Friday, March 31, 2023

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

With Donald Trump facing indictment and arraignment on multiple fraud charges on Tuesday, the Trumpworld response is to flood the zone with House GOP Circus of the Damned sideshows.
SOME OF DONALD Trump’s close advisers are calling on top Republicans in Congress to accelerate criminal referrals against President Joe Biden, demanding revenge after Trump became the first former president in history to be indicted.

“Now the House GOP has to continue to investigate the Biden bribes and refer for indictments,” says John McLaughlin, a top Trump pollster. “Just the beginning of the end for the Bidens.”

Michael Caputo, a former Trump official who remains close to the ex-president, says he agrees that the House GOP should accelerate its Biden-related probes — and added a 2025 twist: “In fact, I think President Trump should appoint an attorney general who will arrest Joe Biden for his China corruption on Inauguration Day 2025. There’s a far stronger case against Biden for his crimes and now the precedent is set.” (Trump’s team often speaks as if a 2024 victory is a foregone conclusion.)

Behind the scenes, Trump spent Thursday night on a barrage of phone calls to House Republican leaders and other MAGA lawmakers to confirm they had his back following the indictment, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. He also, the sources say, vented about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his other Democratic foes. CNN first reported on this blitz of evening calls, noting that some of these lawmakers “serve on committees that are trying to investigate the Manhattan DA.”

The demand for revenge against Biden stems from two ideas circulating in Trumpworld. The first is that Bragg is doing Biden’s bidding by pushing an indictment of Trump. The second is an effort to recreate a strategy he successfully used against Hillary Clinton in 2016, repeatedly calling her “crooked” and accusing her of corruption at a time when his own ethical lapses were under scrutiny.

“This is all about Biden through Bragg countering the GOP investigation of the millions in communist Chinese bank wires to the Bidens. Classic political diversion,” claims McLaughlin.

Trump has been baselessly accusing Bragg of doing the new president’s bidding, predicting Bragg’s work will “backfire massively on Joe Biden.” Even before the GOP won back control of the House in last year’s elections, Trump had been calling top allies on Capitol Hill, grilling them on different strategies for investigating Biden, his family, and his administration, people familiar with the matter recall. At times, Trump would ask “how many” times Republicans planned on impeaching Biden.

While Trump’s team publicly demands revenge on Biden, they’ve already drawn up efforts to punish Bragg for his prosecution of the former president. Rolling Stone reported earlier this month that Trump has been demanding his advisers draw up legal plans for how they could punish the DA if they were to retake the White House. And his advisers have already located specific areas of the legal code they could use to take their revenge — including via the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
So yes, expect the House GOP investigations into Biden to kick into high gear, resulting in House GOP Committee votes to refer Hunter and Joe Biden for criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice, and for Merrick Garland to hand these over to Special Counsel Jack Smith.
What will come of these cases is anyone's guess, but Republicans will be talking about these criminal referrals every time a Trump indictment is brought up.
Expect more Trump indictments, too. 

Minutes after former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York, his supporters flooded social media and extremist message boards with violent and racist threats against the officials prosecuting Trump, as well as bloody civil war.

“This cannot go unpunished,” one member of the rabidly pro-Trump message board The Donald wrote on Thursday night. “The DA needs to pay dearly.”

“None of this will stop unless there is blood in the streets,” another poster wrote.

In Trump’s own statement, the former president called the indictment a “political persecution” and referred to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as “hand-picked and funded by George Soros,” and stated that Bragg is “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work.”

His far-right supporters mobilized quickly online to echo these comments. Through their vitriol, and calls for war, some supporters also promoted a narrative where Trump’s indictment was actually going to help him win victory in 2024. In some cases, supporters falsely said the indictment was simply a ruse to distract everyone from the shooter in Nashville earlier this week.

The whole trans terrorist thing must have been polling badly so they decided to indict Trump based on the testimony of a lying jew and lying whore,” one influential neo-Nazi account on Telegram wrote, alongside an AI-generated image of a tattooed, topless Trump in a prison yard.

While Trump supporters did not publicly make specific plans for protests or violence, there were numerous examples of violent rhetoric in response to Trump’s indictment, including calling for violence against Bragg, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and law enforcement.

On platforms like The Donald, where all five of the top pinned posts on the homepage on Thursday night related to Trump’s indictment, commenters openly called for violence that was largely racist in nature.

Under a post with a photo of Bragg captioned “FAT PIECE OF SHIT!” another user commented: “There once was a time when he would have been lynched for much less.”

Can’t we put a bounty on Bragg’s head? Time to fight lawlessness with lawlessness,” one user wrote. In response, someone said: “Hey man a lot of us are thinking the same thing, but if I said what should really happen I'd be charged with ‘terroristic threats.’” Another added: “The unjustified prosecution of President Trump is state terrorism. Respond to terrorism with terrorism.
 99.999% chance this is all empty bluster.

But it only takes that .001% for someone to get hurt or worse, and the Feds to win 100% of the time.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

Florida's Republican-supermajority Legislature advanced a bill Thursday that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without licenses, additional training or background checks.

Where it stands: The bill will go to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has indicated that he'll sign it."A constitutional right should not require a permission slip from the government," the governor said during an address to the state Legislature earlier this month. "It is time we joined 25 other states to enact constitutional carry in the state of Florida."

Details: The measure would allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training.Under current law, residents must undergo firearms training, clear a background check and pay fees when applying for a concealed-carry license.
With the new bill, a person will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a license if they meet the current requirements needed to obtain a license, including not having been convicted of a felony or found guilty of a crime relating to controlled substances within a three-year period, Axios' Martin Vassolo reports.

The big picture: About half of the U.S. states already have some form of a permitless carry law.Florida would become the 26th if DeSantis signs the bill. Per the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, other states where permitless concealed carry is legal include:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (for residents only), Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming.
So yeah, Randy Rife Range here goes to Shooter's Sports 'n' Shootin' in Jacksonville and buys a gun and sticks it in his pocket and totally won't blast his own dick off.
And yes, the entire tri-state area here around Cincy is now license free concealed carry, along with 22 other states and now Florida, which means of course the next time you cut somebody off in traffic, remember to swerve a bit to avoid incoming fire. 

Cops of course are going to love this.

The Biggest Of Book Bans

Missouri Republicans are eliminating all state funding for public libraries in retaliation for the ACLU suing the state over the state's recent book ban law in school libraries, and the results are going to be dozens of libraries shutting their doors for good.

Late Tuesday night, the Missouri House of Representatives voted for a state operating budget with a $0 line for public libraries. While the budget still needs to work its way through the Senate and the governor’s office, state funding for public libraries is very much on the chopping block in Missouri.

This comes after Republican House Budget Chairman Cody Smith proposed a $4.5 million cut to public libraries’ state aid last week in the initial House Budget Committee hearing, where Smith cited a lawsuit filed against Missouri by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri (ACLU-MO) as the reason for the cut.

ACLU-MO filed the suit on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association (MLA) in an effort to overturn a state law passed in 2022 that bans sexually explicit material from schools. Since it was first enacted in August, librarians and other educators have faced misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine for giving students access to books the state has deemed sexually explicit. The Missouri law defined explicit sexual material as images “showing human masturbation, deviate sexual intercourse,” “sexual intercourse, direct physical stimulation of genitals, sadomasochistic abuse,” or showing human genitals. The lawsuit claims that school districts have been pulling books from their shelves.

“The house budget committee’s choice to retaliate against two private, volunteer-led organizations by punishing the patrons of Missouri’s public libraries is abhorrent,” Tom Bastian, deputy director for communications for ACLU-MO said in a statement to Motherboard.

Like in all ACLU cases, the organization is not charging the two Missouri library groups for services. Both library organizations are also run by volunteers – every state has an equivalent of these two organizations that serve public and school libraries. In other words, a politician either lied or didn’t have his facts straight, and now 160 library districts risk losing state aid in June.

“State Aid helps libraries provide relevant collections, literacy based programming, and technology resources to their communities,” Otter Bowman, president of the MLA told Motherboard in a statement. “Our rural libraries rely the most heavily on this funding to serve their communities, and they will be crippled by this drastic budget cut.”

This is just cruelty and retaliation, but that's who Republicans are. The purpose of government is to punish your political enemies for daring to oppose you at all. And the fact that if this becomes law and the state's public library budget is zeroed out meaning libraries in the reddest, rural counties in Missouri will close, well, that's the point.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Last Call For The Meltdown Of All Orange Meltdowns

The news breaking this evening.

Donald Trump has been indicted in Manhattan.


A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald J. Trump on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to five people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges.

In the coming days, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, will likely ask Mr. Trump to surrender and to face arraignment. The specific charges will be announced when he is arraigned.


A MANHATTAN GRAND jury has voted to indict Donald Trump on charges related to the former president’s hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, Rolling Stone has confirmed. The New York Times was the first to report the news.

The historic indictment was highly anticipated, as details of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s probe into the former president became public in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Bragg’s office gave Trump the option to testify before the grand jury, signaling an indictment was forthcoming. Trump declined the invitation. Fox News reported that Manhattan prosecutors had requested a meeting with law enforcement to discuss logistics surrounding the possible indictment, and Trump posted to Truth Social the following morning that he would be getting arrested in the coming days. It took a little longer than Trump anticipated, giving the former president time to bash Bragg and suggest violent action might be the only way to defend him against charges.

The grand jury’s vote is a gut-check for the American legal system, testing the bedrock principle that “no one is above the law.” It is also unprecedented. Trump is the first former president to face criminal prosecution in the history of the United States. (Though culpability was not in doubt, Richard Nixon was pardoned for his Watergate crimes before he could face the justice system.)

The indictment stems from a 2016 payment to Daniels, with whom Trump allegedly had an affair in 2006 and 2007. The pair had met at a celebrity golf tournament near Lake Tahoe during the height of Trump’s celebrity as the star of the reality show The Apprentice.
Let this be the first of many, and I'm never so glad to have been wrong in a very long time.

Obamacare In The ER Again

While we were all watching and waiting concerning Trump's indictment and Texas Federal Judge Matt Kacsmaryk ending the FDA approval of abortion medication, another Texas Federal Judge just shot Obamacare in the chest and left potentially tens of millions of Americans without preventative healthcare.
A federal judge in Texas said Thursday that some Affordable Care Act mandates cannot be enforced nationwide, including those that require insurers to cover a wide array of preventive care services at no cost to the patient, including some cancer, heart and STD screenings, and smoking cessation programs.

In the new ruling, US District Judge Reed O’Connor said the recommendations that have been issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force, which has been tasked with determining some of the preventive care treatments that Obamacare requires to be covered.

O’Connor’s ruling comes after the judge had already said that the Task Force’s recommendations violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The judge also deemed unlawful the ACA requirement that insurers and employers offer plans that cover HIV-prevention measures such as PrEP for free.

Other preventive care mandates under the ACA remain in effect.

It is likely the case will be appealed, and the Justice Department has the option to ask that O’Connor’s ruling be put on pause while the appeal is litigated.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment, nor did the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The decision, in a case brought by employers and individuals in Texas, represents the latest legal attack on the landmark 2010 health care law. It is unclear what immediate practical effect O’Connor’s new ruling will have for those with job-based and Affordable Care Act policies because insurance companies will likely continue no-cost coverage for the remainder of the contracts even though the Obamacare requirements in question have been blocked.

While the case does not pose the existential threat to the Affordable Care Act that previous legal challenges posed, legal experts say that O’Connor’s ruling nonetheless puts in jeopardy the access some Americans will have to a whole host of preventive treatments.

“We lose a huge chunk of preventive services because health plans can now impose costs,” said Andrew Twinamatsiko, associate director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “People who are sensitive to cost will go without, mostly poor people and marginalized communities
So unless this gets resolved soon, next year your health care plan won't include preventative screenings, because health insurers won't pay for them anymore. It means screening for cancer, mammograms, pre-natal care, even checkups may become too expensive for millions of us.
This is a potential disaster. I'm hoping the Biden administration will move quickly to appeal, but the question of even basic health care is now as uncertain as it was 15 years ago, and it's twice as expensive now as it was then.
Republicans just love misery.




Trans Siberian Express, Con't

With the widely expected override of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto by Republicans in the General Assembly, Kentucky now has the most vile anti-trans laws on the books, and trans kids are going to get hurt or worse.


Hundreds of LGBTQ+ youths and their allies, young and old, protested as a last-ditch attempt at convincing Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature to let a veto of one of the nation's most extreme anti-trans bills stand.

Their efforts were to no avail.

Shortly after gaveling in Wednesday afternoon, the Kentucky Senate voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of Senate Bill 150. Around an hour later, the House also voted to override the veto - making SB 150 law.

Kentucky SB 150 is now expected to face legal challenges to block its implementation.

"To all the trans youth who may be affected by this legislation: we stand by you, and we will not stop fighting. You are cherished. You are loved. You belong," the ACLU of Kentucky said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "To the commonwealth: we will see you in court."

The bill does the following:
  • Bans all gender-affirming medical care for trans youths;
  • Requires doctors to detransition minors in their care if they’re using any of the restricted treatment options;
  • Prohibits conversations around sexual orientation or gender identity in school for students of all grades;
  • Requires school districts to forbid trans students from using the bathroom tied to their gender identities;
  • Allows teachers to refuse to use the pronouns a student identifies with.
Barring any court injunctions, the sections of the bill allowing teachers to misgender kids, restricting if and when students learn about topics around human sexuality and instituting bathroom bans will go into effect immediately.

Pieces of the bill dealing with gender-affirming medical treatments will go into effect in late June.

So, to the courts we go, where this battle was always going to be headed. I don't know how it will fare in Kentucky courts, but GOP AG Daniel Cameron will certainly make defending this garbage fire his campaign platform for Governor in Kentucky's primary in May, and should he win that, his platform heading into November. Former Trump UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, who is also running in the GOP primary, will be showcasing this mess too, as her running mate state Sen. Max Wise wrote this abomination.
Either way, Kentucky will have a clear choice in November.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Last Call For Ron's Gone Wrong, House Of Mouse Edition

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis's plan to stick it to Disney over "being woke" by putting his flunkies in charge of the company's special taxation district board was a resounding victory as I said last month...right up until Disney's lawyers found a way to neuter the board completely.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handpicked board overseeing Disney World’s government services is gearing up for a potential legal battle over a 30-year development agreement they say effectively renders them powerless to manage the entertainment giant’s future growth in Central Florida.

Ahead of an expected state takeover, the Walt Disney Co. quietly pushed through the pact and restrictive covenants that would tie the hands of future board members for decades, according to a legal presentation by the district’s lawyers on Wednesday.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s new Board of Supervisors voted to bring in outside legal firepower to examine the agreement, including a conservative Washington, D.C., law firm that has defended several of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ culture war priorities.

“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” board member Brian Aungst Jr. said. “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.”

Disney defended the agreements.

“All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,” an unsigned company statement read.

DeSantis’ office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The previous board, which was known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District and controlled by Disney, approved the agreement on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put the governor in charge.

Board members held a public meeting that day but spent little time discussing the document before unanimously approving it in a brief meeting.

The agreement allows Disney to build projects at the highest density and the right to sell or assign those development rights to other district landowners without the board having any say, according to the presentation by the district’s new special legal counsel.
Seems like Disney's got better lawyers, even if their recent profit streams have been hitting the skids and their subsidiary cash machines are now in a fair amount of trouble

Isaac Perlmutter, the famously frugal Marvel Entertainment chairman who unsuccessfully worked to shake up the Walt Disney Company’s board in the past year, has been laid off as part of a cost-cutting campaign.

Disney confirmed the move. Mr. Perlmutter, 80, was told by phone on Wednesday that Marvel Entertainment, a small division centered on consumer products and run separately from Marvel Studios, was redundant and would be folded into larger Disney business units, according to two Disney executives briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive personnel matter.

On Monday, Disney started to eliminate 7,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its global total, as part of $5.5 billion in cuts intended to improve Disney’s financial results and position the company for streaming-fueled growth.

Mr. Perlmutter, known as Ike, could not immediately be reached for comment.

An irascible and unrelenting executive, Mr. Perlmutter has been seen as a distraction inside Disney for more than a decade — most recently when he pushed for a friend, the activist investor Nelson Peltz, to join the Disney board.

Mr. Perlmutter contacted Disney board members and senior Disney executives six times from August to November to push for Mr. Peltz to join the board, according to a securities filing. When he was rebuffed, Mr. Peltz started a proxy battle to put himself on the board, saying he would cut costs, revamp Disney’s streaming business and clean up the company’s messy succession planning.
Seems Disney is cleaning house in a number of ways.  We'll see what this means for Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar and more in the months ahead.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

Hours after the deadly shooting at a Nashville Christian school that left seven dead, North Carolina Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto on abolishing permits and background checks for handguns.
North Carolina legislators repealed the state’s requirement that someone obtain a permit from a local sheriff before buying a pistol, as the Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday successfully overrode one of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes for the first time since 2018.

The House voted 71-46 to enact the bill — over Cooper’s objections in last week’s veto message — to eliminate the state’s longstanding handgun purchase system, which among other things required sheriffs to perform character evaluations of gun applicants. The Senate voted to override the veto on Tuesday.

Cooper and Democratic lawmakers warned the repeal, which takes effect immediately, would allow more dangerous people to obtain weapons through private sales, which do not require a background check, and limit law enforcement’s ability to prevent them from committing violent crimes.

But bill supporters say the sheriff screening process to buy a pistol is no longer necessary in light of significant updates to the national background check system, and that the permit requirement didn’t serve as a crime deterrent.

Although Republican seat gains in the midterm elections gave them veto-proof margins in the Senate, they were one seat shy of a similar majority in the House.
The bill also allows for handguns in "some schools and churches", which is absolute insanity to me. 

Apparently NC county sheriffs or local PDs don't have any problem with more handguns on the streets.

That'll be somebody else's problem I suspect.

The Road To Gilead Goes Through Idaho

Idaho Republicans are looking to classify "abortion trafficking" as a state felony, and while so far the legislation they are proposing only applies to transporting a minor without parental consent to get abortion services of any kind, it's only a matter of time before the state decides any woman, not just minors, would be subject to this new criminal felony.
Idaho already has some of the most extreme abortion restrictions on the books, with nearly all abortions banned in the state and an affirmative defense law that essentially asserts any doctor who provides an abortion is guilty until proven innocent. And now Idaho Republicans have set their sights on hindering certain residents from traveling out of state to get an abortion.

House Bill 242, which passed through the state House and is likely to move quickly through the Senate, seeks to limit minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without parental consent. The legislation would create a whole new crime — dubbed “abortion trafficking” — which is defined in the bill as an “adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion … or obtains an abortion-inducing drug” for the minor. “Recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the legislation adds.

Abortion trafficking would be a felony, and those found guilty would face two to five years in prison. The legislation also includes a statute allowing the Idaho attorney general to supersede any local prosecutor’s decision, preemptively thwarting any prosecutor who vows not to enforce such an extreme law.

Since the bill would criminalize anyone transporting a pregnant minor within the state to get an abortion or to obtain medication abortion, it could apply to an aunt who drives a pregnant minor to the post office to pick up a package that includes abortion pills. Or it could target an older sibling who drives a pregnant minor to a friend’s house to self-manage an abortion at home. Either violation would carry a minimum sentence of two years in prison.

The legislation doesn’t actually say anything about crossing state lines, but Republican lawmakers are creative. Most pregnant people in Idaho are not traveling to obtain an abortion elsewhere in the state, since nearly all abortions are illegal in Idaho; they’re traveling to the border with the intent of crossing state lines, likely into Washington, Oregon or Montana, to get an abortion there.

“Technically, they’re not criminalizing people driving in Washington state with a minor. The crime is the time that someone is driving the minor in Idaho,” said David Cohen, a law professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University whose work focuses on constitutional law and abortion policy.

“They’re going to say what they’re doing is just criminalizing actions that take place completely within Idaho, but in practice what they’re criminalizing is the person helping the minor,” Cohen, who also litigates abortion-related cases with the Women’s Law Project nonprofit, told HuffPost.

State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), one of the sponsors of the abortion trafficking bill, said plainly that the intent of the legislation is to limit minors’ ability to travel out of state without parental consent.

“It’s already illegal to get an abortion here in the state of Idaho,” she told HuffPost. “So, it would be taking that child across the border, and if that happens without the permission of the parent, that’s where we’ll be able to hold accountable those that would subvert a parent’s right.”

In the past, a bill like this would have been brushed aside as political fodder, never to become law. But Idaho has seen a Christian white nationalist insurgency in recent years, helping to create a Legislature that’s quickly gone down the far-right rabbit hole — including by introducing legislation that would bring back firing squad executions, or make it a crime punishable by life in prison for a parent to get gender-affirming care for their transgender child.
More red states will pass legislation like this in the years ahead, and eventually, as I've been saying for nine months now, someone will pass a law making it a crime for anyone to cross a border to get an abortion.  That's going to lead to a huge Supreme Court fight, probably in 2024, where the Roberts Court is going to uphold the law for a state, and several more of these laws will pass.

I guarantee you this is coming.

The only solution is to vote out Republicans.

You can complain about Dems all you want, but there's zero chance of national legislation fixing all this and fixing the Supreme Court as long as Republicans remain with enough power to block it.

I know people don't believe in voting our way out of this, but not doing so hands everything over to these bastards.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Last Call For Virginia Is For Haters, Con't

Supposedly "moderate" Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin has just eliminated the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, announcing that his office will no longer automatically restore the right to vote for felons who serve out their sentences. 
Governor Glenn Youngkin just gave himself a lot more power to pick and choose Virginia voters. The Republican governor’s administration told state lawmakers in a letter last week that he was rescinding his predecessors’ policy of automatically restoring the voting rights of people with felony convictions.

Going forward, Virginians will no longer regain their rights when released from prison—the most recent policy announced by Virginia officials in 2021—nor at any later point, unless Youngkin deems them to be worthy on an individual basis.

His decision, which a future governor could alter, sidelines many residents who expected they would get to vote in Virginia elections.

“I’ve never voted in my life. I was looking forward to voting this year,” Sincere Allah, who was released from prison the week Youngkin was inaugurated in 2022 and who has since waited to learn if his rights will be restored, told Bolts, in reference to the state’s upcoming legislative and prosecutorial elections. “I can pay taxes, I can be held to the same standard as everyone else when it comes to laws and rules and regulations, but I have no say-so or representation.”

Youngkin’s announcement also puts Virginia in a category all its own: It is the only state where someone who is convicted today over any felony is presumed to be barred from voting for life, with no remedy other than receiving a discretionary act of clemency from the governor.

Virginia’s constitution permanently disenfranchises people with a felony conviction. Only Iowa and Kentucky have such a harsh rule on the books—other states with a lifetime ban, like Mississippi, do not apply it to all felonies—but their sitting governors have each issued executive orders that automatically restore at least some people’s voting rights upon completion of their sentences.

For much of the last decade, Virginia governors adopted a similar approach, enabling hundreds of thousands of people to regain the franchise. Anyone whose rights have already been restored will retain the ability to vote. But for others, Youngkin has now rolled back those reforms.

“We are back to 1902-era policy,” Democratic state Senator Scott Surovell tweeted last week after Youngkin’s administration notified him of the change, in reference to the 1902 convention that designed Virginia’s disenfranchisement system with the explicit goal of disenfranchising Black residents: “discrimination within the letter of the law,” as one delegate termed it. That legacy lived on; as recently as 2016, 22 percent of Black Virginians were barred from voting.

“This language in our constitution is from extraordinarily dark origins,” Surovell told Bolts in a follow-up. “I thought we’d settled this debate over the past twelve years of reform, but apparently… anything’s on the table.”
When I say the chief goal of the Republican Party is the eliminate the entire Civil Rights Era and take us back to a Jim Crow time where the citizenship rights of anyone who isn't a white, straight Christian male are completely optional, this is precisely what I mean. It's not a dramatic construct, it's the actual truth.
If you can't win in the marketplace of ideas, reduce the number of people allowed in the marketplace.
It's the Republican way!

Welcome To Gunmerica, A Play In Three Acts

Curtain RAISES. Gunmerica.

Act one:


Act Two:



Act Three:


Exeunt ALL.


Orange Meltdown, Con't

The grand jury investigating Donald Trump's hush money payments to Stormy Daniels met again on Monday and heard new testimony from former National Inquirer publisher David Pecker.
The Manhattan grand jury weighing evidence about Donald J. Trump’s role in a hush-money payment to a porn star heard testimony on Monday from a crucial witness, but there was no sign an indictment had been filed, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The witness, David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, also testified in January. Since the grand jury was impaneled early this year by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, it has heard from at least nine witnesses — including Mr. Pecker, who has now appeared twice — and is expected to vote on an indictment soon.

It is unclear whether the grand jury took any action on Monday, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said it had not voted on an indictment. Grand juries operate in secret, leaving the timing of indictments something of a mystery.

Mr. Pecker was a key player in the hush-money episode. He and the tabloid’s top editor helped broker the deal between the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s fixer at the time.

Ever since Mr. Trump predicted his arrest a little more than a week ago, all eyes have turned to the grand jury.

And while the grand jurors could vote to indict the former president as soon as this week — in what would be the culmination of a nearly five-year investigation — the exact timing is subject to the quirks of the grand jury process in Manhattan, which include scheduling conflicts and other potential interruptions.

This particular grand jury meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, though it typically has not heard evidence related to the Trump investigation on Thursdays. The panel does not have to meet on each of those days, but only convenes when Mr. Bragg’s office summons the jurors.

The timing of an indictment might also depend on the jurors’ availability. Sixteen of the 23 grand jurors must be present to conduct any business (and a majority must vote to indict for the case to go forward). For the prosecutors to seek a vote to indict, the jurors in attendance that day must previously have heard all key witness testimony.

The prospect of an indictment has raised a number of questions about the contours of the potential case facing Mr. Trump, who would become the first former American president to be indicted.

Mr. Bragg's prosecutors are focused on the $130,000 payment to Ms. Daniels, who agreed to keep quiet about her story of an affair with Mr. Trump in exchange for the payoff. Mr. Cohen made the payment during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

In recent weeks, Mr. Bragg’s office signaled to Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the former president could face criminal charges by offering him the chance to testify before the grand jury, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is near; it would be unusual for prosecutors to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.

In New York, potential defendants have the right to answer questions in front of the grand jury before they are indicted, but they rarely testify, and Mr. Trump declined the offer.

Prosecutors have now questioned almost every major player in the hush-money episode, again suggesting that the district attorney’s presentation is nearing an end.
All of this started when Trump lied about being indicted last week, and the entire Village bought into it. It put Trump in the spotlight and sucked all the oxygen out of the 2024 GOP presidential primary as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed dozens of fascist bills into state law.
With DeSantis supposedly announcing his entry into the primary in the next week or two, Trump is actually hoping that Bragg's indictments come the day of DeSantis's announcement, because nobody will be talking about Ron once the hammer falls on Don. 

All calculated, you see. Trump is a brute and a monster but he's good at playing the media, and playing his primary contenders, and he's done both beautifully this month.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Last Call For Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

Another school shooting, another seven dead, including the assailant, the place, a Nashville Christian private school, the shooter, a 28-year-old former student.

A shooter who killed three 9-year-old students and three adults at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville Monday had maps of the school, left behind writings and scouted a second possible attack location, police said.

Police identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old former student at the school, and called the attack targeted. Hale was shot and killed by police during the attack, which was the deadliest school shooting in nearly a year.

Hale, armed with three firearms, entered the Covenant School by shooting through a side door, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at a news conference.

Hale fired multiple shots on the first and second floors of the school, police said. A five-member team of police officers heard the gunfire, went to the second floor and fatally shot the suspect, police spokesperson Don Aaron said earlier Monday.

The first call about the shooting came in at 10:13 a.m. and the shooter was dead 14 minutes later, Aaron said.

Nashville police identified the victims Monday afternoon as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9-year-old students at the school; Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61, who were all working at the school.

Koonce was the head of the school, according to Covenant’s website, which also lists she attended school in Nashville at Vanderbilt University and Trevecca Nazarene University, along with getting her master’s degree from Georgia State University.

Hill was a custodian at the school, according to Aaron. And Peak was working as a substitute teacher at the time of the attack, he said.

Police say the suspect was a student at the school at one point but didn’t elaborate. A vehicle located nearby gave clues as to the shooter’s identity, Drake said.

After the attack, authorities found Hale had “maps drawn of the school in detail, surveillance, entry points,” Drake said.

“We some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident,” Drake said. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
So, a targeted and planned attack with two rifles and a handgun, by someone who clearly wasn't afraid to die. Cops didn't hesitate to kill the shooter when they arrived on the scene, none of this Uvalde cops hiding in the halls bullshit, in Tennessee will kill our school shooters, goddammit.
Tennessee Republicans of course are in the process of making it easier to get two rifles and a handgun and ammo so that you could walk into a school and shoot up the place, making it legal to carry a rifle like an AR-15 with a concealed carry permit at age 18.

More guns, at a younger age. That's the solution, of course.  We have a generation of kids who will become adults in the age of active shooter drills and in some states, permitless open carry, and the expectation is they will become regular customers of the firearms industry for years to come.

Right up until a bullet end their lives, but that's everyone else's problem for not carrying.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

Understand that Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis's "anti-woke" legislation governing what students are allowed to learn is working as intended, allowing a single parent to veto an entire school district's lessons.
The Disney movie “Ruby Bridges,” which tells the tale of a 6-year-old who integrated New Orleans schools in the 1960s, has been a staple of Pinellas County Black History Month lessons for years.

It never caused a stir until this year, as parents across Florida exert increased powers to question what children can see and read in schools.

A North Shore Elementary parent who would not allow her child to watch the film in early March later complained that it wasn’t appropriate for second graders. In a formal challenge dated March 6, Emily Conklin wrote that the use of racial slurs and scenes of white people threatening Ruby as she entered a school might result in students learning that white people hate Black people.

Pinellas school officials responded by removing the movie from use by all students at the St. Petersburg school until a review committee can assess it — a step that is drawing strong opposition

A countywide group that represents the interests of Black children in Pinellas public schools has sent an open letter to the community questioning why one parent’s complaint resulted in actions that affect all families at the school.

”Many from historically marginalized communities are asking whether this so-called integrated education system in Pinellas County can even serve the diverse community fairly and equitably,” wrote Ric Davis, president of Concerned Organization for Quality Education for Black Students. The group has been active for years, often working with school district officials and at times battling them in court.

The controversy follows a heated dispute earlier this year over the banning of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” from all district high schools after one parent complained about a two-page rape scene. District officials cited new state law and a rule telling them to “err on the side of caution” when considering whether books should be used in classrooms and libraries.

The state’s guidelines, which some have called vague, have led to book challenges and bans by the dozens throughout Florida.

“The (Pinellas) district’s leadership appears to fear the potential consequences of not acting in the way they have on these two decisions,” Davis wrote in the open letter. “This approach to challenging times in education in our state raises serious questions about Superintendent (Kevin) Hendrick’s leadership.”

Davis acknowledged the political climate in Florida has educators second-guessing themselves about what materials to use in classes. Lawmakers have made clear that they don’t want books, movies or lessons about race to create student discomfort, though they also have said they want facts presented honestly.
And of course, these are incompatible goals. American history *is* and *should be* uncomfortable, because American history is a bloody, ugly mess where people were hurt and killed over the subject of race and the color of their skin. The Civil Rights era is less than 70 years old. The struggle for those rights *is* American history.
But now we have Florida, making removal of discomfort for white kids more important than those same kids learning the truth about America, and worse, the new "truth" is a watered-down excuse for the continuation of America's default settings of white supremacy, where the feelings of white kids supercede the history of Black kids.

And once you get rid of history, you can rewrite it how you see fit.

Israeli A Problem Here, Con't

Meanwhile in Israel, PM Benjamin Netanyahu is not only back in power, but taking all the power for himself, in a breathtaking display of authoritarian rule. His plan to neuter the country's judicial branch so that they can never threaten him again with the bribery scandal that ousted him in the first place has now led to the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, nationwide protests, and the country on the brink of losing democracy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel fired his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on Sunday barely a day after Mr. Gallant became the first member of his cabinet to call for a halt to the government’s contentious plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary.

Announced in a one-line statement by the prime minister’s office, the move intensified an already dramatic domestic crisis — one of the gravest in Israeli history — that was set off by the government’s proposal to give itself greater control over the selection of Supreme Court justices and to limit the court’s authority over Parliament.

The crisis has spurred mass protests, unrest in the military and now, after Mr. Gallant’s criticism and subsequent expulsion from government, rifts in the governing coalition.

Mr. Gallant was fired after urging that the legislation be postponed, warning that it had caused turmoil in the military and was therefore a threat to Israel’s security.

“The rift within our society is widening and penetrating the Israel Defense Forces,” Mr. Gallant said in a televised speech. The schisms, he said, have caused “a clear and immediate and tangible danger to the security of the state — I shall not be a party to this.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to fire Mr. Gallant appeared an unmistakable signal that the government intends to proceed with a final vote in Parliament early this week on the first part of its proposed overhaul: a law that would give the government greater control over who sits on the Supreme Court.

Mr. Gallant, 64, was appointed less than three months ago, fending off competition from a more extreme member of the coalition with far less military experience. His appointment had eased fears in Washington that Mr. Netanyahu might appoint a far-right lawmaker to oversee Israel’s powerful military, which receives considerable U.S. aid and technical assistance.

A former naval commando, Mr. Gallant had faced calls from former military colleagues to speak out against the judicial overhaul. In recent days, other former naval commandos held protests outside his home to persuade him to break ranks. And reserve pilots sent him text messages every time one of them decided to suspend their service in protest of the plan for the court.

In a chaotic Parliament on Sunday, lawmakers raced to finalize the text of the proposed law, while government leaders behind the scenes were scrambling to ensure they had enough votes to pass it.

Two moderate allies of Mr. Netanyahu announced their support on Sunday for the legislation, squashing rumors that they were about to break ranks. But two other coalition members have backed the call by Mr. Gallant to halt the process. If a third follows suit, the government could lose its majority.

If enacted, the law would complete the first step of a plan to limit judicial influence that has provoked unease among investors, the Jewish diaspora and the Biden administration, as well as in the military.

So many reservists have threatened to stand down from duty if the law goes ahead that the leaders of the Israel Defense Forces have warned of a threat to operational capacity, prompting Mr. Gallant’s intervention on Saturday.
Israel's Supreme Court is giving Netanyahu a week to respond to its petition on the judicial overhaul, meanwhile at least one member of Netanyahu's cabinet, Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, is threatening to resign if Netanyahu doesn't overhaul the judiciary.

The situation in Israel is rapidly getting out of control as a general strike by thousands continues today, but far-right hardliner groups are threatening violence if Netanyahu steps back, or steps down.

Oh, and the irony of Netanyahu treating ordinary Israelis like, well, Palestinians isn't lost on anyone right now.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

Calling Democrats "villains" who must and will be "eliminated", Donald Trump's rally Saturday in Waco, Texas on the 30th anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff was a call to arms against Tump's many, many opponents, a war he expects his MAGA faithful to fight every day in the 2024 campaign and beyond.
Efforts by Trump’s team to steer a more conventional, disciplined candidacy have wilted in recent days as the 76-year-old unleashed words and images that – even by his provocative standards – are unusually dehumanising, menacing and dangerous.

He opened the rally by playing a song, “Justice for All”, that features a choir of men imprisoned for their role in the January 6 insurrection singing the national anthem intercut with Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Trump stood solemnly on a podium with hand on heart and footage from the Capitol riot was shown on big screens and US flags billowed in the wind. “That song tells you a lot because it’s number one in every single category,” he told a crowd of thousands. “Number two was Taylor Swift, number three was Miley Cyrus.”

The choice of location for the rally was also striking: Waco, a city in Texas, exactly 30 years after a 51-day standoff and deadly siege between law enforcement and the Branch Davidians that resulted in the deaths of more than 80 members of the religious cult and four federal agents.

It came with Trump facing the prospect of becoming the first president in US history to be indicted. A grand jury in New York investigating a hush money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged a sexual encounter with Trump, a claim he denies.

Trump falsely predicted his own arrest on Tuesday last week and called for protests without adding that they should be peaceful. On his Truth Social platform he warned of “potential death & destruction” if he is eventually charged.

He also used increasingly racist rhetoric as he launched ever more personal attacks against Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, raising fears that supporters could try to lash out on his behalf. Trump even shared an image of himself holding a baseball bat next to a picture of Bragg.

Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader in the House of Representatives, said: “The twice-impeached former president’s rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up he’s going to get someone killed.”

On Friday a powdery substance was found with a threatening letter in a mailroom at Bragg’s offices; officials later determined the substance was harmless.

Yet at Saturday’s rally at Waco airport, there was little sign of Trump heeding the warnings and cooling off. Behind him supporters held signs that said, “Witch hunt”, “I stand with Trump” and “Trump 2024”.

The 45th president repeated his false claim that the the 2020 presidential election was “rigged”, praised the rioters of January 6 and raged against the “weaponization of law enforcement”, branding the prosecutors overseeing multiple investigations into his conduct as “absolute human scum”.
At this point, anyone left in Trump's MAGA fold is a terrorist and needs to be treated as such. We won't do that, of course, but it would prevent the lethal violence that is coming in the weeks and months ahead.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

Twenty years from now, not only do I expect that Republicans like Ron DeSantis will have ended the Civil Rights era, but that the history of the Civil Rights era will no longer be taught in any public school, college, or university.

On March 9, at the Cocoa campus of Eastern Florida State College, the students in a U.S. Government class ended up having a free period. That’s because one of the students said that they were uncomfortable in the day’s lesson on civil rights.

A dual student at the college and Cocoa High School, 15-year-old Jacob Dailey was in the class. He walked in that day just as the professor was telling students that he’d have to cancel class.

“The topic was civil rights, no specific bit of it, just in general. As far as I’m aware,” Dailey said. “So the teacher basically had to cancel this class of about 20 students in total because of the student’s discomfort.”

He told WESH 2 that he was disappointed that he had to miss the class for a topic that was on the class schedule and required for his degree.

“I think that there could have been a better method of handling it, but the teacher’s concerns were valid I’d say,” Dailey said.

Jacob Dailey’s father Matt Dailey is a teacher at Cocoa High School. He said that he has heard good things about the teacher Josh Humphries. But he said, “If I have a student who is uncomfortable, I usually have backup assignments. ‘Hey, go to the library.’”

The leadership of the college is standing behind their teacher and pointed out that he has invited a variety of state and local political leaders to speak in his class.

In a statement to WESH 2, John J. Glisch, associate vice president at Eastern Florida State College, said: “Mr. Humphries is an excellent educator who regularly receives high grades in student satisfaction surveys. To avoid a disruptive situation, Mr. Humphries decided to cancel class early in what he believed was a prudent move. He is working with his supervisors on alternative ways to handle such potential problems to ensure future classes can continue.”

There is no word yet on when and how the lessons will continue.
Spoilers: they won't. Not in Florida. This will be banned across the state because all a student has to do is say "this makes me uncomfortable" and it's gone. They understand their assigned roles in making non-white classmates miserable, relegating history relevant to them as beneath the feelings of their white classmates. They know they can veto Black, Latino, Native history now, and they will expect to be able to use that veto power in the future outside of class, as well.
It's not coming back in Florida as long as Ron DeSantis and the GOP are in charge, and that will continue for years. Not in my lifetime, at least. And if we're not careful, it'll be gone from the entire country.

Sunday Long Read: Golden Ticket

As the Men's and Women's college basketball tournaments continue this weekend, our Sunday Long Read is the story of a ticket to a basketball game worth a million bucks: Michael Jordan's debut with the Chicago Bulls.
THE TICKET was in one of his pockets and stayed there during the game. He discovered it later that evening when he rode the train back from the city and returned to his freshman dorm room, as he set his personal items on the desk before bed. Mike Cole would've taken the ticket and either opened the tiny desk drawer at the side of the room by the window and stored it inside, or placed it on one of the shelves in his closet above a pile of dirty laundry and his low-top Nike basketball shoes.

Thirty-seven years later, in the winter of 2021, Cole was watching a newscast one evening when a headline flashed on the screen. He immediately stumbled into the basement of his Connecticut home and turned the lights on. He almost slipped going down the stairs and made his way to the auxiliary closet and the plastic bin with "MIKE'S MEMORY BOX" written in Sharpie on recycled duct tape on the side. The manila folder was still in there, and the ticket, too, with all the other tickets, where it had landed for years after following him around for most of his adult life.

It had a reminder on the back about the box office hours of Chicago Stadium in 1984, noon to 6 p.m. except Sundays, and a block paragraph of microscopic typeface that the service charge was nonrefundable and neither the Bulls nor their players were liable for fans getting injured during the game. On the front, a watermark of the stadium as its centerpiece; the Bulls' mascot on the left edge of the perforation; a handsome red border that set the dull background promoting the event -- Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m -- in relief. Those design flairs added to its singular value but weren't the actual explanation of why it turned out to be the most valuable ticket from a sporting event in history.

The game was the professional debut of a rookie guard from the University of North Carolina, who in a middle-aged man's recollections had done nothing that night to portend his legend.

The ticket allowed Cole only a single memory: No. 23, in his white jersey, on his back on the court, the crowd around him rising in whispered concern. Cole, then 18 years old, had stood, too; if he strained, he could still picture the young player in the air with his tongue out, long before it was emulated by the world. On that very first NBA dunk attempt, Michael Jordan fell on his back and almost ended his professional career the night it began.

Cole's attendance became an erstwhile conversation piece as he aged and his recollections about the whole thing faded -- he'd long ago put the ticket away in the manila envelope in the plastic container. As the Bulls made playoff runs in the late '80s, and Jordan finally got past the Detroit Pistons in the early '90s, Cole found opportunities here or there to brag about being at MJ's very first game. But even after the sixth championship, it was merely another relic from some sporting event Cole had saved, along with about two dozen hockey, baseball and football tickets and a Cindy Crawford signed calendar from 1990, framed pictures of his mom and dad, purple pompoms from the Rose Bowl -- the ticket never seemed special beyond its personal value.

That it ever had any real value before last year was a different kind of conversation altogether, one about his father, old games and the reasons people hold on to anything at all. His dad was a D.C. lawyer; pretty much the only time they hung out was when they attended events together. Cole left home to attend Northwestern, and as a surprise, his dad had called a friend in the Bullets' front office and had him leave Mike two tickets at will call to Jordan's first game. All these years later, Cole hated the idea of letting any of his tickets go, of giving them to someone else who couldn't understand and hadn't actually been there.

"Every ticket can tell you a story," Cole says. "I'm someone who's about relationships and experiences. And that's what tickets are to me."

But then, that winter night in 2021, he saw the news story on TV: Ticket stub from Michael Jordan's NBA debut sells for $264K. Cole's ticket in the basement wasn't a mere stub; it was unused, untorn, a complete ticket in good condition. A few weeks later, an armored truck came around the stop sign at the end of the street outside of his house, his neighbors and friends watching in stupefaction, his wife, Kristen, bundled against the cold so she could take a commemorative picture of Mike letting the ticket go to auction. Still, even as appraisers and investors hyperventilated at his discovery, the first ticket of any kind likely worth a million bucks; even as Cole was promised the moon from auction houses seeking his business and hyping its value; even as he stretched his arm to give the ticket to a man wearing a bulletproof vest and a Glock on his waistband bound for Heritage Auctions in Dallas, he wasn't totally convinced parting with it was the right thing to do.

On a shivery evening last Feb. 26, the final night of the ticket's auction, Mike and Kristen hosted a party at their house in Cheshire, Connecticut. His neighbors toasted him while gathered in the kitchen. Cheers to randomly keeping it! Cheers to some NBA game four decades back, and Mike's luck of being there. Cheers to the greatest basketball player of all time! The recent snow was still shiny in Cole's driveway, the empty starlight in the frozen sky. The Cole family laptop screen streamed the live feed from the Heritage Winter Sports Collectibles Auction on the large TV. The two dogs curled up, ambivalent to the noise in the living room. Cole blushed, as 10 p.m. turned to 11 p.m. and the ticket's value surpassed $300,000. The neighbors chanted, "TO THE MILLION-DOLLAR TICKET!" and "Go, go, GO!" as Cole brought a mini bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky up to his lips each time the only known complete ticket from Michael Jordan's first NBA game went up in value by increments of $10,000.
This is a pretty good yarn here about Mike and his Golden Ticket, reminding us that sometimes sports can transcend everything and become history, valuable in more ways than one.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Waco Edition

The fact that Donald Trump is kicking off his 2023 hate rallies in Waco, Texas this weekend is not a coincidence, as the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle notes.

When Donald Trump flies into Waco on Saturday evening for the first major campaign event of his 2024 reelection quest, dog ears won’t be the only ones twitching. Trump doesn’t do subtle; dog-whistle messages are not his style. The more apt metaphor is the blaring air horn of a Mack 18-wheeler barreling down I-10.

The former president arrives in Waco during the 30th anniversary of the disastrous Branch Davidian debacle, a two-month-long siege by the ATF, the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies culminating in a fire storm that killed 74 people, including 21 children
. What happened at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco on April 19, 1993, was the deadliest day in FBI history. (Additionally, four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians lost their lives on the first day of the 51-day siege.)

The GOP-friendly city of Waco — Trump won McLennan County by more than 20 percentage points in 2020 – has every right, of course, to host a former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, but “Waco” the symbol, like “Philadelphia, Miss.,” the symbol, means something else entirely. “Waco” has become an Alamo of sorts, a shrine for the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers and other anti-government extremists and conspiracists.

Waco helped spawn what Fort Worth writer Jeff Guinn calls a “legacy of rage” in his new book about the Branch Davidian siege. The Northeast Texas Regional Militia of Texarkana erected a granite headstone at the site that reads as follows: "On February 28, 1993, a church and its members known as Branch Davidians came under attack by A.T.F. and F.B.I. agents. For 51 days the Davidians and their leader, David Koresh, stood proudly." As Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh put it, “Waco started this war.”

Thirty years later, the anti-government paramilitary groups feeding off lies about the “deep state” and a stolen election periodically visit the modest, little chapel on the site of the sprawling, ramshackle building that burned to the ground. Although the Branch Davidians had nothing to do with anti-government conspiracists, chapel construction was funded by loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Militia members and conspiracists know exactly what Trump’s Waco visit symbolizes. They have heard him castigate the FBI and the “deep state,” particularly after agents searched for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. How they’ll respond to his remarks, particularly if he shows up as the first former president in American history to face criminal charges, has law enforcement in Waco and beyond taking every precaution. What he says will likely set the tone for the presidential campaign to come. Every American should be concerned.

The Trump campaign insists that the candidate’s visit during the Branch Davidian anniversary is purely coincidental. A spokesman said the campaign was looking for a site away from the big cities but close enough to Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio to draw a crowd. The Waco Regional Airport and an expected crowd of 10,000 or so fit the bill. Of course, Temple or Belton or Killeen (home to Fort Hood) would have fit the bill, as well — without the weight of symbolism.

Trump alerted his followers that the feds were coming to get him with an all-caps alert last Saturday morning on Truth Social, his social-media site: “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

His call to arms echoed his “Be there, will be wild,” exhortation a few weeks before January 6, as well as his “fight like hell” screed on the Ellipse, shortly before several thousand insurrectionists took him at his word, marched up Pennsylvania Ave. and sacked the Capitol.

The Proud Boys and other anti-government extremists with a propensity for violence took him seriously on that ignominious day. They might do the same in Waco.
The one thing I do know is that Saturday night's calls for stochastic violence and terrorism against Trump's "enemies" will actually be very loud, very clear, and for once, very direct. I expect the event will echo darkly throughout history, and I expect that anyone involved in possible indictments against Donald Trump will be made into direct targets for violence.  

A powdery substance was found Friday with a threatening letter in a mailroom at the offices of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the latest security scare as the prosecutor weighs a potential historic indictment of former President Donald Trump, authorities said.

New York City police and environmental protection officials isolated and removed the suspicious letter, and testing “determined there was no dangerous substance,” Bragg spokesperson Danielle Filson said. The substance was sent to a city lab for further examination, police said.

“Alvin, I am going to kill you,” the letter said, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation and did so on condition of anonymity.

It will get far uglier from here on out as the multiple threats to everyone involved in prosecuting the case means they are now targets for MAGA terrorist violence.

Multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News that there have been discussions about additional security measures for the judge assigned to the Trump case as well as the prosecutors involved. There have been several hundred threats to Bragg, the DA’s office and others in recent weeks, a senior New York law enforcement official said. A few dozen are considered directly threatening serious harm to Bragg.

Trump still has the ability to assemble large crowds at a given location. While Trump has called for supporters to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST," he has not yet given his followers a time and place to assemble. Security officials worry that if he does, that could spell trouble, just as it did on Jan. 6.

Researchers who monitor the online spaces where far-right groups organize say that while efforts to coordinate a large protest have largely fallen flat so far, users are still calling for the assassination or capture of Democratic political figures.

“I want every traitor hanging from a rope when all this ends. EVERY TRAITOR. They can all die,” one person wrote in an online forum used by Trump supporters.

“Now it’s time we Americans need to go in guns blazing I’m willing to risk my life to show biden crimes are far worse. Civill war is now if he arrested,” a user wrote on Truth Social, the former president’s social media platform.

Daniel J. Jones, head of the nonpartisan, nonprofit online tracking firm Advance Democracy, said that “Trump’s calls to ‘protest’ in response to his reported impending arrest have led to threats of violence against government officials and law enforcement.”

Jones noted that users on the Trump-owned Truth Social and the pro-Trump forum TheDonald, where users shared travel plans and pictures of weapons ahead of the Jan. 6 riot, were posting threats of violence targeting Bragg.
 It will get worse tonight, I guarantee it.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

As Donald Trump may still yet dodge state-level indictments from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, and Fani Willis's Georgia election fraud case is facing obliteration from the Georgia GOP, Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal case got a huge boost on Friday.
A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump's claims of executive privilege and has ordered Mark Meadows and other former top aides to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the election leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, was subpoenaed along with the other former aides by Special counsel Jack Smith for testimony and documents related to the probe.

Trump's legal team had challenged the subpoenas by asserting executive privilege, which is the right of a president to keep confidential the communications he has with advisers.

In a sealed order last week, Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump's claim of executive privilege for Meadows and a number of others, including Trump's former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, his former national security adviser Robert O'Brien, former top aide Stephen Miller, and former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee, along with former top DHS official Ken Cuccinelli, were also included in the order, the sources said.

Trump is likely to appeal the ruling, according to sources briefed on the matter.

"The DOJ is continuously stepping far outside the standard norms in attempting to destroy the long accepted, long held, Constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege," a Trump spokesperson said in a statement. "There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle."

Meadows did not respond to ABC's request for comment and neither did an attorney representing him. Ratcliffe, O'Brien, Miller, Luna, McEntee and Cuccinelli did not respond to ABC's request for comment. An attorney representing Scavino also did not respond.
For now, expect the testimony of Trump's inner circle to be blocked as the appeal runs it course. Such an appeals process could take months or years however, and the odds of Smith being forced to abandon the testimony under DoJ non-interference directives will increase as Trump's legal camp gums up the works.  On the other hand, there are plenty of other witnesses, lawyers, and non-executive figures that will be forced to testify in the days and weeks ahead.

We'll see.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

With the never legal theory that President Joe Biden has no actual authority over executive branch employees, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that his executive order mandating the Covid-19 vaccine for government employees is null and void.
President Joe Biden’s order that federal employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been blocked by a federal appeals court.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, in a decision Thursday, rejected arguments that Biden, as the nation’s chief executive, has the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated.

The ruling from the full appeals court, 16 full-time judges at the time the case was argued, reversed an earlier ruling by a three-judge 5th Circuit panel that had upheld the vaccination requirement. Judge Andrew Oldham, nominated to the court by then-President Donald Trump, wrote the opinion for a 10-member majority.

The ruling maintains the status quo for federal employee vaccines. It upholds a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate issued by a federal judge in January 2022. At that point, the administration said nearly 98% of covered employees had been vaccinated.

And, Oldham noted, with the preliminary injunction arguments done, the case will return to that court for further arguments, when “both sides will have to grapple with the White House’s announcement that the COVID emergency will finally end on May 11, 2023.”
Since President Biden's authority for the mandate comes from the emergency order, and the emergency order is ending, yeah. that's pretty much ball game.

It's unfortunate, ad thousands of Americans continue to die from COVID-19 each week, nearly all of them unvaccinated.

I expect should the GOP win next year, the COVID vaccine will be outlawed outright, and thousands will continue to die.

The Circus Of The Damned, Wedgie Edition

Kevin McCarthy's clown show has delivered their latest hostage ultimatum: give Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin his energy permit bill or else.
A growing bloc of House Republicans is urging Speaker Kevin McCarthy to consider demands beyond the budget — like energy permitting — in the party’s opening offer to Democrats on raising the debt limit.

While many GOP lawmakers say they’ve stayed intentionally mum on how their party leaders should proceed with talks, a growing number are now floating their own ideas to stem the looming fiscal crisis. One idea that’s been gaining traction recently is linking the debt limit debate to the GOP’s proposal to speed up energy permitting, according to interviews with roughly a half dozen lawmakers.

“I think permitting’s got to be part of the debt limit discussion,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), who chairs the Republican Policy Committee and sits on McCarthy’s leadership team.

House Republicans see plenty of upside in attaching energy permitting to debt talks. In addition to giving them a guaranteed policy win, pushing through a permitting bill that already has keen interest from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is preparing for a potentially brutal 2024 reelection bid.

The Republican Study Committee, the House GOP’s biggest group, has gone even further in its advocacy of the move. It recently polled its 175 members about their priorities for the looming debt talks and found that members’ top priority for inclusion was energy permitting.

“It has tons of momentum,” Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who leads that group, said in a brief interview. “That’s certainly pro-growth to keep our jobs here, and have less dependency on foreign governments and don’t send money elsewhere.”

Most of the conference is working hard to publicly give McCarthy space as the California Republican tries to force President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate to come to the table, with the deadline for raising the debt limit drawing ever closer. But privately, Republicans across the conference are clearly interested in landing one of their biggest energy agenda items in return for what many view as an inevitable political reality — that some of them will have to vote to raise the country’s spending limit later this year.

“This is the litmus test of whether we’re serious to get energy independent. I think we will,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), when asked about linking the GOP’s energy permitting bill to its debt offer.

It’s unclear whether Democrats would be willing to engage, Norman added, but “we’re gonna give it a shot.”

The idea has an added political bonus for GOP leadership: While plenty of fiscal fights divide House Republicans’ narrow majority, the idea of attaching speedier energy project approvals to the debt talks creates rare unity among what the speaker has dubbed the conference’s “five families,” from the conservative Freedom Caucus to the more moderate, business-oriented Main Street Caucus.

“That’s certainly something a large number of members would be supportive of,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), chair of the latter of those two groups, when asked about linking permitting with debt discussions.

Now, Manchin's not being specifically mentioned here, but we know that he's wanted energy permit "reform" as his price for signing on the Biden's climate bill. He had to eat that demand last year. But this year, things are different, and McCarthy's cunning enough to see a wedge issue he can use when he sees it.

We'll see what happens, but I guarantee you Republicans are talking to Manchin about this very subject.

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