Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Last Call For Climate Of Disaster, Kentucky Edition

As President Biden tours the massive damage here in Kentucky, here's a reminder that the sheer cost of clean-up from Saturday's tornado outbreak here in the Bluegrass state is going to run in the hundreds of millions of dollars at the minimum, if not billions.

Kentucky’s recovery from last weekend’s historic tornado outbreak will take “months if not years,” and cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to public officials and experts who are still assessing the full scale of the loss and damage.

“Tens of thousands are still dealing with water, gas, or power outages. Families are in shock and grief over the loss of loved ones,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday. “Rebuilding the areas of Kentucky leveled by this storm will take months, if not years, to complete.”

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear said he expected the price tag of a full recovery to be “in the hundreds of millions of dollars at least.”

But the exact amount won’t be known for a while, as government officials and emergency workers continue to focus on searches for the more than 100 who are still missing and providing shelter, food and medical attention to those who have been displaced. The death toll in Kentucky remains at 74.

McConnell reported that at Fort Campbell, FEMA has already supplied 61 generators, 74,000 meals, 135,000 liters of water and thousands of cots and blankets.

“Kentucky will come back from this bigger and better than ever before,” McConnell said. “I will make sure the Senate provides all the assistance we can to make that a reality.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told NPR that food, water, communications and shelter were the primary needs of Kentucky residents following his visit to the state.

“We have been going family to family, individual to individual to learn what has happened to each individual and what we can do about it,” Mayorkas said. But he cautioned that several of the hardest hit portions of western Kentucky will require patience for long-term rebuilding efforts.

“Homes need to be rebuilt, schools need to be operating once again, businesses need to be rebuilt and restarted. It really means building a community from the ground up,” he said.
It's mildly perverse that McConnell is promising aid, he's not the Senate Majority Leader at all and really has no say in what legislation comes up, but he could sure block aid if he wanted to. At least for his state, he won't. That would be too much even for him to keep his job.
He'll block billions for the rest of the country though, count on that. 

He'll also block any climate change and coal plant regulation, so we'll get to repeat this dance until it kills enough people for us to vote people like him out of the Senate, I guess.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

We have a pretty good idea why former Trump WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stopped cooperating with the January 6th Committee and is now facing a Contempt of Congress charge: he was right in the middle of Trump's organized coup to steal the 2020 election. David Corn:

As Trump’s brownshirts stormed the citadel of American democracy, Meadows received a flow of messages and cries for help from people inside the Capitol, including legislators. One text informed him, “We are under siege here at the Capitol.” Another read, “They have breached the Capitol.” And another: “Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?” A fourth exclaimed, “There’s an armed standoff at the House Chamber door.” A fifth: “We are all helpless.”

Dozens—dozens—of texts, including some from Trump administration officials, pleaded for action. “POTUS has to come out firmly and tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed.” “Mark, he needs to stop this. Now.” “TELL THEM TO GO HOME.” “POTUS needs to calm this sh*t down.” Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows, “He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP.” Meadows replied, “I’m pushing hard. I agree.” But when Trump took no such steps, Trump Jr. texted Meadows repeatedly. In one message, he urged, “We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”

Fox News hosts also pushed Meadows for action from Trump. Laura Ingraham texted, “Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.” Brian Kilmeade beseeched, “Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.” And Sean Hannity sent a message: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”

What a dramatic afternoon. Meadows was being besieged by lawmakers, fellow Trump officials, the stars of Fox News, and the president’s eldest son. Why would he leave all this out of his book? It’s gripping. It’s suspenseful. And why not reveal to his readers how he reacted to these pleas and what he did—or didn’t do—in response?

Meadows in the book presents no information to counter the impression Trump purposefully dawdled to see if the riot might work to his advantage and forestall the certification of Biden’s win. He does not address the various reports that cast Trump in a dark light: that Trump was practically giddy as he watched the violence on television, that when House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy urged Trump to intervene to halt the rampaging, he replied, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Meadows is hiding what happened in the White House on January 6. It’s no wonder he does not want to testify. Trump’s failure to act that day—to heed all those pleas—is also Meadows’ failure.

This book is disinformation. Meadows peddles Trump’s propaganda. “I knew he didn’t lose,” Meadows declares of Trump and the 2020 election. How did he know this? The “excitement of the people” at Trump’s campaign rallies had been “palpable.” He says he had “spoken with dozens of peoples during those rallies” and they were “thrilled to be together.” (They were also “some of the kindest, most generous people I had ever met.”)

He accuses unnamed Democrats of conspiring before Election Day to use fraudulent votes to lock in a Biden victory—without providing any evidence of this plot. He claims there were “thousands of allegations of widespread fraud.” He writes that Trump only raised “legitimate concerns about the way our elections are run,” not bizarre rumors or speculation. And he maintains that Democrats—again, unnamed—had a plan not only to rig the election but to cover up their skullduggery: they used allies within the media to deride Trump claims of ballot fraud as nothing but unhinged conspiracy theories. And, Meadows contends, the media had been preparing for this moment for years by branding Trump and his supporters as crazy and paranoid. “[I]t became clear that the media’s plan—the ‘long con’—had worked,” he writes. “Soon, anyone who had questions about the election was labeled a nutcase.” Get it? The media had been painting Trump and his crew as kooks so that when the Dems steal the election and the Trumpers protest, no one will believe them. That was diabolical.

With his book, Meadows is conning the public. He won’t testify before Congress, but he’s peddling this collection of untruths and non-truths, rehashing Trump’s I-was-robbed swill for his audience of Trump die-hards. Still, Meadows is holding back on them. He’s not telling them—and the world—what he and their champion did on perhaps the most consequential day of Trump’s presidency. Perhaps that’s to be expected. The texts hint at negligence and malfeasance. And what Trump fan is going to pay $28 for that?
Meadows went from cooperation to contempt in under two weeks, but the information he did turn over was absolutely damning and contradicts the book he put out earlier. The combination was untenable and he's now on the outside looking in. Besides, at this point the January 6th Committee doesn't need him any longer. 

I just hope we're able to get these charges done before the Committee is forced to disband.  It will have to stop at the end of next year regardless of whether it's restarted again in January 2023.

The Big Lie Comes To Your Door

Trump Big Lie Cultists are conducting their own "audit" of voters, armed with voter registration information, going door-to-door in order to "check" to make sure there's not millions of illegal voters in your attic.

Across the country, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory internet is manifesting itself into knocks at the door. Individual election deniers and grassroots groups are canvassing for election fraud in states lost or even won by former president Donald Trump in 2020, including New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska. Despite 60-plus court losses and countless official audits and recounts confirming the 2020 election results, many of Trump’s supporters are still so convinced of his lies that they’ve turned to this kind of vigilantism.

It’s all part of a broader effort by Trump supporters — emboldened and given tacit support by Republican Party leaders — to deny the 2020 election results at all costs and cast doubt on elections going forward. When a contractor working on the Arizona Senate’s partisan and farcical “audit” proposed a similar door-knocking scheme last spring, the Justice Department warned that it could violate federal laws on voter intimidation. The Senate backed off, but volunteers did the canvass anyway and put out a sloppy report alleging all kinds of fraud without evidence to back it up. Though reporters quickly debunked their claims — including finding a house on the alleged “vacant” property gracing the report’s cover — the Arizona canvass results went viral on right-wing social media and have inspired copycats.

A member of the far-right Three Percenters militant group is helping lead the canvassing effort in Colorado, where a leader suggested volunteers carrying firearms could help secure the group as they went door-to-door, according to the Colorado Times Recorder. The Utah Voter Verification Project is requiring its volunteer canvassers to sign NDAs before they canvass and has instructed them to record their interactions with voters, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The sheriff’s office in Buffalo County, Nebraska, posted on Facebook on Nov. 4, warning about similar canvassing efforts and telling voters that the canvassers were not official or affiliated with the county.

The New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group claims to be nonpartisan. Its founder, Marylyn Todd, a 37-year-old from Nashua, told BuzzFeed News in an interview that she is registered as an independent. Todd claimed in a Facebook message that “many” of their canvassers voted for President Joe Biden, but would not name them or connect them with BuzzFeed News. Todd also said that she has expanded canvassing across the state, focusing on towns where the group believes there is the most potential fraud, but she declined to name the towns they’ve visited. The group, she said, “is just trying to get to the bottom of the truth, nothing more, nothing less.”

Members of the group credit Dean, whose last name Todd declined to provide, with creating the app they use to track down voters. (Dean did not respond to questions messaged to his Telegram account nor to questions Todd said she shared with him via email.) The app is designed with a free site that Democrats have used in the past to canvass voters before an election. The app shows canvassers where to find nearby voters, as well as their addresses, whether they voted in 2020, if they voted in person or absentee, and whether they registered to vote same-day. The app asks canvassers to confirm that information and, if they find any discrepancies, to get voters to sign an affidavit and mail it to a P.O. box.
Todd said they are sharing those affidavits with members of the state legislature, “many” of whom are interested in their findings, but declined to provide names. She described affidavits the group collected from two households alleging election misconduct, but declined to share any names or details that could be fact-checked, citing the affiants’ privacy. The Trump campaign used affidavits as part of its failed legal strategy to challenge the 2020 election and held up the sworn statements to try to add some legitimacy to its bogus fraud claims, but, as the Washington Post noted at the time, many of those affidavits were never filed in court and the ones that were filed were often thrown out.
So let's call this what it is: mass voter intimidation of Democratic voters on a multi-state scale, of tens, if not hundreds of thousands or more of registered Democrats, with the intent of these assholes trying to accuse Biden voters of fraud.

That's the entire point.

It's a message that if you are a registered Democrat, Trump Cultists know who you are, and know where you live.

It should be ludicrously illegal, but it's not.

Therein lies the problem.


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