Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Last Call For The Concerned Citizen's Brigade, Con't

The abortion "bounty" laws in Texas and Oklahoma are the future of America, using ordinary citizens to bring civil litigation and enforcement of unconstitutional ordnances rather than having the government do it. It's recruiting your neighbor as police informants, and we've now returned to the point where groups of these "concerned citizens" are tracking down potential miscreants door-to-door.
Clipboards in hand, Jenifer Short and Emily Tadlock strolled a swanky suburban neighborhood on a recent afternoon, checking homes against a list of voter registrations.

Knocking on the front door of a house with an Alfa Romeo in the driveway, they chatted with a woman, a renter who verified she was registered to vote at the address, but who said another person registered there was the homeowner, who did not live there.

After the brief chat, Short and Tadlock moved on, marking down the information on an “incident report” for the group they’re volunteering for, the Washington Voter Research Project.

“We’re detectives, OK?” said Tadlock, somewhat jokingly describing the work of checking out thousands of voter registrations flagged by the group as potentially suspicious.

Across Washington, hundreds of volunteers like Tadlock and Short have been knocking on doors, questioning residents and searching for evidence of voter fraud — or at least outdated voter rolls.

It’s an effort led by Glen Morgan, a conservative activist from Thurston County known for filing frequent campaign finance complaints against Democratic politicians, unions and other allied groups.

While Morgan seeks to distance the canvassing from outlandish and false conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election, he acknowledged his group has attracted 350 volunteers across the state in part due to the distrust in the election system stoked by former President Donald Trump.

What’s happening here is loosely connected to a national campaign by Trump supporters hunting door-to-door for proof that the 2020 election was fraudulent. The activity in some states has drawn fierce blowback and accusations of voter intimidation. Civil rights groups in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit in March, alleging canvassing by Trump supporters there has targeted neighborhoods with a high number of people of color.

In Washington, the Morgan-led doorbelling campaign has generated complaints from people put off by the inquiries, leading several county auditors and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs to issue public statements warning that the group is not authorized by any election office.

In interviews, some county auditors said they have received reports of canvassers trying to pose as government officials.

“People called very concerned, because they were portraying themselves as county employees,” said Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall. “They had like the Thurston County logo on their clipboard.”

Hall said her office “would never go door-to-door asking voters if they voted or how long they’ve lived there, anything like that.”
As I said yesterday, this open voter intimidation is nothing more than a 2022 field test for a massive operation in 2024. It's going to be an army harassing every polling place where a Democrat mnight win, and it's going to be a phone book's worth of "irregularities" that will only be reported in places where Democrats pull ahead.

And then these wins will be nullified by GOP secretaries of state.


The Durham Disaster, Con't

The jury in the Michael Sussman trial of the Clinton lawyer accused by US Attorney John Durham of lying to the FBI about the Trump/Russia collusion connection took less than six hours to come back wit a not guilty verdict, if you're still wondering how badly the Durham probe is going for Trump and the right.
A federal jury delivered a major setback to special counsel John Durham on Tuesday, acquitting well-connected lawyer Michael Sussmann on a charge that he lied to the FBI in 2016 while acting on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign — a trial that sought to revive old controversies about the FBI’s role in that election.

The verdict, coming after less than a full day of deliberations spread over parts of Friday and Tuesday, was not a close call or a hard decision, two jurors told The Washington Post.

“Politics were not a factor,” the jury forewoman said. “We felt really comfortable being able to share what we thought. We had concise notes, and we were able to address the questions together,” she said, declining to give her name as she left the courthouse.

“Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted,” she added, saying the government “could have spent our time more wisely.” A second juror told The Post that in the jury room, “everyone pretty much saw it the same way.”

Sussmann was accused of lying to a senior FBI official in September 2016 when he brought the FBI allegations of a secret computer communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank. FBI agents investigated the data but concluded that there was nothing suspicious about it. 
Durham, appointed three years ago during the Trump administration to find possible wrongdoing among federal agents who probed Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, alleged that Sussmann had lied to the FBI when he claimed that he was not bringing them the information on behalf of any client, when, the prosecutors alleged, he did so on behalf of the Clinton campaign and technology executive Rodney Joffe.

Sussmann, the first person charged by Durham to go to trial, said outside court that “justice ultimately prevailed in my case. … I’m looking forward to getting back to the work I love.”

Durham did not speak outside court, issuing a statement that said, “While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service.” Durham plans another trial in the fall, of a researcher accused of lying to the FBI about his research into Trump.

Gregory Brower, a former U.S. attorney and senior FBI official, said the acquittal was “not a surprising result given the lack of evidence” and the way false statement laws have historically been applied.

“The special counsel was only appointed because the former president wanted an investigation that he could point to for political reasons during the campaign, and [former attorney general William P.] Barr gave him one,” said Brower, noting that much of what Durham was tapped to investigate had already been exhaustively examined by the Justice Department’s inspector general. “This quick acquittal,” he said, “should mark the end of this chapter.


It should mark the end of the Durham probe as a whole.  Both President Biden and Merrick Garland should hold a joint press conference explaining why Durham is being cashiered after this, but in the long run Durham will get a chance to write his report, and it will be just as disappointing to the right as the Mueller Report was to the rest of us.

Keep in mind if Trump is elected again in 2024 though, he will order his AG to arrest Democrats all over the place.


A Supreme Search

Again, the odds that Justice Clarence Thomas's wife, GOP activist Ginni Thomas, is the person who leaked the draft Roe decision is about 99%. The Supreme Court on the other hand continues to pretend that a massive investigation into clerks and staff is needed.

Supreme Court officials are escalating their search for the source of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, taking steps to require law clerks to provide cell phone records and sign affidavits, three sources with knowledge of the efforts have told CNN.

Some clerks are apparently so alarmed over the moves, particularly the sudden requests for private cell data, that they have begun exploring whether to hire outside counsel.

The court's moves are unprecedented and the most striking development to date in the investigation into who might have provided Politico with the draft opinion it published on May 2. The probe has intensified the already high tensions at the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority is poised to roll back a half-century of abortion rights and privacy protections.

Chief Justice John Roberts met with law clerks as a group after the breach, CNN has learned, but it is not known whether any systematic individual interviews have occurred.

Lawyers outside the court who have become aware of the new inquiries related to cell phone details warn of potential intrusiveness on clerks' personal activities, irrespective of any disclosure to the news media, and say they may feel the need to obtain independent counsel.

"That's what similarly situated individuals would do in virtually any other government investigation," said one appellate lawyer with experience in investigations and knowledge of the new demands on law clerks. "It would be hypocritical for the Supreme Court to prevent its own employees from taking advantage of that fundamental legal protection.". 

Sources familiar with efforts underway say the exact language of the affidavits or the intended scope of that cell phone search -- content or time period covered -- is not yet clear.

The Supreme Court did not respond to a CNN request on Monday for comment related to the phone searches and affidavits.
SCOTUS is going to continue to pretend the credibility crisis of the court is because of the leak, and not because Alito and at least four other justices are going to start rolling back rights after decades and pitch the country into a patchwork of abortion bans and other "it's up to the state" rulings where your rights are determined solely by which state you live in.

We'll see who is offered up as the leaker eventually, but my guess is that we won't see that until after the term ends.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Vote Like Your Country Depends On It

The Trumpian effort to steal the 2022 election is not just recruiting secretaries of states who will manipulate laws and votes, it's giving those criminals and traitors cover with an army of "election observers" at polling stations who will challenge, harass, and intimidate anyone they believe is voting Democratic, legally or "illegally".
In a hotel conference center outside Harrisburg, Pa., Cleta Mitchell, one of the key figures in a failed scheme to overturn Donald J. Trump’s defeat, was leading a seminar on “election integrity.”

“We are taking the lessons we learned in 2020 and we are going forward to make sure they never happen again,” Ms. Mitchell told the crowd of about 150 activists-in-training.

She would be “putting you to work,” she told them.

In the days after the 2020 election, Ms. Mitchell was among a cadre of Republican lawyers who frantically compiled unsubstantiated accusations, debunked claims and an array of confusing and inconclusive eyewitness reports to build the case that the election was marred by fraud. Courts rejected the cases and election officials were unconvinced, thwarting a stunning assault on the transfer of power.

Now Ms. Mitchell is prepping for the next election. Working with a well-funded network of organizations on the right, including the Republican National Committee, she is recruiting election conspiracists into an organized cavalry of activists monitoring elections.

In seminars around the country, Ms. Mitchell is marshaling volunteers to stake out election offices, file information requests, monitor voting, work at polling places and keep detailed records of their work. She has tapped into a network of grass-root groups that promote misinformation and espouse wild theories about the 2020 election, including the fiction that President Biden’s victory could still be decertified and Mr. Trump reinstated.

One concern is the group’s intent to research the backgrounds of local and state officials to determine whether each is a “friend or foe” of the movement. Many officials already feel under attack by those who falsely contend that the 2020 election was stolen.

An extensive review of Ms. Mitchell’s effort, including documents and social media posts, interviews and attendance at the Harrisburg seminar, reveals a loose network of influential groups and fringe figures. They include election deniers as well as mainstream organizations such as the Heritage Foundation’s political affiliate, Tea Party Patriots and the R.N.C., which has participated in Ms. Mitchell’s seminars. The effort, called the Election Integrity Network, is a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute, a right-wing think tank with close ties and financial backing from Mr. Trump’s political operation.

Ms. Mitchell says she is creating “a volunteer army of citizens” who can counter what she describes as Democratic bias in election offices.

“We’re going to be watching. We’re going to take back our elections,” she said in an April interview with John Fredericks, a conservative radio host. “The only way they win is to cheat,” she added.

The claim that Mr. Trump lost the election because of improper conduct in election offices or rampant voter fraud is false. Mr. Trump’s defeat was undisputed among election officials and certified by Democrats and Republicans, with many recounts and audits verifying the outcome. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud. Mr. Trump lost more than 50 of his postelection challenges in court.

Campaigns, parties and outside groups from both sides of the political spectrum regularly form poll-monitoring operations and recruit poll workers. And Republicans have in the past boasted of plans to build an “army” of observers, raising fears about widespread voter intimidation and conflict at the polls that largely have not materialized.

Some former election officials say they are hopeful that when election skeptics observe the process they may finally be convinced that the system is sound. But several who examined Ms. Mitchell’s training materials and statements at the request of The New York Times sounded alarms about her tactics.

Ms. Mitchell’s trainings promote particularly aggressive methods — with a focus on surveillance — that appear intended to feed on activists’ distrust and create pressure on local officials, rather than ensure voters’ access to the ballot, they say. A test drive of the strategy in the Virginia governor’s race last year highlighted how quickly the work — when conducted by people convinced of falsehoods about fraud — can disrupt the process and spiral into bogus claims, even in a race Republicans won.

“I think it’s going to come down to whether they are truly interested in knowing the truth about elections or they’re interested in propagating propaganda,” said Al Schmidt, a Republican and former city commissioner of Philadelphia who served on the elections board.

Asked about her project at the Pennsylvania training, Ms. Mitchell declined an interview request and asked a reporter to leave.

In a statement emailed later, she said: “The American election system envisions citizen engagement and we are training people to assume the roles outlined in the statutes.”
The goal here is to flood the zone with bullshit "voter fraud" claims, then scream whenever the fraud claims aren't proven. There's a reason why Republicans want to get rid of all non-Election Day, in-person voting, so that all voters can be "screened" by this army of voter intimidation drones.

2022 is the test run for a much larger effort in 2024.

Count on that.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Last Call For Orange Meldown, Con't

After an hour of Trump delivering many familiar hits — on Russia, impeachment, Jan. 6, the 2020 election, how he told NATO members he would not defend them if they didn’t “pay,” trade with China, CHUCK TODD’S alleged lack of sleep, the relative merits of the journalists CHRIS WALLACE and his father MIKE, his conversations with the Taliban, the Durham investigation, and how, “sadly,” White House physician-turned-congressman RONNY JACKSON knows Trump’s body better than MELANIA does — Trump turned his attention to a newer obsession.

“No teacher should ever be allowed to teach transgender to our children without parental consent,” he said, just as some of the MAGA faithful started to trickle out. “Can you imagine?”

On the perimeter of the arena, some attendees headed for their cars stopped and began listening again on an outside monitor. Trump briefly got distracted when he caught a glimpse of himself on a video screen and noticed his hair was thinning in the back.

But he then returned to the subject.

“We will save our kids and we will also keep men the hell out of women’s sports. Is that OK?” he said, using what’s become a common GOP refrain. He continued with an animated tale about a female swimmer about to start a race who turned and noticed a new opponent, a “huge person who was a guy recently.”

Trump paused for effect and then reflected on the fraught nature of his commentary. “See? I’m politically correct, I said ‘recently,’ They can’t get me,” he said. “You have to be very careful, this is a hornet’s nest.”

He continued. He said the trans woman set a new record that would stand until “some guy comes along and breaks it again.” He pantomimed his way through a story mocking trans women in weightlifting competitions. He imagined himself as a women’s basketball team coach recruiting players, such as LEBRON JAMES: “Did you ever have any thoughts, LeBron, about one day becoming a woman?”

He congratulated himself. “Everybody’s afraid of not being politically correct,” he said. “I’m the only one that talks about it.”

These long riffs mocking trans athletes were received with thunderous applause. The only other objects of derision that tickled the crowd with similar enthusiasm were mentions of undocumented immigrants or Cheney and the appearance of House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY, who was booed when he showed up in a video at the rally.

Trump is wrong that he’s the only one in politics caricaturing trans people for political benefit. Transgender women have been allowed to compete in women’s categories in the Olympics since 2003 and the NCAA since 2010. Yet Republicans say new laws are needed to protect women's sports and GOP candidates have been using Trump-like language in campaigns and policy around the country for years.

It’s having an impact. Here in Wyoming last week, a local school board voted to remove sexual orientation and gender identity from its non-discrimination code.

Trump is like a standup comedian. He uses rallies, especially in the offseason, to work on material. He tests the reaction among his diehard fans and watches the mainstream media’s coverage. He then rewrites the lines, calibrating them for maximum effect inside the arena and minimal blowback outside of it. You can tell he believes he’s onto something with his mocking of trans people.

There is a cynical strategy at work here. Targeting marginalized groups for ridicule forces more responsible actors to stand up for them. As Democrats have learned, Trump’s goal is to get them to spend their time outraged and defending the targets of his attacks rather than talking about their own message.

This dynamic creates a built-in political advantage to any party that no longer sees it as taboo to scapegoat certain groups. Trump, of course, knows this and he has found a new target for 2022 — and perhaps beyond
Make no mistake here, Trump's rise to power in 2024 -- any GOP candidate's rise to power in 2024 -- will be on the corpses of trans people. The GOP will not stop with ending abortions and ending "CRT", They are coming for trans people with force of violence, and it will be bloody carnage.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

As President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visit Uvalde, Texas today in the wake of last week's deadly school shooting, the Justice Department says it will investigate the conduct of the local police response to the attack, which by all indications was a complete failure that directly contributed to the deaths.

The critical incident review, requested by Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, will include a report on law enforcement actions on May 24 — the day of shooting. The report will be conducted by the department's Office of Community Oriented Policing.

“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events," said Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley.

“As with prior Justice Department after-action reviews of mass shootings and other critical incidents, this assessment will be fair, transparent, and independent."

Local police have admitted to a number of failures in responding to the shooting that left 21 people, including 19 children, dead.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Friday that police made the "wrong decision" by waiting to confront the shooter.

“There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done, with one exception, is that the incident commander inside believed he needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that time," McCraw said. “From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that.”
By all accounts, the Uvalde response team refused to go into the building because they already thought the kids were dead, and that there was no reason to rush to risk their lives in a shootout that was now a hostage situation.  Of course, that was 100% nonsense as 911 calls were still coming from kids in the school building for 40 minutes.
The reality is cops are generally bullies, and all bullies are cowards deep down. They were afraid of an 18-year-old with an AR-15 who had shown he was willing to kill with it, and frankly that's the best argument yet that "police were too scared to go after the shooter given his firepower" for an assault weapons ban.
Again, three big things here, separate but related.
One, it's easier to get an AR-15 in Texas than to vote. Texas has one of the lowest Medicaid coverage rates for mental illness in America, less than 10%. The shooter should have been red flagged, the resources should have been there to prevent this, but he walked into the local gun store, got the rifle, got the ammo, and killed 21 people with it, 19 of them children.

Two, police lied to the press open-faced in the first 24-48 hours and the press believed them. The shooter "was engaged" and "had body armor", someone the Uvalde police were unable to stop despite training, because he was too much of an armed killer. None of that was true either, and it was only after parents of the victims were allowed to tell their stories that it became clear that Gov. Abbott and Texas Republicans were all helping to cover up this failure.

Three, Sen. Mitch McConnell is already plotting to blame the failure of any new legislation on Democrats. The fix is already in as Greg Sargent reminds us.

We’ve seen this before. When the House impeached Donald Trump over the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection attempt, McConnell signaled openness to convicting Trump. This produced headlines proclaiming “McConnell open to convicting Trump in impeachment trial.

But in the end he voted to acquit Trump, as was surely his intention all along. Then as now, he got headlines advertising his reasonableness at exactly the moment when public emotions (over the attack on the Capitol) were at their height.

Any basic reading of McConnell’s incentives implies that this is likely to happen again. Killing a deal on gun control avoids the risk of a backlash from the Republican base, which might recoil at any deal as an unconscionable betrayal.

McConnell also knows that the Democratic base is frustrated with their leaders, in general and on this issue in particular. Congressional failure on guns could demobilize that base, making them more likely to stay home in November in disgust, boosting GOP chances.

We should offer a caveat. It’s perfectly possible that this time McConnell will decide a deal is more in his interests than failure is. He might calculate that the public’s horror over this shooting is so deep that being part of a bipartisan solution could give Republicans more benefit in the midterms than failure would.

After all, there are times that McConnell calculates that allowing bipartisanship to happen is better for him and Republicans politically, such as when the infrastructure bill passed last year.

And in this case, any deal will likely be pretty modest. As Murphy has said, such a compromise might combine a “red-flag” law with a proposal to close a loophole that allows some sellers to avoid performing background checks. That would fall well short of universal background checks, though still worth doing.

So maybe McConnell will decide that this is so modest that it carries more upside than downside. On the other hand, even if Republicans are feeling extra pressure to act, remember what happened after the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children in 2012: Senators reached a bipartisan deal seriously beefing up background checks. It had overwhelming public support. It fell to a GOP filibuster, led by ... McConnell.

The core point here is that McConnell’s calculation of what’s in Republicans’ naked political interests will carry the day either way. Substance will be largely irrelevant.
So no, I don't expect this time to be different, and the next school shooting will also be a national tragedy, and the next one, and the next...
Welcome to Gunmerica.

Sunday Long Read: Bob's Your Uncle

Something less grim for you this Sunday: Carina Chocano's profile of Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, as the hit FOX animated series looks forward to season 13, and a Memorial Day opening of Bob's Burgers: The Movie.

Sometimes Loren Bouchard thinks about how close he came to having a totally different life from the one he has now — one that would not exist if he hadn’t bumped into his elementary-school science teacher in Harvard Square one day in 1993.

He was 23 at the time, a high school dropout who had spent the previous five years working odd jobs: museum guard, bouncer, bartender. At one point, he created a cartoon about a bartending dog and submitted it to a novelty book publisher, who rejected it. Then one day, as he was leaving an art supply store, he ran into Tom Snyder — his former teacher and an ex-colleague of his father’s. Snyder ran a company that made educational software for classrooms, and now it was expanding into animation. He asked Bouchard if he still liked to draw. Bouchard did. And so Snyder hired him to work on a project that would eventually become the animated cable-TV comedy “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.”

Bouchard told me this story on a sunny afternoon at the dining table of his beautiful house in the hills in Los Angeles. Without that chance encounter in Cambridge, he told me — as his wife, Holly, made us popcorn and one of his two sons did homework nearby — he might never have found his way here to any of this: never gotten into animation, met his collaborators, met his wife, won two Emmys, made a movie or taken up growing walnuts or fostering baby goats on his farm in Ojai, Calif. “I know it’s cliché,” he says of the transformative effect that one coincidence had on his life. “But it’s, like, stunning sometimes, the magnitude of the difference.”

Bouchard is now one of the most influential figures in adult animation, best known as the co-creator of the Fox hit “Bob’s Burgers.” The show is currently in its 12th season, putting it among the longest-running animated comedies, with a feature film, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” arriving in theaters now. (Bouchard also has a newer show, “Central Park,” an animated musical series he created with Josh Gad and Nora Smith for Apple TV+; he is also an executive producer on “The Great North,” created by two former “Bob’s” writers, Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, along with Minty Lewis.)

“Bob’s” is about a lower-middle-class family and the restaurant they run together, making it at once a family comedy and a workplace comedy. It centers on Bob Belcher — the anxious and pessimistic owner of a struggling burger joint that, despite his talent, never seems to catch on — and his wildly optimistic wife, Linda, plus their three weird kids: Tina (boy-crazed, butt-fixated), Gene (flamboyant, obsessed with food, music and fart jokes) and Louise (adorable, scheming, borderline sociopathic). An atmospheric grossness clings to the Belchers like burger grease, and yet — despite Bob’s hairy arms, Tina’s excruciating adolescence and Gene’s booger play — the show never treats the Belchers as objects of contempt; in fact, it runs on the deep affection and respect it has for them and they have for one another. They seem, of all things, oddly dignified. When a mean girl steals Tina’s mortifying journal of “erotic friend fiction” and threatens to read it to everyone at school, the whole family rallies to recover it — but not before Tina, inspired by her mother’s pep talk encouraging her to be herself, pre-emptively reads one of her sagas to the student body as her siblings look on, cringing protectively.

Adult animation has often been a space for cynicism and snark, but Bouchard has long gone against that grain. H. Jon Benjamin, who plays Bob, recalls a moment in the mid-1990s when he and Bouchard were taking “Dr. Katz” to Comedy Central. They were shown an early presentation for “South Park,” which was soon to begin its quarter-century run on the same channel, and saw doom. “It was the funniest thing I had ever seen animated,” Benjamin says, “and we were doing this very low, low-energy thing” — a show full of shambling, introspective conversations that Bouchard describes as “secretly a love story between a father and a son.”

With “Bob’s,” Bouchard wanted to create something equally rooted in kindness, rejecting the classic sitcom convention of the family as a conflict machine. (He recalls one executive saying the family members “love each other a little too much,” warning him that “even a family that loves each other fights.”) The show premiered in 2011 as a midseason replacement and began to gain momentum around its third or fourth season, but it really took off when it became available on streaming services, letting viewers spend longer, more intimate hours with the Belchers. Marci Proietto, the head of the Disney unit that produces the show, told me that people sometimes tell her, “We fall asleep to ‘Bob’s’” — “and I’m always like, ‘Oh, that’s a weird thing to say to me,’ but they mean it in a really loving way. They mean it like, ‘That’s my comfort food.’”

From the start, Bouchard and the writers knew they wanted the Belchers to live persistently on the edge of failure, always feeling “the pressure of when you love your kids but you know that every moment you’re not working could be the nail in your coffin.” The other thing they knew was that they were telling the story of an artist. Every day, Bob offers a fanciful but impractical new burger special — the Eggers Can’t Be Cheesers (with fried egg and cheese), the Cauliflower’s Cumin From Inside the House, the Let’s Give ’Em Something Shiitake ’Bout — to an indifferent world. Occasionally someone verges on recognizing Bob’s genius. The family’s landlord gives them a break after tasting one of Bob’s creations and declaring him a true beef artist, or “be-fartist.” A now-wealthy friend from college invests in the business, but his corny marketing ploys alienate Bob, who cannot compromise his vision. Driven by his creative urges, Bob communes with food; he actually talks to it, tenderly, and then does voices to pretend it can talk back to him. “We knew that he was going to be compelled to make these burgers that were not practical,” Bouchard says, “and that there was going to be a restaurant across the street that was ridiculously bad and yet successful because it was practical.”
It's pretty easy to see why the show's still a hit after a dozen seasons.  If "a family on the edge of failure, muddling through owning a small business and staying together" doesn't describe how much of an underdog the Belchers are (the show's best running gag is in the opening credits, where after hundreds of episodes there's still always a pun-filled business of the week next door to Bob's) that we root for, I don't know what is.

It's a good show, catch all the episodes on Hulu.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Last Call For A Smart Formula, Con't

As the Biden administration and FDA continue Operation Fly Formula to import baby formula from around the world, the White House says the airlift has come up on 30 million bottles' worth of formula for American babies in roughly ten days.

The U.S. will distribute another 1.25 million cans of baby formula in effort to replenish the country's dire supply in the coming weeks, the Food and Drug Administration says.

That stock will bring the total imported supply of baby formula product to the equivalent of 30 million 8-ounce bottles, since the Biden administration began its effort to alleviate the national shortage.

During the first week of May, the average out-of-stock rate for baby formula at retailers nationwide was 43%, according to data from Datasembly.

The Australian company Bubs will send the equivalent of 27.5 million 8-ounce bottles of different infant formulas, including "easy-digest" goat's milk, organic grass-fed cow's milk and specialized formulas, the FDA announced on Friday. Some of the promised supply is ready for transport, and some product will be made in the coming weeks and months.

"We continue to work around the clock with our government partners and industry to ensure there's adequate infant formula available wherever and whenever parents and caregivers need it," FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said. "We will not rest until our shelves are replete with safe and nutritious infant formula."

The Australian product is in addition to the formula supply of 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles that already landed in the U.S. this week. That supply, consisting of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formulas, was prioritized because it's critical for children with cow's milk protein allergies, the White House said.

Of that product, the bulk of the 132 pallets that landed in Indianapolis this past Sunday would be sent to hospitals and home health care providers, Nestlé said.

That shipment will cover 15% of the country's formula needs, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told CNN's State of the Union.

People should see "more formula in stores starting as early as this week," he said Sunday.

The 114 pallets that arrived in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday are going to hospitals, retailers, and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) programs that provide nutritional food for low-income women and children, as early as this weekend.
So formula will be back on the shelves soon.  Biden's doing what needs to be done.

Imagine what Trump would have done in this situation, and when your heart palpitations stop, remember why Trump lost.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

The Uvalde shooter threatened girls on social media and vowed to shoot up a school there, he was reported but nobody took him seriously until it was far too late.

Three users said they witnessed Ramos threaten to commit sexual violence or carry out school shootings on Yubo, an app that is used by tens of millions of young people around the world.

The users all said they reported Ramos' account to Yubo over the threats. But it appeared, they said, that Ramos was able to maintain a presence on the platform. CNN reviewed one Yubo direct message in which Ramos allegedly sent a user the $2,000 receipt for his online gun purchase from a Georgia-based firearm manufacturer. 
"Guns are boring," the user responded. "No," Ramos apparently replied. 
In a statement to CNN, a Yubo spokesperson said "we are deeply saddened by this unspeakable loss and are fully cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation." 
Yubo takes user safety seriously and is "investigating an account that has since been banned from the platform," the spokesperson said, but declined to release any specific information about Ramos' account. 
Use of Yubo skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, as teens trapped indoors turned to the app for a semblance of in-person interactions. The company says it has 60 million users around the world -- 99% of whom are 25 and younger -- and has trumpeted safety features including "second-by-second" monitoring of livestreams using artificial intelligence and human moderators. 
Despite those safety features, the users who spoke to CNN said Ramos made personal and graphic threats. During one livestream, Amanda Robbins, 19, said Ramos verbally threatened to break down her door and rape and murder her after she rebuffed his sexual advances. She said she witnessed Ramos threaten other girls with similar "acts of sexual assault and violence." 
Robbins, who said she lives in California and only ever interacted with Ramos online, told CNN she reported him to Yubo several times and blocked his account, but continued seeing him in livestreams making lewd comments. 
"[Yubo] said if you see any behavior that's not okay, they said to report it. But they've done nothing," Robbins said. "That kid was allowed to be online and say this." 
Robbins and other users said they didn't take Ramos' comments seriously because troll-like behavior was commonplace on Yubo.
And we see this time and time again; the shooters threaten women openly, they threaten schools and businesses, nobody takes them seriously, and they kill anyway.

The Burned Bridges Of...Liz Cheney?

As GOP Rep. Liz Cheney continues her work on the January 6th Committee, Wyoming Republicans are set to crucify her later this summer in the state's primaries.

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney is down 30 points in a new survey of her August primary conducted by the Club for Growth, which is opposing the embattled incumbent.

The poll, which provides perhaps the starkest illustration yet of the political peril Cheney faces this year, shows Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman garnering 56 percent of the vote to Cheney’s 26 percent in the GOP primary. A third Republican got 12 percent support, and just 6 percent are undecided.

Hageman was recruited and endorsed by former President Donald Trump in response to Cheney’s vote to impeach him last year alongside nine other House Republicans.

The race for Wyoming’s lone congressional district is one where the Club for Growth and Trump, who have quickly turned from allies to foils, are aligned, though the Club has not formally endorsed Hageman. The poll, shared first with POLITICO, was conducted this week by WPA Intelligence, a Republican firm, ahead of Friday’s candidate filing deadline.

Trump has taken intense interest in the race because Cheney has been such a prominent critic of his attempts to subvert the 2020 election results. After her impeachment vote, she became one of just two Republicans, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), to sit on the commission investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots that Speaker Nancy Pelosi created.

Kinzinger chose to retire rather than remain a stop on Trump’s 2022 midterm revenge campaign. Cheney, however, has said she plans to seek reelection — even if her odds look tough. And Trump will travel to Casper, Wyo. on Saturday to rally for Hageman, a trial lawyer who placed third in the GOP primary for governor in 2018.

The polling reinforces another piece of data the Club for Growth released a year ago, which showed that 52 percent of Wyoming GOP primary voters were planning to vote against Cheney regardless of who challenges her.

Yet this week provided evidence that GOP primary voters were willing to come back to some Republicans Trump branded as enemies, as Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr all won primaries against Trump-backed challengers.

And Cheney has remained undaunted by the forces assembling against her. In a video released Thursday, timed to coincide with her filing for reelection, Cheney touted her Wyoming roots, said she refused to “surrender to pressure or intimidation” and cast her upcoming election in grave terms.

“If our generation does not stand for truth, the rule of law and our Constitution, if we set aside our founding principles for the politics of the moment, the miracle of our constitutional republic will slip away,” she said. “We must not let that happen.”


One, let's get this out of the way. Cheney may be doing the right thing here in this instance, but she has voted against Democratic legislation 89% of the time since Biden became president. She's voted against fixing the Voting Rights Act twice, DC statehood, the Violence Against Women Act, universal background checks for guns, both COVID relief packages and skipped the Infrastructure bill vote. By all indications, Democrats should be thrilled to see the end of her political career, and good riddance to her.

The problem of course is two, that Republican voters are almost certainly going to replace Cheney with a far worse Republican racist bigot in Harriet Hageman, as indicated by Hageman's response to the Buffalo shooting.

On Cheyenne’s KRAE Radio, Hageman was asked about Cheney’s criticism. She made an incredible statement: “I don’t know what that gentleman did or what motivated him, but I can assure you I had nothing to do with it.”

Hageman pleaded ignorance but the “gentleman’s” motivation has been established beyond question. The alleged shooter published a 180-page “manifesto” online promoting the “Great Replacement Theory,” which claims white Americans are being deliberately and systematically replaced by minorities. A grand jury indicted him for first-degree murder.

Investigators say the 18-year-old defendant, who live-streamed his rampage, wrote that his goal was “to kill as many Blacks as possible.” Law enforcement authorities almost immediately called it a hate crime.

In addition to herself, Hageman absolved her party of any responsibility. The only attack she mentioned was made by Cheney.

“All of the Republicans I know and work with had nothing to do with that,” Hageman said. “So for her to come out and attack my fellow conservatives and Republicans for soundbites for Democrats isn’t what I want my representative in Wyoming to do, and that isn’t furthering the America-first agenda.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and other GOP leaders also dismissed Cheney’s criticism. He accused her of “playing a political game when she knows something’s not true.”
No, Cheney is going down and hard and her political career in the House is almost certainly done, but she'll land on her feet at a DC law firm, industry lobbyist outfit, or think tank, where she'll continue to help Republicans destroy the place. 

No sympathy for the daughter of the Devil here.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Last Call For Election Insurrection, Con't

The Fulton County, GA case against Trump for attempted theft of the 2020 election in the state just became profoundly serious as the grand jury proceedings get underway next week.

As many as 50 witnesses are expected to be subpoenaed by a special grand jury that will begin hearing testimony next week in the criminal investigation into whether former President Donald J. Trump and his allies violated Georgia laws in their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

The process, which is set to begin on Wednesday, is likely to last weeks, bringing dozens of subpoenaed witnesses, both well-known and obscure, into a downtown Atlanta courthouse bustling with extra security because of threats directed at the staff of the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis.

Ms. Willis, a Democrat, has said in the past that Mr. Trump created a threatening atmosphere with his open criticism of the investigation. At a rally in January, he described the Georgia investigation and others focusing on him as “prosecutorial misconduct at the highest level” that was being conducted by “vicious, horrible people.” Ms. Willis has had staffers on the case outfitted with bulletproof vests.

But in an interview on Thursday, she insisted the investigation was not personal.

“I’m not taking on a former president,” Ms. Willis said. “We’re not adversaries. I don’t know him personally. He does not know me personally. We should have no personal feelings about him.”

She added that she was treating Mr. Trump as she would anyone else. “I have a duty to investigate,” she said. “And in my mind, it’s not of much consequence what title they wore.”

Ms. Willis emphasized the breadth of the case. As many as 50 witnesses have declined to talk to her voluntarily and are likely to be subpoenaed, she said. The potential crimes to be reviewed go well beyond the phone call that Mr. Trump made to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Jan. 2, 2021, during which he asked him to find enough votes to reverse the election results.

Ms. Willis is weighing racketeering among other potential charges and said that such cases have the potential to sweep in people who have never set foot in Fulton or made a single phone call to the county.

Her investigators are also reviewing the slate of fake electors that Republicans created in a desperate attempt to circumvent the state’s voters. She said the scheme to submit fake Electoral College delegates could lead to fraud charges, among others — and cited her approach to a 2014 racketeering case she helped lead as an assistant district attorney, against a group of educators involved in a cheating scandal in the Atlanta public schools.

“There are so many issues that could have come about if somebody participates in submitting a document that they know is false,” she said. “You can’t do that. If you go back and look at Atlanta Public Schools, that’s one of the things that happened, is they certified these test results that they knew were false. You cannot do that.”

Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, is likely to be one of the better-known figures to testify before the grand jury. His office confirmed on Friday that he and Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office, had received subpoenas and planned to appear soon before the panel.

In the Republican primary on Tuesday, Mr. Raffensperger defeated a Trump-endorsed candidate, Representative Jody Hice, who supported the former president’s false claims of election fraud.

Mr. Raffensperger will now vie for a second term in the general election in November, in which he is hoping to benefit from the national name recognition, and bipartisan kudos, he received after standing up to Mr. Trump.

This case could be a legitimate nightmare for the Georgia GOP, which means I fully expect this case to be tied up until Willis will be replaced, driven out of office by scandal, or something worse.

Understand that in all likelihood this case will not be allowed to go forward, and we all know why.

The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

WV Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has realized he's been out of the news cycle too long and that people might actually start blaming him for Democrats not being able to pass things in 2022, so he has to re-up the supply of bullshit.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Axios on Thursday he's earnestly engaged in talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) over a climate, energy and deficit reduction package, reviving hopes for action this year.

Why it matters: Even a slimmed-down version of President Biden's Build Back Better package looked dead. But comments by Manchin, along with tempered optimism from some Democrats, suggests a Biden win on the Hill in this midterm year has gone from unlikely to possible.Biden, stuck at around 40% popularity, needs Manchin to revive his agenda. Manchin told Axios it's possible the latest talks still die.

Behind the scenes: As Manchin and Schumer try to repair a strained relationship, their staffs have been making progress on the contours of a climate and deficit reduction package, according to people familiar with the matter.Manchin called those preliminary talks “respectful” and “encouraging, to a certain extent.” 
"There could be nothing," Manchin told us in an interview. "There could be truly nothing. That’s all I can tell you.”

"Chuck has a very, very difficult job," Manchin added. "The trust that I have, it's his ability to be able to move 48 or 49 other people."Manchin noted he has not engaged directly with President Biden.

What's happening: Manchin this week told a bipartisan group of senators with whom he’s been negotiating over a climate and energy security bill that he’s prepared to back tax increases in a Democrat-only bill if the bipartisan group can't agree to any additional revenue.Manchin told Axios he understands why some Republican senators might conclude that a Democrat-only reconciliation package is his “ace in the hole,” giving him more leverage in the bipartisan talks. 
That left some senators thinking that Manchin may be closer to a deal with Schumer than they suspected and that he can jump tracks if he reaches an agreement.

Between the lines: The productive spirit of Manchin’s recent talks with Schumer has led some senators to believe that a reconciliation bill, with roughly $300 billion in energy tax credits and $800 billion in new revenue, is a possibility.A slimmed-down climate bill — though it would be much smaller than the $1.75 trillion climate and social spending package passed by the House last year — would give Democrats another legislative accomplishment to campaign on in the midterms. 
Legislation passed through the budget reconciliation process requires only a bare majority vote to pass, rather than the 60-vote threshold most legislation needs to overcome Senate filibusters.

Details: On Wednesday evening in the Capitol, Manchin met with the group, which includes Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).Manchin said he'd indicated to his colleagues that "'there are options that are going to be there that you might have to consider'... I was as honest as I could be.” 
He also told senators that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that he chairs already has studied specific proposals on climate and energy independence, which many of them thought was the core charge of their bipartisan gatherings. 
Again, this President Manchin making his demands known. Chuck Schumer's job is to get 48 other Democratic senators on board with President Manchin, and makes his opinion clear that Schumer works for him.

Sadly, Schumer is such a spinless shitbag that there's nothing indicated here at all to disabuse any outside observer that Manchin is actually Senate Democratic Leader.

So when Manchin again delivers nothing over the next two months, the Senate goes on summer vacation and then campaign season starts, ending any hope of anything passing, it will be Schumer's fault.

Manchin's in sight of his goal of making sure the Dems never have more than 50 seats and keeping his power.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

As widely expected, the House Republicans subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee are refusing to cooperate, with Kevin McCarthy calling the entire investigation illegitimate and vowing to end it in January as Speaker, with the group strongly suggesting that the committee members will be themselves investigated and punished in the new year.

Four House Republicans including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, signaled on Thursday that they would not cooperate with subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, posing a dilemma for the panel that could have broad implications for the inquiry and for Congress itself.

Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona each sent letters to the committee objecting to the investigation ahead of the depositions scheduled for this week, and Mr. McCarthy, of California, filed a court brief arguing the panel’s subpoenas are illegitimate.

“For House Re­pub­li­can lead­ers to agree to par­tic­i­pate in this po­lit­i­cal stunt would change the House for­ever,” Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Jordan wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. In a statement, Mr. Perry called the Democratic-led committee a “kangaroo court” and accused the panel of “perpetuating political theater, vilifying and destroying political opponents.”

The Republicans’ resistance could hinder the committee’s investigation, leaving unanswered questions about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that left more than 150 police officers injured. It will also likely force the panel to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt of Congress charges against the men, which could prompt a legal showdown whose outcome could set a precedent for future congressional investigations.

Mr. Perry, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Jordan were summoned to testify this week, with Mr. McCarthy and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama scheduled for next week.

CNN earlier reported that Mr. Perry and Mr. Biggs had sent letters to the committee objecting to the subpoenas. Mr. Brooks did not respond to a request for comment.

The men have employed slightly different tactics in resisting the subpoenas. While Mr. Perry refused to appear — his lawyer stated flatly that the congressman “declines to appear for deposition on May 26 and requests that you withdraw the subpoena” — Mr. Jordan issued a lengthy list of demands to which the panel was unlikely to agree.

Mr. Jordan, who is in line to become Judiciary Committee chairman should his party take control of Congress after November’s midterms, demanded “all documents, videos or other materials in the possession of the select committee” to be used in his questioning and any material the panel has in which his name appears.

“Your attempt to compel testimony about a colleague’s deliberations pertaining to a statutorily prescribed legislative matter and an important constitutional function is a dangerous escalation of House Democrats’ pursue of political vendettas,” Mr. Jordan wrote to Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the committee.

A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.
Don't expect any of this to be resolved. The GOP knows the clock is almost up on the committee and its investigation, the results of which I expect to be pushed out in the lame duck holiday period after the elections and ignored completely. Yes, we're going to have live hearings next month, but those will also be quickly forgotten.
I fully expect any and all January 6th committee members to be stripped of committee assignments and face subpoenas of their own come January under McCarthy and Jordan and a GOP-run House.

Of course, we can prevent that in November if we choose to.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

As CNN's poll guru Harry Enten points out, America doesn't want tougher gun laws so Republicans never suffer consequences for not voting for them.

The fatal shooting of 19 children and two adults on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, has shocked the country, evoking memories of other tragic school shootings such as Columbine, Newtown and Parkland, and renewing calls for Congress to do something. 
But the response to those calls from many Republican lawmakers is the same now as it pretty much always is: The country should not have stricter gun control. 
Why do these Republicans refuse to act? Beyond the fact that many believe stricter gun control would not prevent such mass shootings, a look at the data reveals that there is simply no political pressure to do so. 
While there are certainly some Americans who want stricter gun control, the public at large is far more split on the issue than a lot of commonly cited polling data would have you believe. 
Perhaps the best way to understand the public mindset on the gun control debate is to look at Gallup polling from earlier this year. The survey asked a simple question and a follow-up: Are you satisfied with the nation's gun laws? And if you're unsatisfied, do you want stricter or looser gun laws? 
This year, only 36% of Americans said they were dissatisfied and wanted stricter gun control laws. Sixty-one percent were either satisfied (41%), dissatisfied but wanted less strict laws (13%) or dissatisfied and wanted no change (7%). 
These numbers do shift somewhat from year to year, but the "dissatisfied and want stricter gun laws" opinion has never been a majority one this century. 
The reason I like the question is because it gets at the intensity of feelings about the gun debate. Most people are generally fine with our country's gun laws (to the degree that they are satisfied) or want them to be less strict. 
Even if you simply ask Americans if they want stricter gun control (i.e. without asking about satisfaction first), the country seems mostly split. At the end of last year, 52% of Americans indicated they wanted stricter gun control, according to Gallup. Forty-six percent, within the margin of error, either thought laws should be kept the same (35%) or made less strict (11%), the same survey found. 
Of course, these numbers can be hard to comprehend when polls also indicate that north of 80% of Americans want universal background checks for guns, which Democrats have been pushing for in Congress and which most Republicans refuse to go along with. 
Here's the thing: There's no sign the polling on background checks holds up in elections
Consider the results of ballot measures in two states in 2016: Maine and Nevada voted within a point of the national presidential vote that year. The latter is quite ethnically diverse, while the former is overwhelmingly White. 
A proposal to expand background checks passed by less than a point in Nevada and failed by a little less than 4 points in Maine. 
Why would Republicans feel political pressure to support more gun control, when something that polls as well as universal background checks can't surpass the Democratic presidential baseline in swing states


Americans refuse to make Republicans pay for blocking even simple gun control and background check measures, so why would Republicans (and multiple Senate Democrats) stop blocking them and stop taking millions in gun lobby money to do it? 

Something has to change of course.

Something has actually changed since Sandy Hook, as Kevin Dugan at New York Magazine puts it.

Many of the NRA’s biggest legislative victories since then continue to reverberate today, including “stand your ground” laws, the expansion of concealed carry, the expiration of the assault-rifle ban, and the passing of a federal law that shields arms manufacturers from liability when their guns kill people. The NRA even managed to cut off funding from the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. By the end of the George W. Bush administration, the NRA had prevailed not just in passing a slate of favorable laws, but in waging a culture war that redefined the Second Amendment itself. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller for the first time that individuals had a constitutional right to carry a firearm. During the Obama years, gun sales exploded as the NRA told its members that the president wanted to take away their guns.

So when LaPierre valorized the “good guy with a gun,” he did so after decades of legislative wins. But the legacy of the post-Uvalde world may very well be different. “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” President Biden asked on the night of the shooting — a marked difference from Obama, who initially hesitated to blame the NRA before launching an ultimately failed political attack. Gun-control advocates have also — slowly — been making some limited gains at the state level. About half of the U.S. population live in states with universal background checks, according to Peter Ambler, the executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The organization has also successfully pushed a law that allows courts to temporarily bar dangerous individuals from buying guns in Florida. According to Jeffrey Swanson, a psychology professor and researcher at Duke University, every ten to 20 guns removed through those laws prevents a suicide. Funding for gun-violence studies was restored to the CDC in 2019. Michael Bloomberg, whose group Everytown for Gun Safety lobbies for stricter gun-safety measures, spent millions electing candidates who backed gun safety in 2018, after the Parkland school shooting, and kept on heavily spending in 2020. After the Uvalde shooting and a racist massacre in Buffalo, New York governor Kathy Hochul called for raising the age of buying a gun in New York to 21. (The Uvalde killer bought his weapons immediately after his 18th birthday.)

The NRA is also in a weaker position than it was ten years ago, after extensive reporting from the Trace (where I used to work) and a subsequent lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James investigating the group for alleged misappropriation of funds. Leaked internal documents show that membership and revenue has declined for four straight years — a slowdown that halved its political spending during the last election compared to 2016. While the number of guns in the U.S. has exploded, the number of gun owners has basically stagnated at around three in ten from 2017 to 2021, according to Pew Research — which is actually lower than the nearly 50 percent rate in the 1970s. Most gun owners support measures like universal background checks and keeping dangerous or mentally ill people from owning guns — a clear divergence from the NRA’s no-surrender policy, which may explain why its membership rates are falling even as gun purchases are going up. And gun safety has become a way to get voters to turn out in the polls and elect candidates who want to rein in the gun lobby, such as Senators Mark Kelly — the husband of Gabby Giffords, the congresswoman who was shot in 2011 — and Chris Murphy, who had represented Newtown in the House before he was elected to the Senate.
Sadly, the Supreme Court seems on the verge of eliminating a lot of blue state gun control laws anyway.

Still, the pro-gun movement is not dead. Next month, the Supreme Court will rule on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a case that challenges New York’s ability to decide who gets a permit to own a gun. The ruling has the potential to be more far-reaching than the 2008 Heller decision, which largely affirmed people’s right to own guns. “If we end up with a really broad opinion on that issue, that the only kinds of regulations that are constitutional are regulations that exist in 1791 or close analogs, then all bets are off,” says Miller, the Duke professor. “All kinds of regulations are going to be challenged from guns on airplanes to people convicted of domestic-battery offenses.” Since the ruling would primarily impact states controlled by Democrats, however, gun-safety advocates expect that lawmakers would react with a new slate of restrictions. “I don’t think it’s going to dramatically change the landscape in the same way to overturning Roe v. Wade would for abortion,” says Ambler from Giffords. 
So all this may be moot in the next month or so anyway.

Just another day in Gunmerica.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Abortion is now illegal in Oklahoma, and two dozen other states may be set to join it in near to total bans by July 4th.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, making the state the first in the nation to effectively end availability of the procedure.

State lawmakers approved the ban enforced by civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecution, similar to a Texas law that was passed last year. The law takes effect immediately upon Stitt’s signature and prohibits all abortions with few exceptions. Abortion providers have said they will stop performing the procedure as soon as the bill is signed.

“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” the first-term Republican said in a statement. “From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe.”

Abortion providers across the country have been bracing for the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court’s new conservative majority might further restrict the practice, and that has especially been the case in Oklahoma and Texas.

“The impact will be disastrous for Oklahomans,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the abortion-rights supporting Guttmacher Institute. “It will also have severe ripple effects, especially for Texas patients who had been traveling to Oklahoma in large numbers after the Texas six-week abortion ban went into effect in September.”

The bills are part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states to scale back abortion rights. It comes on the heels of a leaked draft opinion from the nation’s high court that suggests justices are considering weakening or overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.

The only exceptions in the Oklahoma law are to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

The bill specifically authorizes doctors to remove a “dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion,” or miscarriage, or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening emergency that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube and early in pregnancy.

The law also does not apply to the use of morning-after pills such as Plan B or any type of contraception.

Two of Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics already stopped providing abortions after the governor signed a six-week ban earlier this month.

With the state’s two remaining abortion clinics expected to stop offering services, it is unclear what will happen to women who qualify under one of the exceptions. The law’s author, State Rep. Wendi Stearman, says doctors will be empowered to decide which women qualify and that those abortions will be performed in hospitals. But providers and abortion-rights activists warn that trying to prove qualification could prove difficult and even dangerous in some circumstances.
And again, the notion that life begins at conception means states can apply murder charges for women and miscarriages, and argue that birth control is murder. If you think states will stop at abortion after Roe is struck down in a few weeks, well, there's nothing I can say that will convince you otherwise at this point. 

What's really going to happen is that women who can afford hospital procedures will still be able to prove "exceptions" and get an abortion, and women who are poor will be forced into giving birth.  It'll be that way all over the South and Midwest, with states like Illinois and Minnesota the last bastions.

And if the map of states where women still have rights starts looking like an electoral map of the last election, well, that too is on purpose.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

President Biden today signed an executive order for major police reform on the second anniversary of George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police.

The order creates a national registry of officers fired for misconduct and encourages state and local police to tighten restrictions on chokeholds and so-called no-knock warrants. It also restricts the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies and mandates all federal agents wear activated body cameras.

Biden had been pushing Congress to pass more comprehensive police reform legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. But after the legislation failed to garner bipartisan support, the White House began crafting its own action last year. Biden called again on Congress again to take action before signing the order.

“I know progress can be slow and frustrating, and there’s a concern that the reckoning on race inspired two years ago is beginning to fade,” Biden said.

“Today, we’re acting. We’re showing that speaking out matters, being engaged matters, and that the work of our time, healing the soul of this nation, is ongoing and unfinished and requires all of us never to give up. Always to keep the faith.”

Police reform has been a key issue with the Democratic Party’s progressive base, particularly among Black voters, but the White House event Wednesday was overshadowed by the Texas elementary school shooting the day before. During his remarks, Biden called on Congress once again to pass gun reform legislation.

"And we must ask, when in God’s name will we do what needs to be done?" Biden said.

"I’m sick and tired. I’m just sick and tired of what’s going on and continues to go on," he said.

The family of Floyd, who died after he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer, was at the White House for the signing. The families of other Black people killed by police in recent years — Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Amir Locke and Atatiana Jefferson — also attended, a senior administration official said.

Under the new executive order, law enforcement will be required to intervene and stop the use of excessive force when they see it and administer medical aid to those who are injured.
I'm glad this happened, but let's remember that the White House floated a police reform EO back in January, and both Black Lives Matter groups and police unions flipped out after Republicans blocked the George Floyd Policing Act.

We should have gotten a much tougher national police reformation act, and the next time we get a GOP president, these all disappear, just like Trump did to Obama's executive actions time and time again.

And who knows, the Supreme Court may just nullify it all anyway.

Black Lives Still Matter.

The Orange Went Down To Georgia...

...He was yellin' 'bout a vote to steal,
He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind,
But then he just couldn't close the deal.

Former President Donald Trump’s crusade for vengeance suffered two devastating blows after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger won their primaries Tuesday despite rejecting Trump’s entreaties to reverse his 2020 election loss.

It’s a huge warning sign for the way Republican voters view the former president’s crusade to punish those who were not willing to overturn the will of the voters in 2020.

Voters also demonstrated an openness to embracing scandal-plagued candidates — depending on the candidate, and the scandal.

Here are some takeaways from Tuesday’s primary elections in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota:

Trump had hoped to turn Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp into an example of the danger in defying him. Instead, Kemp on Tuesday became an example of how Republican incumbents might not have as much to fear from Trump as the former president would like.

Kemp cruised past former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the Republican primary. The victory came a year and a half after Kemp rejected Trump’s demands to help overturn the presidential election by declaring Trump the winner in Georgia instead of Joe Biden, who actually won.

Perdue’s campaign fixated on Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, but Kemp won by flexing the power of his office. To rally the base, he signed laws allowing most Georgians to carry guns without a permit and banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. He also announced an investment by Hyundai in a new plant in the state to make batteries for electric vehicles.

Now Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 gubernatorial clash. Unlike Trump in 2020, Perdue accepted his defeat Tuesday night, even seeming to brush aside some supporters who took up a chant suggesting there was fraud.

“I’m sorry, but what we’re going to do right now is make sure Stacey Abrams is not governor of this state,” Perdue said.

The Georgia governor’s race wasn’t the only Trump grudge match that backfired on the former president. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who personally rejected Trump’s call to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner in Georgia, defeated his Trump-backed primary challenger as well.

Trump recruited U.S. Rep. Jody Hice from a safe congressional seat to face Raffensperger in the Republican primary, but Hice lost. Trump endorsed primary challengers to the insurance commissioner and attorney general, and they, too, lost.

It’s clear the former president’s harping on 2020 simply did not speak to Republican voters in Georgia, the country’s newest battleground state.

“Georgia underscores one of Trump’s big problems if/when he runs again,” Brendan Buck, a former spokesperson for onetime House Speaker Paul Ryan, tweeted Tuesday. “He, of course, won’t be able to let go of the 2020 nonsense, and nobody wants to hear his whining about it anymore.”
Trump has scored some primary victories with election deniers — most significantly last week in Pennsylvania, when Republican voters there chose his preferred gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who said he wouldn’t have certified Biden’s 2020 win of the state.

But multiple Republicans have made clear they’re eyeing 2024 presidential bids, including Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And they have distanced themselves in ways large and small from Trump’s election allegations. Elections are usually about the future, and by the time the 2024 GOP primary rolls around, November 2020 will be ancient history.
Maybe that's true, but I think the issue is the personal failings of Trump's picks in Georgia. He held out a sign for highest bidder and they showed up, but it doesn't mean people will vote for them just because Trump says so. Trump's record in Georgia has been pretty dismal, but it's most likely the exception that proves the rule. Outside of Georgia, Trump's had pretty good numbers.

Right now anyone who's betting on Trump fever to break in the GOP is a sucker.  Trump will get behind his picks that won primaries and everyone else will forget how badly he did in Georgia pretty soon, especially if his minions like Doug Mastriano, JD Vance and Dr. Oz roll out to big leads in the polls heading into November.

But if not, well, we'll see. Nobody likes a loser in politics.

The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The vast majority of Trump voters believe in the wildly racist "Great Replacement" theory, that Democrats are deliberately helping Hispanic folk, Black folk, and Asian folk "replace" white Americans by giving those groups government resources geared towards Democratic political views.

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that more than 6 in 10 Donald Trump voters (61%) agree that “a group of people in this country are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants and people of color who share their political views” — a core tenet of the false conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement.”

Less than a quarter of Trump voters (22%) disagree with that statement.

So-called replacement theory has been covered extensively in the days following the May 14 murder spree carried out by a white supremacist at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store. The suspect, an adherent of the conspiracy theory, shot and killed 10 Black shoppers in the attack.

The survey of 1,573 U.S. adults — which was conducted from May 19 to 22 — found that relatively few Americans (just 34% overall) believe in the underlying idea behind replacement theory, and more than twice as many Americans strongly disagree (33%) than strongly agree (14%) with it. (An Associated Press-NORC poll conducted before the shooting delivered a similar result after posing similar questions to U.S. adults.)

Yet on the right — where media figures such as Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and politicians such as third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik have “borrowed and remixed [replacement theory] to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations,” according to a recent New York Times report — variations of replacement theory now enjoy broad support.

“A Times investigation published this month showed that in more than 400 episodes of his show, Mr. Carlson has amplified the notion that Democratic politicians and other assorted elites want to force demographic change through immigration, and his producers sometimes scoured his show’s raw material from the same dark corners of the internet that the Buffalo suspect did,” the paper explained.

As a result, 54% of Republicans and 53% Fox News viewers now also agree that “a group of people in this country are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants and people of color who share their political views,” according to the Yahoo News/YouGov poll. In both cases, just a third disagree. The rest are unsure.
The problem isn't just that Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump are racists. It's that the majority of Republican voters agree with that racism towards their fellow Americans. The "Great Replacement" theory is now mainstream Republican dogma.
The party's candidates are racist, the party's cable news cheerleaders are racists, the party's voters are racist.
Republicans are the party of racism, period.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Last Call For Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

An 18-year-old shot up an elementary school and killed at least 18 kids and a teacher in Texas today.


Nearly a score of families are mourning the loss of a loved one tonight.

And nothing will change. There are too many blood-soaked billions of dollars to make sure that remains the case.  

The gun debate ended with Sandy Hook years ago.

We live in Gunmerica now and forever.

Erection, Flawed, Of Election Fraud

This is the biggest example of Republican 2022 dirty tricks yet: tens of thousands of fraudulent signatures were "collected" by several GOP candidates running in the Michigan Republican primaries in August, so many fraudulent signatures that several candidates running for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's job will no longer qualify to be on the August primary ballot.

A signature forgery scandal has turned the race for the GOP nomination to be Michigan’s next governor on its head: Two leading Republican candidates did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot after invalid signatures were excluded, according to a report from the state’s Bureau of Elections.

The Bureau of Elections reports will now go to the Board of State Canvassers, which will vote Thursday on which candidates qualify to appear on the ballot for the state’s Aug. 2 primaries.

Thirty-six petition circulators — campaign workers hired to collect signatures — “submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures,” according to the Bureau. In all, according to the Bureau’s report Monday, these circulators submitted at least 68,000 invalid signatures across nominating petitions for 10 candidates.

Both leading Republican candidates submitted well above the 15,000 signatures necessary, but were subsequently hit with complaints that that counts contained fraudulent signatures.

James Craig , the former Detroit police chief, submitted more than 11,100 invalid signatures and just under 10,200 valid ones, according to the Bureau’s report. Bureau staff noted “consistent handwriting for the entirety of a petition sheet, including signatures” and evidence of “round-tabling,” or the practice of passing a petition sheet around in a group to make entries appear more authentic.

Another candidate, Perry Johnson, submitted nearly 14,000 valid signatures — not enough to make the ballot — and over 9,000 invalid signatures. The same group of petition circulators who submitted thousands of invalid signature pages for Craig’s campaign did so for Johnson’s, the Bureau reported. A report noted incorrect addresses and misspelled names.

Three additional Republican gubernatorial candidates also fell far short of the valid signatures needed to qualify, the Bureau said: Michael Brown, Michael Markey and Donna Brandenburg. Each submitted well more than 15,000 signatures, but in all three cases, more than 10,000 were deemed invalid.

Candidates need 15,000 valid signatures to qualify for the gubernatorial primary ballot, and were allowed to submit up to 30,000 for review. Gubernatorial candidates also need at least 100 signatures from at least half of the state’s congressional districts. Prices for signature-gatherers spiked this cycle, increasing pressure on campaigns as they raced to meet the qualifying figure.

The ultimate decision on the candidates’ qualifications for office is up to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans and is set to meet Thursday.

If the Board of State Canvassers heeds the Bureau of Elections’ report and disqualifies 5 out of 10 Republican gubernatorial contenders, that could open the door for Tudor Dixon — who’s denied that Joe Biden won Michigan in the 2020 election and on Monday received the endorsement of the wealthy DeVos family, Michigan’s most influential political kingmakers. Dixon, notably, is also the only candidate to receive a shout-out at Donald Trump’s rally in Michigan last month: The former president called her “fantastic” and “brilliant.”

At least one campaign vowed to fight for their qualification Monday night.

“The staff of the Democrat Secretary of Staff does not have the right to unilaterally void every single signature obtained by the alleged forgers who victimized five campaigns,” John Yob, a consultant for Johnson, wrote on Twitter, adding: “We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the Board, and if necessary, in the courts.”
John Yob is showing the obvious way forward for Michigan Republicans: those dirty Democrats made up the signature fraud, and if it really was fraud, it was the signature collectors' fault that we paid, not our fault!

Then again, this is a state where jurors bought the "FBI entrapment plot" defense to get the terrorists off who tried to kidnap and kill Gov. Whitmer.

Who knows how this will turn out?

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