Posted: May 17, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Buffalo racist massacre, Elise Stefanik, Fox News, GOP mainstreams violence, mass shootings, Payton Gendron, red flag laws, replacement theory, Republicans, Tucker Carlson, Wendy Rogers, White supremacists
Garden Cats, Hilary Pecis, 1979
I’m really late getting started today, because I had a chance to get a second Moderna booster shot and I took it. My town held a booster clinic in my apartment building late this morning. My arm is sore and I expect I’ll have some symptoms for a few days like I did with the last shot. I hope it won’t be too bad.
Anyway, there’s lots happening today. Of course there’s quite bit of discussion of the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and I’m going to focus on that. The massacre has also put a spotlight on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson’s hate filled rants and drawn attention to NY Rep. Elise Stefanik promotion of the so-called “great replacement theory.” Another Trumpist politician in Arizona is also being investigated for her claims about the Buffalo mass shooting.
The Washington Post: Buffalo shooting suspect wrote of plans 5 months ago, messages show.
Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday, wrote in increasing detail of his plans to murder dozens of Black people in statements posted online over the past five months, according to a compilation of messages by a writer who identified himself as Gendron.
A review of more than 600 pages of messages by The Washington Post found that Gendron resolved in December to kill those he slurred as “replacers,” and decided in February to target Buffalo’s Tops grocery store based on its local African American population. In March, he performed a reconnaissance-style trip to monitor the store’s security and map out its aisles, the messages show. When a store guard confronted him about why he had repeatedly entered that day, Gendron made excuses and fled in what he described as “a close call,” the messages state.
Having identified the supermarket as “attack area 1,” Gendron detailed two additional Buffalo locations as areas at which to “shoot all blacks,” according to the messages, which showed that he had charted routes to each location, worked out the times needed for each shootout and assessed that more than three dozen people in all could be fatally shot.
Wind from the sea, Edward Gordon
Police confirmed on Monday that they suspected Gendron had intended to attack multiple locations. Also on Monday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a call with various law enforcement officials and community leaders: “I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”
Gendron, from Conklin, N.Y., has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in relation to the attack on Saturday. Three other people were also injured before Gendron was arrested at the grocery store. The shootings were streamed live online. In a separate 180-page document published two days before Saturday’s shooting, Gendron cited a racist theory that non-Whites were brought to the United States to replace White people for political purposes.
The 672-page compilation of messages reviewed by The Post was published during the weeks before the attack in Buffalo. The messages featured a screen name that Gendron used on other platforms, contained images of Gendron’s face in selfies and referenced events in his personal life, such as a speeding ticket, which The Post verified.
You can read much more about Gendron and his plans at the WaPo link.
NBC News: New York’s red flag law should have helped thwart the Buffalo mass shooting. What went wrong?
Less than a year after a white teenager in upstate New York was investigated for making a threatening statement at school, he legally purchased a firearm, which he is accused of using to gun down 10 Black people in a racist rampage, authorities said.
The massacre at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Saturday should have been thwarted by New York’s red flag law, which aims to stop people from buying or possessing firearms when they show they’re threats to themselves or others, gun policy experts said.
“It was designed exactly for this circumstance,” said David Pucino, the deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center, a gun-safety group.
Instead, after Payton Gendron appeared on the radar of New York State Police in June over a chilling comment about a murder-suicide he made in the classroom while he was still a minor, he was evaluated and cleared, paving the way for him to legally buy the semi-automatic rifle he is accused of using in the shooting 11 months later, law enforcement officials and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
No official involved in the investigation in June initiated a court process that could have helped prevent Gendron from buying the rifle, a New York State Police spokesperson said Monday.
Now, state legislators are looking into whether those involved followed the proper protocol. “I’ve asked for the investigation of exactly what transpired there,” Hochul told Buffalo’s WKSE radio on Monday.
Hochul said a teacher had asked Gendron about his plans just before the start of summer vacation last year. He responded, “I want to murder and commit suicide,” Hochul said.
The Summer Poppy Field, Claude Monet
NBC News: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson under fresh scrutiny after Buffalo mass shooting.
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is facing intense scrutiny from extremism experts, media watchdogs and progressive activists who say there is a link between the top-rated host’s “great replacement” rhetoric and the apparent mindset of the suspect in the weekend’s deadly rampage in Buffalo, New York.
The white suspect accused of killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood apparently wrote a “manifesto” espousing the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory — elements of which Carlson has pushed on his weeknight show.
The theory baselessly holds that a cabal of Jewish people and Democratic elites are plotting to “replace” white Americans with people of color through immigration policies, higher birth rates and other social transformations. The idea circulated on the far-right fringes before moving to the mainstream of conservative media.
“Tucker Carlson has made comments that directly reference this conspiracy theory on his show,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks white supremacy, hate groups and extremism.
“The rhetoric that he espouses finds its origins in white supremacist literature,” Hayden went on to say, citing examples of websites and other publications popular with white supremacists. He added that Carlson “stops short of naming” Jewish people as the orchestrators of the “replacement,” instead using more general terms such as “the elite.”
Annie Karni at The New York Times: Racist Attack Spotlights Stefanik’s Echo of Replacement Theory.
Over the past week, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking House Republican, has blasted President Biden for providing infant formula to undocumented immigrants while “American mothers” suffer amid a nationwide formula shortage.
Wheat field with a reaper, Vincent Van Gogh
She has attacked Democrats and “pedo grifters,” borrowing language from the baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory that claims there is a Satan-worshipping cabal of liberal pedophiles, which has evolved into a movement on the right.
And after the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, where a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in a racist rampage, Ms. Stefanik is under scrutiny for campaign advertisements she has circulated that play on themes of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory. That belief, espoused by the Buffalo gunman, holds that the elite class, sometimes manipulated by Jews, wants to “replace” and disempower white Americans.
Last year, in an ad on Facebook, Ms. Stefanik accused “radical Democrats” of planning what she described as a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”
“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” the ad said.
Stefanik originally ran as a “moderate,” but that was before she decided to suck up to Trump to advance her career.
ArizonaCentral.com: Arizona Senate to investigate Wendy Rogers over social media post on Buffalo shooting.
The Arizona Senate will investigate a social media post from state Sen. Wendy Rogers that suggested the shooter in a mass killing in Buffalo, New York, last weekend was a federal agent and part of a federal conspiracy.
The Senate voted 24-3, with three members not voting, to move forward with an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. The committee will now examine Rogers’ remarks “relating to the Buffalo shooting as inappropriate of an elected official with this body.”
An effort to expel Rogers, pushed by Democrats, failed on a 11-15 vote just after 4 p.m.
Sea Watchers, Edward Hopper, 1952
Rogers, a Trump-endorsed, first-term politician who belongs to the Oath Keepers and has espoused conspiracy theories, was censured by her Senate peers on March 1 after she promoted hanging political enemies during an appearance at an event hosted by Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and threatened to destroy fellow Republicans’ careers.
Rogers also drew condemnation at the time for antisemitic statements and behavior, including a promotional photo of her next to do a dead rhino marked with a Star of David.
On Saturday, following the shooting deaths of 10 people at a Buffalo store, Rogers posted on the social media site Telegram, “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”
Numerous political observers and journalists said that Rogers statement meant that she was calling the shooting was a “false flag” operation by federal authorities. The statement drew nearly 200 comments that were subsequently blocked from view by Telegram.
Two more articles discuss the GOP’s responsibility for racist violence:
David Leonhardt: The Right’s Violence Problem. The Buffalo killings are part of a pattern: Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from the political right.
Over the past decade, the Anti-Defamation League has counted about 450 U.S. murders committed by political extremists.
Of these 450 killings, right-wing extremists committed about 75 percent. Islamic extremists were responsible for about 20 percent, and left-wing extremists were responsible for 4 percent.
Nearly half of the murders were specifically tied to white supremacists:
As this data shows, the American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left. And the 10 victims in Buffalo this past weekend are now part of this toll. “Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, has written. “The numbers don’t lie.”
The pattern extends to violence less severe than murder, like the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. It also extends to the language from some Republican politicians — including Donald Trump — and conservative media figures that treats violence as a legitimate form of political expression. A much larger number of Republican officials do not use this language but also do not denounce it or punish politicians who do use it; Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, is a leading example.
Talia Lavin at Rolling Stone: The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.
There’s no such thing as a lone wolf — an appellation often given, in error, to terrorists who act alone, particularly those of the white supremacist variety. There are only those people who, fed a steady diet of violent propaganda and stochastic terror, take annihilatory rhetoric to its logical conclusion.
Such was the case on Saturday, when a teenaged white supremacist named Payton Gendron opened fire in a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people, while livestreaming the carnage on the live-video site Twitch. Prior to the shooting, he had posted a 180-page manifesto in which he laid out his rationale clearly: He was an adherent of what is called Great Replacement Theory, the idea that white people, in the United States and white-majority countries around the world, are being systematically, deliberately outbred and “replaced” by immigrants and ethnic minorities, in a deliberate attempt to rid the world of whiteness. It’s a conspiracy theory that has inspired terror attacks in New Zealand and Pittsburgh, San Diego, and El Paso – an ideology that marries demographic panic with the idea of a cunning, nefarious plot. Reading through the document, what struck me hardest, however, was how very close the killer’s ideas were to the American mainstream – the white-hot core of American politics.
Apple tree, Gustav Klimt
Five years ago, when white supremacists walked down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and carrying tiki torches, few people understood their intent – the fact that they were referring to replacement theory. The idea seemed outlandish, even incomprehensible; at the time, it was a fairly obscure rallying cry, based around a 2012 book by French novelist Renaud Camus fearmongering about a nonwhite-majority Europe, absorbed into the fetid stew of white-supremacist cant, where it acquired a vicious antisemitism. For many white supremacists, it is Jews who are orchestrating the “reverse colonization,” as Camus put it, of white countries, in order to more easily manipulate a nonwhite and therefore more malleable general populace. In Gendron’s manifesto, after explaining in detail why he picked the particular supermarket he did — it was in a majority-Black neighborhood with a majority-Black clientele — he felt the need to explain why he did not choose to attack Jews. “[Jews] can be dealt with in time, but the high fertility replacers will destroy us now, it is a matter of survival we destroy them first,” he wrote, before listing his weaponry in detail with price points included — a manual for future murders. While Gendron’s choice to engage in mass slaughter puts him on the radical fringe of those who enforce their beliefs with bullets, and his overt antisemitism differs slightly from vaguer blame of “elites,” “Democrats” and “globalists,” his fixation on white birthrates and demographic change are neither fringe nor particularly unusual. The gnawing fear of a minority-white America has utterly consumed conservative politics for the past half-decade, creating a Republican party whose dual obsessions with nativism and white fertility have engendered a suite of policies engineered to change the nature of the body politic. What unites murderers like Gendron, and the long list of white supremacist attackers he cited with admiration, with the mainstream of the Republican party is the dream of a white nation.
What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following today?
Posted: May 16, 2022 Filed under: abortion rights, Afternoon Reads, American Gun Fetish, Fox News, fundamentalist Christians, John Birch Society in Charge, Right Wing Angst, Ted "crusty" Cruz, the GOP, Ukraine
The Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse of 2022 over my house last night.
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I gaze through my Twitter feed which is loaded with all these photos of wipipo and their small army of indoctrinated children looking like they’re all about to head to The Aluminium Warehouse Church of the Almighty Dollar to get their sanctimony on or to everyone’s favorite store, movie theatre, or place of actual worship to slaughter the rest of us.
I’m trolling my stupid Senator again because he doesn’t seem to have any concept of being moral even though he throws bible verses on his feed day after day. Sometimes he sounds almost normal and then, he goes down the MAGA rabbit hole and sounds like a monster.
I am just sick of all the gun violence and white national terrorist violence and murder. I know I keep writing about it but folks like my one semi-cogent Senator are just fixated on all the wrong problems. For one, why do kids have access to dangerous weapons of war? For another, at what point do we start looking at Terrorist Manifestos and “news” broadcasts domestically and say this isn’t free speech, it is violent insurrection talking?
This is your basic child abuse. They look like a cult! And this is what their children grow up to do:
And this is your basic horrid policy. Let’s kill a lot of people by linking these two things together! And of course, let’s ignore gun violence even if you’re a doctor and every doctor’s organization calls it a Public Health Crisis.
Please read that thread from Sherrilyn Iffel. It’s enlightening. Please read this one too!!!
I’ve been caught in several shootouts in my neighborhood recently. The abandoned Naval Base is full of methheads and heroin addicts who come from the rural areas to the city. There are gunshots at least once a day. There have been at least 4 deaths there this month that are known around here from there. The police seem absolutely unable to do anything. Our crime wave is due to the long-ignored Opioid crisis. Why don’t we see some action there?
I grew up in a small Iowa town with a lot of people that had guns specifically for hunting. All I ever saw was the meat my dad would bring home when his friends shared their bounty. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years and it was labeled as dangerous when I moved here. Well, the demographics have changed and the violence is appalling now. I’ll let you read between the lines. They are getting these ideas from one Party, from their Preachers, and from the likes of Tucker Carlson on Fox News.
Congressman Adam Schiff said it out loud. Fox News, Republicans, and white nationalist xtians are killing us and our democracy. There is no other way to look at this. They are after the rights of women, religious minorities, or the nonreligious, and they are after people of color and the GLBTQ community. It’s their way or we go to prison or they just turn their maladjusted little men on us with their tactical gear and semi-automatic weapons. OR, they let big Pharma loose to turn those little men into monsters.
And they send monsters to serve at the State and Federal levels who want the process to be rigged in their favor. Otherwise, they quit or go on Fox to howl like hyenas.
The number of proposed laws catering to one very small part of the Christian belief community is astounding. I just wished that a number of people heard those of us that experienced it from the 1980s forward and actually believed what we were saying. I was under attack as not being a ‘real’ Christian because I was a social justice Methodist at the time. One of my great grandfathers was a circuit rider in the Kansas/Oklahoma area doing just about the same thing as me so it’s a long tradition in my family.
Oh, and here are some pictures of my new Kitty Cristal who was rescued from the middle of neutral ground and is now happily installed on my bed. I’m hoping to distract you from all this distress with her as much as she is doing for me.
From Salon: “Why is the Supreme Court using religious belief to alter secular law? Alito’s draft opinion is full of specious legal and historical language — but it’s just religious doctrine in drag”. This is written by Thom Hartmann.
Democrats are generally disinclined to discuss religion, much less debate it.
They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were famously atheist, Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other high-profile people in the founding generation were deists (a close cousin to atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects religion interfering with government or vice versa.
But it’s time to discuss religion whether we like it or not, because it’s no longer knocking on our door: Sam Alito just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades that threaten to catch the place on fire.
Alito’s Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion rests on two main premises.
The first is that the Supreme Court has no business recognizing a “right” that isn’t rooted in the nation’s “history and tradition.”
This right-wing canard has been around for years, and has been used to argue against pretty much ever form of modernity from integrated public schools to, more recently, same-sex marriage. It’s a convenient pole around which you can twist pretty much any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map during the past roughly 240 years.
For example, Alito could just as easily have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion at all at the founding of our republic, and they didn’t really start showing up until the 1800s as physicians were clamoring for licensure to lock midwives out of birth-related medical practice (which included abortion).
The year Virginia got an abortion-regulating law, for example, was the same year — 1847 — that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead more than a half-century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.
She sure sleeps better than I do!!
Read on. We’re in the dawning of the Age of DisReason and Religious tyranny. It’s back to the Middle Ages. We also know they are a well-armed bunch of Crusaders that have been whipped up into a frenzy by the Republican Party and Fox News. They also have plenty of playgrounds out on the Internet. They’ve been stacking courts since the Reagan years and look out!
And now, we have a fringe theory guiding yet another set of their reactionary movement. This is from the New York Times: “A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P. Replacement theory, espoused by the suspect in the Buffalo massacre, has been embraced by some right-wing politicians and commentators.”
Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.
The next year, another white man, angry over what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.
And in yet another deadly mass shooting, unfolding in Buffalo on Saturday, a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 people after targeting a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side, writing in a lengthy screed posted online that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”
Three shootings, three different targets — but all linked by one sprawling, ever-mutating belief now commonly known as replacement theory. At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence.
But replacement theory, once confined to the digital fever swamps of Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes — of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority — has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations.
By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as “replacers” of white Americans. Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party — spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.
My Dog Temple has a new buddy.
We’ve always had ugly racist, anti-semite, white nationalist movements lurking about but now they’re weaponizing the first and second amendment against the majority. And of course, some Republicans are calling it a “false flag” operation which means this ugly ass young man was really a liberal. This Senator is a white nationalist. From HuffPo: “State Senator Who Backs White Nationalism Suggests Buffalo Shooting Was False Flag. Arizona GOP Sen. Wendy Rogers promoted a deranged conspiracy theory after 10 people were killed in what authorities say was a
A Republican state lawmaker with ties to white nationalists suggested the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket was staged by government agents.
“Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo,” Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers wrote on Telegram. The first-term lawmaker has built a national profile among far-right extremists with incendiary rhetoric, diehard support for former President Donald Trump and an embrace of white nationalism.
Authorities said an 18-year-old white gunman traveled several hours on Saturday to a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, where he opened fire outside at a supermarket. Thirteen people were shot; 10 died. Most were Black. The accused killer left a manifesto riddled with racist views and references to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white Americans are being replaced by people of color, according to The New York Times.
Oh, and then there’s this from VOX: “The Supreme Court just made it much easier to bribe a member of Congress. A case brought by Ted Cruz is a huge boon to rich candidates and moneyed lobbyists.” SCOTUS weaponized the first amendment again and there’s nothing in the original Constitution about lobbyists and dark money so please, Alito, explain this one to me in “federalist” terms.
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been at war with campaign finance laws for more than a dozen years, stretching at least as far back as its decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). On Monday, the Court’s six Republican appointees escalated this war.
The Court’s decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign.
Federal law permits candidates to loan money to their campaigns. In 2001, however, Congress prohibited campaigns from repaying more than $250,000 of these loans using funds raised after the election. They can repay as much as they want from campaign donations received before the election (although a federal regulation required them to do so “within 20 days of the election”).
The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official’s pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him.
Indeed, now that this limit on loan repayments has been struck down, lawmakers with sufficiently creative accountants may be able to use such loans to give themselves a steady income stream from campaign donors.
According to the Los Angeles Times, for example, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) made a $150,000 loan to her campaign at 18 percent interest in 1998 — before the 2001 law was enacted. Though Napolitano did eventually reduce the interest rate on this loan to 10 percent, the high-interest loan allowed her to make a considerable profit from donors.
Okay, there’s more about this shit but I can’t do it. Maybe BB will pick up on some of it tomorrow.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today!!
And love and snuggles from all of us at the kathouse! Here’s Ted Cruz with the Last Word today.
Posted: May 14, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: abortion rights, cats relaxing, caturday, Clarence Thomas, January 6 Committee, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Republicans, Roe v. Wade, SCOTUS, Ukraine, women's rights
Liquid Cat, photo by Karen Slagle
My stress level is sky high lately. If only I could relax like a cat, blissfully unaware of the daily shocks we humans have to deal with these days. At least it’s the weekend, so maybe we’ll get a break–or maybe even some good news? Here’s the latest:
The Guardian: Demonstrators across the US protest expected reversal of Roe v Wade.
With the US supreme court apparently poised to overturn the 1973 landmark decision which made abortion legal, hundreds of thousands of people across America are planning to take to the streets to protest the looming decision.
A coalition of groups such as Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, MoveOn and the Women’s March are organizing Saturday’s demonstrations, whose rallying cry is “Bans Off Our Bodies”. More than 370 protests are planned, including in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago….
The “Bans Off Our Bodies” gatherings will take place three days after Democrats in the US Senate on Wednesday made a largely symbolic effort to advance legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law. All 50 Republicans and one conservative-aligned Democrat – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – voted against the measure, leaving it well short of the 60 votes necessary for it to advance.
Also from The Guardian: Protesters rally outside US supreme court justices’ homes ahead of pro-choice marches.
Pro-choice demonstrators continue to turn up outside the homes of supreme court justices, with the latest target being conservative Amy Coney Barrett, who signed on to a majority draft opinion that was leaked to reveal an intention to overturn the constitutional right to seek an abortion in the US.
“The right to your own body – to do what you want with your own body – is the most personal freedom you can have,” one protester said from among a group wearing long red “handmaid” capes and white bonnets earlier this week to symbolize forced childbearing, as members of the Virginia state police watched nearby….
Several organizations, led by Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March, are preparing for a nationwide day of pro-choice marches on Saturday….
Protesters have so far gathered outside the residences in the Washington DC area of Samuel Alito, who wrote the scorching draft opinion, and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as Barrett and the chief justice, John Roberts, who did not sign on to the draft opinion, unlike the other three and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
Yesterday, British medical journal The Lancet released a scathing editorial warning the U.S. Supreme Court that if they overturn Roe v. Wade, they will have women’s “blood on their hands.”
The Lancet: Why Roe v. Wade Must Be Defended.
“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” So begins a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, leaked from the US Supreme Court on May 2, 2022. If confirmed, this judgement would overrule the Court’s past decisions to establish the right to access abortion. In Alito’s words, “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives”. The Court’s opinion rests on a strictly historical interpretation of the US Constitution: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” His extraordinary text repeatedly equates abortion with murder.
The Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution has been the main foundation underpinning the right of American women to an abortion. That 1868 Amendment was passed during the period of American Reconstruction, when states’ powers were being subjected to certain limitations. The goal of the Amendment was to prevent states from unduly restricting the freedoms of their citizens. That guarantee of personal liberty, so the Supreme Court had previously held, extended to pregnant women, with qualifications, who decided to seek an abortion. Alito rejected that reasoning. He argued that for any right not mentioned in the Constitution to be protected, it must be shown to have had deep roots in the nation’s history and tradition. Abortion does not fulfil that test. Worse, Roe was an exercise in “raw judicial power”, it “short-circuited the democratic process”, and it was “egregiously wrong” from the very beginning. It was now time, according to Alito, “to set the record straight”.
What is so shocking, inhuman, and irrational about this draft opinion is that the Court is basing its decision on an 18th century document ignorant of 21st century realities for women. History and tradition can be respected, but they must only be partial guides. The law should be able to adapt to new and previously unanticipated challenges and predicaments. Although Alito gives an exhaustive legal history of abortion, he utterly fails to consider the health of women today who seek abortion. Unintended pregnancy and abortion are universal phenomena. Worldwide, around 120 million unintended pregnancies occur annually. Of these, three-fifths end in abortion. And of these, some 55% are estimated to be safe—that is, completed using a medically recommended method and performed by a trained provider. This leaves 33 million women undergoing unsafe abortions, their lives put at risk because laws restrict access to safe abortion services.
Read the rest at the link.
At The Washington Post, Dana Millbank writes: Roe’s impending reversal is a 9/11 attack on America’s social fabric.
Washington’s reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has been typically myopic.
Republicans first tried to make people believe that the issue wasn’t the opinion itself but the leak. Now they’re absurdly trying to portray Democrats as supporters of infanticide. Democrats, in turn, squabbled among themselves before a show vote on a doomed abortion rights bill. And the news media have reverted to our usual horse-race speculation about how it will affect the midterms.
This small-bore response misses the radical change to society that Justice Samuel Alito and his co-conspirators are poised to ram down the throats of Americans. Their stunning action might well change the course of the midterms — but more importantly, it is upending who we are as a people.
Assuming little changes from the draft, overturning Roe would be a shock to our way of life, the social equivalent of the 9/11 attacks (which shattered our sense of physical security) or the crash of 2008 (which undid our sense of financial security). As epoch-making decisions go, this is Brown v. Board of Education, but in reverse: taking away an entrenched right Americans have relied upon for half a century. We remember Brown because it changed us forever, not because it altered the 1954 midterms.
Read more at the WaPo.
Clarence Thomas, husband of Ginni Thomas, who supported a coup against the U.S. government, is still whining about the SCOTUS link, which most likely came from a right wing source. Adam Liptak at The New York Times: Justice Thomas Says Leaked Opinion Destroyed Trust at the Supreme Court.
The leak of a draft opinion has done irreparable damage to the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said at a conference in Dallas on Friday night, adding that it had destroyed trust among its members.
“What happened at the court is tremendously bad,” Justice Thomas said. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”
The leak of the opinion, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, was “like kind of an infidelity,” Justice Thomas said.
“Look where we are, where that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he said. “And when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder.”
Tough shit. My trust in SCOTUS was gone after Thomas was confirmed by lying about his sexual harassment of Anita HIll.
I won’t quote from this one, but if you want to read an argument by a constitutional scholar who is a Democrat who supports abortion rights but opposes Roe, check out this article at The Wall Street Journal by Akhil Reed Amar: The End of Roe v. Wade. I found it interesting but not that helpful for women who are facing a disastrous and traumatic future around pregnancy and childbirth. The article wasn’t behind the paywall when I opened it.
In other news, Republican Senators refused to visit Ukraine with Democrats, but then they organized their own trip. Please note that one of their GOP colleagues, Rand Paul, is currently blocking a bill to provide more aid to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. The New York Times: McConnell and other Republican senators make a secret visit to Ukraine.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading the latest delegation of American lawmakers to the country as the United States deepens its commitment to Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion.
The surprise visit by Mr. McConnell, who was accompanied by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate is working to pass a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. It follows a string of other clandestine visits, including by the first lady, Jill Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi….
“Helping Ukraine is not an instance of mere philanthropy — it bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression not succeed and carries significant costs,” Mr. McConnell said this week. “If Ukraine fails to repel Russian aggression, there is no question that the threat to American and European security will grow.”
The trip was disclosed by Mr. Zelensky’s office. Details were not yet available from the lawmakers.
Mr. McConnell was joined by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of his leadership team and the Foreign Relations Committee; John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Intelligence Committee; and Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on both the Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees government funding.
In the photos I’ve seen, Zelensky doesn’t look as happy as he did when Jill Biden and Nancy Pelosi visited him.
The New York Times’s Luke Broadwater and Emily Cochrane on the subpoenas of members of Congress by the January 6th committee: Subpoenas for Republicans Raise New Questions for Jan. 6 Panel.
The decision by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to issue subpoenas to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has sent a shock wave through Capitol Hill, heightening tensions in an already hostile environment and raising questions about the future of the inquiry and the institution itself.
The move by the Democratic-led panel set up a showdown with Republicans that could result in the threat of jail time against sitting members of Congress — including Mr. McCarthy, who is in line to be speaker if his party wins control of the House in November. It also had major implications for the investigation, and whether the country will ever get full answers about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that disrupted the peaceful transfer of power and left more than 150 police officers injured.
Some Democrats immediately began clamoring for Mr. McCarthy and other lawmakers to be held in criminal contempt if they fail to appear at their scheduled depositions in late May, while Republicans warned of retaliation if they take control of the House after the midterm elections.
“I wouldn’t be for it, but turnabout is fair play,” Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, said of retaliatory subpoenas. He called the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas a “horrible precedent for the institution,” adding: “It’s a race to the bottom.”
I’d say the refusal of Republicans and Trump associates to honor Congressional subpoenas looks bad for Republicans, especially if they try to investigate Democrats in the future; but for the NYT, it’s always about how everything that happens is bad for Democrats.
Meanwhile at Axios: More bombshells for Jan. 6 committee before June hearings.
The Jan. 6 committee may seek testimony from additional lawmakers as soon as next week, ahead of blockbuster TV hearings that kick off next month, Axios has learned.
Driving the news: Chiefs of staff and other aides to members of the House select committee were told Friday on their weekly call with committee staff to brace for more bombshells ahead of the June 9 start to public hearings, according to two sources on the call….
The big picture: The committee created a major stir with post-election implications when on Thursday it issued subpoenas to five House Republicans, including two of the GOP’s top brass — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
— Members haven’t said how they would enforce those subpoenas.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, told Axios on Thursday that “the fact-gathering process will continue through the hearings.”
What we’re hearing: A U.S. Capitol Police security briefing for members and their chiefs of staff, to prepare for the June hearings, is scheduled for May 20.
That’s what’s happening so far today, as I see it. What’s on your mind?
Posted: April 14, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: biological males in women's prisons, Diane Feinstein, Elderly U.S. lawmakers, Elon Musk, January 6 Committee, police killings, Putin's war on Ukraine, Twitter
Peach Trees in Blossom, by Vincent Van Gogh
There are some unusual stories in the news today. Suddenly the advanced age of many U.S. lawmakers may finally be a subject for public debate. Elon Musk is trying to buy Twitter after declining to join the board because of a background check. It seems that there are quite a few biological males being housed in women’s prisons, and now two woman inmates in New Jersey are pregnant. Another killing of a Black man by police is in the the news. And of course Putin’s war on Ukraine continues as does the January 6 Committee investigation.
The San Francisco Chronicle has a disturbing article about Diane Feinstein: Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve, citing recent interactions.
When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, they prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those they’d had with her many times over the last 15 years.
Instead, the lawmaker said, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.
Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, they said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation.
The episode was so unnerving that the lawmaker — who spoke to The Chronicle on condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic — began raising concerns with colleagues to see if some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire was possible. Feinstein’s term runs through the end of 2024. The conversation occurred several weeks before the death of her husband in February.
“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” the lawmaker said. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.”
Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California….
Adding urgency to the recent concerns: If Democrats retain control of the Senate next year, Feinstein will succeed retiring Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as the Senate’s president pro tem — putting her third in line for the presidency. Feinstein has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that would allow her to run in 2024, a formality that lets her keep her fundraising accounts active, though she has not yet declared whether she intends to run.
Emphasis added. Read more details at the link.
Early Spring, by Gustav Klimt
Now can we ask questions about Chuck Grassley, James Inhofe, and Richard Shelby? It’s not just age that is the problem though. Nancy Pelosi at 82 still seems sharp. Patrick Leahy is also 82, and he has decided to retire. I think this is an important topic for public discussion. Should there be an age limit for members of Congress?
Bloomberg on the Musk offer to buy Twitter: Elon Musk Makes $43 Billion Unsolicited Bid to Take Twitter Private.
Elon Musk has made a controversial offer to buy Twitter Inc., saying the company has extraordinary potential and he is the person to unlock it.
The world’s richest person will offer $54.20 per share in cash, valuing Twitter at about $43 billion. The social media company’s shares rose just 5.3% to $48.27 at the market open in New York as investors began to assess how one of the platform’s most outspoken users will succeed in his takeover attempt.
Musk, 50, announced the potential deal in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, after turning down a potential board seat at the company. The billionaire, who also controls Tesla Inc., first disclosed a stake of about 9% on April 4. Tesla shares fell about 1.8% on the news.
Twitter said that its board would review the proposal and any response would be in the best interests of “all Twitter stockholders.”
The bid is the most high-stakes clash yet between Musk and the social media platform. The executive is one of Twitter’s most-watched firebrands, often tweeting out memes and taunts to @elonmusk’s more than 80 million followers. He has been vociferous about changes he’d like to consider imposing at the social media platform…
Here’s The Daily Beast take by Allison Quinn: Top Shitposter Elon Musk Escalates Twitter Feud With $43B Takeover Bid.
“I am not playing the back-and-forth game. I have moved straight to the end. It’s a high price and your shareholders will love it,” Musk is said to have told the social media giant, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
Musk, whose fortune is estimated at about $260 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, said Twitter “needs to be transformed as a private company,” and vowed to “unlock” its “extraordinary potential” if the bid is successful.
“If the deal doesn’t work, given that I don’t have confidence in management nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” he said in the filing….
The move comes after the Tesla CEO disclosed a stake of about 9 percent in Twitter last week. That disclosure is reportedly already at the center of a lawsuit filed this week by another Twitter shareholder who alleges Musk made “materially false and misleading statements and omissions by failing to disclose to investors” that he owned a stake in the company.
His delay in disclosing the stake, the lawsuit claims, led to “artificially deflated prices.”
With more than 80 million followers on the platform, Musk has sparked speculation in recent weeks with frequent tweets calling for drastic changes in the company and questioning whether it is really a “free speech” site. Earlier this week, he floated the idea of turning Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter, calling it a “great idea.”
Musk, who last week took to the platform to ask, “Is Twitter dying?” wrote in the filing that he believes it can “neither thrive nor serve” its purpose of promoting free speech if it remains as it is now.
About that New Jersey “women’s” prison from Yahoo News: NJ inmates at women’s only prison pregnant after sex with ‘another incarcerated person.’
Two inmates at New Jersey’s only women’s prison are pregnant after reportedly having sex with a transgender inmate.
It appears the women became pregnant from “consensual sexual relationships with another incarcerated person,” Dan Sperrazza, the Department of Corrections’s external affairs executive director, told NJ.com.
The prisoners are held at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, which has faced a long string of sex assault scandals….
There are 27 inmates who identify as transgender currently housed at the facility, according to NJ.com. New Jersey’s policy does not require trans women inmates to undergo gender-reassignment surgery to be held in the facility.
“While DOC cannot comment on any specific disciplinary or housing decisions that may be considered in light of these events, the Department always reserves all options to ensure the health and safety of the individuals in its custody,” Sperrazza told the Daily Mail.
Two Edna Mahan prisoners filed a lawsuit last year seeking to end New Jersey’s gender identity policy for prisons, claiming they were harassed by trans inmates and that transgender inmates were having sex with female prisoners.
ACLU legal director Jeanne LoCicero defended the policy of allowing transgender inmates in a women’s prison as one that protects the rights of transgender women.
Apparently the rights of women (“people with vaginas”) are secondary, as usual.
The vegetable garden with trees in blossom Spring Pontoise, 1877, by Camille Pissarro
Another killing of a Black man by police has been revealed in Michigan. Detroit Free Press: Grand Rapids police release video of officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya.
A Black man facedown on the ground was fatally shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids police officer, the violent climax of a traffic stop, brief foot chase and struggle over a stun gun, according to videos of the April 4 incident released Wednesday.
The release by Grand Rapids police sparked renewed protests and calls for justice Wednesday, and state officials promised a full investigation.
It comes in the wake of other police-involved shootings in Grand Rapids.
The video released Wednesday includes footage from the unnamed officer’s body camera, which was deactivated shortly after the officer told the suspect, 26-year-old Congolese refugee Patrick Lyoya, to “let go of the Taser.”
The video, a collection of dashcam footage, body cam footage, a home security camera, and a cellphone video, shows the unnamed officer pulling over Lyoya and a passenger for a “license plate that doesn’t match the car.”
Was the deactivation of the body cam deliberate?
Lyoya gets out of the car, and the officer gets out and tells him to get back in the car. The officer asks for his driver’s license and then asks whether Lyoya speaks English.
Lyoya then appears to run around the car, and the officer chases and tackles him to the ground on the front lawn of a house.
They struggle, and the officer can be heard telling Lyoya to “stop” and to “let go of the Taser.”
After about 90 seconds, the officer is lying on top of Lyoya, who is facedown on the ground. The officer, still yelling for Lyoya to “let go of the Taser,” proceeds to shoot him.
Lyoya was shot in the head, police Chief Eric Winstrom confirmed.
A traffic stop should not be a death sentence. Driving without a license shouldn’t lead to death either.
Updates on Putin’s war:
Reuters: Russia warns of nuclear, hypersonic deployment if Sweden and Finland join NATO.
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the U.S.-led military alliance then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in an exclave in the heart of Europe.
Bluebonnets and Mesquite, Early Spring, by Texas artist Julian-Onderdonk
Finland, which shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden are considering joining the NATO alliance. Finland will decide in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that should Sweden and Finland join NATO then Russia would have to strengthen its land, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea.
Medvedev also explicitly raised the nuclear threat by saying that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear free” Baltic – where Russia has its Kaliningrad exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania….
Medvedev said he hoped Finland and Sweden would see sense. If not, he said, they would have to live with nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles close to home.
NBC News: Russia evacuates flagship after it suffers major damage in Black Sea blast.
Ukrainian officials said their forces launched a successful missile attack on the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, forcing the crew to evacuate the vessel.
The Russian defense ministry said the Moskva warship had been “seriously damaged,” but blamed the incident on a fire. NBC News has been unable to verify what happened on the ship, but its loss could prove a significant setback in Russian forces’ efforts in Ukraine’s south and east, where a fierce battle for Mariupol is ongoing….
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the damaged Russian flagship is the same one that infamously demanded the surrender of Ukrainian forces on Snake Island early in the invasion.
January 6 investigation updates:
The January 6 Committee heard from Trump WH lawyers Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House counsel, and his deputy Patrick F. Philbin, yesterday; today they will question Dr. Evil, Stephen Miller: AP sources: Trump aide Stephen Miller to speak to 1/6 panel.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Miller, who served as a top aide to President Donald Trump, will appear Thursday before the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Miller was a senior adviser for policy during the Trump administration and a central figure in many of the Republican’s policy decisions. He had resisted previous efforts by the committee, filing a lawsuit last month seeking to quash a committee subpoena for his phone records.
The people familiar with the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private testimony. It’s unclear whether Miller will appear in person or virtually. A spokesperson for the committee said the panel had no comment, and Miller did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Dans la prairie, Claude Monet
The Washington Post: Biden White House waives executive privilege for more Trump records.
President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over a new tranche of Trump White House documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
In a letter released Wednesday by the archives, Biden declined to assert executive privilege over the records — the latest batch sought by the committee after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to block such releases.
The new letter is in line with the Biden administration’s decision to err on the side of disclosure, given the gravity of the events in the Jan. 6 attack. The archives has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee.
“As to the remaining prioritized records, President Biden has considered the former President’s claims, and I have engaged in consultations with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice,” White House counsel Dana Remus writes. “The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified.”
That’s what’s happening in the news today, as I see it. What about you? What stories have caught your attention?