Friday, May 7, 2021

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Even though Derek Chauvin, the officer that murdered George Floyd last June in Minneapolis, was convicted on state murder charges, all four officers involved in that lethal incident now face federal civil rights charges thanks to the Justice Department.

A federal grand jury has indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death, accusing them of willfully violating the Black man’s constitutional rights as he was restrained face-down on the pavement and gasping for air.

A three-count indictment unsealed Friday names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao.

Specifically, Chauvin is charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng are also charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure, alleging they did not intervene to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care.

Floyd’s May 25 arrest and death, which a bystander captured on cellphone video, sparked protests nationwide and widespread calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequities.

Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Lane, Thao and Kueng made their initial court appearances Friday via videoconference in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Chauvin was not part of the court appearance.

Chauvin was convicted last month on state charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death and is in Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison as he awaits sentencing. The other three former officers face a state trial in August, and they are free on bond. They were allowed to remain free after Friday’s federal court appearance.


Since there's a non-zero chance that Chauvin's state conviction will be completely overturned on appeal, I'm glad the DoJ is stepping in here. Federal charges are going to be much harder for these assholes to beat.

Black Lives Still Matter.

The Turtle Versus History, Con't

Kentucky certainly isn't immune to battles over the new bogeyman of "Critical Race Theory" that Republicans are misusing and purposefully misrepresenting, as Senate GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell believes it's the issue that will give him the Senate majority 20 months from now.

The University of Louisville has issued a rare rebuke of one of its most famous and powerful graduates, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, over McConnell’s comments on Monday about the significance of slavery in American history.

Taking questions at a U of L event, McConnell was asked about his stance on the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which seeks to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

The name of the project refers to the year enslaved Africans were first brought to American shores.

“There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history,” McConnell said Monday. “I simply disagree with the notion that the New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years.”

On Thursday, a senior U of L administrator and the head of the committee overseeing the university’s new antiracism initiative snapped back at McConnell in a university-wide email.

“To imply that slavery is not an important part of United States history not only fails to provide a true representation of the facts, but also denies the heritage, culture, resilience and survival of Black people in America,” V. Faye Jones, U of L’s interim senior associate vice president of diversity and equity, said in the email.

She continued, “It also fails to give context to the history of systemic racial discrimination, the United States’ ‘original sin’ as Sen. McConnell called it, which still plagues us today.

“What we know to be true is that slavery and the date the first enslaved Africans arrived and were sold on U.S. soil are more than an ‘exotic notion.’ If the Civil War is a significant part of history, should not the basis for it also be viewed as significant?”

Jones added that U of L President Neeli Bendapudi shares her view: "President Bendapudi, Provost (Lori Stewart) Gonzalez and I reject the idea that the year 1619 is not a critical moment in the history of this country."

McConnell, a 1964 U of L graduate, has long been a booster of the university and maintained close ties to it. In 1991, he established U of L’s McConnell Center, a nonpartisan program that “seeks to identify, recruit and nurture Kentucky’s next generation of great leaders.”

Bendapudi, who was hired in 2018, has embraced an “antiracist agenda” for the university and added the word “antiracist” to U of L’s formal mandate from the legislature to become a “premier metropolitan research university.”

Bendapudi has said such an agenda should not be controversial.

“To me, anti-racism is extremely simple,” she told WDRB in October 2020. “A racist idea is when you say that one race, by itself, is superior or inferior to another. So, anti-racism is the very simple premise that your race does not confer any inherent inferiority, or superiority, to somebody.


McConnell of course wants a fight over this, knowing it will help the KY GOP defeat Gov. Beshear in 2023. The larger issue is that President Bendapudi is right, but Republicans will just say that anti-racism is racism because it makes white people the villains and thus "inferior" in the eyes of other folks. It'll never end, it's the battle America's been fighting for 400 years, and it just ebbs and flows depending on how this current generation of mostly white electorates feel.

And so it goes.

Retribution Execution, Con't

It's no longer a question of if Rep. Liz Cheney will remain in the House Republican leadership, it's a question of how soon she's ejected from from Congress and the party itself by the Wyoming GOP.

Rep. Liz Cheney’s colleagues are set to boot her from House GOP leadership this month. Now Republicans back in her home state of Wyoming are plotting how to remove her from Congress entirely.

There is no shortage of Republicans eager to take on Cheney in a 2022 primary since her vote to impeach President Donald Trump and her subsequent criticism of him tanked her popularity in Wyoming. But the crowded field is also a risk for the anti-Cheney forces, making it more possible for her to win with a plurality.

That might be the only path back to Washington for Cheney, barring a drastic change of fortune: Internal polling conducted for Trump’s PAC in January and, more recently, for the pro-Trump Club for Growth show a majority of Wyoming Republicans disapproving of Cheney and continuing strong support for Trump.

The collapse in support is a remarkable fall from grace for Cheney, who just last year passed on an open Senate seat in her state to remain in House leadership instead. After ascending to GOP conference chair — the same post her father once held — she was touted as a future House speaker. Now, it’s impossible to call her anything other than an underdog in her own congressional seat.

Trump and his orbit have taken a strong interest in the race, and an endorsement could help clarify the field, which already features four Republicans who have filed to run against Cheney. But more contenders are waiting on the sidelines, and Trump’s political team, according to two people familiar with the efforts, has shown early interest in recruiting a pair of Republicans who aren’t already in the race: attorney Darin Smith, who ran for the seat in 2016, and Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan.

“I think anybody who's a decent Republican is going to get behind whoever Donald Trump eventually endorses,” Smith said in an interview. “He's gonna look under every rock and look over the lay of the land, and he's going to determine who that person that he's going to get behind is.”

He said he’s been approached about entering the race and is seriously considering it. "We need somebody, for sure, that will export Wyoming's values to Washington and not the other way around,” Smith said.

Smith placed fourth in Wyoming’s Republican congressional primary in 2016, when the seat was open, and appears more likely to enter the fray than Buchanan, who would have to forgo reelection as secretary of state to challenge Cheney. The two are unlikely to both jump into the primary, and people close to Buchanan said they think he is leaning against a run. 

I wouldn't go out of my way to feel bad for Liz Cheney though, she's just as awful as her father.  If she does lose her seat, she'll land at a law firm and then move on to think tanks and fellowships for a while. But she will stand as an object lesson to Trump and the GOP, and hopefully to voters who will realize which side really is using "cancel culture" to crush all dissent.

Hint: it's not the Democrats, guys. And after the GOP gets done smashing all resistance in their party, they'll come for the rest of us. As Adam Serwer reminds us, Cheney is a fraud who made Trump possible, and she's upset she's lost control of the monster she made.

During the Obama administration, Cheney was a Fox News regular who, as was the fashion at the time, insisted that the president was secretly sympathetic to jihadists. She enthusiastically defended the use of torture, dismissed the constitutional right to due process as an inconvenience, and amplified the Obama-era campaign to portray American Muslims as a national-security threat.

Until the insurrection, she was a loyal Trumpist who frequently denounced the Democratic Party. “They’ve become the party of anti-Semitism; they’ve become the party of infanticide; they’ve become the party of socialism,” she said in 2019. Her critics now, such as Scalise and the buffoonish Representative Matt Gaetz, formerly gushed over her ability to bring, as the Times put it in 2019, “an edge to Republican messaging that was lacking.”

That “edge” was Cheney’s specialty from the moment she emerged as a rising star in the GOP. In 2010, Cheney launched a McCarthyite crusade against seven unnamed attorneys in the Obama-era Justice Department who had previously represented terrorism suspects held in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. The Bush administration’s assertions of imperial power in the War on Terror violated the Constitution many times over—the conservative majority on the Supreme Court agreed—and the lawyers who represented detainees were defending the fundamental constitutional right to counsel. They were affirming the integrity of the American legal system; Cheney smeared them as terrorist sympathizers, as The Enemy.

“While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country,” Cheney lamented in her Washington Post op-ed. But her colleagues are merely following her example.

“Americans have a right to know the identity of the Al-Qaeda Seven,” a 2010 ad from Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, intoned ominously, as if it were referring to the actual 9/11 hijackers and not the attorneys who had represented them in court. “Whose values do they share?" The Enemy has no rights, and anyone who imagines otherwise, let alone seeks to uphold them, is also The Enemy.

This is the logic of the War on Terror, and also the logic of the party of Trump. As George W. Bush famously put it, “You are either with us or with the terrorists.” You are Real Americans or The Enemy. And if you are The Enemy, you have no rights. As Spencer Ackerman writes in his forthcoming book, Reign of Terror, the politics of endless war inevitably gives way to this authoritarian logic. Cheney now finds herself on the wrong side of a line she spent much of her political career enforcing. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, infamously announced that America might have to employ “the dark side” in its fight against al-Qaeda; forgetting the entire point of Star Wars, which is that the dark side ultimately consumes its adherents. Not until the mob ransacked the Capitol in January, it seems, did she begin to understand that millions of Americans believe the things their leaders tell them.


Cheney, Scalise, Trump, Stefanik, Gaetz, and Taylor Greene: they're all fascists who want complete control of the country by any means necessary. They just have slightly different tolerances for various tactics.  

The answer to the Trump problem is not "better Republicans".

The answer is voting them all out of power.

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