Tuesday Reads

Good Day, Sky Dancers!!

ankylosing-spondylitis-dealing-with-fatigue-1440x810I’m getting a very late start today, because I’m still struggling with the aftermath of what I thought was bronchitis. The coughing has almost stopped, but I had several days of what felt like a stomach virus, and now I’m just really tired all the time and can hardly stay awake. It almost makes me wonder if I really had Covid, but I did test myself twice and the result was negative. There is a lot of Covid and other illnesses going around in my mostly elderly apartment building. They even cancelled the monthly tenant meeting. At least I heard yesterday it might be slowing down a bit. Here in Massachusetts we have mostly that new Covid variant XBB 1.5. Oh well, I’ll never know now. I’m just trying to eat healthy stuff and pace myself.

I wish I could find some good news to report, but it’s just the same old stuff today. Here’s what’s happening:

Albuquerque Journal: Failed Republican candidate arrested in shootings targeting Democratic politicians’ homes.

Albuquerque police on Monday arrested the man they say is the “mastermind” behind a recent string of shootings targeting Democratic lawmakers’ homes.

The suspect, Solomon Pena, is a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for office in November, has made repeated claims that the election was rigged and appears to have attended the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Washington, D.C.

Around 3 p.m. APD’s SWAT team swarmed a condominium complex near the ABQ BioPark Zoo to execute a search warrant. They made announcements for Pena — who they said may be armed with a firearm — to surrender as drones flew overhead.

Within an hour officers had arrested Pena, who is accused of paying four men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, Police Chief Harold Medina announced Monday evening. Investigators also believe Pena was present for at least one of the shootings.


Solomon Pena arrest

One of the four men Pena is accused of hiring, Jose Trujillo, is being prosecuted federally on drug trafficking and firearm charges but the names of the other suspects were not immediately released.

Pena ran unsuccessfully in the House District 14 race and claimed on social media he should have won the election. He also visited three of the targeted officials’ homes unannounced in November complaining the election was fraudulent and should not be certified.

“APD essentially discovered what we had all feared and what we had suspected — that these shootings were indeed politically motivated,” Mayor Tim Keller said at a news conference. “They were dangerous attacks not only to these individuals … but, fundamentally, also to democracy.”

More details from The New York Times: Republican Ex-Candidate Arrested in Shootings Targeting New Mexico Democrats.

Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department said at a news conference that the former candidate, Solomon Peña, was “the mastermind” behind a conspiracy in which four other men were paid to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators.

Mr. Peña, 39, lost the election on Nov. 8 in a landslide to an incumbent Democrat, Miguel P. Garcia. Days later, Mr. Peña went on Twitter to express support for former President Donald J. Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and to say that he had not conceded his own State House race.

Chief Medina said that a SWAT team took Mr. Peña into custody on Monday. The police said they planned to charge him with “several state crimes.” It was unclear if Mr. Peña had a lawyer. Carter B. Harrison, an Albuquerque lawyer who represented Mr. Peña last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

The police said in a statement that Mr. Peña had paid four men cash and “sent text messages with addresses where he wanted them to shoot at the homes.”

Mr. Peña accompanied the men to the house of State Senator Linda Lopez on Jan. 3 and “attempted to shoot,” but the automatic rifle he was using malfunctioned, the police said. Another man shot more than a dozen rounds from a handgun, the police said, including into the bedroom of Ms. Lopez’s daughter.

Shell casings found at Ms. Lopez’s home matched a handgun that was confiscated after a traffic stop just 40 minutes after the shooting, the police said. The driver, Jose Trujillo, had an unrelated felony arrest warrant, the police said. The car, they said, was registered to Mr. Peña.

That is seriously scary stuff. Republicans have allowed violent extremists to take over their party.

There are a couple of interesting January 6 stories today:

The Washington Post: What the Jan. 6 probe found out about social media, but didn’t report.

The Jan. 6 committee spent months gathering stunning new details on how social media companies failed to address the online extremism and calls for violence that precededthe Capitol riot.

The evidence they collected was written up in a 122-page memo that was circulated among the committee, according to a draft viewed by The Washington Post. But in the end, committee leaders declined to delve into those topics in detail in their final report, reluctant to dig into the roots of domestic extremism taking hold in the Republican Party beyond former president Donald Trump and concerned about the risks of a public battle with powerful tech companies, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the panel’s sensitive deliberations.

Congressional investigators found evidence that tech platforms — especially Twitter — failed to heed their own employees’ warnings about violent rhetoric on their platforms and bent their rules to avoid penalizing conservatives, particularly then-president Trump, out of fear of reprisals.The draft report details how most platforms did not take “dramatic” steps to rein in extremist content until after the attack on the Capitol, despite clear red flags across the internet.

“The sum of this is that alt-tech, fringe, and mainstream platforms were exploited in tandem by right-wing activists to bring American democracy to the brink of ruin,” the staffers wrote in their memo. “These platforms enabled the mobilization of extremists on smaller sites and whipped up conservative grievance on larger, more mainstream ones.”

But little of the evidence supporting those findings surfaced during the public phase of the committee’s probe, including its 845-page report that focused almost exclusively on Trump’s actions that day and in the weeks just before.

That focus on Trump meant the report missed an opportunity to hold social media companies accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, even though the platforms had been the subject of intense scrutiny since Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016, the people familiar with the matter said.

Read more at the WaPo.

Politico: Revealed: Who visited the Trump White House before Jan. 6.

Donald Trump spent his time in office fighting the release of his White House visitor logs. Then came the Jan. 6 select committee.

In late December, the committee uploaded hundreds of documents as it wrapped up its exhaustive investigation into the attacks on the Capitol. Tucked into that release was an excel spreadsheet detailing seven full days of Trump’s White House visitor manifests.

Those logs capture key moments pertaining to the Jan. 6 probe, such as the Oval Office meeting on Dec. 18, in which outside advisers, including Sidney Powell and Patrick Byrne, discussed the prospect of seizing voting machines. They also offer a glimpse into dozens of other guests Trump was hosting during the final chaotic stretch of his presidency, from a Dec. 14 holiday reception featuring governors, Fox News personalities and donors, to a Dec. 18 Oval Office visit by country music singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood — whose music was a staple at Trump rallies — and his family.

The logs are not exhaustive. They only deal with a small period of the Trump presidency and do not include the specific purposes of the visit or details to identify the visitor beyond his or her name. For example, many people are listed as having met with Trump on Dec. 14 in the White House residence, though it’s likely they were in attendance at a larger holiday party….

The visitor logs include the dates: Dec. 12, 2020; Dec. 14, 2020; Dec. 18, 2020; Dec. 21, 2020; Jan. 3, 2021; Jan. 4, 2021; and Jan. 5, 2021.

Interesting, but there’s no analysis in the article. Let’s hope more will follow.

Speaking of visitor logs, Republicans are pretending to be outraged because there are no visitor logs for Biden’s home in Delaware.

Mother Jones: House Republicans Want Visitor Logs for Biden’s House—But Not for Mar-a-Lago.

House Republicans are eager to investigate the mishandling of classified documents—some classified documents, anyway.

On Sunday, James Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, appeared on CNN and released a letter demanding visitor logs for Joe Biden’s Wilmington home, where classified material from Biden’s time as vice president was recently discovered. “Without a list of individuals who have visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents,” Comer, a Kentucky Republican, wrote to White House chief of staff Ron Klain.

The letter followed a White House announcement Saturday that five pages with “classification markings” were found adjacent to Biden’s Wilmington garage on Thursday, a day after one page with a classification marking was found. Personal lawyers for Biden had previously found classified documents at the Penn Biden Center in Washington on November 2 and in Biden’s garage in Wilmington in December.

The discovery of classified material in nonsecure locations has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump’s taking of hundreds of documents, including highly sensitive material, from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago club and residence in Florida….

But the similarities are limited. No evidence has emerged that shows the material at Biden’s office or home was moved there in deliberate violation of the law. And Biden’s lawyers appear to have proactively contacted the Justice Department about their discovery and immediately returned the material to the National Archives after finding it.

But the Secret Service doesn’t keep visitor logs for presidents’ private residences–including Mar-a-Lago.

From Politico, Oct. 2017:

There are no visitor logs or other system of tracking those who visited President Donald Trump at his winter retreat known as Mar-a-Lago, a Secret Service official confirmed Wednesday.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Special Agent Kim Campbell said that her agency had a smattering of records regarding some foreign dignitaries and law enforcement officers who met Trump earlier this year during his stays at the Palm Beach resort he owns.

However, Campbell acknowledged the lack of a comprehensive or even a routine process for tracking such visitors, such as the one used for the White House.

“The…search and review of records confirmed that there is no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House Complex,” wrote Campbell, head of the Secret Service’s Liaison Divison. “Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing or set of records that would reflect Presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”

But Trump claims he has information on everyone who visits his tacky club in Palm Springs, according Raw Story: Legal experts have questions after Trump proclaims he has ‘info on everyone’ who came to Mar-a-Lago.

Reports spread on Monday afternoon that the White House doesn’t keep visitor logs for the private homes of presidents like President Joe Biden. The same is true for former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and all of those that came before them. The one discrepancy, however, appears to be the revelation from former President Donald Trump that he has those logs.

Politico confirmed that there are no Secret Service logs of visitors to Mar-a-ago, despite Trump calling it “The Winter White House.”

Taking to his social media account to attack Biden, Trump posted, ” Mar-a-Lago is a highly secured facility, with Security Cameras all over the place, and watched over by staff & our great Secret Service. I have INFO on everyone!”

The Secret Service called this a lie, though not directly.

“The…search and review of records confirmed that there is no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House Complex,” wrote Special Agent Kim Campbell, head of the Secret Service’s Liaison Divison. “Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing or set of records that would reflect Presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”

It’s unclear who is telling the truth or if Trump is saying that while the Secret Service didn’t keep logs, he personally did through his country club’s records.

Come on…everyone knows that Trump never tells the truth.

The White House wants McCarthy to reveal the secret deals he made with the right wing nuts in the House.

Poltico: White House to McCarthy: ‘Come clean’ on your backroom speaker deals.

The White House is escalating its fight with newly empowered congressional Republicans, with officials Tuesday calling on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to “come clean” about secretive deals he made with hardline members that helped him eventually land the top job.

“An unprecedented tax hike on the middle class and a national abortion ban are just a glimpse of the secret, backroom deals Speaker McCarthy made with extreme MAGA members to end this month’s chaotic elections and claim the gavel,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement shared first with POLITICO. “It is well past time for Speaker McCarthy and the ultra MAGA Republican House members to come out of the dark and tell the American people, in-full, what they decided in secret.”

While McCarthy has insisted he made no formal agreements in exchange for getting conservative holdouts to vote for him, conservative members have said they received certain promises from the new speaker. They have also pointed to action on their priority legislation as a direct result of the recent House leadership negotiations….

President Joe Biden has tried to turn the policy implications of Republicans’ priority bills, including legislation to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace more progressive income taxes with a national sales tax, into a political cudgel. White House officials also said the Republican leadership talks laid the groundwork for the House to vote on a national abortion ban and argue the GOP will use the debt limit standoff to try to force cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

“The few agreements we know about would fundamentally reshape our economy in a devastating way for working families and criminalize women for making their own health care decisions,” Bates said. “They’re also planning to plunge the economy into chaos and take millions of American jobs and 401k plans hostage unless they can cut Medicare.”

Sahil Kapur at NBC News: House Republicans gear up for a debt ceiling fight with the White House and Senate Democrats.

The Republican-controlled House has planted the seeds for a debt-ceiling showdown, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy endorsing a push by his hard-liners to demand spending cuts as part of any extension of the country’s borrowing authority….

Ultraconservative lawmakers insist they don’t want the country to default, but their conditions for raising the debt limit are unlikely to be accepted by the Democratic-led Senate or President Joe Biden.

Republicans are on a collision course with the White House, which is demanding that Congress raise the debt limit without conditions.

If they fail to resolve their differences and cause a default, the range of consequences includes a stock market crash, a recession, higher interest rates for consumers, a weaker dollar, a U.S. credit downgrade and a government unable to meet all its obligations, from funding the military to providing Social Security benefits….

Conservative lawmakers say that as part of their negotiations to allow McCarthy the speakership, it secured assurances to include major spending cuts to balance the federal budget in any debt limit increase. And to enforce that, they’ve secured other rule changes that give a small group of members the power to remove McCarthy.

But Democrats, who control the Senate and the White House, are unlikely to accept those cuts. They are also opposed to granting policy concessions to lift the debt ceiling, particularly after a 2011 showdown, during Barack Obama’s presidency, when a GOP House brought the U.S. to within days of economic disaster and caused a rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s for the first time.

The House’s new rules, adopted by Republicans last week, require an explicit vote to increase U.S. borrowing authority, eliminating an end run that Congress has previously used to fast-track it.

That’s all I have for you today–sorry this isn’t much of a post.

19 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is a good article at The Bulwark on the Jim Jordan “weaponization of government” committee.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    This also looks interesting from Brian Klaas.

    • dakinikat says:

      Jonathan Gottschall, an expert on the links between evolution and human storytelling, has come up with a simple, compelling explanation for why people are innately drawn to conspiracy theories. We are, in his words, a storytelling animal. Our minds have evolved to latch on to stories to make sense of a maddeningly complex world.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’ve always wanted to read his book.

      • NW Luna says:

        We also like the entertainment provided by a storyteller. Stories can be about cultural role models or mythical themes — hero’s journey, etc. They can be a way of teaching cultural values, exemplified by stories about an ordinary person being rewarded for being kind to a beggar who turns out to be a deity in disguise, while the snooty brother doesn’t get anything. Many fairy tales and legends are of that latter type. (Comp lit major here for my B.A.)

        I think conspiracy theories are only one type of storytelling, and that not all of us are innately drawn to them. After you finish listening and are out of the spell of the storyteller, there is the opportunity to analyze what you’ve heard.

  3. dakinikat says:

    This makes me sick to my stomach.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. quixote says:

    It’s an excellent post, bb!

    I hope that dreaded lurgy keeps fading till it’s gone!

  6. NW Luna says:

    BB, I hope you recover soon! It’s not surprising that you’d be tired as your body works to get back to normal after such onslaughts.