Monday Reads: The Biden Republic

Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976). Brüderstrasse (Free Room), 1930. Watercolour, ink, and graphite on vellum, 475 x 345 mm. The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018.

 Good Day Sky Dancers!

It was perhaps wishful thinking that made us think that just electing someone other than Trump would ever give us a semblance of a “normal” America.  I’m not even sure I know what our normal is these days.  I’m sitting here in a 4th surge plague-ridden New Orleans and realize that just like you can lead that horse to water, you can’t make him drink, that you can also give folks vaccines and the promises of better schools and roads, but you can make them embrace it.

BB has me very interested in artists doing”magical realism.”  I realized many of the artists I’ve enjoyed recently actually fall into that category without knowing it. So, between what I hinted at above and my search for a sense of “magical realism” in things, I found that the Weimar Republic was a hotbed of the artform.  I daily harken back to that period of a hapless democracy driven by a crazy few into a fascist world-destroying war. So, let me give you some sense of why this rainy morning has brought me back to the Weimar Republic and history repeating.

Many today’s journalists are joined in the sense of cult outrage at the idea that Former President Obama might actually want a 60th birthday bash and believe it has to be a super-spreader event of Trump Rally proportion. This side-car circus may distract from some fascinating journalism in other places.  Let’s go to those other places.

Otto Dix Reclining Woman on a Leopard Skin 1927 © DACS 2017. Collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. Gift of Samuel A. Berger; 55.031.

First up, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker follows the “Big Lie” money. No surprises here, but this is essentially the funding of continued insurrection.  Here’s the headline: “The Big Money Behind the Big Lie. Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs.”  Go read the entire article and read the narrative about the Republican crusade to ensure that only old white guys vote.

Although the Arizona audit may appear to be the product of local extremists, it has been fed by sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives. Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has tracked the flow of dark money in American politics, told me that a “flotilla of front groups” once focussed on advancing such conservative causes as capturing the courts and opposing abortion have now “more or less shifted to work on the voter-suppression thing.” These groups have cast their campaigns as high-minded attempts to maintain “election integrity,” but Whitehouse believes that they are in fact tampering with the guardrails of democracy.

One of the movement’s leaders is the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. It has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (alec)—a corporate-funded nonprofit that generates model laws for state legislators—on ways to impose new voting restrictions. Among those deep in the fight is Leonard Leo, a chairman of the Federalist Society, the legal organization known for its decades-long campaign to fill the courts with conservative judges. In February, 2020, the Judicial Education Project, a group tied to Leo, quietly rebranded itself as the Honest Elections Project, which subsequently filed briefs at the Supreme Court, and in numerous states, opposing mail-in ballots and other reforms that have made it easier for people to vote.

Another newcomer to the cause is the Election Integrity Project California. And a group called FreedomWorks, which once concentrated on opposing government regulation, is now demanding expanded government regulation of voters, with a project called the National Election Protection Initiative.

These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.

At the Shooting Gallery by Jeanne Mammen (1929). Photograph: The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018

This is well-funded and quite coordinated.  We saw a lot of this as state after state magically rolled out the same voter suppression laws. This is the true threat to our current Biden Republic.

Alexander Vindman writes for The Atlantic today on that little matter of Trump’s  Ukraine shakedown.   Here’s the headline for that: “What I Heard in the White House Basement. I knew the president had clear and straightforward talking points—I’d written them.”  Again, this is a long, worthwhile read.  This happened in the same room where Obama and Clinton watched the raid on Osama Bin Laden.  (This is a preview from his upcoming book.)

By the time I sat down at the table in the basement conference room on July 25, preparing to listen to Trump’s call with President Zelensky, my workdays had become consumed by the Oval Office hold on funds. On July 18, I’d convened what we call a Sub-Policy Coordinating Committee, a get-together of senior policy makers for the whole community of interest on Ukraine, from every agency and department, to work up a recommendation for reversing the hold on the funds. By July 21, that meeting had been upgraded to a Policy Coordination Committee, requiring even more administrative and intellectual effort, which convened again two days later. We even scheduled a higher-level Deputies Committee meeting for the day after the Zelensky call. Chaired by the deputy national security adviser, these meetings bring together all of the president’s Cabinet deputies and require an enormous amount of advance research and coordination.

Many of us were operating on little sleep, working more than the usual NSC 14-hour days. I’d barely seen my wife, Rachel, or my 8-year-old daughter, Eleanor, in weeks.

In the week leading up to the call, I’d discerned a potentially dangerous wrinkle in the Ukraine situation. Actions by the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested a hidden motive for the White House’s sudden interest in Ukraine. Operating far outside normal policy circles, Giuliani had been on a mysterious errand that also seemed to involve the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Just a few weeks earlier, I’d participated in a meeting at the White House at which Sondland made a suggestion to some visiting top Ukrainian officials: If President Zelensky pursued certain investigations, he might be rewarded with a visit to the White House. These proposed investigations would be of former Vice President and current Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Sondland’s proposal was clearly improper. Little could have been more valuable to the new, young, untested leader of Ukraine—the country most vulnerable to Russia—than a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States. A bilateral visit would signal to Russia and the rest of the world a staunch U.S. commitment to having Ukraine’s back as well as U.S. support for Zelensky’s reform and anti-corruption agenda, which was crucial to Ukraine’s prosperity and to closer integration with the European Union. That’s what all of us in the policy community wanted, of course. But making such a supremely valuable piece of U.S. diplomacy dependent on an ally’s carrying out investigations into U.S. citizens—not to mention the president’s political adversary—was unheard of. Before I’d fully picked up on what was going on, that meeting with the Ukrainians had been abruptly broken up by Bolton. But in a subsequent meeting among U.S. officials, at which Sondland reiterated the idea, I told him point-blank that I thought his proposition was wrong and that the NSC would not be party to such an enterprise.

I wanted to believe Sondland was a loose cannon, floating wild ideas of his own, with support from a few misguided colleagues. But he wasn’t a freelancing outlier like Giuliani. He was an appointed government official. His maneuverings had me worried.

7024

The Beggar of Prachatice by Conrad Felixmüller (1924). Photograph: The George Economou Collection © DACS, 2018

So, let’s try something from The Guardian.  Sidney Blumenthal writes: “Want to make Jim Jordan sing about the Capitol attack? Ask Jefferson Davis’.  This throws us way back to John Brown’s Raid, believe it or not.

After a bloody insurrection was quelled, a congressional committee was created to investigate the organization of the insurrection, sources of funding, and the connections of the insurrectionists to members of Congress who were indeed called to testify. And did.

Within hours of the assault Brown and his band were cornered in the engine room of the armory, surrounded by local militia. Then the marines arrived under the command of Col Robert E Lee and Lt Jeb Stuart. At Brown’s public trial, his eloquent statements against slavery and hanging turned him into a martyr. John Wilkes Booth, wearing the uniform of the Richmond Grays and standing in the front ranks of troops before the scaffold on which Brown was hanged on 2 December, admired Brown’s zealotry and composure.

Nearly two weeks later, on 14 December, the Senate created the Select Committee to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harpers Ferry. Senator James M Mason of Virginia, the sponsor of the Fugitive Slave Act, was chairman. He appointed as chief prosecutor Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

Davis was particularly intent on questioning Senator William H Seward of New York, the likely Republican candidate for president.

“I will show before I am done,” Davis said, “that Seward, by his own declaration, knew of the Harpers Ferry affair. If I succeed in showing that, then he, like John Brown deserves, I think, the gallows, for his participation in it.”

In early May 1858, Hugh Forbes, a down-at-heel soldier of fortune, a Scotsman who fought with Garibaldi in the failed Italian revolution of 1848, a fencing coach and a translator for the New York Tribune, knocked on Seward’s door with a peculiar tale of woe. He had been hired by Brown to be the “general in the revolution against slavery”, had written a manual for guerrilla warfare, but had not been paid. Seward sent him away and forgot about him.

Forbes wandered to the Senate, where he told his story to Henry Wilson, a Republican from Massachusetts. Wilson, who later became Ulysses S Grant’s vice president, was alarmed enough to write to Dr Samuel Gridley Howe, a distinguished Boston physician and reformer, founder of the first institution for the blind, and Massachusetts chairman of the Kansas committee. Wilson relayed that he had heard a “rumor” about John Brown and “that very foolish movement” and that Howe and other donors to the Kansas cause should “get the arms out of his control”.

But Howe, a member of the Secret Six, continued to send Brown money.

The investigating committee called Seward and Wilson. On 2 May 1860, Seward testified that Forbes came to him, was “very incoherent” and told him Brown was “very reckless”. Seward said he offered Forbes no advice or money, and that Forbes “went away”.

Davis pointedly asked Seward if he had any knowledge of Brown’s plan to attack Harpers Ferry.

Seward replied: “I had no more idea of an invasion by John Brown at that place, than I had of one by you or myself.”

Self-Portrait with Model in the Studio by George Grosz (1930-37). Photograph: © Estate of George Grosz, Princeton, N.J. 2018

Again, this is a long read but fascinating.  I took many trips as a Girl Scout and Elementary school kid to John Brown’s cave in Nebraska City. I never actually read this account of the senate investigation with the soon-to-be insurrectionists to our Republic in charge.

If you want some real clickbait on places not to hold your next Birthday Bash, check out this from The Hill and Albert Hunt: “‘Freedom-loving’ conservatives stoked the latest round of infection and death.”

I write columns about politics and government, occasionally indulging as a frustrated sports writer; I don’t write about business or leisure activities except:

Hopes that the misery of the pandemic is over are diminishing. There are more than 75,000 new infections daily, six times greater than a month earlier, overwhelmingly from the Delta variant and almost all among the unvaccinated.

Hospital intensive care units face overcrowding, again. If the spread isn’t stopped, new variants — perhaps more lethal — will emerge.

There are a few unvaccinated for religious reasons, and people of color who have historical reasons to distrust public health workers and the CDC.

But chiefly, the vaccination failure is because Coronavirus has been politicized among conservatives, with right-wing politicians, judges, think tanks and activists charging it’s all about personal liberty. This ignores the fact that exercising those personal liberties risks the liberties — and lives — of others.

Accordingly, there is a pressing need for a more forceful public and private response to a looming crisis brought about largely through conservative hypocrisy.

Conservative Republicans used to argue that government should only sparingly dictate practices to private companies; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are ignoring that philosophy. Republicans also used to argue that the government closest to the people governs best; their updated version adds the caveat: ‘unless local governments are run by liberals or minorities and the state government by Republicans.’

There’s the politicized judiciary. in a speech to the Federalist Society late last year — after the election — Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito lashed out at the social distancing, mask wearing and other COVID measures: “We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced  for most of 2020.” Of course, we actually have: rationing for food, gas and other resources during World War II; pervasive wage and price controls from 1971 to 1973.

Gert Wollheim, Untitled (Couple), 1926.

Ah, America, confuzzled and misinformed.

And, this kinda takes the cake for Trumpian Delusion: “Mark Meadows: Trump meeting with his ‘cabinet’ (despite not having one).”  When BB told this to me, I was speechless. This is from CNN.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Newsmax that the former president has been holding meetings with his “cabinet” despite not being president.

There’s a video interview with Maggie Haberman if you want to go there.

This is way longer than I assumed it would be but hope you can find some time to read some  of these.

What’s on your reading and bloggling list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Arsen Kurbanov

Painting by Arsen Kurbanov

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a busy news day and a very bad day for Donald Trump. The Justice Department has ordered the IRS to hand over his taxes to the House Ways and Means Committee and new evidence was revealed about his efforts to get Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to help overturn the 2020 election.

The New York Times: Treasury must turn over Trump’s taxes to Congress, the Justice Dept. says.

The Treasury Department must turn over six years of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax returns to House investigators, the Justice Department said in a legal opinion issued on Friday that most likely paves the way for their eventual release to Congress and potentially to the public.

Hours later, the Treasury told a federal judge that it planned to move ahead.

The 39-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel dealt a sharp legal blow to a yearslong campaign by Mr. Trump to keep his tax information secret, reversing a Trump administration position that had shielded the documents from Congress.

Portrait of Gerrit Komrij - Theo Daamen, 1986 Dutch, b.1939

Portrait of Gerrit Komrij, by Theo Daamen, 1986 Dutch, b.1939

Rejecting that view, the Biden administration opinion said that a request for the tax information first lodged in 2019 by the House Ways and Means Committee was legitimate and that the Treasury Department had no valid grounds to refuse it.

“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the opinion said. “Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill, who said they aim to examine the I.R.S.’s presidential audit program and Mr. Trump’s conflicts of interest, hailed the decision as a victory for congressional oversight powers and for national security. The House had sued to enforce the request after the Trump Treasury Department objected, and litigation continues.

“The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a valedictory statement.

Katie Benner at The New York Times: Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show.

President Donald J. Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers.

The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.

White-Cat-with-Crescent-Moon-Gertrude-Abercrombie, 1909-1977

White Cat with Crescent Moon, Gertrude-Abercrombie, 1909-1977

The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the Justice Department had found no evidence for. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.

Mr. Trump did not name the lawmakers, but at other points during the call, he mentioned Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, whom he described as a “fighter”; Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who at the time promoted the idea that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump; and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, whom Mr. Trump praised for “getting to bottom of things.”

A bit more:

The phone call by Mr. Trump was perhaps the most audacious moment in a monthslong pressure campaign aimed at enlisting the Justice Department in his crusade to overturn the election results.

After the departure of Mr. Rosen’s predecessor, William P. Barr, became public on Dec. 14, Mr. Trump and his allies harangued Mr. Rosen and his top deputies nearly every day until Jan. 6, when Congress met to certify the Electoral College and was disrupted by Mr. Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol, according to emails and other documents obtained by Congress and interviews with former Trump administration officials.

The conversations often included complaints about unfounded voter fraud conspiracy theories, frustration that the Justice Department would not ask the Supreme Court to invalidate the election and admonishments that department leaders had failed to fight hard enough for Mr. Trump, the officials said.

The Justice Department provided Mr. Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to unlawfully reverse the election results.

leonard tsuguharu foujita, Japanese-French, 1886-1968

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Japanese-French, 1886-1968

So it looks like we’ll be following more Congressional investigations of the the former guy in the near future. You can read specifics of Trump’s demands at that link.

David A. Graham at The Atlantic: The Insurrection Was Just Part of the Plot.

…[T]he House Oversight Committee shed more light this week on just how and why January 6 happened, releasing handwritten notes by Richard Donoghue, a top Justice Department official in the waning days of the Trump administration. The violence of the day has taken center stage, but these notes help put it in context: The angry crowd was just one part of President Donald Trump’s long-running effort to overturn the results of the election in the House of Representatives.

Trump’s effort to call the election results into doubt began long before the votes were cast, but it accelerated immediately after the election. As I wrote on January 26, Trump’s coup attempt started not on January 6 but in the wee hours of November 4, when Trump said at the White House, “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election.” He added: “Frankly, we did win this election.” (He did not, and was not being frank.)

In November and early December, the focus of Trump’s efforts was pressuring state officials in places such as Arizona and Georgia to decline to certify results in favor of Biden, and pressing Attorney General William Barr to cast doubt on the results. But Barr declined, breaking with Trump, and so did pivotal Republicans including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Once Barr was pushed aside, The Washington Post reported this week, Trump began a daily campaign to pressure Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen into doing what Barr would not, trying to place new claims of fraud before the Justice Department. Unbeknownst to Rosen, Trump was also orchestrating a plan to topple him.

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

What Trump hoped to achieve from these efforts has always been a little hazy. The Justice Department doesn’t certify elections, and at most could have pursued fraud claims in court—had there been any credible ones, which there were not. The new releases by the House Oversight Committee, first reported by The New York Times,connect the dots. Donoghue explained to Trump that the DOJ couldn’t overturn the result, but the president was unruffled.

“Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen” is how Donoghue recorded Trump’s response in handwritten notes.

All Trump wanted was some semi-independent arbiter to declare the election fraudulent—whether that was the governor of Arizona, the Georgia secretary of state, or the U.S. Justice Department. This much was clear even then, but Trump’s endgame was not. After all, Democrat Joe Biden’s lead was wide enough that a single state declining to certify or a single fraud case couldn’t have erased it. Trump, despite his weakness for conspiracy theories, understood that. But he didn’t need any of these officials to set aside the results on their own. He just needed enough ammunition, no matter how tenuous, that he could derail certification of the election in Congress.

If the election couldn’t be decided based on the results, then it would go to the House of Representatives. Though Democrats held a majority there, the presidency would have been decided by state delegations, of which Republicans controlled more.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

More stories on Trump’s attempts to subvert the DOJ and his coup attempt:

Margaret Carlson at The Daily Beast: Damn Right Jan. 6 Was a Coup—This Was Trump’s Call That Led There.

Andy Wright at Just Security: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.

Raw Story: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.

Carel Willink, Crayon drawing of a cat with attitude, 1976

Carel Willink, Crayon drawing of a cat with attitude, 1976

Is Trump still trying to get himself “reinstated” as president? I wouldn’t be surprised. A couple of stories that suggest there’s still something going on.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: WATCH: Mark Meadows Says Trump Meeting with ‘Cabinet Members’ at Jersey Golf Club About ‘Moving Forward in a Real Way.’

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that former President Donald Trump has been meeting with “cabinet members” at his New Jersey golf resort, mysteriously adding that they’re planning to “move forward in a real way.”

On Friday night’s edition of Newsmax’s Cortes & Pellegrino, Meadows defended Trump’s failed endorsement in a Texas special election runoff, saying “the magic is still there.”

He added that Trump is “a president that is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.” [….]

As he did throughout the interview, Meadows referred to Trump in the present-tense “the president,” and described meeting with “members of our cabinet”:

“Well, we met with several of our cabinet members tonight, we actually had a follow-up member, meeting with some of our cabinet members, and as we were looking at that, we were looking at what does come next. I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of the president, but I can tell you this steve. We wouldn’t be meeting tonight if we weren’t making plans to move forward in a real way, with president Trump at the head of that ticket.”

Although Meadows’ linguistic cues suggested some sort of alt-presidency, the rest of his remarks appeared to refer only to future elections. Meadows did not mention any discussion of a potential Trump “reinstatement” to the presidency, a notion that has been popular with Trump supporters, and reportedly with Trump himself.

Then why did he refer to Trump as “the president?”

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948

Raw Story: Mike Lindell is now hoping Supreme Court allows a do-over election: ‘Maybe that’s a thing.’

On the far-right Brandon Howse Live radio program on Friday, MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell suggested that perhaps the Supreme Court will allow a do-over of the election without electronic voting machines.

“So maybe the Supreme Court will say, hey, let’s have another — let’s do another election without machines,” said Lindell. “You know. Maybe that’s a thing.”

Lindell, who this week withdrew all his advertising from Fox News due to his belief they are insufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump, has been a key purveyor of the nonsense idea that Trump could be “reinstated” as president later this year — although he has recently backed off that idea.

He has also spread false claims about Dominion Voting Systems equipment rigging votes, which has resulted in a lawsuit against him.

Yes, he’s nuts, but does he still have Trump’s ear? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Have a great weekend Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.


Finally Friday Reads: Mask up! Vax up!

A cartoon from a Dec. 6, 1918, issue of the Fort Wayne Sentinel.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Well, this is another fine mess that Republicans have gotten us into!  I watched coverage of a meeting of the St Louis County Council meeting with horror.  It was filled with women with that Clairol FoxNewsBlonde look and screaming red-faced old men.  It was about the recently reinstated mask mandate that the Council threw out over the objections of its Public Health Officials and the screaming, taunting, racist screams of the previously mentioned burbie nutterz.

This was after I finished a zoom chat with the Drs and my new granddaughters. I’ve been trying to tell myself that kids used to go West in this country and it took months for the Pony Express to get letters between there and New Orleans so this is better than that.  But, then I remember this doesn’t have to be this way. It’s those shrieking whackos that are killing people and preventing us from having normal lives.  They’re also killing us with misinformation so the reticent become more firmly afraid of the vaccine.

This is from NBC: “St. Louis County health director says he was called racist slurs during mask order meeting. “Public health is not the enemy. We don’t deserve to be targeted,” said Faisal Khan, the acting health director.”  If you do watch the video, notice that you’re likely witnessing a superspreader event worthy of Trumperz rallies.

St. Louis County’s acting health director said he was humiliated, attacked and called racist slurs during a council meeting on a newly reinstated mask mandate.

The director, Faisal Khan, was asked to present at Tuesday’s public meeting as council members considered terminating a mandate that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page put in place to slow the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.

Khan said in a phone interview on Thursday that the crowd was rowdy before the meeting even began because some of them had attended a political rally held outside the venue.

“The anger was already palpable,” he told NBC News. “By the time I was asked to come to the podium, the train had left the station and it was only going to go one way.”

Khan detailed what happened at the meeting in a letter to Council Chairwoman Rita Days, who was in attendance.

“My time before the Council began with a dog-whistle question from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country,” he wrote in the letter.

Khan, who said he became a U.S. citizen in 2013, wrote that Fitch should have known most of the people in the crowd were “from the ‘MAGA’ movement” because they kept chanting “Trump 2024.”

Khan wrote in his letter that during the meeting Fitch’s friend Mark McCloskey posted on social media that mask mandates are “un-American.” Khan told Days that he believes Fitch and McCloskey’s actions were an attempt to “stoke xenophobia against me.”

June 28,2020. Notice who has a mask on?

You may remember Mark McCloskey from his previous racist attack where he waved a semi-automatic rifle with his wife at a Peaceful Black Lives Matters Marches.  His wife wears that same shade of Clairol FoxNewsBlonde. Well, they got to speak at the RNC and now they’re back spreading the racism as freely as possible while threatening public health officials.

The NBC article above notes that the same level of threats aimed at folks working elections is now aimed at public health officials.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials have been targeted and attacked. This week, prosecutors in Maryland announced a man had been arrested and charged in federal court with sending emails that threatened to harm and kill Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, and their families.

Khan said he believes they have been used as pawns for what some people have turned into a political battle.

“We’ve received so many threats, of all kinds, it is jarring. Public health is not the enemy. We don’t deserve to be targeted,” he said. “We are in the midst of the worst public health crisis to hit the world in 100 years. We should not be worried about our own safety in deliberative sessions with legislative officials. That really is a sad reflection of society in the United States.”

Khan said he wrote his letter with the hopes that it “would jolt members of the Council into realizing that orchestrating hostile meetings and firing up the crowd doesn’t really serve any purpose.” He has asked Days to investigate what happened at Tuesday’s meeting and to enforce measures so it does not happen again.

Today’s WaPo had an excellent article citing internal CDC data on the Delta variants and the threat this variant and others pose to our health.  It is also interesting to note that Europe and the UK are doing far better containing the pandemic than we are at this point. This is the headline: “‘The war has changed’: Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe. The internal presentation shows that the agency thinks it is struggling to communicate on vaccine efficacy amid increased breakthrough infections”

The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal federal health document that argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”

The document is an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide presentation, shared within the CDC and obtained by The Washington Post. It captures the struggle of the nation’s top public health agency to persuade the public to embrace vaccination and prevention measures, including mask-wearing, as cases surge across the United States and new research suggests vaccinated people can spread the virus.

The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.

The article really is the must-read today.  You can read about the CDC and its problems with communicating the situation. You can also read about the belief that the Delta Variant is likely to be more deadly which has not been widely communicated.  The article emphasizes that Delta is as contagious as chickenpox.

There is more about this in today’s NYT: “C.D.C. Internal Report Calls Delta Variant as Contagious as Chickenpox.  Infections in vaccinated Americans are rare, compared with those in unvaccinated people, the document said. But when they occur, vaccinated people may spread the virus just as easily.”  So, we all need to mask up again.

The Delta variant is much more contagious, more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines and may cause more severe disease than all other known versions of the virus, according to an internal presentation circulated within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the agency, acknowledged on Tuesday that vaccinated people with so-called breakthrough infections of the Delta variant carry just as much virus in the nose and throat as unvaccinated people, and may spread it just as readily, if less often.

But the internal document lays out a broader and even grimmer view of the variant.

The Delta variant is more transmissible than the viruses that cause MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, the seasonal flu and smallpox, and it is as contagious as chickenpox, according to the document, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

Many businesses want to remain open while protecting workers and others.  Here are some other things you may want to read.

ABC News:
CDC mask decision followed stunning findings from Cape Cod beach outbreak

Associated Press:
Ravages of COVID surge evident inside Missouri hospital

CNN:
‘I am furious with myself’: Unvaccinated Covid patient describes the exhausting illness

Michael Paulson / New York Times:
Broadway Audiences Will Need Proof of Vaccination and Masks

I decided to basically still stay home and not go indoors anywhere unnecessary when I started seeing people pour into New Orleans for Independence Day. The clusterfuck of people driving cars with license plates from the surrounding plague rat states pretty much disturbed me to the point of it.  I had thought that May and June’s forays to the hospital would likely be my last mask-wearing adventure. This week, I washed all my cloth masks and now will actually use the double-up method. They’ve started canceling events here. Frankly, I don’t know when I’ll feel like going into a restaurant, let alone a bar. I’m still trying to time my visits to the corner stores carefully and have committed myself to order groceries and get them delivered to the kitchen door.  I’m glad I still can teach university online because there’s no intention here to mandate masking or vaccines at public universities.  I still enjoy walking Temple maskless though.  That’s my one big three times a day outing.

So, what are your plans?  Granted, I live in Louisiana where the wipipo are basically plague rats and Petri dishes. I shudder at what I could bring up to Seattle and my family including my sister and her husband who have had various medical problems recently.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Max Beckman, Woman in Chair Reading at Beach, 1939

Max Beckman, Woman in Chair Reading at Beach, 1939

Good Morning!!

Yesterday Joe Biden got another big win when his infrastructure bill got more than 60 votes to begin consideration in the Senate.

The Washington Post: Bipartisan infrastructure pact clears key Senate vote after breakthrough in talks.

Senate Democrats and Republicans banded together on Wednesday to advance a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s aging infrastructure, overcoming months of political deadlock on one of President Biden’s signature economic policy priorities.

The day of breakthroughs began with news of a deal, as a bipartisan bloc of 10 negotiators coalesced around a package to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. The announcement from some of the group’s leaders, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), capped off a series of frenetic talks that nearly collapsed amid behind-the-scenes battles about the new spending and how to pay for it.

With that once-elusive agreement finally in hand, the Senate hours later then took its first formal legislative step. Lawmakers voted 67-32 to put themselves on track to begin debating infrastructure reform this week, clearing the first of many hurdles toward adopting a proposal that the White House has described as historic.

The twin developments marked an early victory for lawmakers who have struggled for years to turn their shared enthusiasm for infrastructure into actual investments in the country’s inner-workings. Several past presidents had called for robust, new public-works spending to replace old pipes and fix cracked bridges, yet only on Wednesday did the Senate actually move toward delivering on those promises….

The news sparked jubilation at the White House, where Biden this spring put forward a roughly $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan funded largely through tax increases that Republicans swiftly rejected. But the administration’s top aides ultimately proved willing to be flexible in the months that followed in how they pursued some of the president’s priorities. Asked about the deal while traveling in Pennsylvania, Biden sounded a hopeful note, telling reporters: “I feel confident about it.”

The infrastructure bill that started moving forward again Wednesday is undeniably large: It calls for new federal spending of about $550 billion, an amount roughly equivalent to the cost of the Interstate Highway System, after adjusting for inflation.

Irving R. Wiles, Sunshine and Shadow Woman

Irving R. Wiles, Sunshine and Shadow Woman

But the bipartisan deal is less than a quarter the size of the $2.6 trillion plan that President Biden proposed in March, which included $2.2 trillion in spending and around $400 billion in tax credits. It’s also significantly smaller than the counteroffer the White House proposed in May, which scaled back spending by $500 billion, and it leaves out many of the Democrats’ biggest ambitions.

Democrats have also put forward a $3.5 trillion budget proposal that they intend to pass through a process known as budget reconciliation, which requires fewer votes.

This budget is expected to contain some of the pieces that were left out of the bipartisan infrastructure agreement — including investments in housing and education; child care; research and development; manufacturing; and clean energy. But moderate and progressive Democrats currently disagree on what will be included.

There were six major areas in Mr. Biden’s original infrastructure proposal: transportationutilitiespollutioninnovationin-home care and buildings. Almost all these areas were scaled back or eliminated in the bipartisan plan, with one exception: pollution cleanup.

Three major areas of President Biden’s original proposal were not included in the bipartisan deal: buildingsin-home care and innovation. The bipartisan plan also left out $363 billion in clean energy tax credits.

Trump Crimes Breaking News

Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett at The Washington Post: As Trump pushed for probes of 2020 election, he called acting AG Rosen almost daily.

President Donald Trump called his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

The personal pressure campaign, which has not been previously reported, involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue. The people familiar with the conversations spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive legal and political issues that are not yet public.

Rosen told few people about the phone calls, even in his inner circle. But there are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, who was present for some of the conversations, these people said.

David Brayne Woman reading

David Brayne, Woman reading

Donoghue’s notes could be turned over to Congress in a matter of days, they added, if Trump does not file papers in court seeking to block such a handover. In addition, both Rosen and Donoghue could be questioned about the conversations by congressional committees examining Trump’s actions in the days after the election.

The Justice Department recently notified Rosen, Donoghue and others who were serving there during the end of Trump’s presidency that the agency would not seek to invoke executive privilege if they are asked about their contacts with the president during that period.

That posture — which the letter to Rosen calls a departure from normal agency practice — means that individuals who are questioned by Congress would not have to say the conversations with the president were off-limits. They would be able to share details that give a firsthand account of Trump’s frantic attempts to overturn the 2020 election and involve the Justice Department in that effort.

January 6 Investigation News

Politico: Jan. 6 select-panel Dems confident they can corral ex-Trump aides.

Lawmakers on the Jan. 6 select committee describe their probe’s reach as still undefined, saying in interviews that they have yet to formalize the confines of an already closely watched and fast-moving investigation. Minutesbefore the panel’s first hearing on Tuesday, however, its members scored a key win thanks to a legal opinion from President Joe Biden’s Justice Department that allowed them to freely seek witness statements from former Trump administration officials.

“That means the likelihood of any resistance from the committee’s work from former [Trump] employees or current employees is not an impediment,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the Jan. 6 probe, said in an interviewThe Biden DOJ’s decision “expedites” the panel’s work digging into the insurrection, he added….

The panel only recently hired its senior staff and launched its website — and it has more work to do before it can seek out potential Trump-adjacent witnesses such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Woman Reading at a Dressing Table, Henri Matisse, 1919

Woman Reading at a Dressing Table, Henri Matisse, 1919

“I think the true scope of the investigation is still under development,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), a member of the select panel, said in a brief interview. “I know that we will build on work that’s already been done by other committees.” [….]

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), another select committee member, echoed Luria and Thompson about the still-undefined scope of the investigation. But he said it was critical that the panel examine coordination efforts by the extremist groups that marched on the Capitol that day — a process that includes studying the hundreds of criminal prosecutions helmed by the Justice Department.

“[We] want to know who was the ultimate organizer and who paid for all of this action and how did it come about and are they still out there,” Raskin said.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, who on January 6 told the insurrectionists to “start taking names and kicking ass,” has been busy destroying his own defenses for his actions on the day of the attempted coup.

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: Mo Brooks Accidentally Gave Up His Immunity From Eric Swalwell’s Insurrection Lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that it would not shield Rep. Mo Brooks from Rep. Eric Swalwell’s lawsuit against the fomenters of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The DOJ’s decision may seem surprising: After all, Attorney General Merrick Garland has continued to protect Donald Trump from E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit, signaling a broad view of elected officials’ immunity from civil suits. In Swalwell’s case, however, the Justice Department seized upon comments demonstrating that, at the Jan. 6 rally, Brooks was acting not as an elected official, but as a politician seeking to influence future elections. Ironically, it was Brooks himself who made these statements, under oath, in an effort to evade this very lawsuit. The congressman’s legal defense has turned into a legal liability.

Frédéric Soulacroix (1858-1933), a French painter.

Frédéric Soulacroix (1858-1933), French painter.

Swalwell’s lawsuit marks a serious effort to hold Brooks, Trump, and Rudy Giuliani accountable for their conduct at the rally that preceded—and incited—the Jan. 6 insurrection. He sued all three defendants for civil rights violations, as well as more garden variety misdeeds known as torts. In this case, Brooks’ alleged torts included negligence, aiding and abetting common law assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and bias-related crimes. Brooks sought to dismiss these tort claims by invoking the Westfall Act. Under this statute, a federal official facing a civil suit can ask the Department of Justice to certify that they were acting within the scope of their employment when the alleged tort occurred. If the DOJ agrees, the United States is substituted as the defendant. And because the U.S. cannot be sued for a wide range of torts, that substitution usually ends the case.

Predictably, Brooks asked the Justice Department to certify that he was acting as an employee of the federal government carrying out his official duties at the Jan. 6 rally. This argument is hard to swallow. Then again, so was Trump’s assertion that defaming E. Jean Carroll was a presidential act, yet Garland’s Justice Department still endorsed his theory. What appears to have made the difference in this case is Brooks’ own inadvertent admission that he was acting as a campaigner, not a congressman, on the morning of Jan. 6.

This admission was prompted by a claim at the heart of Swalwell’s lawsuit: that Brooks urged the crowd to commit violence at the Capitol. Central to Swalwell’s theory was a segment of Brooks’ speech in which he declared: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” Brooks continued:

“Now, our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives, to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you: Are you willing to do the same? My answer is yes. Louder! Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”

In a long, rambling affidavit, Brooks tried to counter this allegation by reframing his call to begin “kicking ass.” He testified that, in this passage, “I am talking about ‘kicking ass’ in the 2022 and 2024 ELECTIONS!” [….]

This narrative provides perhaps the most self-defeating explanation Brooks could possibly muster at this stage in litigation. As the Justice Department pointed out in its Tuesday filing, “activities specifically directed toward the success of a candidate for a partisan political office in a campaign context” are “not within the scope of the office or employment of a Member of the House of Representatives.” That’s because it is not the “business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections.” Representatives thus cannot invoke the Westfall Act’s protections when they are engaged in “campaign efforts.”

Jim Newell at Slate: Turns Out Mo Brooks Was Wearing Body Armor to Trump’s Very Peaceful Jan. 6 Rally.

Igor Morski, Polish Artist, 1960Back in December, Brooks was the first House Republican to say ahead of the congressional Electoral College certification that he would object to certain states’ electors. On the day of the certification, Jan. 6, he then gave a fiery speech at President Donald Trump’s rally at the Ellipse where he told the assembled crowd that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” Months later, he still argues that Trump would have won the election if only “lawful votes” were counted.

Brooks, like Republican leaders who tried to counterprogram the hearing with a press conference yesterday, thinks a proper investigation would look at why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office wasn’t “doing a better job with respect to the Capitol Police and their level of preparation.”

Then, to prove his point about preparation, he revealed a new detail to me: that because of a tip he’d received about potential violence, he’d been wearing body armor at the very same Ellipse speech in which he encouraged rally attendees to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”

“I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days,” he said. “And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.

“That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,” he told me with a grin. “To cover up the body armor.”

Who was this source? The Committee is probably going to want to hear from Brooks about all this.

Could it have been this guy?

I have a few more links to add in the comments. What’s on your mind today? This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Arsen Kurbanov2

Arsen Kurbanov, Russian artist

Good Morning!!

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the case against Trump ally Tom Barrack, who was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an agent of a foreign power. Politico:

Tom Barrack, a longtime supporter of and adviser to former President Donald Trump, was arrested Tuesday on charges he secretly acted in the U.S. as an agent for the United Arab Emirates.

Barrack, 74, is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and four counts of making false statements to the FBI.

A federal indictment issued by a grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., charged that Barrack put pro-UAE language into a Trump campaign speech in May 2016, took direction from UAE officials about what to say in media appearances and an op-ed piece he published just before the 2016 election, and agreed to promote a candidate for ambassador to UAE backed by UAE officials.

Prosecutors say Barrack used his insider access to White House officials that he gained through roles like his position as chair of Trump’s inaugural committee to give the UAE “non-public information about the views and reactions of senior U.S. government officials following a White House meeting between senior U.S. officials and senior UAE officials.”

Also charged in the case were an aide to Barrack at his investment firm Colony Capital, Matthew Grimes, and a businessman from UAE, Rashid Al-Malik.

Prosecutors allege that early in the Trump administration, Barrack sought to be appointed to a high-profile role in Middle East policy, while telling his allies in UAE that such an appointment would be good for them.

“In his communications with Al Malik, the defendant framed his efforts to obtain an official position within the Administration as one that would enable him to further advance the interests of the UAE, rather than the interests of the United States,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

wilma-with-a-cat-1940.jpg!Large

Carel Willink, Wilma with a cat, 1940

 

Barrack has now been released on a massive bail and will have to wear a gps monitoring bracelet. CNN: Trump ally Tom Barrack strikes a $250 million bail deal to get out of jail.

A federal magistrate judge on Friday ordered Tom Barrack, a longtime associate of former President Donald Trump who was indicted earlier this week on charges of illegal foreign lobbying, released from jail pending trial, freeing him on a bail package that includes a $250 million bond secured by $5 million in cash.

The judge also ordered Barrack to wear a GPS location monitoring bracelet, barred him from transferring any funds overseas and restricted his travel to parts of Southern California and New York. He will have a curfew to be determined by pretrial services.

He must appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday, where he will be arraigned. A spokesman has said he intends to plead not guilty.

Barrack and co-defendant Matthew Grimes were released from custody later Friday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The judge on Friday had also ordered Grimes on a $5 million bond. Grimes will be subject to GPS location monitoring with an electronic bracelet and travel restriction.

As a number of experts have pointed out, Barrack is not simply charged with failing to register as a foreign agent; he is accused of actually helping a foreign power influence U.S. policy. He’s charged under the same statute used to prosecute Russian spy Maria Butina. Emptywheel has been covering this story if you want to go deeper into the details.

Also see these Emptywheel pieces: Paul Manafort Shared Trump Energy Speech with Tom Barrack and Paul Manafort Knew Tom Barrack Was Working with “Our Friends”

Columnist Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: A Foreign Agent in Trump’s Inner Circle?

…[W]hen the billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, one of Trump’s biggest fund-raisers, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates along with other felonies, it might have seemed like a dog-bites-man story. Barrack was once described by longtime Trump strategist Roger Stone — a felon, naturally — as the ex-president’s best friend. If you knew nothing else about Barrack but that, you might have guessed he’d end up in handcuffs.

Nevertheless, Barrack’s arrest is important. Trump’s dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration’s relationship with Russia. So far, that hasn’t happened. When Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified before Congress, Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said to him, “We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.” But we have not found out.

A Barrack trial, if the case goes that far, is unlikely to answer all the outstanding questions about how Gulf money shaped Trump policy. But it could answer some.

Portrait of Edward Gorey by Sam Kalda

Portrait of Edward Gorey by Sam Kalda

Let’s recall that Russia was not the only nation to send emissaries to Trump Tower during the presidential campaign offering election help. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian election interference discusses an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting whose attendees included Donald Trump Jr., George Nader, then an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the Emirates’ de facto ruler, and Joel Zamel, owner of an Israeli private intelligence company, Psy-Group. (Nader is currently in prison for child sex trafficking and possession of child pornography.)

“Zamel asked Trump Jr. whether Psy-Group’s conducting a social media campaign paid for by Nader would present a conflict for the Trump campaign,” said the Senate report. “According to Zamel, Trump Jr. indicated that this would not present a conflict.”

Zamel told the committee that his company never actually performed such work. “Nonetheless, as described below, Zamel engaged in work on behalf of Nader, for which he was paid in excess of $1 million,” said the report. Zamel claimed the payment was for a postelection social media analysis, all copies of which were ostensibly deleted.

If the allegations in the Barrack indictment are true, it means that while an adviser to the Emirates was offering the Trump campaign election help, an Emirati agent was also shaping Trump’s foreign policy, even inserting the country’s preferred language into one of the candidate’s speeches. Prosecutors say that Barrack told a high-level figure they call “Emirati Official 2” that he had staffed the Trump campaign. (It was Barrack who recommended Paul Manafort, later to be convicted of multiple felonies, to Trump.) When an Emirati official asked Barrack if he had information about senior Trump appointees, Barrack allegedly replied, “I do” and said they should talk by phone. He is said to have traveled to the Emirates to strategize with its leadership about what they wanted from the administration during its first 100 days, first six months, first year and first term.

Read more at the NYT.

Yesterday Dakinikat focused on the latest pandemic news as well as the growing anger against the idiots who are refusing to be vaccinated. I want to follow up on a some of the stories she posted. First, in the comment thread, she posted a horrifying story about an anti-mask demonstration at a cancer clinic.

Here’s more on that from Vice News: Breast Cancer Patient Attacked by Violent Anti-Mask Protest Outside Clinic.

A breast cancer patient says she was sprayed with bear mace, physically assaulted, and verbally abused outside a cancer treatment center in West Hollywood, Los Angeles by far-right activists who were angry over the clinic’s mandatory mask policy. 

Andrea Kowch, Queen's Court, 2019

Andrea Kowch, Queen’s Court, 2019

Dozens of anti-maskers holding signs with anti-vaxx and QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories amassed on the sidewalk by the Cedars-Sinai Breast Health Services building on Thursday afternoon, and harassed patients and doctors. 

In one exchange captured by local videographer Vishal Singh, a woman who has since publicly identified herself as Kate Burns, a cancer patient, approached the protesters and told them to leave. 

“I get treated here, get the fuck away,” Burns said. 

One protester, who was filming the scene on his phone, asked her why she was so angry, as a man holding a cardboard sign saying “End the Censorship of Vaccine Risks” smirked. 

“Because I’ve just gone through fucking breast cancer,” Burns said. “And you motherfuckers are here.” 

After a few more exchanges, the a “protester” actually punched Burns in the chest.

Tensions continued to rise as more far-right, anti-maskers arrived on the scene. A small group of anti-fascists also arrived, and got into altercations with the far-right. A woman holding a megaphone shoved Burns, and then punched her several times. Burns said, on social media, that the woman hit her in the chest and struck her scars….

Thursday was the second time that anti-maskers had targeted that particular breast cancer clinic over its mask policy. The ugly scenes and casual political violence that unfolded there on both occasions have become troublingly common across the U.S. 

Can someone explain to me why unvaccinated athletes are being permitted to compete in the Olympic games? NBC News: About 100 U.S. athletes in Tokyo unvaccinated as Covid-hit Olympics begin.

Five out of 6 U.S. athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the team’s top doctor revealed Friday just before the Games officially begin.

That information was culled from the health histories that 567 of the athletes filled out before they departed for Japan, said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, who estimated that 83 percent of those competitors were fully vaccinated.

“Eighty-three percent is actually a substantial number, and we’re quite happy with it,” Finnoff, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s medical chief, said.

That’s higher than the national rate, with about 56 percent of Americans having received at least one dose of a vaccine. But it still means that about 100 of the total contingent of 613 U.S. athletes have not yet been vaccinated.

The news came as the opening ceremony of the pandemic-hit Games got underway in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, marking the official launch of the global sporting event.

But why aren’t they all vaccinated? This makes no sense to me. We really need to stop coddling these holdouts. They are putting themselves and everyone else in danger.

Chelin Sanjuan Piquero, Spanish artist

Chelin Sanjuan Piquero, Spanish artist

Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager at The Washington Post: ‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts.

Seven months after the first coronavirus shots were rolled out, vaccinated Americans — including government, business and health leaders — are growing frustrated that tens of millions of people are still refusing to get them, endangering themselves and their communities and fueling the virus’s spread.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Thursday lashed out amid a surge of cases in her state, telling a reporter it’s “time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks.” The National Football League this week imposed new rules that put pressure on unvaccinated players, warning their teams could face fines or be forced to forfeit games if those players were linked to outbreaks.

“I think for a lot of leaders, both in government and in business, patience has worn thin,” said Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist. “There is an urgency that might not have been there a month ago.”

Meanwhile, exhausted health providers say they are bracing for casespikes that are largely preventable, driven by the hyper-transmissible delta variant. “We are frustrated, tired and worried for this next surge — and saddened by the state we find ourselves in,” said Jason Yaun, a Memphis-based pediatrician, who said his colleagues are grappling with an “accumulation of fatigue” since the outbreak exploded in March 2020.

Biden administration officials increasingly frame the current outbreak as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” seeking to persuade and perhaps even frighten some holdouts to get the shots.

But after months of careful cajoling, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are venting about the sheer number of Americans who remain unvaccinated, particularly as hospitals are becoming overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.

Read the rest at the WaPo. These people need to grow up!

That’s all I have for you today. What’s on your mind?