Once again, there isn’t a lot of good news out there to talk about. The media is still “freaking out” about the Covid omicron variant, and we still don’t actually know much about it. Trump and his goons are still threatening U.S. democracy, and the DOJ appears to be doing nothing to stop them. Finally, in another media issue: CNN’s top talking head, Chris Cuomo needs to go, but the network is still dithering.
From Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post:
The media freaked out during Thanksgiving weekend over the discovery of the omicron variant. The New York Stock Exchange dropped 900 points. Both were irrational, exaggerated responses based on little information.
In any case, travel restrictions aren’t likely to keep the variant out of the U.S. On the other hand, according to the doctor who identified omicron, the people she saw who were infected had very mild symptoms.
The South African doctor who first identified the omicron variant that is spreading in the country and abroad has described the symptoms as she observed them in her patients, stating that the strain is so far producing “very, very mild” effects in them.
Dr Angelique Coetzee told BBC News that she had first noticed the symptoms in a young, male patient around the age of 30 whom she normally knew to be very healthy. He was “extremely tired” as well as having “body aches and pains with a bit of a headache,” a “scratchy” rather than sore throat, and no cough or loss of taste or smell, she said. The doctor was speaking about her experience of a small group of patients, and not making general comments about how all patients will experience it.
Coetzee tested the man for covid-19 and found him to be positive, then tested his family and found them all to have the virus, despite showing only “very, very mild symptoms,” she said. For the rest of the day, people kept presenting at her surgery with similar symptoms, and all tested positive. Noticing that the symptoms seemed to differ from the delta variant, which had hitherto been the most prevalent form of covid globally, she alerted the country’s vaccines committee, of which she is a member. They announced their resultant discovery of the omicron variant a few days later.
Perhaps reassuringly for those who are worrying about this new development, Coetzee noted that none of the cases she knew of were serious. “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa, and remember that I’m at the epicenter, that’s where I’m practicing, is extremely mild…We haven’t admitted anyone [to hospital]. I spoke to other colleagues of mine: The same picture,” she told the BBC.
Obviously, that could change, but it’s not time to panic yet.
The latest on Trump’s coup attempt at The Guardian: Trump called aides hours before Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden victory.
Hours before the deadly attack on the US Capitol this year, Donald Trump made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington and talked about ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win from taking place on 6 January.
The former president first told the lieutenants his vice-president, Mike Pence, was reluctant to go along with the plan to commandeer his largely ceremonial role at the joint session of Congress in a way that would allow Trump to retain the presidency for a second term.
But as Trump relayed to them the situation with Pence, he pressed his lieutenants about how to stop Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January, and delay the certification process to get alternate slates of electors for Trump sent to Congress.
The former president’s remarks came as part of strategy discussions he had from the White House with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification.
Multiple sources, speaking to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, described Trump’s involvement in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election.
Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.
The former president’s call to the Willard hotel about stopping Biden’s certification is increasingly a central focus of the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack, as it raises the specter of a possible connection between Trump and the insurrection.
Trump also called the “command center” at the Willard multiple times on January 5.
Trump’s call to the lieutenants came a day after Eastman, a late addition to the Trump legal team, outlined at a 4 January meeting at the White House how he thought Pence could usurp his role in order to stop Biden’s certification from happening at the joint session.
At the meeting, which was held in the Oval Office and attended by Trump, Pence, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and his legal counsel, Greg Jacob, Eastman presented a memo that detailed how Pence could insert himself into the certification and delay the process.
The memo outlined several ways for Pence to commandeer his role at the joint session, including throwing the election to the House, or adjourning the session to give states time to send slates of electors for Trump on the basis of election fraud – Eastman’s preference.
The then acting attorney general, Jeff Rosen, and his predecessor, Bill Barr, who had both been appointed by Trump, had already determined there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.
There’s a court hearing going on today about Trump’s attempts to exert executive privilege over his communications about the planned coup when he was “president.” From the CNN article:
A federal appeals court posed tough questions for lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, as Trump attempts to convince the court that he should be able to keep records from his presidency from the House select committee that’s investigating the January 6 US Capitol riot.
“This all boils down to who decides. Who decides when it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records? Is it the current occupant of the White House or the former?” said Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
The arguments are likely to be an uphill battle for the former President. The Biden administration and the House are aligned against him in wanting transparency about communications in the West Wing as Trump sought to overturn the 2020 election result and his supporters raided the Capitol. Trump lost his first round in court in the case, more quickly and resoundingly than his losses when he tried to claim broad protections from investigations while he was President.
Yet by raising major, unsettled questions about the power of former presidents to control information from their time in office, the case appears to be on a path to the Supreme Court.
Read more at the link.
Finally, CNN must fire Chris Cuomo. That link goes an Atlantic piece by David A. Graham. Yesterday, The New York Times published a shocking story on how Cuomo tried to help his brother Andrew escape accountability for his treatment of women: Chris Cuomo Played Outsize Role in Ex-Gov. Cuomo’s Defense.
Thousands of pages of new evidence and sworn testimony released on Monday show the extent to which former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo relied on a group of allies, including his younger brother, the CNN host Chris Cuomo, to strategize how to deflect and survive a cascade of sexual harassment charges that eventually engulfed him.
Beginning last December with the first public accusation by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, the records lay out in unvarnished detail how the tight-knit group of advisers discussed a series of increasingly drastic steps to manipulate the press, discredit his accusers and retain a grip on power that became less and less tenable.
After debating the legality of the move, they agreed to pass Ms. Boylan’s personnel file to reporters, portraying her as politically motivated and unhinged. They sought — and failed — to rally dozens of former female aides and supporters to pen an op-ed defending him.
Chris Cuomo pressed to take on a greater role in crafting his brother’s defense, including phoning into strategy calls and using his media contacts to keep tabs on reporters pursuing stories about the governor. At one point, he even ran down a secondhand tip that another woman accusing the governor of unwanted advances at a wedding was lying. (She was not.)
“You need to trust me,” Chris Cuomo pleaded with Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s secretary, at one point in March, arguing that she should rely on him and other outside advisers like the political consultant Lis Smith and the pollster Jefrey Pollock.
He added: “We are making mistakes we can’t afford.”
Yet Cuomo appeared in his usual time slot last night.
An even more pointed headline from CNBC: CNN host Chris Cuomo used his media sources to find out info on brother Andrew’s accusers, records show.
CNN host Chris Cuomo used his sources in the media world to seek information on women who accused his brother Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, of sexual harassment, according to documents released Monday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
While Chris Cuomo has previously acknowledged advising his brother and his team on the response to the scandals, the records show that his role in helping the then-governor was much larger and more intimate than previously known.
Chris Cuomo was actively in touch with Melissa DeRosa, who was the then-governor’s top aide, about incoming media reports that detailed alleged sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo, according to exhibits from the Attorney General’s probe and a transcript of his interview with the state’s investigators. He also lobbied to help the governor’s office as it sought to weather the storm of accusations, and he dictated statements for the then-governor to use.
“Please let me help with the prep,” Chris Cuomo said to DeRosa in one message in early March. Then, three days after the New York Times reported in March about how Andrew Cuomo attempted to kiss a woman, Anna Ruch, in an unwanted advance at a wedding, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa: “I have a lead on the wedding girl.”
CNN says they are “conducting a thorough review of the documents.” Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why CNN kept Cuomo on after the initial revelations. If they don’t get rid of him now, they will lose all credibility as a news organization.
There are plenty of other stories out there. Which ones have caught your interest?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
The one thing that’s become more apparent to me than anything else is the double standard in the media and elsewhere with what they tolerate from white men who are screaming like scalded hogs at the moment and essentially trying to install an autocratic government to retain their privilege and control of the country’s major institutions. Loss of privilege is not the same as being unable to secure your civil liberties and rights.
So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, the gossip-heavy coverage is not only detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.
It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.
The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”
Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)
Keep reading for the glaring examples all over the media. And notice it’s the gay guy and the black woman getting the nitpick treatment. Don’t start me on the number of women of color who’ve endured the tribulation of justifying themselves in from the of the old white Republicans of the Senate. My guess is it’s the Hillary treatment where you nitpick and find false scandals until she never becomes electible again. But, my question is WHY?
Yeah, It’s the Hillary Treatment alright. From the Telegraph: With Kamala Harris looking unelectable, the Democrats are considering the nuclear option
Ask yourself who really hates our democracy and country now.
Right-wing men are terrifically insecure. As best as I can determine, they’re very much afraid of any competition for anything. Righteous Hackers are working to take their white nationalist patriarchal movement down. This is from The Guardian. How far-right extremist groups face exposure from army of hacktivists. Data leaks and breaches by so-called ‘ethical hackers’ – often assisted by poor security practices – have exposed inner workings of groups and the nature of the movement as a whole.
Throughout 2021, websites associated with far-right extremist groups and extremist-friendly platforms and hosts have suffered from data leaks and breaches that have exposed the inner workings of far-right groups, and the nature of the movement as a whole.
The data has been exfiltrated in breaches engineered by so-called “ethical hackers” – often assisted by poor security practices from website administrators – and by activists who have penetrated websites in search of data and information.
Experts and activists say that attacks on their online infrastructure is likely to continue to disrupt and hamper far-right groups and individuals and makes unmasking their activities far more likely – often resulting in law enforcement attention or loss of employment.
Numerous far-right groups have suffered catastrophic data breaches this year, in perhaps a reflection of a lack of technical expertise among such activists. Jim Salter, a systems administrator and tech journalist, said: “Extremists, and extremist-friendly entities, have a noticeable shortage of even-tempered, thoughtful people doing even-tempered, thoughtful work at securing sites and managing personnel.”
There are many examples.
In the wake of the 6 January attacks, the Guardian reported on the leak from American Patriots III% website, which allowed the entire membership of the organization to be identified.
In that case, poor website configuration had allowed savvy researchers to view and republish the information on the open web.
In July, another organization affiliated with the Three Percenters, which monitoring organizations classify as an anti-government group or a component of the militia movement, had internal chats leaked which reportedly exhibited a “thirst for violence”.
Then, in September, it emerged that the website of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers was comprehensively breached, with membership lists, emails and what appeared to be the entire content of their server suddenly put on public display.
This is an extremely interesting read. And I just had to put this in wondering if the press will find a way to pick on First Lady Biden’s traditional Christmas tastes.
I imagine we’ll get lectured on the aesthetic of boring. And to our next question.
So, this trial is going to be interesting because we’ve only going one person to take trial for the sins of Jeffrey Epstein.
This is via Law and Crime: “An Anonymous Jury Has Been Selected for Ghislaine Maxwell’s Sex Trafficking Trial. Here’s What We Know About the Panel.”
Shielded in anonymity, the jurors selected to preside over Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial will be identified only by their number in the interest of preserving their privacy and safety, but some details about them and their awareness of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal have been publicly disclosed earlier this month.
The 12-person panel, and six alternate jurors waiting on standby, were sworn in by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan following a painstaking selection process. Judge Nathan whittled down a pool of 600 candidates with surveys, first with a written questionnaire and then one-on-one questions held in open court, known as voir dire proceedings.
Rejecting a request by Maxwell’s defense team to conduct this hearing secretly, Nathan held voir dire in full press and public view earlier this month. Potential jurors answered questions on the public record, with certain information—like their names—kept under seal.
Here is a breakdown of the jurors, a group that includes mostly highly educated professionals representing a broad cross-section of New York City and neighboring counties. The list may change as two newly-empaneled jurors expressed conflicts after being chosen. As the biographical information comes from voir dire transcripts, these profiles do not currently include a race and gender breakdown. The jury, however, appears to be diverse in these categories, as well as age and educational background.
So, the media continues to miss the point. And I’m tired already of writing about it. Did I mention the budget/deficit ceiling battle is about to restart?
Congress is only a couple of weeks away from hitting the Dec. 15 deadline to raise the federal debt limit, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) don’t appear to be anywhere close to a deal.
Democrats insist that Schumer will not burn up a week of Senate floor time to use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit with only Democratic votes.
And Republicans say there’s no way that McConnell will be able to round up 10 Republican votes to quash an expected filibuster from conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and allow Democrats to pass debt limit legislation with a simple majority under regular order.
The Republicans are not capable of running anything but a Circus Sideshow. We need to vote them out where we can.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Cartoon from Cagle:
This is an open thread.
I wanted to try to find some good news to post today, but there just isn’t much of it out there. I guess it’s sort good news that a Republican associated with Mitch McConnell has criticized Rep.Loren Boebert for her grotesque attack on Rep. Ilian Omar. Raw Story: ‘Absolute garbage rhetoric’: Mitch McConnell adviser hammers Lauren Boebert on CNN.
On CNN Friday, former Mitch McConnell adviser Scott Jennings slammed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for her comments joking that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was a suicide bomber.
“Scott, was it just another day at the office and they got these folks in the far right in certain parts of the caucus that they just can’t control?” asked anchor Jim Acosta.
“Senator McConnell serves in the Senate,” said Jennings. “I guarantee you, I know what he’s thinking. It’s a garbage comment from a garbage politics. I’m as anti-Squad as the next [Republican], but there’s plenty of ways to debate these folks without stooping to this garbage rhetoric. I noted, by the way, that Boebert has been forced to apologize. I assume that didn’t happen in a vacuum, but she’s of course committed the ultimate sin, which is the people she’s being performative for here would sRaway you never should apologize.”
On the other hand, no Republicans in the House have done anything to rein Boebert in. Raw Story: ‘Absolutely spineless’: CNN panel thrashes GOP leadership’s silence on Lauren Boebert’s ‘MAGA open mic night.’
A CNN panel on Friday thrashed House Republican leadership for remaining silent about Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) bigoted attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Host Jim Acosta started off by asking former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent what he made of House Republicans’ reaction to what he described as Boebert’s “MAGA open mic night” in which she made disparaged Omar by likening her to a suicide bomber.
Dent said that the way the party has mishandled Boebert has been the same way it’s mishandled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was stripped of her committee assignments over her remarks about executing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Paul Gosar more recently, when they make these statements, it’s important for the Republican leaders to crack down, to deal with it internally,” he said. “Republicans should have taken her off the committees. They should not have let that go to the House floor, as an example, but they didn’t.”
I know there are plenty of racists here in Massachusetts, but still when I read a story like this, I feel ashamed. MassLive: Disabled Vietnam veteran Eugene Brice finds service to country doesn’t shield him from racism.
Eugene L. Brice survived the Vietnam War, the 1968 Tet Offensive and 29 years in the U.S. Army, but he is struggling to emotionally survive a recent trip to the grocery store.
“It was pretty dramatic. It’s destroyed me,” said Brice, a member of the Springfield chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans and a man who wheels around in a motorized scooter, volunteering 50% of his time to help veterans.
On Oct. 30, Brice found that duty, honor and service are not shields from racism. Weeks later, he is struggling to get his post-traumatic stress disorder and a related speech impediment back under control — and reminding himself that more than 50 years of service to the country should not be ruined by one hellish moment in a parking lot.
“I pulled into the handicapped spot at the Big Y in East Longmeadow. I do my own shopping and for my wife,” Brice explained. “A woman pulled beside me and crossed halfway over the lines. I asked her to move so I could use my ramp to get out of the car.”
The woman did move, but too little to provide Brice room to get out of his car. When he asked her again, he said she told him, “Mind your own business.”
Brice told her the ability to get out of the car was his business. At first, she ignored him, he recounted.
What happened next still brings Brice to tears — and provides a graphic, stomach-churning example of why people of color insist that at any turn and at the most innocent moments, they may encounter hatred and racism.
“The woman said, ‘N—-, just keep on moving.’ She said that several times,” Brice said.
The woman also threatened physical harm, he said, prompting him to back away for fear she might be armed.
“I was sitting in the scooter, and I was very vulnerable. I was scared and afraid if I said something, it might escalate,” Brice said.
Brice said that was the first time he had ever been called the “n” word. This is an elderly man who was disabled in service to the country and has spent his life working to help other disabled veterans. I wish there was a way to identify that woman and make her understand the damage her vicious racist attack caused.
Dakinikat wrote about the latest coronavirus variant yesterday. It may not be as dangerous as some are portraying it. The New York Times: New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work.
The W.H.O. said the new version, named Omicron, carries a number of genetic mutations that may allow it to spread quickly, perhaps even among the vaccinated.
Independent scientists agreed that Omicron warranted urgent attention, but also pointed out that it would take more research to determine the extent of the threat. Although some variants of concern, like Delta, have lived up to initial worries, others have had a limited impact.
“Epidemiologists are trying to say, ‘Easy, tiger,’” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “This could be bad. This could be very bad. But we don’t know enough to roll that tape forward.”
Dr. Hanage and other researchers said that vaccines will most likely protect against Omicron, but further studies are needed to determine how much of the shots’ effectiveness may be reduced.
As the coronavirus replicates inside people, new mutations constantly arise. Most provide the virus with no new advantage. When worrisome mutations do emerge, the World Health Organization uses Greek letters to name the variants. The first “variant of concern,” Alpha, appeared in Britain in late 2020, soon followed by Beta in South Africa.
Omicron first came to light in Botswana, where researchers at the Botswana Harvard H.I.V. Reference Laboratory in Gaborone sequenced the genes of coronaviruses from positive test samples. They found some samples sharing about 50 mutations not found in such a combination before. So far, six people have tested positive for Omicron in Botswana, according to an international database of variants.
BioNTech SE said on Friday it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer Inc would have to be reworked.
Pfizer and BioNTech said that if necessary they expect to be able to ship a new vaccine tailored to the emerging variant in approximately 100 days.
“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” BioNTech said in a statement when asked to comment.
“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” it added.
Moderna Inc said in a statement it is working to advance a booster candidate tailored to the new variant and has also been testing a higher dose of its existing booster and to study other booster candidates designed to protect against multiple variants.
“A booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity,” Moderna said in the statement.
Escape variants are those that elude the targeted immune response brought about by vaccination. Pfizer and BioNTech would be able to redesign their shot within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added.
Meanwhile, the anti-vaxers are getting crazier by the day. Tom Porter at Business Insider: Conspiracy theorists are pushing toxic bleach and other harmful treatments they claim can ‘de-vaccinate’ people.
In a video hosted on Bitchute, a platform known for its extremist content, a man applies electrodes, a strong magnet and “55 percent Montana whiskey” in the hope of removing a COVID-19 vaccine from a US military veteran.
In another, a gory variant of the “cupping” technique to draw blood from an injection site, a man makes extra incisions with a razor to extract a significant amount. (Insider is not linking to the footage due to its graphic nature.)
Neither method had any hope of working. It is impossible to undo vaccination, a process which works by teaching the body to fight infection itself, and which doesn’t rely on substances that can be isolated or removed.
But, with millions of people now vaccinated against COVID-19, some anti-vaccination advocates are pivoting to a new narrative aimed at those who took vaccines and regret it.
They claim it is indeed possible to “de-vaccinate” people, recommending a host of methods which range from quaint to potentially dangerous.
The “de-vaccination” movement is spreading in Telegram groups with thousands of members, as well as other fringe platforms used by extremists, which Insider monitored while researching the trend.
Users repost videos, like the ones referred to above, beaming them to large audiences not reflected in view counts on the sites where they are hosted.
Advocates have also established a presence on mainstream platforms that purport to restrict such activity, such as Facebook and TikTok, experts told Insider.
Click on the link to read the rest.
Jonathan Karl, author of the new Trump book “Betrayal” is offered a warning to fellow journalists in an interview with Deadline. A summary from HuffPost: ABC’s Jonathan Karl Issues Stark Warning About Covering Donald Trump 2024.
If Donald Trump eventually decides to run for president again in 2024, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl warned it may be “the greatest challenge ever facing campaign reporters.”
Karl posed multiple questions on the problems of reporting on a possible third Trump presidential campaign in a lengthy interview with Deadline published Friday.
Such as, “How do you cover a candidate who is effectively anti-democratic?”
And, “How do you cover a candidate who is … also running against the very democratic system that makes all of this possible?”
Karl, the author of “Betrayal: The Final Act Of The Trump Show,” said reporting on Trump would be “tremendously challenging” because “now, more than ever” he “is just saying things that are not true, that are designed to misinform, that are designed to erode credibility and belief in our electoral system.”
According to The Washington Post, Trump made more than 30,000 false or misleading claims during his presidency alone….
How to tackle Trump’s debates, speeches and interviews were “really difficult questions,” acknowledged Karl, because he’s “been demonstrated to be a candidate that is trying to destroy the very system that makes this election possible.”
“It is a very difficult, precarious situation, and I don’t know how it is going to play out, to be honest,” he added.
You can read the full interview by Ted Johnson at Yahoo News: Q&A: Jonathan Karl On ‘Betrayal’ And Why Campaign Reporters Face Their “Greatest Challenge” If Donald Trump Runs Again.
This story by Ron Elving at NPR offers some hope: Trump, tough issues and personal rivalries test the GOP’s reputation for unity.
Presenting a united front has been an even greater imperative for the GOP when Democrats were in the White House and especially when Democrats also had majorities in Congress.
That may be changing. Heightened tensions within the GOP have been increasingly visible in recent weeks, driven by the still-divisive personality of former President Donald Trump — but also by issues such as vaccines and mandates and by the prospect of big Republican gains in the elections of 2022 and 2024.
This week’s focus has been on Republican governors declaring their independence not only from the former president but from present party leaders in Washington.
In some cases, the governors are reacting to Trump’s meddling in their home state politics. Here we have Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term-limited but has backed a candidate to succeed him. Trump has endorsed someone else, adding that Hogan himself is “toxic” and “a Republican in name only [who] has been terrible for our country and against the America First Movement.”
Asked about Trump taking sides, Hogan replied: “I’d prefer endorsements from people who didn’t lose Maryland by 33 points,” referring to Trump’s blowout loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the state last year.
This particular feud is not new. Hogan has been critical of Trump for years and condemned him for inciting the crowd that marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
But eyebrows were raised over the weekend when a big name Republican, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, criticized Trump and his claque in Congress. Sununu was especially disturbed at the so-called “MAGA Squad,” the hardcore Trump acolytes who have tried to ostracize their in-party House colleagues who voted for the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this month — or who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year.
“I think they’ve got their priorities screwed up,” Sununu said on CNN Sunday. “That kind of social media mob mentality that’s built up in this country … culturally, those tactics are ruining America.”
I’m not sure I buy it, but it’s a long story; check out the whole thing at the link.
That’s all I have for you today. I wish I could have found more happy news. What stories are you following?
Happy Avoiding Black Friday Day!
I spent Thanksgiving with my neighbors, which is so lovely on many levels. It really felt like the first typical holiday for me in a few years. The last one was the Mardi Gras, where I woke up with something that made me highly ill for weeks. I was really hoping to make it to Seattle, but I’m still afraid of crazies on planes and the maskless roaming airports. Now, I’m delighted I just zoomed the grandbabies and enjoyed the bags of groceries my daughter sent me so I could do my own family-style Thanksgiving at home. The Dow has fallen this morning, and countries are racing to end flight contact with South Africa. There’s a new Covid-19 variant. This is the headline from WAPO: “Announcement of new virus variant alarms world, crashing stocks and banning flights.”
A new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant, with an unusual number of mutations, had scientists sounding the alarm, countries moving to impose travel bans and financial markets tumbling on Friday, as the world feared another setback on the long road out of the pandemic.
Major questions remain about the variant’s transmissibility, whether it might make people sicker and whether it might be able to evade vaccines, but Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to Britain’s Health and Security Agency, warned that the new variant found in southern Africa is the “most worrying we’ve seen.”
The variant, known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana, but scientists in South Africa convened a news conference Thursday and said they had linked it to an exponential rise of infections in their country. Cases have also been identified in Hong Kong and Belgium.
By the next morning, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged about 800 points or 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 1.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index was off 1.1 percent. Crude oil prices tumbled as well.
France, Britain, Japan and Israel began to ban or order quarantines for air passengers arriving from the southern African region. The European Union is also expected to also propose a ban on air travel arriving from southern Africa.
“Our view is very clear,” Dana Spinant, deputy chief spokeswoman for the European Commission, said at a news conference Friday. “We need to act very fast, we need to be vigilant, and we need to take all measures that are appropriate at this stage to prevent this virus from entering Europe.”
Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility,” but that a decision has not been made yet.
I keep telling all my Mardi Gras-loving friends not to get overly excited about the possibility of parades again. This thing is not through with us yet. It should be called the Trump Virus by now. Reuters reports on Dr. Fauci’s comments.
“There is always the possibility of doing what the UK has done, namely block travel from South Africa and related countries,” Fauci said in an interview on CNN.
“That’s certainly something you think about and get prepared to do. You’re prepared to do everything you need to protect the American public. But you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that,” he said.
“Obviously as soon as we find out more information we’ll make a decision as quickly as we possibly can.”
Fauci said U.S. scientists would speak with South African counterparts on Friday about the new variant, called B.1.1.529, which has raised concern about its transmissibility and whether it might evade immune responses.
He added that there was no indication that the new variant was already in the United States.
Here we go again! Our healthcare continues to be threatened by right-wing Trumperz and Trumperz clones.
From the NYT: “Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies. Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.” I am so glad my daughters have moved to states that let medical science rather than superstition abide.
A few weeks after Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, Dr. Andrea Palmer delivered terrible news to a Fort Worth patient who was midway through her pregnancy.
The fetus had a rare neural tube defect. The brain would not develop, and the infant would die at birth or shortly afterward. Carrying the pregnancy to term would be emotionally grueling and would also raise the mother’s risk of blood clots and severe postpartum bleeding, the doctor warned.
But the patient was past six weeks’ gestation, and under the new law, an abortion was not an option in Texas because the woman was not immediately facing a life-threatening medical crisis or risk of permanent disability.
“So we look at them like a ticking time bomb and wait for the complications to develop,” Dr. Palmer said of her patients.
In this case, the woman had the means to travel, and she obtained an abortion in another state, an option unavailable to many low-income and working class women.
Texas’ new measure was intended to impose stringent limits on abortion. But it is also affecting women who have no desire for termination but are experiencing medically risky pregnancies. Many doctors say they are unable to discuss the procedure as an option until the patient’s condition deteriorates and her life is at risk.
Abortion is permitted in Texas after six weeks only when a woman is facing a life-threatening or disabling medical emergency linked to her pregnancy. The law makes no exceptions for nonviable pregnancies in which the fetus has no chance of survival.
Even crazier are these calls to action by the QAnon Queen of Canada reported in VIce. “QAnon’s ‘Queen of Canada’ Calls for Followers to ‘Kill’ People Vaccinating Children. QAnon influencer Romana Didulo told her 70,000 followers that “duck-hunting season is open” and by ducks, she means healthcare workers, politicians, and journalists.” Vigilantism is sure en vogue with these dangerous nutters. Oh, Canada!
Earlier this week, the so-called QAnon Queen of Canada opened up “duck-hunting” season in the Great White North.
Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about hunters in hip waders going after our fine-feathered friends with a loyal hound by their side. These “duck hunters” are “soldiers” of Roman Didulo—a Canadian woman who has convinced thousands of QAnon adherents that she’s the secret ruler of Canada—targeting health care workers administering COVID-19 vaccines to children, politicians, journalists, and others who make up the cabal at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy.
In a post on Sunday to her over 70,000 followers on Telegram, Didulo issued an order to the soldiers of her “Kingdom of Canada’s Military.” She demanded the mass arrests of those they consider opposition, and wanted her soldiers to take control of newspapers and seize the border.
“Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines,” she wrote. “This order is effective immediately.”
A follow-up post on Tuesday changed the wording from “shoot to kill” to “arrest.”
“Please, use airports, hospitals, schools, stadiums, and other public venues to hold and detain all traitors,” the post said. “They will stay there until Military Tribunal is held for each one of them until the day they are executed via firing squad or hanging.”
Here are two articles to read.
As Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, put it: “The United States just allowed an autocratic person to ascend to the presidency, to serve in it for four years and to very nearly extend that term. The big question is: how did that happen, what went wrong there?”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, expressed a similar thought in Slate: “Our voting system is fundamentally broken,” she wrote. “The future of our country unequivocally depends on our ability to reform it.”
This Op-Ed byMSNBC Opinion Columnist–is provocative because we really have not faced these threats head-on.
There are a lot of different ways that democracies can fail. Some collapse under the weight of political leaders who assume authoritarian control, arrest opponents, or refuse to allow new elections to take place. Others suffer at the hands of citizens who support political violence, dehumanize other political parties as “evil,” or call for civil war. Still others struggle with voter suppression and intimidation efforts, weakened trust in institutions, and falling political participation.
The U.S. is facing all these problems, and more. We are witnessing challenges to the integrity of elections, rooted in disinformation spread by our own elected officials and in widespread conspiracies that circulate online. A third of election poll workers reported feeling unsafe this year, after an “unprecedented” number of them received threats. The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came at the hands of thousands of ordinary citizens who aimed to disrupt the democratic certification of the presidential election and prevent President Joe Biden from taking office.
We also face rising harassment and violence from extremist groups, citizen vigilantes, and unlawful militias who threaten minority groups, disrupt our freedom of assembly and demonstration with shows of violent force, and violate civil rights like the right to “public accommodations,” as recent court rulings have shown. We have seen repeated violent attacks, harassment, and even death threats directed at front-line workers and public officials, including school board members, health care workers, teachers, flight attendants, and restaurant hostesses.
The U.S. isn’t the only democracy that is eroding. Democratic stability is backsliding across the globe, as nations suffer from compromised elections, dismantled checks on government, challenges to a free media, and reductions of minority protections. But there is a particular urgency in the U.S. warning signs, not least because we are a nation of citizens who are now armed at previously unimaginable levels. This year is on track to be the second-highest year of firearm sales in history, following a “record shattering” year in 2020, in which 21 million background checks for firearms sales took place — far above the average of about 8.6 million annual checks.
Luckily, just because a democracy is in crisis does not mean it will collapse. On average, it takes about a decade from the onset of democratic backsliding to end in either democratic breakdown or recovery. But we are long overdue for a course correction.
We are facing back-sliding on so many civil liberties issues that I am astounded daily. Will SCOTUS overturn Roe v. Wade? Will we be able to correct the inequities that its decision on the Voting Rights Act caused? How do we deal with vigilantism; especially in communities where the police encourage it! Can we get some criminal justice reform? Haven’t we all seen enough to know how necessary it is?
These are all eyes-on-the-prize questions to me. What are yours?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?