US ‘Independence’ Day: This is not a drill. We have less Freedom Today than in 2016

Patriot Front, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as a white nationalist hate group that broke off from Vanguard America after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, march down South Michigan Avenue in the Loop as anti-abortion activists march across the street during a March for Life rally, Saturday afternoon, Jan. 8, 2022.Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Freedom’s Ring is faint and disappearing in the USA!

State after state is signing laws to criminalize abortion under all circumstances making women chattel of the state. Many women with ectopic pregnancies are left to suffer until death’s door is nearly open on the advice of lawyers.  Republicans with federal appointments and offices are trying to make that a Total Abortion Ban Federal Law.

Guns have more rights in this country than women and children. The Supreme Court is rewriting law after law with little more justification than they were put there by the Federalist Society to get the job done, they now hold a supermajority and their misguided religious fervor will rule every decision. Police can overlook stating Miranda Rights. The EPA can’t oversee pollution releases in carbon-producing companies This is what the post-2016 election era has brought us. We are living in a Republican dystopia and it’s getting worse.

Every American officeholder should announce that they will never appoint anyone recommended by the extremist group funded by the Koch brothers and others to any judicial appointment. Every candidate needs to announce their intent.

I would suggest you read a compelling book about Germany called The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic published in 2018 and written by Benjamin Carter Hett.  As you ask yourselves what Germans in the years of 1933-1934 should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been doing finish by asking yourselves what should we be doing now?

To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany’s leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler’s hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.

Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicians show how fragile democracy can be when those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.

Realize that Republicans at all levels are using these same techniques.  We have “spates” of right-wing insurgencies and they appear only helpless and enabling to stop the rise of White Nationalism.  Patriot Front marched around the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston this weekend. The Patriot Front also showed up around Independence day in Philadelphia in 2021. The group was run off by residents. They were arrested in Idaho last month. They are a radical white Christian nationalist group. This is not normal. They’re showing up everywhere.

From Axios: “What we know about the Patriot Front march through Boston.” 

Driving the news: Police received a call around 12:30 p.m. that a group of protesters were marching through the city, though their route was unknown, CNN reported.

  • Many of the marchers wore khaki pants and dark-colored polo shirts, with cloth coverings over their lower faces, along with sunglasses and caps.

State of play: The group approached a rental truck parked near the Haymarket metro stop and unloaded shields and a number of different flags, according to the Boston Herald.

  • Among them were U.S. flags, with some being flown upside down and others showing just the 13 stars of the original U.S. colonies. Other flags displayed versions of the symbol used by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, per the Herald.
  • Patriot Front flags were also flown, per CNN.
  • Boston police received a report around 1:25 p.m. of a Black man being injured in a confrontation with Patriot Front marchers.
  • The man told police that he was pushed around, knocked to the ground, and assaulted by members of the group, suffering several lacerations. He was later taken to Tufts Medical Center, the Herald reported.
  • Around 1:30 p.m. the group left the scene via the metro system after packing their materials into a rental truck, per the Herald.

The big picture: City Council President Ed Flynn wrote in a letter Saturday that members of neo-Nazi groups have “continued to make their presence known” in Boston in recent months.

  • In February they targeted doctors working to address racial disparities in healthcare at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and appeared at the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade in March, Flynn wrote.
  • In June, 31 members of the Patriot Front were arrested in Idaho after being caught planning to riot at an LGBTQ Pride event.

What to watch: The Boston Police Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into the incident and no arrests have yet been made, per the Herald.

What they’re saying: “The disgusting hate of white supremacists has no place here. [Especially] when so many of our rights are under attack, we will not normalize intimidation by bigots,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu tweeted on Saturday.

They marched with anti-abortion protestors in the loop in Chicago in January.

I will never go to Florida again. It’s become the fascist cookbook for laws that could be enforced by the White Nationalist Inquisition.  They’ve come for me again.  Every student and especially professor at any legitimate university or college has what is called Academic Freedom.  It no longer exists in Florida

The concept of academic freedom is based on the idea that the free exchange of ideas on campus is essential to good education. Specifically, academic freedom is the right of faculty members, acting both as individuals and as a collective, to determine without outside interference: (1) the college curriculum; (2) course content; (3) teaching; (4) student evaluation; and (5) the conduct of scholarly inquiry. These rights are supported by two institutional practices—shared governance and tenure (see below.) Academic freedom ensures that colleges and universities are “safe havens” for inquiry, places where students and scholars can challenge the conventional wisdom of any field—art, science, politics or others.

From the link above: “Florida Gov signs law requiring students, faculty be asked their political beliefs.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday signed legislation mandating public colleges and universities survey students and faculty about their beliefs in an effort to promote intellectual diversity on campuses.

“We obviously want our universities to be focused on critical thinking, academic rigor,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday, according to the Naples Daily News.

“We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology,” he said.

“It used to be thought that a university campus was a place where you’d be exposed to a lot of different ideas,” DeSantis said. “Unfortunately, now the norm is, these are more intellectually repressive environments,” he added.

Under House Bill 233, surveys would be conducted annually on campuses to assess viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom, and determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented,” and whether students and faculty “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”

I would hate to hear what DeSantis thinks is “stale ideology”.  Academic freedom supports the free exchange of ideas but basically ensuring your faculty has an agenda you approve of is just about as fascist as you can get.  Throw out theory and replace it with whatever.  Does this mean Med Schools must teach that a clump of vibrating cells is a heartbeat when there are no valves present in a fetus at that point in development?  How about me?  We all live in mixed market economies.  Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, whatever are political ideologies and are discussed just as philosophical takes on how to apply data and theory.  They’re abstracts only.  There, I just got in trouble because I use market economies and dump the philosophical vantages for the idea of doing what works for each individual market.  Capitalism is a Marxist Construct.  Are my views stale or is he just plain ignorant?

ESPN is not the place where you’d expect a headline or thought piece like this one by Howard Bryant:“Baseball, barbecue and losing freedom this Fourth of July”.

Last month, Major League Baseball and its partners again released Independence Day-themed baseball hats that each of the 30 teams will wear. This year’s version features a flush of stars across the front against a blue and white backdrop, offset with a shaggy shock of red. The Toronto Blue Jays, located in a country that does not celebrate American independence, were also issued the caps — even though the Canadian flag does not contain stars nor the color blue. Public outrage prompted a redesign of the Toronto caps. Next is the USA-themed socks, the marketing, the freedom-inspired spikes, gloves, wristbands, the inevitable paeans to the armed forces.

By now, we’re all numb to the spectacle. At least publicly, the emphasis on the Fourth of July shifted from family to symbols years ago — Sept. 11 did that. Two decades of paid patriotism has made it ever harder to center the Fourth on reconnecting with your favorite aunts and uncles. No backyard barbecue and badminton game could compete with 20 years of military tributes and unquestioned nationalism. You think back to Righetti. Cosmetically, there was nothing about that July 4, 1983, that said patriotism. All Yankee Stadium said that day 39 years ago was baseball. Ninety-four degrees. Sox-Yankees. The Stadium looked as it did every other day. The crowd came because it was July 4, a Monday day game — a great day for baseball and family — and, along with Bat Day, the biggest giveaway day of the year: Yankee Cap Day. You smile a little at the victory in that, because only a few decades earlier, the Yankees were most resistant to a brilliant piece of marketing. In the 1950s, the Yankees did not want fans wearing Yankees caps. George Weiss, the Yankees’ general manager at the time, thought a million New York kids wearing the team cap cheapened the brand. Yankees hats were a piece of a professional uniform. They were for players, not fans.

Grilling, baseball and fireworks, first replaced by symbols — and now by a country tearing itself completely apart. July 4, 2022, falls in the midst of devastation. It is Independence Day in America with independence under current and relentless assault. From Miranda rights to the environment, to the separation of church and state, to guns — so many guns — people are reeling. The U.S. Supreme Court has run a chain saw through what two generations of Americans had known to be the legal baselines of their lives. Tens of millions of women today do not feel freedom and certainly are not celebrating independence. The people who can become pregnant who feel celebratory toward the Court may do so from the victory of their position, but it nevertheless remains true that the power of choice — and the right to privacy — has been taken from all of them.

There’s not a fine line between honoring and disrespecting the flag, but Trumperz doesn’t appear to know that. If you want to see what a cult look likes take a look at this Guardian piece: “Trump supporters: what they wear – in pictures.” It’s frankly scary and depressing at the same time while being terrifically disrespectful to the flag.

Here’s a video from Ken Burns published at the New York Times.  America Is Failing Refugees, and Itself/ For his 1985 documentary about the Statue of Liberty, the filmmaker Ken Burns interviewed two Jewish boys sitting on a bench in New York City.  They were twins who had fled Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, with their father.”

Also from The New York Times and Peter Baker:New Insights Into Trump’s State of Mind on Jan. 6 Chip Away at Doubts. Former President Donald J. Trump has weathered scandals by keeping his intentions under wraps, but recent testimony paints a stark portrait of a man willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.”

He was not speaking metaphorically. It was not an offhand comment. President Donald J. Trump had every intention of joining a mob of supporters he knew to be armed and dangerous as it marched to the Capitol. And there had even been talk of marching into the House chamber himself to disrupt Congress from ratifying his election defeat.

For a year and a half, Mr. Trump has been shielded by obfuscations and mischaracterizations, benefiting from uncertainty about what he was thinking on Jan. 6, 2021. If he truly believed the election had been stolen, if he genuinely expected the gathering at the Capitol would be a peaceful protest, the argument went, then could he be held accountable, much less indicted, for the mayhem that ensued?

But for a man who famously avoids leaving emails or other trails of evidence of his unspoken motives, any doubts about what was really going through Mr. Trump’s mind on that day of violence seemed to have been eviscerated by testimony presented in recent weeks by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack — especially the dramatic appearance last week of a 26-year-old former White House aide who offered a chilling portrait of a president willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.

So, this is not a drill.  This is real. I think it’s time we dig into a little Weimar Republic History and see where the Germans got it wrong and then vow to get it right.

Happy Independence Day even though we are less independent today than we were when Hillary told us during her campaign that all of this was bound to happen.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: Jan. 6 Committee Surprise Hearing

Good Morning!!

Yesterday, after the January 6 Committee announced a surprise hearing for today at 1PM, I was glued to Twitter trying to get clues to what could be coming. By late last night, news had leaked that the surprise witness is Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. Dakinikat stayed up later than I did, and she texted me a more detailed account of what the committee may be planning to reveal by Hugo Lowell of The Guardian (more below).

Background info on Hutchinson from The Washington Post: Who is Cassidy Hutchinson?

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has become one of the most useful witnesses for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob determined to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

cassidy-hutchinson_hpMain_20220628-012908_16x9_1600

Cassidy Hutchinson

She has spoken to investigators on the committee multiple times behind closed doors. In the absence of testimony from Meadows himself — he refused to appear, and the committee held him in contempt — Hutchinson seems to be key to understanding the scope of his actions….

Hutchinson was by Meadows’s side leading up to and during the Capitol attack and has told the committee of strategy sessions held between the White House and President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress about whether they should encourage “Stop the Steal” participants to march to the Capitol, and how to set up alternative slates of electors.

The Washington Post reported that she confirmed to the committee that at one point Meadows said Trump had indicated support for protesters who were shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Videotaped testimony from Hutchinson was also central to allegations of pardon-hunting by Republican House members. The allegations were aired by the committee at Thursday’s hearing.

Hutchinson testified that she was involved with conversations about requests from Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), all of whom she said had sought a promise from the White House to be cleared in advance of any crimes they might be charged with. Perry had previously denied seeking a pardon, but Hutchinson insisted in her deposition that he had spoken to her directly about it….

According to a court filing in April, Hutchinson told congressional investigators that Meadows was warned before Jan. 6 about the threat of violence that day as supporters of Trump planned to mass at the U.S. Capitol.

Hutchinson recalled that Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who also held the role of a political adviser at the White House, “coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. And Mr. Meadows said: All right. Let’s talk about it.”

Hutchinson added, “I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information internally.”

Read more about her at the WaPo. We don’t know what further information Hutchinson plans to share with the committee, but the reason they want her to testify ASAP is because she has faced threats and perhaps could be subject to witness tampering.

Dakinikat sent me this article late last night:

From the Guardian:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is closely focused on phone calls and conversations among Donald Trump’s children and top aides captured by a documentary film-maker weeks before the 2020 election, say sources familiar with the matter.

The calls among Trump’s children and top aides took place at an invitation-only event at the Trump International hotel in Washington that took place the night of the first presidential debate on 29 September 2020, the sources said.

The select committee is interested in the calls, the sources said, since the footage is understood to show the former president’s children, including Donald Jr and Eric Trump, privately discussing strategies about the election at a crucial time in the presidential campaign.

House investigators first learned about the event, hosted by the Trump campaign, and the existence of the footage through British film-maker Alex Holder, who testified about what he and his crew recorded during a two-hour interview last week, the sources said….

The select committee is closely focused on the footage of the event – in addition to the content of the one-on-one interviews with Trump and Ivanka – because the discussions about strategies mirror similar conversations at that time by top Trump advisors.

On the night of the first presidential debate, Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview with The Circus on Showtime that the outcome of the election would be decided at the state level and eventually at the congressional certification on January 6.

“They’re going to try and overturn this election with uncertified votes,” Bannon said. Asked how he expects the election to end, Bannon said: “Right before noon on the 20th, in a vote in the House, Trump will win the presidency.”

The select committee believes that ideas such as Bannon’s were communicated to advisers to Donald Jr and his fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, even before the 2020 election had taken place, the sources said – leading House investigators to want to review the Trump hotel footage.

What appears to interest the panel is whether Trump and his children had planned to somehow stop the certification of the election on January 6 – a potential violation of federal law – and to force a contingent election if Trump lost as early as September.

Before the news about the surprise committee hearing broke yesterday, the big story was that John Eastman’s phone was seized by federal agents on the same day that federal agents searched Jeffrey Clark’s home last week. 

John Eastman, the attorney who developed Donald Trump’s last-ditch strategy to seize a second term, said in court Monday that he had his phone seized by federal agents last week.

In a court filing in federal court in New Mexico, Eastman indicated he was confronted by agentswhen leaving a restaurant. He’s moving for a judge to order his phone returned.

“The federal agents identified themselves as FBI agents, but they appeared to be executing a warrant issued at the behest of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General,” Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, wrote in the 13-page filing.

Eastman accompanied the filing with a copy of the search warrant, authorized by a federal magistrate judge in Albuquerque.

jeffrey-clark-january-6-donald-trump-fbi

Jeffrey Clark

A legal adviser to Trump’s campaign, Eastman has been a central figure in the Capitol riot committee’s case that the former president attempted to block the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021. A federal judge in California has previously ruled that Eastman and Trump “likely” entered a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

The search of Eastman’s phone appears to have come amid a flurry of activity by federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6 attack and efforts by Trump allies to authorize false slates of electors as part of a plan to overturn the 2020 election.

Last week, subpoenas were served on a slew of those false electors, including at least three state Republican Party chairs. Investigators also searched the Lorton, Va., home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, another critical player in Trump’s efforts.

As a number of legal experts have pointed out, in order to get a search warrant for Eastman’s phone, the government would have to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe the device contains evidence of a crime. Since the search was initiated by the DOJ Inspector General, the information likely relates to the case against Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ employee.

I’m going to end there for now. I will post any further news I find in the comment thread. We’ll soon know what the committee believes is so important they are holding an unscheduled meeting three days before the Fourth of July break.


Tuesday Reads

Bowes, Josephine, 1825-1874; Study of Birch Trees

Bowes, Josephine; Study of Birch Trees; The Bowes Museum.

Good Morning!!

Today’s January 6 Committee hearing has now been scheduled for 1PM. As you know, the hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to pressure state lawmakers to set up slates of fake electors. It could be a blockbuster. Politico just broke the news that Ginni Thomas’s communications with Arizona lawmakers could come up in the questioning.

From the Politico Playbook:

The logistics … Chair BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) are expected to open the hearing, and Rep. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) will play a key role. There will be four witnesses broken up over two panels.

— The first panel features (1) Arizona House Speaker RUSTY BOWERS(2) Georgia Secretary of State BRAD RAFFENSPERGER and (3) his deputy, GABRIEL STERLING.

Bowers is expected to describe the pressure campaign from Trump, RUDY GIULIANI and VIRGINIA THOMAS, the wife of Supreme Court Justice CLARENCE THOMAS. In one phone call, Trump and Giuliani pushed Bowers to change Arizona law retroactively “to allow the Legislature to choose a different slate of presidential electors than picked by voters.”

And the Playbook also broke this news this morning:

SCOOP: The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 sent a subpoena last week to ALEX HOLDER, a documentary filmmaker who was granted extensive access to President DONALD TRUMP and his inner circle, and who shot interviews with the then-president both before and after Jan. 6. The existence of this footage is previously unreported.

Landscape with trees, Felix Edouard Vallotton

Landscape with trees, Felix Edouard Vallotton

A source familiar with the project told Playbook on Monday night that Holder began filming on the campaign trail in September 2020 for a project on Trump’s reelection campaign. Over the course of several months, Holder had substantial access to Trump, Trump’s adult children and VP MIKE PENCE, both in the White House and on the campaign trail.

According to the subpoena, which was obtained exclusively by Playbook, the committee wants three main things from Holder:

(1) Raw footage from Jan. 6.

(2) Raw footage of interviews from September 2020 to present with Trump, Pence, DONALD TRUMP JR.IVANKA TRUMPERIC TRUMP and JARED KUSHNER.

(3) Raw footage “pertaining to discussions of election fraud or election integrity surrounding the November 2020 presidential election.”

Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the committee in an interview scheduled for Thursday. Read the full subpoena

The second panel will focus on an election worker from Georgia:

— The second panel has just one witness: SHAYE MOSS, an election worker in Georgia. She and her mother processed ballots in 2020 and were targets of a smear campaign by Trump allies. David Wickert at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a deep dive on Moss, who was accused “of rigging the November 2020 election for Joe Biden with ‘suitcases’ of ballots on election night. The pair were featured in a video that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called a ‘smoking gun’ for voting fraud.”

A committee aide said that Moss would outline how “being targeted by the former president has upended her life and that of her mother. … They were subjected to death threats, intimidation, coercion, forced to go into hiding.”

Raffensperger and Sterling are relatively well known now, but I had not heard of Rusty Bowers before. Here’s some information about him from The Washington Post: Who is Rusty Bowers?

Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers, a Republican, was pressured by Donald Trump and other members of his party to refuse to accept the results of Arizona’s election in 2020. Bowers is expected to be Tuesday’s first live witness before the Jan. 6 panel.

Vickerman, Stanley, 1922-1997; Tree Roots

Vickerman, Stanley; Tree Roots; Kirklees Museums and Galleries

Bowers, 69, supported Trump’s 2020 campaign. When the former president lost the election in Arizona by 10,457 votes, he and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Bowers to persuade him to block the state legislature from certifying the results.

Bowers refused.

His decision to stand firm against Trump put him at the center of the ire of the former president’s supporters. Armed protesters gathered outside his house and screamed that he was a pedophile. Last summer, the state’s right-wing Patriot Party attempted to recall Bowers from office, complaining that he did not do enough to support an audit of the 2020 election. The effort failed, the Arizona Republic reported.

The state lawmaker, who will not be in charge of the Arizona House next year — he decided to seek a state Senate seat instead — received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in April for resisting intimidation from Trump.

Adam Schiff will take the lead in today’s hearing. From Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney at Politico: Jan. 6 committee to highlight Trump’s state-level pressure to overturn the 2020 election.

The select committee intends to lay out Tuesday how Trump leaned on statehouse Republicans — from Pennsylvania, to Georgia, to Michigan, to Arizona and others — to pull off a scheme that would culminate on Jan. 6, 2021, when then-Vice President Mike Pence presided over the counting of electoral votes.

Under Trump’s plan, Pence would be presented with competing slates of electors — those certified by the governors, and those certified by state legislators — and he would assert the extraordinary power to choose which slates to count. But no state legislature responded to Trump’s demand, and Pence, without any genuine controversy, rejected the scheme as illegal.

In fact, the legality of the plan will be at the heart of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing, which will be led in part by panel member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). It’s the select panel’s fourth public hearing as investigators lay out their findings.

Dancing around the large trees at Perros Maurice Denis - 1914, Bo Fransson

Dancing around the large trees at Perros Maurice Denis – 1914, Bo Fransson

Trump-aligned lawyers concocted the effort, leaning on fringe constitutional theory and the guidance of John Eastman, a primary architect of the effort to pressure Pence on Jan. 6. Eastman himself acknowledged in emails obtained by the select committee that the Pence plan would be “dead on arrival” without the backing of state legislatures — yet he pushed ahead anyway, suggesting that the confusion around alternate electors would give Pence enough cover to act.

Trump’s own White House counsel’s office also raised doubts about the plan, according to testimony released by the select panel in court filings. And in the days before Jan. 6, Pence’s chief counsel Greg Jacob engaged in an intense debate with Eastman, contending that not a single justice of the Supreme Court would back his plan — a point he said Eastman reluctantly conceded.

Select committee aides told reporters Monday that the hearing would highlight new evidence of Trump’s direct awareness and involvement in the fake electors scheme. To highlight the issue, the panel plans to hear from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his aide Gabriel Sterling and other state and local officials. Several of Tuesday’s witnesses were subpoenaed to appear. Schiff told the Los Angeles Times Monday the panel would also highlight proof of then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ involvement in Georgia.

I don’t want to miss a minute of this!

This is from yesterday’s Washington Post: Trump campaign documents show advisers knew fake-elector plan was baseless.

The convening of the electoral college on Dec. 14, 2020, was supposed to mark the end of the wild, extended presidential election that year.

But when the dayarrived, a strange thing happened. In seven swing states won by JoeBiden, when the Democrat’s electors assembled to formally elect him president, Trump supporters showed up, too, ready to declare that their man had actually won.

“The electors are already here — they’ve been checked in,” a state police officer told the group in Michigan, according to a video of the encounter, as he barred the Republicans from the Capitol in a state Biden won by more than 154,000 votes.

In Nevada,a state Biden had won by about 33,600 votes,a photo distributed by the state Republican Party showed Trump supporters squeezing around an undersize picnic table dressed up with a bit of bunting, preparing to sign formal certificates declaring that they were “the duly elected and qualified” electors of their state.

Ellison, R.; Oak Trees

Ellison, R.; Oak Trees; Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service

At the time, the gatherings seemed a slapdash, desperate attempt to mimic President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.

But internal campaign emails and memos revealthat the convening of the fake electors was apparently a much more concerted strategy, intended to give Vice President Mike Pence a reason to declare that the outcome of the election was somehow in doubt on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was to preside over the congressional counting of the electoral college votes.

The documents show that Trump’s team pushed ahead and urged the electors to meet — then pressured Pence to cite the alternate Trump slates — even as various Trump lawyers acknowledged privately that they did not have legal validity and the gatherings had not been in compliance with state laws.

Adam Schiff spoke to The Los Angeles Times about Mark Meadows’ role in interfering in the Georgia election: House Jan. 6 committee to reveal Meadows’ pressure on Georgia election officials.

The House Jan. 6 committee plans to show in its fourth hearing Tuesday that President Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows “had an intimate role … in this plot to put pressure on [Georgia] state legislators and on elections officials,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the panel, told The Times in an interview.

Among other things, Schiff said the committee investigating the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will release new information about Meadows’ appearance at a key election meeting in Georgia and text messages revealing that he wanted to send autographed Make America Great Again hats to people conducting the audit….

With the Jan. 6 probe, Schiff and House Democrats have a powerful tool they lacked in the previous investigations: Some of Trump’s closest allies have spelled out in sworn testimony the details of the former president’s actions leading up to Jan. 6 and, in many cases, how they advocated against such moves.

In the interview, Schiff, a former prosecutor, expressed surprise that the House committee got so many people to speak on the record.

“I’m glad these people are coming forward,” he said. “I’m glad they’re speaking out. It took a long time for [former Atty. Gen.] Bill Barr to do the right thing. It took a long time for many others who enabled Donald Trump to say ‘I can’t go any further.’”

But he added, if they had spoken out earlier, “we might have been spared all the trauma we went through.”

Bough, Samuel, 1822-1878; Entrance to Cadzow Forest, near Glasgow

Bough, Samuel; Entrance to Cadzow Forest, near Glasgow; York Museums Trust.

I’ll end with some Ginni Thomas news that The Washington Post broke last night: Speaker at meeting of Ginni Thomas group called Biden’s win illegitimate long after Jan. 6, video shows.

Two months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to help President Donald Trump stay in office, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, attended a gathering of right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the “legitimate president,” a video recording of the event shows.

“There is a robbery that is going on in this country right now,” pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant told the crowd, according to video posted to Facebook by an attendee. “In fact, I say it to you and I’ll say it loud and clear, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I won’t bite my tongue. I do believe that Donald John Trump is the only legitimate president.”

The event on March 6, 2021, was a meeting of Frontliners for Liberty. The group vaulted from obscurity to national attention last week with the disclosure that Thomas had invited pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman to speak to its members in December 2020.

The revelation, originating from emails that a judge ordered Eastman to turn over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, showed that Thomas was in contact with Eastman, a key legal architect of the attempt to subvert the election. The judge, David O. Carter of the Central District of California, wrote in a June 7 opinion that the emails, including two in which the group’s “high-profile leader” invited Eastman to speak — were relevant to the committee’s work.

While text messages and emails unearthed in recent weeks have shown that Thomas was involved in those efforts before Jan. 6, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings and interviews with several people involved in the group.

I can’t wait for 1:00! If you’re watching the hearing, please share your thoughts in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: 🖤🤎❤️🧡💛💚💜💙🤍💖

Artwork from HRC.org #HumanRightsCampaign

Good morning, aside from this being #PRIDE month… I’d like to remind our Sky Dancing family that we are all inclusive.

Meaning all are welcome.

However, I’ve been a bit put off by some of the tone against a particular group of the LGBTQ community. Specifically the 🏳️‍⚧️ T as in Trans…

This dialogue has gotten me upset and uncomfortable, and I have to speak out. If we are to be a blog that accepts the concept that all humans deserve acknowledgment that yes…human rights are exactly what that is…human rights, then Trans rights are Human rights.

Just like Women’s rights are Human rights, Black Lives Matter, Immigrant rights are Human rights, Kids rights are Human rights…it is the statement…Human rights are the fucking floor here!

Respect is standard.

My point being, inclusiveness is the key.

Intersectionality.

And that is not always the message which comes through.

So…let me say, for my own personal self here, that certain opinions and statements in the blog’s comments do not reflect my beliefs in any way. I fully support the LGBTQ community and that includes all, the T for Trans too.

We can be a champion for Women, all Women.

Yes, Women and People get pregnant and Women and People have abortions.

Now that I’ve said what I wanted to say for some time…

Let’s start with something to clear the air:

Amazing…dancer with Ballet Cuba.
This video made me feel so good…I hope it does that for you too.

Now, the cartoons:

Meanwhile…yesterday in Idaho:

“Reclaim America” is what is written on the back of that asshole’s shirt.

We had to put down Beef on Thursday, it turned out to be an exact year to the day since Bebe adopted him.

I’m going to end this post with a trip down memory lane…and this is not meant to be a comment on violence against women. It is more of a comment on how nice Alexis was, she packed up all that luggage for Blake and his “blond tramp” …

Dynasty…sweet…vicious.

This is an open thread. (Please, no anti-Trans comments…at least on Sundays and Wednesdays…)

Have a safe day today. Be careful.


Tuesday Reads: Surry Down!

Claude Monet – Luncheon on the Grass (1865-6)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

This isn’t a particularly newsy day.  I’m actually thinking that might be a good thing if only most of the headlines I see weren’t about Covid-19 and the upcoming anniversary of the sedition insurrection.  I’m going to take the time to dig into some other things. That’s an accidental hint because the first thing I’m going to share appeals to the kid in me that wanted to be an archeologist and you know, digging up bones and pottery of some lost tribes.

This is from NPR and involves the “big” finds of 2021 as determined by members of Trowelblazers which is “a group of four female archaeologists of different specialties dedicated to highlighting the historic and integral role of women in the “digging sciences”.” The first discovery is that of a family group of Neandertals–including children–whose footprints show that gathering may have been a family business. Is this a precursor to the family picnic?

While these aren’t the first Neanderthal footprints to be discovered, they are very special.

“This is especially nice, because it’s a group – mixed age, including children, some of which are quite young. They seem to be sort of foraging around on the edge of a lagoon,” Wragg Sykes said.

The diversity in age is key here and actually helps to challenge a common assumption that Neanderthals foraged in solitude, with the adults peeling off from the group to find food for the children.

The discovery instead gives support to the theory that hunting and gathering might have been a family affair, involving a collaborative and intergenerational effort.

Adorably, the paper also noted that some of the footprints which belonged to children were “grouped in a chaotic arrangement,” as if they were playing.

“That’s an angle on the Neanderthal life that we don’t often get to see,” Wragg Sykes said, adding that the discovery helps give a sense of humanity to this not-so-distant human relative.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Harvesters (1565)

Other finds include powerful women in ancient Spanish society, a million-year-old mammoth, and early tracks in Tanzania that were previously thought to belong to bears but instead, the prints “are an estimated 3.6 million years old, are the oldest evidence of bipedal locomotion of a human ancestor.”  It’s a really interesting set of reads.

We lost another American feminist icon this week. “Sarah Weddington, Who Successfully Argued Roe v. Wade, Dies at 76. She went before the U.S. Supreme Court at 26 with almost no legal experience and won one of the most consequential cases in American history.”  This is from her NYT Obit.

The Supreme Court first heard appeals on Dec. 13, 1971, with Ms. Weddington making the oral arguments.

“Weddington enjoyed the public stage as much as Coffee disliked it,” Joshua Prager, a journalist, wrote in Vanity Fair in 2017. “Moreover, despite her brilliance, Coffee could come across as bedraggled. And optics mattered. ‘She was younger than I was,’ Coffee said of Weddington. ‘She was blond, blue-eyed.’”

Jay Floyd, who was representing Texas, opened his argument with what commentators have called the “worst joke in legal history.” “It’s an old joke,” Mr. Floyd told the court, “but when a man argues against two beautiful ladies like this, they are going to have the last word.”

As it happened, only seven of the nine justices heard the arguments that day — two others had retired and had not yet been replaced. The justices then decided that the case should be reargued before the full court. All justices were sitting when Ms. Weddington came back on Oct. 11, 1972, and reargued the case.

Their 7-2 decision held that Texas had violated Roe’s constitutional right to privacy as outlined in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The decision was widely praised at the time. But with the rise of the religious right a few years later, abortion became a volcanic political issue, and it remains one of the most divisive in American society. Ms. Weddington received death threats and often traveled with security.

Renoir – Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)

An important case in voting rights today will be heard in the Ohio Supreme Court. It concerns the highly gerrymandered new congressional districts. Governor DeWine’s son is on the bench and refused to recuse himself.  Given the Governor is one of the parties being sued by the ACLU the people there should be outraged.  The hearing is being broadcast live here.

Today’s Oral Arguments: 2021-1428/ Regina C. Adams, et al. v. Governor Mike DeWine, et al. 2021-1449 League of Women Voters of Ohio, et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, et al.

This article discusses how Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine’s refusal to recuse himself from the lawsuit involving his father may be unprecedented. It’s from Cleveland.com.  It is written by Cory Schaffer.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine’s refusal to recuse himself from trio of redistricting lawsuits, in which his father — Gov. Mike DeWine — is a defendant who will testify as a witness, might be unprecedented.

Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer set out to find a case where the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice considered whether a judge, at any court level, should be allowed to preside over a case in which his or her parent or child was a participant. The outlet searched through dozens of cases where the chief justice was asked to force a judge off of a case. Cleveland.com also spoke with multiple attorneys, all of whom declined to comment for this story.

Okay, one article on what we’re learning about what could’ve happened on sedition day.  This is from TPM: “EXCLUSIVE: There Was ANOTHER Rally Planned On Jan. 6 … At The Supreme Court. The same people who organized Trump’s fateful rally on the Ellipse had something else in store on Jan. 6: a rally planned in front of the Supreme Court.” Josh Kovensky has the byline.

The same people who organized Trump’s fateful rally on the Ellipse had something else in store on Jan. 6: a separate, previously unreported rally planned in front of the Supreme Court.

According to text messages and invoices obtained by TPM and provided to the House Jan. 6 Committee, the rally outside of the Supreme Court was set for the afternoon of Jan. 6 with some of the same speakers scheduled to appear.

The plan for a Supreme Court rally after the event at the Ellipse reveals a new and different perspective on the geography and timing of the attack on the Capitol.

We already knew that President Trump amassed supporters at the Ellipse, at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and dispatched them toward the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue, declaring that he would walk with them before promptly returning to the White House. But whether the rally at the Ellipse was planned as a march on the Capitol, even though it was never issued a march permit, remains a hotly contested issue. Regardless, rioters penetrated the Capitol even as the President was still speaking at the Ellipse.

But now TPM’s reporting suggests that the Ellipse rally organizers intended to hold a separate 2 p.m. ET event on the steps of the Supreme Court, across the street from the Capitol, where Congress began certifying the Electoral College vote at noon ET. It suggests that organizers wanted to keep up the pressure on Congress through an event far closer to the Capitol.

And to get there, Big Lie supporters would have had to walk past the Capitol building, traversing a geographic bit of irony: Constitution Avenue.

It’s a long read but try to skim through it at least.  The Augusta Chronicle reports that the county is closing 7 of 8 polling places in Lincoln County Georgia. The county is deep in rural Georgia. Officials argue that one location will make it more convenient for people to vote. The county is heavily black and has no public transportation.

Lincoln County is trying to close all but one polling place for next year’s elections, a move opposed by voting and civil rights groups.

Relocating voters from the county’s seven precincts to a single location will make voting “easier and more accessible” and eliminate the need to transport voting equipment and staff the remaining sites, according to a news release. Community members disagreed.

“Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” said Denise Freeman, an activist and former Lincoln County school board member. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.”

The move was made possible after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year disbanding the Lincoln County Board of Elections. The chief sponsor of Senate bills 282 and 283 was Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, whose district includes Lincoln County. The newly-appointed board agreed to move forward with the “consolidation” plan and was expected to vote on it last week, but appeared to lack a quorum, several said.

I imagine they will keep trying just like the Radical Republican Right did in Texas. I intend to keep my jaded eyes on gerrymandering cases and voting rights and that is my new year’s resolution.  Oh, that and spending a lot more time in my PJs with a cuppa!

So, that’s enough for me today. Thanks to BB for helping me out yesterday!  I made it through my last dentist appointment for the year. I intend to continue to stay in my pjs doing exactly what I want this week.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Meanwhile, surry down to a Stoned Soul Picnic!