement for the state.

“Georgians deserve answers regarding these issues and to understand the impact these and other matters may have on future elections,” Loeffler wrote in her letter. “Failure to acknowledge these issues and irregularities will lead to a continued loss of trust in our elections.”

Carr’s office declined Loeffler’s request on Wednesday, saying that, as the lawyer for Georgia’s executive branch, the attorney general cannot investigate its own client.

“Under the Georgia Constitution, the Department of Law is the lawyer Executive Branch of government – which includes the Secretary of State’s Office,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said in a statement. “As such, we cannot investigate our own client on these particular matters. We’ve forwarded the letter to our client for their review and appropriate response.”


Note Raffensperger is being accused of what Republicans across the country did, including the Trump regime: enriching themselves at the public's expense. And frankly, I'm pretty okay with him going to jail over that, especially if what he did was done at Gov. Brian Kemp's orders.

Raffensperger turning on Kemp would be amazing. I'd love to see all of them go down.

Republicans are still Republicans. Let them all burn for their sins.

Ukraine In The Membrane: A Rudy Awakening Edition

The FBI had Rudy Giuliani's wake-up call this morning, serving a warrant at his Manhattan apartment in the Ukraine lobbying case.

Federal investigators in Manhattan executed a search warrant on Wednesday at the Upper East Side apartment of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

One of the people said the investigators had seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices.

Executing a search warrant is an extraordinary move for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, let alone a lawyer for a former president, and it marks a major turning point in the long-running investigation into Mr. Giuliani.

The federal authorities have been largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the same time were helping Mr. Giuliani search for dirt on Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including President Biden, who was then a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The United States Attorney’s office in Manhattan and the F.B.I. had for months sought to secure a search warrant for Mr. Giuliani’s phones.

Under Mr. Trump, senior political appointees in the Justice Department repeatedly sought to block such a warrant, The New York Times reported, slowing the investigation as it was gaining momentum last year. After Merrick B. Garland was confirmed as President Biden’s attorney general, the Justice Department lifted its objection to the search.

While the warrant is not an explicit accusation of wrongdoing against Mr. Giuliani, it shows that the investigation has entered an aggressive new phase. To obtain a search warrant, investigators need to persuade a judge they have sufficient reason to believe that a crime was committed and that the search would turn up evidence of the crime.

Spokesmen for the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.
If I'm Rudy's lawyer I am begging him to hole up somewhere and stay silent, but like Trump, Giuliani is a narcissist and the odds of Giuliani ending up on Tucker Carlson this week are 99.97% and the odds of him incriminating himself on nationwide cable TV during said inevitable appearance on the White Power Hour is at least 95%.

I'll have the story for you tomorrow or Friday, I'm sure.


Trump Cards, Con't

It's important to remember that the Trump regime's corruption started before the man even took office, but he certainly hit the ground running with absolute corruption from day one. The federal investigation into Trump's inauguration and how he bilked millions from the proceedings alone, using his hotel properties in DC, continues and David Corn has basically caught Donald Trump Jr. in a flat-out lie to federal investigators.

On February 11, Donald Trump Jr. sat in front of his computer for a video deposition. He swore to tell the truth. But documents and a video obtained by Mother Jones—and recent legal filings—indicate that his testimony on key points was not accurate.

The matter at hand was a lawsuit filed in 2020 against Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization by Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, DC. The suit claims that the inauguration committee misused charitable funds to enrich the Trump family. As the attorney general put it, the lawsuit “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel. Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events. The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.” In short, the attorney general has accused the Trump clan and its company of major grifting, and he is looking to recover the amounts paid to the Trump Hotel so he can direct those funds to real charitable purposes.

As part of the case, Racine has taken depositions from Tom Barrack, the investor and Donald Trump pal who chaired the inauguration committee; Rick Gates, the committee’s former deputy chair, who subsequently pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation; and two of Trump’s adult children: Donald Jr. and Ivanka. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a top producer for the inauguration committee, was deposed as a lead witness cooperating with the investigation. Racine has also collected internal emails and material from the committee, its officials, and others who worked on the inauguration.

During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, “I don’t recall,” and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others and that appear to be false.

One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about Winston Wolkoff. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and Gates about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1.03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)

During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: “Do you know her?” He replied, “I know of her. I think I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not sure I would recognize her.” He added, “I had no involvement with her.”

This footage is from a tony candlelight dinner held at Union Station in Washington, DC, the night before Trump’s inauguration. This soiree was one of the official inauguration events. (A million-dollar contribution to the inauguration committee earned a Trump donor a ticket.) Here Trump Jr. can be seen profusely praising Barrack and Winston Wolkoff for the “incredible” work they did. It seems he did know her.

And documents obtained by Mother Jones shows there’s evidence that Trump Jr.’s claim of having “no involvement” with Winston Wolkoff was false. On January 17, 2017, an assistant for Ivanka Trump texted Winston Wolkoff and said that Trump Jr. wanted to speak to her, providing Winston Wolkoff with his cell number.
Oops. This may not end well for Trump the Junior.

I don't expect the Trumps to ever be charged, as it would almost be certainly met with deadly violence, but wouldn't it be nice to send them to prison?


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Last Call For Biden Versus The Tax Cheats

Republicans have been attacking the IRS since the Obama days, and the damage both they and Donald Trump did to the agency was render it largely incapable of going after the most egregious tax scofflaws, and leaving the agency to deal with the low-hanging fruit of regular people owing a few hundred or so to go after. President Joe Biden wants to change that to collect the $700 billion in unpaid taxes from the wealthiest tax cheats.

President Biden is expected to propose giving the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years as he looks for ways to raise money to pay for his economic agenda, according to two people familiar with the plan.

Mr. Biden is expected to propose beefing up the I.R.S. to crack down on individuals and corporations that evade paying federal taxes. He will use the recouped tax funds to help pay for the cost of his American Families Plan, which he will detail before addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Mr. Biden’s plan, which comes on top of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, is expected to cost at least $1.5 trillion and include funding for universal prekindergarten, federal paid leave, efforts to make child care more affordable, free community college and tax credits meant to fight poverty.

The plan will also call for tax increases, including raising the top marginal income tax rate for wealthy Americans and raising the rate that people who earn more than $1 million a year pay on profits earned from the sale of stocks or other assets. Mr. Biden is also expected to call for raising the rate on income that those earning more than $1 million a year get from stock dividends, according to a person familiar with the proposal.

The administration will portray these efforts, coupled with new taxes it is proposing on corporations and the rich, as a way to level the tax playing field between typical American workers and high earners who employ sophisticated efforts to minimize or evade taxation.

Administration officials have privately concluded that an aggressive crackdown on tax avoidance by corporations and the rich could raise at least $700 billion on net over 10 years. The $80 billion in proposed funding would be an increase of two-thirds over the agency’s entire funding levels for the past decade.
This is directed at the deficit scolds, which of course now includes every Republican in Congress, and not an insignificant number of Democrats. Those who scream WELL HOW DO YOU PAY FOR IT the answer is simple: collect revenue owed.

Imagine that. Like a business, even.

Of course, Republicans are going to scream about this, warning that Biden will target "conservatives" who apparently have enough tax lawyers to not actually end up paying taxes.

Woke As A Pejorative

Ol' James Carville argues in an interview with Vox's Sean Illing that working-class white gains made by Biden in states like Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona will be irrevocably lost if Dems don't abandon social justice and Black Lives Matter.

Sean Illing 
What do you make of Biden’s first 100 days?
James Carville

Honestly, if we’re just talking about Biden, it’s very difficult to find something to complain about. And to me his biggest attribute is that he’s not into “faculty lounge” politics. 
Sean Illing

“Faculty lounge” politics? 
James Carville

You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “LatinX” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in ... neighborhoods.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these phrases. But this is not how people talk. This is not how voters talk. And doing it anyway is a signal that you’re talking one language and the people you want to vote for you are speaking another language. This stuff is harmless in one sense, but in another sense it’s not. 

Sean Illing

Is the problem the language or the fact that there are lots of voters who just don’t want to hear about race and racial injustice? 
James Carville

We have to talk about race. We should talk about racial injustice. What I’m saying is, we need to do it without using jargon-y language that’s unrecognizable to most people — including most Black people, by the way — because it signals that you’re trying to talk around them. This “too cool for school” shit doesn’t work and we have to stop it.

There may be a group within the Democratic Party that likes this, but it ain’t the majority. And beyond that, if Democrats want power they have to win in a country where 18 percent of the population controls 52 percent of the Senate seats. That’s a fact. That’s not changing. That’s what this whole damn thing is about. 
Sean Illing 
Sounds like you got a problem with “wokeness,” James. 
James Carville

Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today — and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party — who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud. 
Sean Illing

Why not? 
James Carville

Because they’ll get clobbered or canceled. And look, part of the problem is that lots of Democrats will say that we have to listen to everybody and we have to include every perspective, or that we don’t have to run a ruthless messaging campaign. Well, you kinda do. It really matters.

I always tell people that we’ve got to stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Yiddish. We have to speak the way regular people speak, the way voters speak. It ain’t complicated. That’s how you connect and persuade. And we have to stop allowing ourselves to be defined from the outside.

I'm the first to admit that the Squad Twitter Bubble is not indicative of the entire Democratic Party, and that Carville has a point about language being a weapon that Republicans use against us and define us with all the damn time.

Having said that, Carville wrong about wokeness. Some of the language being used by Black and brown folks are being used to reclaim what has been taken from us over the centuries, and it's supposed to make folks uncomfortable, because what has been done to non-white culture in this country, especially Black culture, is a hell of a lot worse than uncomfortable.

Besides, I'm not going to argue about wokeness language when the other side is straight up using phrases like "Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage". And all the wokeness argument is doing is giving more ammo to Republicans to come after their political foes with fascist tactics and laws punishing those who speak out.
Today’s GOP critique of business is not without antecedent. Decades before Ross Douthat was credited for coining the term “woke capitalism” in 2018, conservative publications and think tanks criticized notions of “corporate social responsibility” and “corporate citizenship,” recalling Milton Friedman’s admonition that corporations’ only true responsibility is to their shareholders. Conservatives often griped when companies took an interest in environmentalism—even if the businesses were just paying lip service to it—and grumbled about corporate “diversity and inclusion” efforts.

Notes Thomas Edsall, the “muscle” of woke capitalism was “evident as early as 2015 in Indiana and 2016 in North Carolina, when corporate opposition forced Republicans to back off anti-gay and anti-transgender legislation.” And after decades of protecting Silicon Valley—safeguarding its profits with tax cuts and resisting attempts at regulation—Republicans have in recent years started to complain about “Big Tech,” especially when it comes to matters of the companies removing users from their platforms.

But the GOP’s clash with business over the last few weeks is different in two ways from what came before.

First, on the business side, this case is different because the “activism” in question—the holding back of donations, the criticism—is not related to some matter of policy or party but rather to election administration and the preservation of democracy itself.

And on the GOP’s side, this case is different because it is based solely upon the politics of retaliation. Republicans are proposing punitive action in direct response to political speech from companies about the post-election Big Lie, the attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and Georgia’s recently enacted voting law. Threatening to use the power of the state to crack down on that speech is repulsive. (Acting on such threats could in some cases be unconstitutional.) The fact that those who endlessly thump their chests about “cancel culture” are so eager to act in this way shows how hypocritical the strategy is: “Free speech for me, not for thee.”

It’s all happened very fast
They want retribution. They want war. They want fighting.  Most of all, they want to win.

And they want the rest of us to lose everything and serve beneath them.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The Justice Department is opening a sweeping probe into policing in Louisville, Kentucky after the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police during a raid at her home. It’s the second such sweeping probe into a law enforcement agency announced by the Biden administration in a week.

The 26-year-old Taylor, an emergency medical technician who had been studying to become a nurse, was roused from sleep by police who came through the door using a battering ram. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired once. A no-knock warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found at her home.

The new investigation is known as a “pattern or practice” — examining whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing — and will be a more sweeping review of the entire police department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who made Monday’s announcement, last week announced a probe into the tactics of the police in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd.


Good to see AG Merrick Garland is going to do what KY AG Daniel Cameron refuses to. 

I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised to see Merrick Garland aggressively pursue police pattern/practice investigations after the Trump regime ended them completely. They didn't have to do that, and lord knows Republicans tried to block Garland and both his main subordinates, Anita Gupta and Lisa Monaco. They very nearly did, but in the end even some Republicans caved.

Now we're seeing the direct result of the new administration making things right.

Attorneys for Andrew Brown Jr.'s family said Monday they were frustrated only to be shown 20 seconds of body camera footage of sheriff's deputies shooting and killing Brown last week.

But what they did see amounted to an "execution," family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter told reporters.

Sheriff's deputies shot and killed Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, while carrying out search and arrest warrants at his home Wednesday in Elizabeth City, N.C.

Family attorneys said the footage began with deputies firing at Brown, who had his hands on the steering wheel of his vehicle while being shot at in his driveway. Cherry-Lassiter said Brown then drove his vehicle away from the deputies while they continued to shoot. She said Brown did not present a threat to the deputies. Deputies continued to shoot after Brown's car crashed, she added, saying his vehicle was "riddled" with bullets.

"It's just messed up how this happened," Brown's son Khalil Ferebee said. "He got executed. It ain't right."

Cherry-Lassiter said about seven or eight law enforcement officers were present in the video.

"We do not feel that we got transparency," family attorney Ben Crump told reporters. "We only saw a snippet of the video."

Attorneys said they wanted to see footage from before the shooting began, but that Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox only allowed the "pertinent" portion to be shown. Brown family lawyers said they expected there to be additional law enforcement bodycam video from all the deputies involved as well as a light pole camera.

Pasquotank County officials said they're still working to release the video to the public — a process that is required to go through the courts.
You can forget any additional bodycam footage, it'll never be released. Brown had his hands on the steering wheel, and deputies made no effort to subdue or to arrest him. No "hands up" or no effort to disable the vehicle. They simply killed him. 

Black Lives Still Matter though.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Last Call For Another Supreme Mess, Con't

It bears repeating, but we'll be cleaning up the Trump years in the courts for the rest of my lifetime, and probably yours.

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear an appeal to expand gun rights in the United States in a New York case over the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

The case marks the court’s first foray into gun rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett came on board in October, making a 6-3 conservative majority.

The justices said Monday they will review a lower-court ruling that upheld New York’s restrictive gun permit law. The court’s action follows mass shootings in recent weeks in Indiana, Georgia, Colorado and California.

The case probably will be argued in the fall.

The court had turned down review of the issue in June, before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

New York is among eight states that limit who has the right to carry a weapon in public. The others are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

In the rest of the country, gun owners have little trouble legally carrying their weapons when they go out.

Paul Clement, representing challengers to New York’s permit law, said the court should use the case to settle the issue once and for all. “Thus, the nation is split, with the Second Amendment alive and well in the vast middle of the nation, and those same rights disregarded near the coasts,” Clement wrote on behalf of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and two New York residents.

Calling on the court to reject the appeal, the state said its law promotes public safety and crime reduction and neither bans people from carrying guns nor allows everyone to do so.

Federal courts have largely upheld the permit limits. Last month an 11-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco rejected a challenge to Hawaii’s permit regulations in an opinion written by a conservative judge, Jay Bybee.

“Our review of more than 700 years of English and American legal history reveals a strong theme: government has the power to regulate arms in the public square,” Bybee wrote in a 7-4 decision for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The issue of carrying a gun for self-defense has been seen for several years as the next major step for gun rights at the Supreme Court, following decisions in 2008 and 2010 that established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense
If the Roberts Court finds that there's a constitutional right to concealed carry, then basically every gun limitation goes out the window.

Well, the ones that will be enforced on white folks, anyway.

There's a good chance that by the November 2022 elections we'll live in an America where states can't regulate guns but can eliminate safe abortion procedures.

Another Hat In The Ring, Con't

The big political news here in the Tri-State is Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan announcing his candidacy for Senate, going up against the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman and a mess of Republicans trying to out-Trump each other for the primary.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan launched a bid for U.S. Senate Monday.

Ryan, 47, of Howland Township outside Youngstown, entered the race after several months of speculation that the 2020 long-shot presidential candidate would run to replace Sen. Rob Portman. He is the first and only Democrat in the U.S. Senate field so far.

Several Republicans have already entered the fray, trying to prove their allegiance to former President Donald Trump. Ryan, who raised $1.2 million in the first weeks of 2021, might stand alone on the Democratic side.

Ryan is wagering that his appeal to working-class Ohioans can turn the red-leaning state blue again. He has borne witness to the Mahoning Valley's transformation from a blue-collar Democratic stronghold into a Republican bastion for Trump. That shift has been so stark that Ryan's safe congressional district could be erased or redrawn by Republicans during redistricting.

"I am running to fight like hell in the U.S Senate to cut workers in on the deal," Ryan said in a release Monday. “Ohioans are working harder than ever, they’re doing everything right, and they’re still falling behind."

So Ryan knows what he's up against in the race to replace Portman. A longtime advocate of unions, Ryan has made a career of talking to working Ohioans. He recently rebuked Republicans for focusing on Dr. Seuss's books pulled from print rather than a proposal to strengthen unions.

"Heaven forbid we pass something that's going to help the damn workers in the United States of America! Heaven forbid!" he said on the floor. "Now, stop talking about Dr. Seuss and start working with us on behalf of the American workers."

Ryan has served in Congress since 2013, replacing notorious lawmaker Jim Traficant. Before that, Ryan worked in Traficant's office.
Census redistricting is the big issue here. Ohio's almost certainly going to lose a congressional district in 2022 along with WV, MI, MN, PA, and IL and odds are very good it will be Ryan's. He has nothing to lose really by going after the Senate seat, because it's basically the only way he'll stay in Congress. Ryan certainly hasn't made friends on the Democratic side by his hilariously failed bid to replace Nancy Pelosi in 2016 as majority leader, either.
But Ryan has a legitimate shot at the Senate seat, if Sherrod Brown is any indication. Running as a moderate Dem is about the only shot Ryan has in a state like Ohio, growing increasingly whiter and older in its electorate like most Midwest states as Black and brown and Asian folks leave for the coasts. And if President Biden can continue to deliver and Ryan can make that clear to white non-college voters, he just might pull it off. 

We'll see.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

A new CBS News poll finds three-quarters of Americans agree with the guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin in the murder trial of the death of George Floyd, which means that non-Republicans are overwhelmingly for the guilty verdict, and Republicans are split.

Three in four Americans think the jury reached the right verdict in which former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, a majority view that spans across all racial, age and partisan groups.

Most White and Black Americans share the view that the jury reached the right verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. Americans — both young and old —— within these racial groups agree with the verdict.

Reaction to the verdict among White Americans is largely related to partisanship. White Democrats overwhelmingly think the jury reached the right verdict, while White Republicans, like Republicans overall, are more divided.

The smaller portion of Americans — 25% — who believe the jury reached the wrong verdict strongly disagree with the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement. This group is composed of more men than women, is disproportionately White and they mostly identify as conservative.

President Biden, who has called the verdict a step forward, gets a 60% approval rating for his general handling of matters surrounding George Floyd's death and Chauvin's trial. This is similar to his overall job rating as he closes in on 100 days in office.

Floyd's death sparked protests across the country by Black Lives Matter and other groups concerning the treatment of racial minorities by police.

Today, more Americans agree than disagree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Americans, Democrats and younger people are particularly likely to agree.

Overall though, people still have mostly positive views of their local police. Most Americans rate the job they are doing as at least somewhat good.

On balance, Black Americans rate their local police more positively than negatively, but they (17%) are less likely than Whites (39%) to say their local police are doing a "very good" job in their community
So two observations, first, people agree broadly with Black Lives Matter, but they also support their local cops. Abolishing police, well, it doesn't have a whole lot of support.  People like their local police still, for the most part.

The problem is, police still kill people. And remember, Republicans don't think racism even exists, let alone leads to systemic police murders.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham denied on Sunday that there is systemic racism in the US, claiming "America's not a racist country" as President Joe Biden and others urge people to directly confront the issue as the nation grapples with a spate of police killings of Black Americans.

Citing the elections of former President Barack Obama, who is African American, and Vice President Kamala Harris, who is both Black and South Asian, Graham told Fox News that "our systems are not racist. America's not a racist country," adding: "Within every society you have bad actors." 

The comments from the South Carolina Republican come several days after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all charges in the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing last year sparked a racial reckoning in the US and abroad and led to calls for police reform as more Black Americans die during encounters with law enforcement officers.

"The Chauvin trial was a just result," Graham said. "What's happening in Ohio, where the police officer had to use deadly force to prevent a young girl from being stabbed to death, is a different situation in my view. So this attack on police and policing -- reform the police, yes, call them all racist, no."

"America is a work in progress," he added.

Black Lives Still Matter.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne argues that Biden's approval rating remaining in the low 50's after his first 100 days in office is a direct result of both our polarized electorate and the fact that Biden has stuck to middle-class kitchen table issues and dared the GOP to attack him. They have, and Biden's managed to peel off Republican voters as a result.

The political core of Bidenism rests on his answers to two questions: What accounted for the setbacks experienced by recent Democratic presidencies? And how can his party ease the discontents that led to the rise of Donald Trump?

As President Biden addresses Congress on Wednesday to mark his first 100 days in office, the driving priorities of his administration are clear: the essential task of ending the pandemic, ambitious public investment to drive robust, long-term economic growth and aggressive efforts to reverse 40 years of expanding inequality.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that the Democrats’ big midterm defeats under Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010 were caused in significant part by sluggish economic recoveries.

As a result, Biden has taken no chances: He pressed relentlessly for his $1.9 trillion economic rescue bill, and continues to advance infrastructure investments and other programs to speed growth and lift incomes. He will pursue these plans with Republicans if possible and, more likely, without them if necessary.

Similarly, Biden has touted his climate plan at least as much for its job-creating potential as for its environmental benefits, pushing back against conservatives who have long cast action against climate change as a drag on the economy.

A pain-before-gain policy on climate proved politically deadly when House Democrats passed their elegant but complicated cap-and-trade bill in 2009 to put a price on carbon.

Cap-and-trade or a carbon tax are rational, direct responses to the problem, but neither deals with the fears of workers in regions where the coal, oil and natural gas industries have long supported well-paying livelihoods. Biden’s priority is to make clear that he gets these worries, and the United Mine Workers of America union’s endorsement last week of “a true energy transition” suggests his approach is resonating in unexpected places.

The shaping of Biden’s climate agenda reveals the contours of his larger effort to drive a wedge into the Trump constituency. A majority of Trump’s loyalists — the most fervent Republicans, ardent immigration foes, hard cultural conservatives, gun rights zealots, racial backlash voters — will never be available to Biden or the Democrats.

But Biden is banking on his ability to use populist economics (relief checks, upward pressure on wages, a “Buy America” campaign to bring home more manufacturing work, confining tax increases to corporations and those earning more than $400,000 annually) to win back Trump voters whose dissatisfactions are primarily economic.

Biden’s proposals have thus far won support in the polls from about a third of Republicans and a substantial majority of lower-income Republicans (in the case of the relief act). Their response has allowed Biden to challenge the traditional definitions of bipartisanship — House and Senate Republican votes for his bills — that hamstrung his predecessors. Instead, Biden argues that what he is doing is good for many Republican voters, and that a significant share of them agrees.

Biden continues to move far more to the left than I expected, embracing both the right time and the right thing to do. He's correctly disarming the populism fuse for the GOP by doing widely popular things too. I know it seems simple, but Obama was held back, and it hurt us all. Biden isn't constrained by the additional fetters of racism.

I hate that being true, but it is, and Biden is able to do things Obama should have been, but wasn't able to.

Sunday Long Read: The Algorithm Never Forgets

Big Tech never forgives, nor does it forget, as author Lauren Goode can attest to in today's Sunday Long Read. Calling off her wedding two years ago, the internet constantly reminds her of her "happy day" and will probably do so forever. The algorithms, you see, don't differentiate between major events of joy and those you want to forget. They are just data to be sold, and so are you.

I STILL HAVE a photograph of the breakfast I made the morning I ended an eight-year relationship and canceled a wedding. It was an unremarkable breakfast—a fried egg—but it is now digitally fossilized in a floral dish we moved with us when we left New York and headed west. I don’t know why I took the photo, except, well, I do: I had fallen into the reflexive habit of taking photos of everything.

Not long ago, the egg popped up as a “memory” in a photo app. The time stamp jolted my actual memory. It was May 2019 when we split up, back when people canceled weddings and called off relationships because of good old-fashioned dysfunction, not a global pandemic. Back when you wondered if seating two people next to each other at a wedding might result in awkward conversation, not hospitalization.

Did I want to see the photo again? Not really. Nor do I want to see the wedding ads on Instagram, or a near-daily collage of wedding paraphernalia on Pinterest, or the “Happy Anniversary!” emails from WeddingWire, which for a long time arrived every month on the day we were to be married. (Never mind that anniversaries are supposed to be annual.) Yet nearly two years later, these things still clutter my feeds. The photo widget on my iPad cycles through pictures of wedding dresses.

Of the thousands of memories I have stored on my devices—and in the cloud now—most are cloudless reminders of happier times. But some are painful, and when algorithms surface these images, my sense of time and place becomes warped. It’s been especially pronounced this year, for obvious and overlapping reasons. In order to move forward in a pandemic, most of us were supposed to go almost nowhere. Time became shapeless. And that turned us into sitting ducks for technology.

Our smartphones pulse with memories now. In normal times, we may strain to remember things for practical reasons—where we parked the car—or we may stumble into surprise associations between the present and the past, like when a whiff of something reminds me of Sunday family dinners. Now that our memories are digital, though, they are incessant, haphazard, intrusive.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when apps started co-opting memories, madly deploying them to boost engagement and make a buck off nostalgia. The groundwork was laid in the early 2010s, right around the time my now ex and I started dating. For better or worse, I have been a tech super-user since then too. In my job as a technology journalist, I’ve spent the past dozen years tweeting, checking in, joining online groups, experimenting with digital payments, wearing multiple activity trackers, trying every “story” app and applying every gauzy photo filter. Unwittingly, I spent years drafting a technical blueprint for the relationship, one that I couldn’t delete when the construction plans fell apart.

If we already are part cyborg, as some technologists believe, there is a cyborg version of me, a digital ghost, that is still getting married. The real me would really like to move on now.
There are certainly events in my digital life that I'd like to not be reminded of on a yearly basis, but of course the algorithm makes sure we can never forget, unless we leave it for good.
Maybe that's not a terrible idea for some of us.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

These Disunited States, Con't

Montana GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte has decided that federal gun laws simply don't apply to the state, and is prohibiting enforcement of any federal firearms limiting regulation, because apparently Montana is no longer part of the United States.

Gov. Greg Gianforte on Friday signed a bill that prohibits state and local law enforcement in Montana from enforcing federal bans on firearms, ammunition and magazines.

Supporters of the law have said it would protect the Second Amendment from stiffer gun control laws that could come from federal legislation or executive orders by President Joe Biden in the wake of several mass shootings that took place this year, including a recent shooting that killed eight people in Indianapolis.

Opponents of the bill have said it would make it difficult for local law enforcement to collaborate with federal authorities on issues beyond gun access when such collaboration is essential to protect public safety, including in cases of domestic violence and drug offenses.

Montana law would prohibit law enforcement officials and other state employees from enforcing, implementing or spending state funds to uphold federal bans on particular kinds of firearms, ammunition and magazines.

Biden announced this month several executive actions to address gun violence, including a move to crack down on "ghost guns," homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. The U.S. Justice Department is expected to release new rules on ghost guns in coming weeks.

The president has also called for a ban on assault weapons, but such legislation will likely face an uphill climb.

Montana is one of at least a dozen states that has sought to nullify new gun restrictions this year. The state's Republican-controlled Legislature has attempted to pass similar measures into law for almost a decade. Such bills were vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
I mean at this point with firearms, abortion, and trans kids, Republicans just don't care to be part of the US anymore unless they are in charge. The thing is, we had this fight 155 years ago and they lost, but they never recognized that either.
I'd say that this will only end in violence, except we're already well into the violence part.

Turkish De-Fight

President Joe Biden is taking step to do what decades of American presidents before him refused to do: recognize that Turkey's Ottoman Emprie assault on Armenians a century ago was in fact, genocide.

The United States is formally recognizing that the systematic killing and deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century was “genocide” as President Joe Biden used that precise word that the White House has avoided for decades for fear of alienating ally Turkey.

With the acknowledgement, Biden followed through on a campaign promise he made a year ago Saturday — the annual commemoration of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day — to recognize that the events that began in 1915 were a deliberate effort to wipe out Armenians.

While previous presidents have offered somber reflections of the dark moment in history via remembrance day proclamations, they have studiously avoided using the term genocide out of concern that it would complicate relations with Turkey — a NATO ally and important power in the Middle East.

But Biden campaigned on a promise to make human rights a central guidepost of his foreign policy. He argued when making the campaign pledge last year that failing to call the atrocities against the Armenian people a genocide would pave the way for future mass atrocities. An estimated 2 million Armenians were deported and 1.5 million were killed in the events known as Metz Yeghern.

“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” Biden said in a statement. “We affirm the history. We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

Turkish officials immediately criticized Biden’s statement, while Armenians praised Biden for making what they said was a principled move.

“Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is important not only in terms of respecting the memory of 1.5 million innocent victims, but also in preventing the repetition of such crimes,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a letter to Biden.

“We reject and denounce in the strongest terms the statement of the President of the US regarding the events of 1915 made under the pressure of radical Armenian circles and anti-Turkey groups,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that “words cannot change history or rewrite it,” and that Turkey “completely rejected” Biden’s statement.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin suggested on Twitter than Biden was repeating “the slander of groups whose only agenda is being hostile to our country.” He added: “We recommend that the U.S. President takes a look at his own history and today.”

During a telephone call Friday, Biden informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his plan to issue the statement, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to publicly discuss the private conversation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The U.S. and Turkish governments, in separate statements following Biden and Erdogan’s call, made no mention of the American plan to recognize the Armenian genocide. But the White House said Biden told Erdogan he wants to improve the two countries’ relationship and find “effective management of disagreements.” The two also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels in June.


So Biden not only did the right thing here -- and I know it's easy to say "words don't matter in human rights, actions do" here and shit all over Biden -- but the point is the US has even refused the words step until now. Biden stood up when it counted.
And guess what? The realpolitik is that Turkey is a NATO ally and important Middle East player, and Biden and Erdogan are going to meet in six weeks or so. Still.
Biden so far this week has stood up to Putin's military exercises in Ukraine and Erdogan on Armenian genocide.
The guy's not Trump, that's for damned sure.

The Big Lie Forever

They can't go after Biden's birth certificate I guess, so we're stuck with state Republican parties constantly auditing Biden's wins in red states like Arizona forever and ever.

A Maricopa County judge on Friday temporarily halted a Republican-led effort in Arizona to recount ballots from the 2020 presidential election, after Democrats filed a lawsuit arguing that the audit violated state election security laws.

But the judge, Christopher Coury of Maricopa County Superior Court, said the pause would go into effect only if the state Democratic Party posted a $1 million bond to compensate a private company — Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm based in Florida — that Republicans have hired to review the ballots. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Democratic officials said they would not do so, but they vowed to continue the fight in court. 

Another hearing was set for Monday morning, and the judge emphasized that he expected the audit to move forward.Republican State Senate officials hired Cyber Ninjas to review nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa, the state’s largest county, though there is no substantiated evidence of significant fraud or errors. 

Election officials and local courts have found no merit in the allegations, and the Republican-controlled county board of supervisors has also objected to the recount.

The lawsuit, brought by the state Democratic Party and Maricopa County’s only Democratic supervisor, argues that the State Senate is violating Arizona laws and regulations over the confidentiality and handling of election materials, and questions whether Senate officials can contract audit-related activities to private third-party vendors.

And remember, Arizona Republican passed a law earlier this year to specifically make these garbage audits easier to conduct and impossible to fight.

The Arizona Senate passed a bill allowing the Arizona legislature to subpoena election records, which means they can now check tabulating equipment and ballots for any evidence of tampering.

Under this bill, county election equipment, records, systems and other information that are under control of the county personnel will no longer be considered confidential. The bill also opens these records for subpoena and the legislature has the right to conduct any investigation into these items without infringement from any law.

State Sen. Warren Petersen helped introduce the bill. The GOP has been trying to investigate any tampering during the 2020 presidential election and they targeted Maricopa County but the latter voted against any subpoenas. The Maricopa County Board of supervisors sought judgment from a court to clarify if they are mandated to release those records or not.

Senators from Arizona filed a countersuit asking the court to enforce their subpoenas and help release the records they are asking for. The court decided against it and dismissed the case.

The bill would give the state legislature the authority to issue subpoenas for election records and equipment.
They're doing it on purpose. The Big Lie is there to make it easier to steal the election next time.

Never forget that.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Last Call For No Good Republicans Left

I'm in complete agreement with Steve M. here. There are no good Republicans left, and it's years past the time that we need to accept that, but nobody cares, least of all our broken Village press.

Bush, Boehner, Kinzinger, and Liz Cheney still consider themselves Republicans in good standing. Donors who said they'd withhold money from pro-insurrection GOP officeholders are giving to those officeholders again, as Glasser notes.

No one ever asks Republican critics of the party how they can remain members in good conscience. We know the answer: It's because what's happening now is an evolution, not a break with the past. Boehner, Bush, and others engaged in or enabled right-wing radicalism until it went too far for them.

But if it really has gone too far and some of them think we're in a crisis, they have to make a clean break, or they're still enablers.
The press has to ask every Republican who claims to be appalled by Trumpism and January 6: So shouldn't you quit the party? Do you see any evidence that the party will abandon the Big Lie of Democratic election theft, that it will abandon the extremism Trump embodied (but didn't create), that it will abandon nativism and white nationalism? And if you think you this is a temporary crisis, what are you doing to bring it to an end, and why isn't it working? Why does it seem to be getting worse?

But that won't happen. These people will still win praise from the mainstream media and from moderates (and some liberals) for, in effect, doing nothing. They'll never be questioned this way.
And the best part is if anyone in our press does ask the question, the answer will be "You should be asking after (Insert Democratic bogeyman of the moment here, which currently is Maxine Waters) why anyone can remain a Democrat in good conscience."  
The level of false equivalence to Trump inciting a seditionist white supremacist terrorist attack on the US Capitol with the intent of a coup is staggering, but will 100% play out as "both sides!" because that's how the game works. Village reporters get cut off otherwise, or worse, targeted as "FAKE NEWS" by the Trump cultists.

This gulf of false equivalencies has grown exponentially since the days of the Clintons. It's a no-win situation, and we're all losing as a result.

Vaccination Nation, Con't

Red states are starting to turn down more vaccine doses from the Biden administration, because they have no takers left. Nearly the half the country plans to remain unvaccinated, and that will make herd immunity impossible without hundreds of thousands more deaths.

Louisiana has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of COVID-19 vaccine. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the vaccine at least once over the past month. And in Mississippi, officials asked the federal government to ship vials in smaller packages so they don’t go to waste.

As the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses in the U.S. outpaces demand, some places around the country are finding there’s such little interest in the shots, they need to turn down shipments.

“It is kind of stalling. Some people just don’t want it,” said Stacey Hileman, a nurse with the health department in rural Kansas’ Decatur County, where less than a third of the county’s 2,900 residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

The dwindling demand for vaccines illustrates the challenge that the U.S. faces in trying to conquer the pandemic while at the same time dealing with the optics of tens of thousands of doses sitting on shelves when countries like India and Brazil are in the midst of full-blown medical emergencies.

More than half of American adults have received at least one vaccine dose, and President Joe Biden this week celebrated eclipsing 200 million doses administered in his first 100 days in office. He also acknowledged entering a new phase to bolster outreach and overcome hesitancy.

Across the country, pharmacists and public health officials seeing the demand wane and supplies build up. About half of Iowa’s counties have stopped asking for new doses from the state, and Louisiana didn’t seek shipment of some vaccine doses over the past week.

In Mississippi, small-town pharmacist Robin Jackson has been practically begging anyone in the community to show up and get shots after she received her first shipment of vaccine earlier this month and demand was weak, despite placing yard signs outside her storefront celebrating the shipment’s arrival. She was wasting more vaccine than she was giving out and started coaxing family members into the pharmacy for shots.

“Nobody was coming,” she said. “And I mean no one.”

In Barber County, Kansas, which has turned down vaccine doses from the state for two of the past four weeks, Danielle Farr said she has no plans to be vaccinated. The 32-year-old said she got COVID-19 last year, along with her 5- and 12-year-old sons and her husband.

Blood tests detected antibodies for the virus in all four of them, so she figures they’re already protected.

“I believe in vaccines that have eradicated terrible diseases for the past 60, 70 years. I totally and fully believe in that,” said Farr, who works at an accounting firm. “Now a vaccine that was rushed in six, seven months, I’m just going to be a little bit more cautious about what I choose to put into my body.”

Barbara Gennaro, a stay-at-home mother of two small children in Yazoo City, Mississippi, said everybody in her homeschooling community is against getting the vaccine. Gennaro said she generally avoids vaccinations for her family in general, and the coronavirus vaccine is no different.

“All of the strong Christians that I associate with are against it,” she said. “Fear is what drives people to get the vaccine — plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want the vaccine or feel that it’s necessary.”

Another challenge for vaccinations in a rural state like Mississippi is that in many cases, doses are being shipped in large packages with one vial containing at least 10 doses.

During a news conference in early April, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Mississippi officials have requested that the federal government send the vaccines in smaller packaging so it’s not going to waste.

“If you’re in New York City, and you’re sending a package to one of the large pharmacies in downtown Manhattan, there are literally millions and millions of people within walking distance most likely of that particular pharmacy,” Reeves said. “Well, if you’re in rural Itta Bena, Mississippi, that’s just not the case
Until we have the political will to make this mandatory, we've basically reached the end of the vaccine rollout phase here in the US. May will be cleanup and second shots for people getting the vaccine in April, but after that, by June 1, I expect we're going to be reaching a hard limit. Some 40%-50% of American adults will never take the vaccine unless forced, and frankly, that may be too many to force.
The rest of 2021 is not going to be a fun time.
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