He was asked if White nationalists should be allowed to serve in the military.
Lazy Caturday Reads: A Mixed Bag of StoriesPosted: May 13, 2023 Filed under: abortion rights, Donald Trump, Twitter | Tags: abortion in Texas, animal cruelty, Chris Licht, CNN, CNN Trump town hall, Diane Feinstein, Elon Musk, Linda Yaccarino, Racism, Tommy Tuberville, violence against women, white supremacistis 11 Comments
It has been another exhausting week, and I’m tired of dealing with Trump’s poisonous effect on our country. Unfortunately his evil influence is still affecting a large portion of the GOP electorate. If only he would just disappear. But that’s not going to happen. We are stuck with him for the time being, and we have to face that reality. So I’ll include a few Trump stories in a mixed bag of other topics.
I really hate to post this story, but I’m going to so you know to watch out for this. I just discovered that Elon Musk has enabled animal cruelty tweets and videos on Twitter.
This is from Ben Collins, the disinformation and extremism reporter at NBC News: Cat and dog torture videos litter Twitter, adding to concerns about moderation.
Graphic videos of animal abuse have circulated widely on Twitter in recent weeks, generating outrage and renewed concern over the platform’s moderation practices.
One such video, in which a kitten appears to be placed inside a blender and then killed, has become so notorious that reactions to it have become their own genre of internet content.
Laura Clemens, 46, said her 11-year-old son came home from his school in London two weeks ago and asked if she had seen the video.
“There’s something about a cat in a blender,” Clemens remembered her son saying.
Clemens said she went on Twitter and searched for “cat,” and the search box suggested searching for “cat in a blender.”
Clemens said that she clicked on the suggested search term and a gruesome video of what appeared to be a kitten being killed inside of a blender appeared instantly. For users who have not manually turned off autoplay, the video will begin rolling instantly. NBC News was able to replicate the same process to surface the video on Wednesday.
Clemens said she is grateful her child asked her about the video instead of simply going on Twitter and typing in the word “cat” by himself.
So the autofill function on Twitter was guiding people to these horrific tweets.
The spread of the video as well as its presence in Twitter’s suggested searches is part of a worrying trend of animal cruelty videos that have littered the social media platform following Elon Musk’s takeover, which included mass layoffs and deep cuts to the company’s content moderation and safety teams.
Last weekend, gory videos from two violent events in Texas spread on Twitter, with some users saying that the images had been pushed into the platform’s algorithmic “For You” feed.
The animal abuse videos appear to predate those videos. Various users have tweeted that they have seen the cat video, with some trying to get Musk’s attention on the issue — some dating back to early May. Clemens said she flagged the video on May 3 to Twitter’s support account and Ella Irwin, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter and one of Musk’s closest advisers….
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, told NBC News that he believes the company likely dismantled a series of safeguards meant to stop these kinds of autocomplete problems.
Of course Musk has fired all the people who used deal with issues like this. NBC reached out to Twitter about this problem and received no response, but apparently by Friday Twitter had completely turned off all search bar autofill suggestions.
Now a little comic relief. Here’s a suggestion for Dakinikat in her ongoing struggle to get her cat Keely to swallow her meds.
Dave Paresh at Wired has a story about Twitter’s incoming CEO: Twitter’s New CEO, Linda Yaccarino, Has a Fearsome To-Do List.
LINDA YACCARINO IS going to have to change her tune. As a long-time executive overseeing ad sales at global television giant NBCUniversal, she spent years fighting social media companies for the billions of dollars that advertisers divide up every year between old and new media….
At Twitter, Yaccarino will have to spin her knowledge of social media’s weaknesses into an asset and start competing with the traditional media industry that she has championed since long before online social networks were even a thing. Elon Musk announced on Friday that Yaccarino will oversee business operations while he focuses on Twitter’s technology and design as executive chair and CTO.
Together, Yaccarino and Musk will try to stop the drain of users and advertisers of the past several months and start to formulate his vision of turning Twitter into an “everything app,” with digital payments tools and other features Musk has yet to clearly articulate. All that will make Yaccarino’s to-do list more wide-ranging than she ever had in TV, and she must do it at a company still reeling from Musk’s sometimes chaotic revamp and his laying off of most of its employees. Here are five tasks awaiting her….
Yaccarino’s deftness at getting advertisers to open up their checkbooks earned her a huge role at NBC. She persuaded them to keep spending on TV spots even as consumers devoted more time to online services, and to try out new streaming options, such as NBC’s Peacock.
The challenge at Twitter is different. Most advertisers want to avoid association with questionable content, but Musk has embraced controversy, chopping down teams that moderate content and monitore potential racial and political bias in Twitter’s recommendation systems. He also relaxed rules for combating hate speech against transgender users, censored journalists and critics, and welcomed back users his predecessors had banned for breaking Twitter’s content rules, including former US president Donald Trump.
Good luck to Yaccarino. That sounds like the hopeful descriptions of Trump staffers who try to control him or at least minimize the damage he causes. Musk is just as much of a narcissistic psychopath as Trump, if not worse. Read more at Wired if you’re interested.
People are still talking about Trump’s disastrous “town hall” on CNN.
Charlie Nash at Mediaite: Republican at Trump Town Hall Says Many in Audience Were ‘Disgusted’ or ‘Bewildered’ By Ex-President.
Many audience members at CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump on Wednesday were “disgusted” and “bewildered” by the spectacle, but were told to be respectful and not to boo, according to a report.
“The floor manager came out ahead of time and said, Please do not boo, please be respectful. You were allowed to applaud,” claimed Republican political consultant Matthew Bartlett in an interview with Puck News senior political correspondent Tara Palmeri on Thursday.
“And I think that set the tone where people were going to try their best to keep this between the navigational beacons, and that if they felt compelled to applaud, they would, but they weren’t going to have an outburst or they weren’t going to boo an answer,” he said.
Bartlett claimed that, while many in the audience applauded and cheered the former president, “there were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered.” He estimated that while around half of the audience expressed vocal support for Trump, the other half sat in silence. Bartlett also alleged that Trump repeatedly “lost the audience” when he spoke about topics like January 6 or the results of the 2020 election, despite the appearance on CNN that the audience was consistently on his side.
“In a TV setting, you hear the applause, but you don’t see the disgust,” Bartlett told Palmeri. “So Trump did not have the entire room on his side, make no mistake, even if it certainly came across that way on TV.”
Well, isn’t that special? CNN’s Christ Licht has a lot of answer for. But he still thinks the “town hall” was a success. He didn’t take it well when staffers criticized his decision to hold what amounted to a Trump rally on in prime time.
Alex Griffing at Mediaite: CNN’s Oliver Darcy Reportedly Scolded By Boss Chris Licht Over ‘Emotional’ Trump Town Hall Coverage: ‘They Put the Fear of God Into Him.’
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy was reportedly scolded by his boss Chris Licht, the chairman and CEO of the network, over his critical coverage of the network’s Trump town hall on Wednesday night.
Puck’s Dylan Byers reported Friday that Licht “summoned” Darcy “and his editor to a meeting with himself and top executives in which they told him that his coverage of Trump town hall had been too emotional and stressed the importance of remaining dispassionate.”
Darcy reported on the town hall after the event, writing, “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.”
He offered some kind words for Kaitlan Collins, who moderated the event, calling her “as tough and knowledgable of an interviewer as they come.” He noted that “she fact-checked Trump throughout the 70-minute town hall.” On the whole, his analysis was critical of the network.
Byers, a veteran media reporter who has worked everywhere from NBC to Politico to CNN, added further detail:
“summoned Darcy and his editor Jon Passantino to a meeting with himself, CNN comms chief Kris Coratti, editorial executive vice president Virginia Moseley and senior vice president of global news Rachel Smolkin, in which they told him that his coverage had been too emotional and repeatedly stressed the importance of remaining dispassionate when covering the news, be it CNN or any other media organization.”
“Darcy stood by his work and pushed back on the ‘emotional’ characterization, one source with knowledge of the meeting said. But afterward two sources who heard about the meeting described him as visibly shaken,” Byers reported.
“They put the fear of God into him,” Byers reported another source saying. Darcy took over Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources newsletter after Licht ousted Stelter at the network.
For Pete’s sake, Darcy is a media critic. He’s supposed to express his opinions. Chris Licht doesn’t seem to know much about journalism.
Diane Feinstein has finally returned to Washington and will again fill her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Perhaps now Biden’s judicial appointments will resume getting approval. But there are concerns about Feinstein’s health.
From Paul McCloud at Rolling Stone: Feinstein’s Health Crisis Goes Back Farther than We Knew.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, 89, returned to Congress this week, ending an almost three-month medical absence that highlighted her advanced age and deteriorating health. But her decline, and the problems it entails for American democracy, date back farther and go deeper than has been publicly known.
Multiple sources tell Rolling Stone that in recent years Feinstein’s office had an on-call system — unbeknownst to Feinstein herself — to prevent the senator from ever walking around the Capitol on her own. At any given moment there was a staff member ready to jump up and stroll alongside the senator if she left her office, worried about what she’d say to reporters if left unsupervised. The system has been in place for years.
“They will not let her leave by herself, but she doesn’t even know it,” says Jamarcus Purley, a former staffer.
Senators juggle a heavy schedule of votes, hearings and meetings on a wide range of subjects. Momentary lapses and mixups about a topic are far from unheard of. But over the last several years, interviews with Feinstein devolved into confusion on a near-daily basis. A familiar pattern would emerge: Feinstein would make an unexpected stance on a bill or policy position, only for her staff to quickly follow up by email to correct the record. It got to the point where reporters would pause before rushing to publish an otherwise-newsworthy declaration because of the inevitability of staff reversing her statement.
Feinstein once notably seemed to forget she had relinquished her role as third in line to the presidency. As the longest-serving member of the Senate majority, she would traditionally serve as president pro tempore, behind only the vice president and speaker of the House in the line of succession. Feinstein announced last October via a written statement she would voluntarily give up the title. But when asked about it three weeks latershe told a reporter she was still considering what to do. The staffer quickly corrected the Senator.
It’s a sad career coda for a groundbreaking lawmaker, who has said she will retire when her term expires at the end of next year. Feinstein joined the Senate in 1992 as the first female senator from California, accomplishing a series of firsts as she rose through the chamber’s ranks. As well as advancing landmark gun control and marriage equality laws, she became the first woman to lead the Senate’s intelligence panel in 2009. In 2017, became the first woman to chair the Judiciary Committee.
There’s much more at the link.
Another Senator who should definitely retire is Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville, who wants to control the Defense Department’s abortion policies and thinks that white supremacists should be welcomed in the U.S. military.
Megan Leibowitz at NBC News: Military promotions impasse drags on as Sen. Tuberville defends blockade.
Dozens of military promotions continue to languish in the Senate as GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville digs in on blocking typically routine approvals over his opposition to the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
About 200 defense-related promotions are awaiting Senate action, but Tuberville has indicated he has no plans to ease up on his blockade unless the Defense Department reverses course on an abortion policy for service members and their dependents that was announced in October.
Since March, Tuberville has been using a procedural tactic to slow promotions that are often quickly approved in the Senate by unanimous consent. One senator’s objection, however, can stall the approval process.
The Alabama senator’s moves have provoked bipartisan backlash, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Asked in a press conference Wednesday about Tuberville’s holds, McConnell replied, “No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations. I don’t support that.”
Tuberville responded to McConnell’s remarks on Thursday saying the Pentagon has not been responsive.
“I’m not talking to anybody — crickets from anybody in the military, you know, to work this out,” Tuberville told reporters.
When reached for comment, a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “and the Department continue to engage Senator Tuberville and his office in good faith and have directly relayed how his hold on our general and flag officers have risks to our military readiness and severely limit the Department’s ability to ensure strategic and operational success.”
Philip Bump wrote about Tuberville’s remarks about white supremacists at The Washington Post: Sen. Tuberville rises to the defense of racists in the armed forces.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) offered an unusual criticism of the Biden administration in a radio interview this week.
“We, our military and [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin put out an order to stand down and all military across the country, saying we’re going to run out the White nationalists, people that don’t believe how we believe,” he told NPR affiliate WBHM. “And that’s not how we do it in this country.”
“They call them that,” he replied. “I call them Americans.”
Tuberville was elected to the Senate with President Donald Trump’s support in the 2020 election that Trump lost. Even before taking office, Tuberville pledged to oppose the electors cast by states Trump lost in an effort to slow or block Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency.
Trump-adjacent rhetoric: that Biden and his administration are trying to villainize the right as being riddled with racists and domestic terrorists. It’s just that he got it backward. Instead of suggesting that decent, hard-working Americans were being cast as racists, he’s suggesting that racists are simply decent, hard-working Americans.
The idea that Biden (and Austin by extension) are using accusations of White nationalism as a cudgel was a central part of Tucker Carlson’s rhetoric back in his Fox News days. Immediately after Biden’s inauguration, Carlson highlighted a portion of the new president’s speech in which he — obviously alluding to the riot at the Capitol two weeks before — swore to uproot extremism.
Biden promised to “confront and … defeat” the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy, [and] domestic terrorism” that the country was seeing.
“The question is,” Carlson said in response, “what does it mean to wage war on white supremacists? Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is?”
Tuberville is a real looney-tune, and I’m much more worried about what he will do next than I am about Diane Feinstein’s cognitive decline.
I’m going to end with another horror story–this time about abortion rights.
From the AP, via The Washington Post: A Texas woman was fatally shot by her boyfriend after she got an abortion, police say.
A man who didn’t want his girlfriend to get an abortion fatally shot her during a confrontation in a Dallas parking lot, police said.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 20, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump, Twitter | Tags: DOJ, Elon Musk, Final report on January 6 insurrection, House Select Committee on January 6, House Ways and Means Committee, Jack Smith, Richard Neal, Trump tax returns 9 Comments
I woke up this morning hoping to find that Elon Musk had kept his word and stepped down as CEO of Twitter after a clear majority of Twitter users voted him out in a poll he posted. It hasn’t happened yet. From CNN:
A Twitter poll created by Elon Musk asking whether he should “step down as head of Twitter” ended early Monday morning with most respondents voting in the affirmative.
Musk had said he would abide by the results of the unscientific poll, which began Sunday evening and concluded with 57.5% voting yes, 42.5% voting no.
More than 17 million votes were cast in the informal referendum on his chaotic leadership of Twitter, which has been marked by mass layoffs, the replatforming of suspended accounts that had violated Twitter’s rules, the suspension of journalists who cover him and whiplash policy changes made and reversed in real time.
Now he says only Twitter users paying $8 per month for a blue check will be able to vote in his stupid polls. BBC News:
Elon Musk has said Twitter will only allow accounts with a blue tick to vote on changes to policy after a majority of users voted for him to quit.
Mr Musk launched a Twitter poll asking if he should step down as chief executive – 57.5% of users voted “yes”.
Since then, he has not commented directly on the result of the poll.
But he has said that Twitter will alter its rules so that only people who pay for a subscription can vote on company policy.
One user claimed that so-called bots appeared to have voted heavily in the poll about Mr Musk’s role at the firm. Mr Musk said he found the claim “interesting”….
In response to a tweet saying Twitter Blue subscribers “should be the only ones that can vote in policy related polls. We actually have skin in the game”, Mr Musk said: “Good point, Twitter will make that change”.
Twitter’s paid-for verification feature was rolled out for a second time last week after its launch was paused. The service costs $8 per month, or $11 for people using the Twitter app on Apple devices, and gives subscribers a “blue tick”.
Previously a blue tick was used as verification tool for high-profile accounts as a badge of authenticity and was free.
I honestly doubt if he’ll do that, because then he would reveal how few people are willing to pay him.
Nevertheless, according to Dan Laden-Hall at The Daily Beast, he is trying to find a replacement: Elon Musk Looking for a New Twitter CEO After Users Told Him to Go: Report.
Elon Musk is actively looking for someone to replace him as CEO of Twitter, CNBC reports.
The news comes after Musk posted a Twitter poll Sunday asking if he should step down as the head of the company. On Monday, when the poll closed, the majority of the 17.5 million votes cast said he should go. The tech boss had promised to “abide by the results” at the time he posted the yes-or-no poll, but he has yet to formally declare his intention to leave.
After buying the social media site for $44 billion in October, Musk said in court last month that he would only be Twitter’s CEO on a temporary basis. “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” he said.
According to the unnamed sources cited in CNBC’s story about his search for a successor, Musk was allegedly looking for a new Twitter CEO before posting his poll over the weekend. The search is said to be ongoing.
But by his own account, the search to find someone to run the social media giant is challenging. “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” he wrote a day later.
The final meeting of the House Select Committee investigating January 6 didn’t offer any big surprises, but they did announce four criminal referrals on Trump to the DOJ. Of course the referrals are essentially meaningless, but the Committee also will transmit the evidence they have gathered in support of the referrals.
Josh Gerstein at Politico: DOJ cares about the evidence, not the criminal referrals.
The historic criminal referral the House Jan. 6 committee issued urging the Justice Department to pursue charges against President Donald Trump is unlikely to sway many minds among prosecutors already pursuing multiple investigations, former DOJ officials said.
Prosecutors are more interested in the thousands of pages of witness statements and other records gathered by the House panel over the past 15 months, current and former officials said.
“I’m sure the Attorney General will welcome any new evidence the committee sends over, but the authority to indict rests with the executive branch, not Congress,” said University of Baltimore Law School Dean Ronald Weich, a former DOJ liaison to Congress. “The decision of whether to bring criminal charges is solely within the purview of the Justice Department. I expect DOJ to respond courteously to the committee, but the referral will not change the outcome.”
“I think a referral will have zero practical effect on what DOJ does,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal public corruption prosecutor in Washington. “They are already investigating, and they’re not going to decide whether or not to charge based on whether they got a referral from Congress.”
Just last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized prosecutors wanted to see the House’s evidence, but he notably omitted any desire to see what conclusions lawmakers reached about what that evidence proved.
“We would like to have all the transcripts and all of the other evidence collected … by the committee, so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigations,” Garland told reporters gathered in his conference room at DOJ headquarters.
In some ways, the House’s new criminal referral could have less impact than others Congress has sent to the Justice Department in the past. That’s because while some referrals spur DOJ into action, prosecutors already have investigations open into the main areas where the Jan. 6 committee sees potential crimes: Trump’s alleged incitement of the attack on the Capitol and his prolonged effort to undermine the 2020 presidential election results.
However, the public will soon be able to see the evidence for themselves, and that will probably lead to more pressure on DOJ to indict Trump. Kyle Cheney: The Jan. 6 committee’s big reveal hasn’t happened yet.
The committee is sitting on a stockpile of nearly 1,200 witness interview transcripts and reams of hard-won documents about Donald Trump’s attempt to derail the peaceful transfer of power. While the select panel’s nine members gathered on Monday to refer evidence of Trump’s potential crimes to the Justice Department, that raw information — not the showmanship of a final in-person public meeting — will tell the story the committee has labored to piece together.
The 160-page executive summary, which precedes a final panel report set for release as soon as Wednesday, hints at the extraordinary range of documents the committee collected. It references at least 30 “productions” of documents from various witnesses and agencies, including White House visitor logs, Secret Service radio frequencies and the Department of Labor, where then-Secretary Eugene Scalia produced a Jan. 8, 2021, memo seeking to call a Cabinet meeting to discuss the transfer of power.
“The select committee intends to make public the bulk of its nonsensitive records before the end of the year,” the panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said Monday. Thompson has stressed that the taxpayer-funded investigation’s materials should be made available to the public: “These transcripts and documents will allow the American people to see the evidence we have gathered and continue to explore the information that has led us to our conclusions.” [….]
Yet crucial questions remain about which evidence the panel will treat as off-limits to the public — including whether it will post hundreds of hours of video interviews alongside its transcripts. Thompson has also emphasized that transcripts will be redacted to exclude private information and law enforcement or national security-related details. And some witnesses who requested anonymity would receive it, Thompson has said.
Call records, with the exception of ones that the committee has found relevant to the probe, would likely remain secret as well, according to the chair.
The report should still be a BFD:
Even so, the panel’s introductory materials gave tantalizing clues about what’s to come. The committee’s executive summary referenced just over 80 of the panel’s interviews and documents collected from 34 agencies or witnesses; among them, Christoffer Guldbrandsen, a documentarian who captured footage of Trump ally Roger Stone, and Bernard Kerik, who advised Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani in his bid to collect evidence to challenge the 2020 results.
The summary also reflects voluminous contacts among key players in Trump’s alleged plot that were not previously known but could be of interest to federal prosecutors. For example, the document describes numerous contacts that then-DOJ officials Jeffrey Clark and Ken Klukowski had with Trump campaign attorney John Eastman in the closing days of 2020 and into early 2021.
In addition, the summary casts doubt on the testimony of some select panel witnesses — like former Secret Service and Trump White House aide Tony Ornato and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who the committee said were not as forthcoming as others who spoke to it.
During her testimony, McEnany had disputed the allegation that Trump was resistant to calling off the mob, but the summary noted that her former deputy Sarah Matthews had told the panel otherwise. Ornato, who played a potentially key role as a witness to an alleged altercation between Trump and his security detail on Jan. 6, drew similar scrutiny after telling the committee he could not recall relaying the account of the altercation despite others’ testimony to the contrary.
“The Committee is skeptical of Ornato’s account,” the panel added in a footnote.
Read the rest at Politico.
Whether or not to indict Trump will be up to Special Prosecutor Jack Smith.
Jose Pagliery at The Daily Beast: Trump Special Prosecutor Has a History of Indicting Presidents.
Witnesses had lost hope and disappeared. Criminal suspect No. 1 had become president. And the long-awaited indictment now seemed unreachable.
Then, American prosecutor Jack Smith came along and took charge, sending his investigators on an aggressive mission to win back reluctant witnesses—by targeting the tight-lipped politicians and militant nationalists who had kept them silent.
The story may sound familiar, if not a bit like resistance fan-fiction. But this story is actually about Smith’s efforts in Kosovo, a small country in southeastern Europe that was historically an Albanian enclave in Serbia. It was difficult every step of the way. Smith had to defend his work from widespread accusations that he was conducting an unfair political prosecution to remove the nation’s favorite leader. And the narrative was that cooperators are traitors—and that these lawyers like Smith were trying to destroy the country.
It may prove to be an invaluable experience.
Since the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Smith as the trusted special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump last month, there have been dozens of news profiles focusing on his time as a domestic prosecutor investigating public corruption. Several have even incorrectly identified the international court he served on. But this is the first sweeping look at what exactly he accomplished while on a special assignment abroad in Europe, where he took down Kosovo’s sitting president—and gained the credentials to target an American one.
Kosovo investigation until Smith took over. “It has huge political consequences. It takes bravery. Jack’s got to decide whether he’s going to indict a former president of the United States. But he did the same thing when it came to Hashim Thaçi.”
Kosovo’s now ex-president remains trapped inside a jail in the Dutch city of The Hague. Understanding how he got there helps contextualize Smith’s legacy at the controversial international prosecutor’s office he led until last month—and his ability to face Trump now.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider whether to release Trump’s tax returns to the public.
CNN: House Ways and Means Committee to meet on future of Trump’s tax returns.
The House Ways and Means Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and weigh whether to release the information to the public, the end to a years-long effort from Democrats to learn more about Trump’s financial background.
The highly anticipated meeting is years in the making but comes as Democrats have just days to act on whether to release the former president’s tax returns. While there is historic precedent for Ways and Means to release confidential tax information, a decision to put it out to the public would come with intense political fallout as Trump has already declared he is running for president in 2024.
The committee has had access to Trump’s taxes for weeks after winning a lengthy legal battle that began in the spring of 2019. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal requested the first six years of Trump’s taxes as well as tax returns for eight of his businesses back in April of 2019.
Neal and his ranking member Kevin Brady have had access to the information, and rank-and-file members on the committee will have begun to have access and review at least some of Trump’s tax information, according to a source familiar.
It’s not clear if members would have access to all of the information.
Republicans on the committee are preparing to push back hard if Democrats vote to release any of Trump’s tax information, committee sources tell CNN. The argument Republicans will wage, however, won’t center on defending Trump explicitly but rather what the release means for politicians and ordinary people in the future.
Democrats on the committee would rely on section 6103 of the tax code to lawfully release information about Trump’s taxes, but Republicans are prepared to argue that Democrats are abusing the provision, attacking a political enemy and potentially unleashing a system where even individuals could have their personal information exposed if they become targets of the committee.
More stories to check out, links only:
The Washington Post: Another headache for Trump as House panel weighs release of tax returns.
Maggie Haberman at The New York Times: A Diminished Trump Meets a Damning Narrative.
The Washington Post: Congress unveils $1.7 trillion deal to fund government, avert shutdown.
The Washington Post: Lawmakers put Electoral Count Act, crafted as response to Jan. 6, in omnibus bill.
Adam Liptak at The New York Times: An ‘Imperial Supreme Court’ Asserts Its Power, Alarming Scholars.
CNN: 6.4 magnitude earthquake shakes Northern California.
Have a nice Tuesday, Sky Dancers!!
Tuesday ReadsPosted: December 13, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, Twitter | Tags: Anthony Fauci, anti-LGBTQ hate, Denver Riggleman, Department of Homeland Security, Elon Musk, Hunter Walker, January 6 Committee, Justine Wilson, Mark Meadows texts, Oath Keepers, transgender pronouns, Twitter, Vivian Jenna Wilson 9 Comments
Yesterday, Talking Points Memo released a large trove of Mark Meadows’ text messages. It’s not clear how they obtained them, but the main author of the series of articles is Hunter Walker, who collaborated with Denver Riggleman on the book The Breach, which described Riggleman’s work for the January 6 Committee. Riggleman led the project to identify the senders of text messages that were turned over to the committee. The articles are not behind the usual TPM paywall.
Hunter Walker introduces the series at TPM: A Plot To Overturn An American Election.
TPM has obtained the 2,319 text messages that Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s last White House chief of staff, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Today, we are publishing The Meadows Texts, a series based on an in-depth analysis of these extraordinary — and disturbing — communications.
The vast majority of Meadows’ texts described in this series are being made public for the very first time. They show the senior-most official in the Trump White House communicating with members of Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists as they work feverishly to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The Meadows texts illustrate in moment-to-moment detail an authoritarian effort to undermine the will of the people and upend the American democratic system as we know it.
The text messages, obtained from multiple sources, offer new insights into how the assault on the election was rooted in deranged internet paranoia and undemocratic ideology. They show Meadows and other high-level Trump allies reveling in wild conspiracy theories, violent rhetoric, and crackpot legal strategies for refusing to certify Joe Biden’s victory. They expose the previously unknown roles of some members of Congress, local politicians, activists and others in the plot to overturn the election. Now, for the first time, many of those figures will be named and their roles will be described — in their own words.
Meadows turned over the text messages during a brief period of cooperation with the committee before he filed a December 2021 lawsuit arguing that its subpoenas seeking testimony and his phone records were “overly broad” and violations of executive privilege. The committee did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Since then, Meadows has faced losses in his efforts to challenge the subpoena in court. However, that legal battle is ongoing and is unlikely to conclude before next month, when the incoming Republican House majority is widely expected to shutter the committee’s investigation. Earlier this year, Meadows reportedly turned over the same material he gave the select committee to the Justice Department in response to another subpoena. These messages are key evidence in the two major investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. With this series, the American people will be able to evaluate the most important texts for themselves.
This one is the real shocker. Hunter Walker, Josh Kovensky, and Emine Yücel at TPM: Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members Of Congress About Plans To Overturn The 2020 Election.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election….
Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021. The texts are rife with links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories, violent rhetoric, and advocacy for authoritarian power grabs.
One message identified as coming from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) to Meadows on January 17, 2021, three days before Joe Biden was set to take office, is a raw distillation of the various themes in the congressional correspondence. In the text, despite a typo, Norman seemed to be proposing a dramatic last ditch plan: having Trump impose martial law during his final hours in office.
“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”
The text, which has not previously been reported, is a particularly vivid example of how congressional opposition to Biden’s election was underpinned by paranoid and debunked conspiracy theories like those about Dominion voting machines. Norman’s text also showed the potentially violent lengths to which some congressional Republicans were willing to go in order to keep Trump in power. The log Meadows provided to the select committee does not include a response to Norman’s message.
Reached via cell phone on Monday morning, Norman asked TPM for a chance to review his messages before commenting.
“It’s been two years,” Norman said. “Send that text to me and I’ll take a look at it.”
TPM forwarded Norman a copy of the message calling for “Marshall Law!!” We did not receive any further response from the congressman.
Read the rest at TPM.
Two more pieces in the series:
Hunter Walker and Josh Kovensky at TPM: Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry’s Work To Overturn 2020 Election Included A ‘Cyber Team’ And An Italian Job.
Kate Riga and Hunter Walker: As The 2020 Election Slipped Away, Andy Biggs And Mark Meadows Schemed To Reverse The Vote In Arizona.
So you can check those out at TPM. It’s quite a scoop for Josh Marshall’s blog.
Here’s another shocker from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP): Hundreds of Members of Extremist Group Oath Keepers Worked for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Leaked Roster Shows.
More than 300 people identifying themselves as current or former employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or affiliated agencies appeared on an internal roster of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing anti-government group whose leader has been convicted of sedition.
Among them is a man identifying himself as a “20 year Special Agent” with the U.S. Secret Service who worked security for two presidents, a person who said he was a “Current Supervisory Border Patrol Agent,” and one who described himself as an IT employee at the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration.
The Oath Keepers roster analyzed by OCCRP and its reporting partner, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), shows that 306 dues-paying Oath Keepers members listed themselves as affiliated with DHS, including 21 who said they were working for the agency at the time their names were added.
One hundred eighty-four identified themselves as having served in the Coast Guard, 67 as having worked in DHS itself, 40 at Customs and Border Protection or the Border Patrol, 11 at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and seven at the U.S. Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting the president, vice president, and visiting heads of state.
The new revelations are troubling, said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Extremism within our government is always alarming, but even more so in a department with a law enforcement and national security nexus like DHS,” said Thompson, who is also heading the U.S. House’s investigation into the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol….
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-racism group, the Oath Keepers claim to have recruited tens of thousands of current and former U.S. military and law enforcement employees. The Oath Keepers’ top leader, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, wrote in a 2009 blog post that “men like this on the inside … can and do provide information to expose what is going on,” adding that “we are hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”
Click the link to read more.
Elon Musk continues his pathetic cries for attention from the right wing mob. I’m sure you’ve heard that he attacked Anthony Fauci on Twitter. From The Independent: Dr Fauci hits back at Musk claims he should be prosecuted: ‘Cesspool of misinformation.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, the outgoing director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who helped steer the country through the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, brushed off criticism from Twitter’s Elon Musk on Monday.
On Sunday, Mr Musk, who has increasingly broadcast far right views in recent months, tweeted: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”
Dr Fauci, who has faced hostility from conservatives for years due to his support of public health measures to limit the spread and severity of Covid, told reporter Max Kozlov of the science magazine Nature that he was not bothered by Mr Musk’s attack.
“I don’t pay attention to that, Max, and I don’t even feel I need to respond,” Dr Fauci told Kozlov. “A lot of that stuff is just a cesspool of misinformation, and I don’t waste a minute worrying about it.”
Kozlov tweeted that a full interview with Dr Fauci is forthcoming.
Mr Musk, who was an early skeptic of Covid public health measures and remote work, at one point tweeted that there would likely be no new US cases of Covid by April of 2020. His lack of public health credentials notwithstanding, Mr Musk’s tweet was amplified by critics of Dr Fauci like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Mr Musk’s tweet also mocked the increasingly common practice of people explicitly stating their preferred gender pronouns, a practice aimed at ensuring that people are not misgendered.
Yesterday, I learned that there could be some personal psychological reasons for Musk’s right-wing radicalization. One of his children, who identifies as a trans woman, has publicly disowned him and changed her surname. She legally changed her name from Xavier Musk to Vivian Jenna Wilson (he mother’s maiden name).
Mercury News: Elon Musk says he lost transgender daughter because of ‘neo-Marxists.’
Elon Musk doesn’t seem to believe he played any role in alienating his 18-year-old transgender daughter, who made the legal move this year to no longer be related to her controversial billionaire father “in any way, shape or form.”
Instead, the Tesla CEO told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday that his child’s decision to distance herself from him was caused by “neo-Marxists” at educational institutions, Page Six reported.
Musk didn’t specify what institutions had worked their influence on his daughter, but he said, “It’s full-on communism and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil.”
Musk apparently sees no connection between his child’s disenchantment with him and his polarizing comments about gender identity issues. The young woman’s mother, Musk’s first wife, Justine Wilson, has characterized the CEO as a difficult, controlling and patriarchal man to live with.
Musk, who has revived his effort to buy Twitter, first came under fire for his views on pronouns in July 2020, when he tweeted that “pronouns suck.” His partner at the time, the singer Grimes, was outraged, saying, “I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn’t your heart.” Grimes also told him to get off his phone: “I love you but please turn off ur phone.”
Months later, Musk was criticized again for sharing a meme, since deleted, that seemingly mocked people who put their pronouns in their online bios. In response to criticism to that tweet, Musk wrote on Twitter: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.” [….]
In June, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge officially approved two requests from Musk’s daughter to be legally recognized as a woman. In petitioning for the name change, the daughter also expressed the desire to no longer be related to her famous father. The judge signed documents that said that a new birth certificate would be issued to the young woman, which reflects the change in name and gender.
A bit more about Musk from his former wife:
In a scathing essay Wilson wrote for Marie Claire about their marriage, which ended in 2008, she said that Musk grew up in the male-dominated culture of South Africa.
“The will to compete and dominate that made him so successful in business did not magically shut off when he came home,” Wilson wrote. “This, and the vast economic imbalance between us, meant that in the months following our wedding, a certain dynamic began to take hold.
“Elon’s judgment overruled mine, and he was constantly remarking on the ways he found me lacking. ‘I am your wife,’ I told him repeatedly, ‘not your employee.’ ‘If you were my employee,’ he said just as often, ‘I would fire you.’”
After their daughter’s decision to sever ties with her father were made public, Wilson expressed support for her, tweeting, “I’m very proud of you!”
You can read the October 7 interview by Roula Khalaf at the Financial Times if you sign up for a free account. Here are some relevant bits: Elon Musk: “Aren’t you entertained?”
Why does a serious guy with serious ideas indulge in silly Twitter games that could also cost his followers dearly? “Aren’t you entertained?” Musk roars with laughter. “I play the fool on Twitter and often shoot myself in the foot and cause myself all sorts of trouble . . . I don’t know, I find it vaguely therapeutic to express myself on Twitter. It’s a way to get messages out to the public.”
It is fair to say that Musk is obsessed with Twitter, so much so that he’s been embroiled in an epic on/off buyout of the platform that has captivated Wall Street and the tech industry for months….
I had asked over dinner whether his original offer had been a bad joke. “Twitter is certainly an invitation to increase your pain level,” he says. “I guess I must be a masochist . . . ” But he makes no secret that his interest in the company has never been primarily financial: “I’m not doing Twitter for the money. It’s not like I’m trying to buy some yacht and I can’t afford it. I don’t own any boats. But I think it’s important that people have a maximally trusted and inclusive means of exchanging ideas and that it should be as trusted and transparent as possible.” The alternative, he says, is a splintering of debate into different social-media bubbles, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s Truth Social network. “It [Truth Social] is essentially a rightwing echo chamber. It might as well be called Trumpet.”
Now it’s clear that Musk is turning Twitter into Truth Social or something even worse. This is interesting:
We turn to his views on government and politics and the Twitter Musk appears, the more emotional, unrestrained persona that comes across in his frenetic posts. He is lauding billionaires as the most efficient stewards of capital, best placed to decide on the allocation of social benefits. “If the alternative steward of capital is the government, that is actually not going to be to the benefit of the people,” says Musk.
He is railing against Joe Biden for being in thrall to the unions but also daring to snub him. “He [Biden] had an electric vehicle summit at the White House and deliberately didn’t invite Tesla last year. Then to follow it up, to add insult to injury, at a big event he said that GM was leading the electric car revolution, in the same quarter that GM shipped 26 electric cars and we shipped 300,000. Does that seem fair to you?” [….]
Musk has a dystopian view of the left’s influence on America, which helps explain his wild pursuit of Twitter to liberate free speech. He blames the fact that his teenage daughter no longer wants to be associated with him on the supposed takeover of elite schools and universities by neo-Marxists. “It’s full-on communism . . . and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil,” says Musk. “It [the relationship] may change, but I have very good relationships with all the others [children]. Can’t win them all.”
Musk was abused by his father as a child, and his response has been to become a bully.
He also has a dim view of regulators, whom he sees as bureaucrats justifying their jobs by going after high-profile targets like him. He seems to be in a constant feud with one regulator or another, whether it’s over his own pronouncements or over the treatment of staff. Musk is unabashed about driving his employees hard. He was bullied as a child (and has also spoken of emotional abuse by his father) but is now sometimes accused of bullying others. He shoots back: if anyone is unhappy working for him, they should work elsewhere because “they’re not chained to the company, it’s voluntary.
That explains a lot. Read more at Financial Times if you’re interested. I’m beginning to find Musk even more annoying and repulsive than Trump. And here’s the October 2001 Marie Claire essay by Justine Musk: “I Was a Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce.”
More Twitter News:
Kayla Gogarty at Media Matters: Anti-LGBTQ hate has increased on Twitter since Elon Musk officially acquired the company.
A new report from Media Matters and GLAAD shows that since Elon Musk took over as Twitter CEO and plunged the company into chaos with erratic decisions, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has increased on the platform, despite his claims and actions to the contrary, including disbanding Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Media Matters has found that retweets of right-wing figures’ tweets that included the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur increased substantially, as did mentions of right-wing figures in tweets containing the slur.
Key findings include:
- Anti-LGBTQ accounts that saw substantial increases in both retweets of and mentions in tweets with the slur included Tim Pool, Jack Posobiec, Jake Shield, Gays Against Groomers, Blaire White, Allie Beth Stuckey, Andy Ngo, Seth Dillon, and Mike Cernovich.
- Collectively, these 9 accounts saw an over 1,200% increase in retweets of tweets with the slur, going from nearly 3,600 to over 48,000, and they saw an over 1,100% increase in mentions in tweets with the slur, going from over 5,300 to more than 65,000.
- Other right-wing accounts also saw substantial increases of mentions in tweets containing the slur. For instance, Libs of TikTok saw more than a 600% increase in its mentions, going from nearly 2,000 to nearly 14,000, while Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) saw a nearly 6,000% increase, going from nearly 70 mentions to over 4,000.
- Anti-LGBTQ figure James Lindsay and right-wing satire site Babylon Bee have earned thousands of retweets on posts perpetuating the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur and have been mentioned in thousands of tweets referencing the slur since their accounts were reinstated by Musk.
- Mentions of prominent LGBTQ accounts in tweets with the “groomer” slur also increased during the time frame, with one account seeing an increase of over 225,000% after Musk officially acquired the platform.
Read more at Media Matters.
The Washington Post: Twitter dissolves Trust and Safety Council.
Twitter on Monday night abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the latest sign that Elon Musk is unraveling years of work and institutions created to make the social network safer and more civil.
Members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council received an email with the subject line, “Thank You,” that informed them the council was no longer “the best structure” to bring “external insights into our product and policy development work.”
The email dissolution arrived less than an hour before members of the council were expecting to meet with Twitter executives via Zoom to discuss recent developments, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
Dozens of civil rights leaders, academics and advocates from around the world had volunteered their time for years to help improve safety on the platform.
“We are grateful for your engagement, advice and collaboration in recent years and wish you every success in the future,” said the email, which was simply signed “Twitter.”
In less than two months, Musk has undone years of investments in trust and safety at Twitter — dismissing key parts of the workforce and bringing back accounts that previously had been suspended. As the body unravels, Musk is tightening his grip on decisions about the future of content moderation at Twitter, with less input from outside experts.
The move is just throwing away “years of institutional memory that we on the council have brought” to the company, said one council member who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to concerns about harassment on the platform. “Getting external experts and advocates looking at your services makes you smarter.”
Read more at the WaPo.
I’ll end there and turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories are you following?
Tuesday Reads: Antisemitism and Extremism in the U.S.Posted: November 29, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, children, Donald Trump, just because, Twitter | Tags: anti-semitism, child abuse, child safety, Elon Musk, Holocaust denial, Kanye West, Neo-Nazis, Nicoholas Fuentes, Republicans, Ye 15 Comments
Last Tuesday, Trump hosted a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West and and Nicholas Fuentes. West has been spouting virulent antisemitism recently, and Fuentes is a white supremacist, holocaust denier, and Hitler admirer. Trump was reportedly quite taken with Fuentes, and during the dinner said, “I like this guy. He gets me.” Public outrage built over the holiday weekend. At first Republicans were hesitant to criticize Trump for this, but yesterday some of them actually spoke out against his behavior.
The Washington Post: Pence, other Republicans issue rare rebuke of Trump over dinner with Fuentes and Ye.
Former vice president Mike Pence and numerous Republican lawmakers on Monday criticized Donald Trump for dining with the white nationalist Nick Fuentes and the rapper Ye, both of whom have a history of antisemitic remarks, marking a rare break with Trump in the upper echelons of the GOP.
Pence was most clear in his condemnation, saying in an interview with NewsNation, “President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table. I think he should apologize for it, and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”
He joined several Republican senators who also directly criticized the former president in statements disavowing the dinner with Fuentes and Ye. Pence’s comments were also one of the clearest instances of the former vice president trying to set himself apart from Trump, whom he served for four years, amid the expectation that Pence will challenge Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie — each rumored to be eyeing a presidential run — were quicker to criticize Trump.
Christie tweeted on Saturday: “This is just awful, unacceptable conduct from anyone, but most particularly from a former President and current candidate.”
“Well, I hope, someday, we won’t have to be responding to what former President Trump has said or done,” Hutchinson said in an interview Sunday on CNN. “In this instance, it’s important to respond. … I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader that is setting an example for the country or the party to meet with an avowed racist or antisemite.” [….]
“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) tweeted. “These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said Trump should have “certainly” known who he is dining with, telling reporters Monday, “I totally think it’s ridiculous to be sitting down with somebody who espouses such views.” [….]
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement that she condemns “antisemitism and white supremacy” and that “the president should never have had a meal or even a meeting with Nick Fuentes.”
The public critiques of Trump were notable after years in which many Republicans remained silent as he courted extremists. Still, many stopped short of a full denouncement.
Mitt Romney delivered the harshest rebuke. From Charlie Sykes’ Morning Shots at The Bulwark:
“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting,” Romney said.
“I voted to remove him from office twice… I don’t think he should be president of the United states. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024. And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”
More Republican condemnations from Semafor:
“It was ridiculous,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa said.
“I just think that was a really bad idea,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, the second-ranking Republican leader, said. “He shouldn’t have done it.”
While some lawmakers were reluctant to single out Trump by name, and many paired their statements with attacks on Democrats and reassurances they didn’t consider Trump racist, they almost all made clear he’d crossed a line. Importantly, they did what Trump would not — condemn and disavow the hate his dinner guests preached.
“There’s no room in the Republican Party for white supremacy and antisemitism,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., a close Trump ally, said. “It’s wrong. I think Republicans should all condemn white supremacy and antisemitism.” [….]
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. called Fuentes an “ass clown” and told CNN he hoped Trump would condemn the “evil” and “disgusting” figure. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas told NBC News he was a “racist clown.”
And even some top supporters were, at minimum, willing to concede it wasn’t the best look. “There’s a lot of other people, I would think that he could have met with to help the country be stronger and go more in the right direction,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. said.
And what about Jewish Trump supporters? Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times: Jewish Allies Call Trump’s Dinner With Antisemites a Breaking Point.
For much of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, Jewish Republicans rationalized away the bigoted fringe of Mr. Trump’s coalition, arguing that the unsavory supporters in his midst and the antisemitic tropes he deployed paled in comparison with the staunchly pro-Israel policies of his administration.
But last week, Mr. Trump dined at his Palm Beach palace, Mar-a-Lago, with the performer Kanye West, who had already been denounced for making antisemitic statements, and with Nick Fuentes, an outspoken antisemite and Holocaust denier, granting the antisemitic fringe a place of honor at his table. Now, even some of Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters say they can no longer ignore the abetting of bigotry by the nominal leader of the Republican Party.
“I am a child of survivors. I have become very frightened for my people,” Morton Klein, head of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, said on Monday, referring to his parents’ survival of the Holocaust. “Donald Trump is not an antisemite. He loves Israel. He loves Jews. But he mainstreams, he legitimizes Jew hatred and Jew haters. And this scares me.”
Not all Republican leaders have spoken out, but Jewish Republicans are slowly peeling away from a former president who, for years, insisted he had no ties to the bigoted far right, but refused to repudiate it. Jewish figures and organizations that have stood by Mr. Trump, from Mr. Klein’s group to the pro-Trump commentator Ben Shapiro to Mr. Trump’s own former ambassador to Israel and onetime bankruptcy lawyer, David M. Friedman, have all spoken out since the dinner.
For Jews, the concern extends far beyond a single meal at Mar-a-Lago, though that dinner has become a touchstone, especially for Jewish Republicans.
“We have a long history in this country of separating the moral character of the man in the White House from his conduct in office, but with Trump, it’s gone beyond any of the reasonably acceptable and justifiable norms,” Jay Lefkowitz, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and a supporter of many of Mr. Trump’s policies, said on Monday.
For American Jewry, the debate since the dinner has brought into focus what may be the most discomfiting moment in U.S. history in a half-century or more.
“The normalization of antisemitism is here,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.
From New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg: Antisemitism’s March Into the Mainstream.
Jews are thriving in America, and even with the violent resurgence of antisemitism in the Trump era, I’ve rarely felt personally threatened, perhaps a function of my privilege. Over the last week, though, I’m reminded that well-off Jews in other times and places have also imagined that they’d moved beyond existential danger, and been wrong.
At this point, there is no excuse for being shocked by anything that Donald Trump does, yet I confess to being astonished that the former president dined last week with one of the country’s most influential white supremacists, a smirking little fascist named Nick Fuentes. There’s nothing new about antisemites in Trump’s circle, but they usually try to maintain some plausible deniability, ranting about globalists and George Soros rather than the Jews. Fuentes, by contrast, is overt. “Jews have too much power in our society,” he recently wrote on his Telegram channel. “Christians should have all the power, everyone else very little.”
Fuentes was brought to Trump’s lair by Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who was evidently serious when he threatened to go “death con 3” on the Jews last month. (The relationship with West is a bit of a coup for Fuentes, who, openly wishing for conflict between Jews and Black people, has been willing to sublimate his anti-Black racism in the service of his antisemitism.) According to Axios, at one point during the dinner Trump turned to Ye and said of Fuentes: “I really like this guy. He gets me.”
Since then, Trump has claimed he didn’t know who Fuentes was. I find this unlikely. In September, I wrote a piece about a Trump-endorsed congressional candidate named Joe Kent that mentions Fuentes in the first paragraph. Trump scrawled a note of congratulations on the print version and mailed it to Kent, who sent the image out on his email list. But even if Trump’s ignorance was sincere, he still didn’t denounce Fuentes after learning his identity.
Most Republicans, in turn, spent days declining to criticize Trump, though former Vice President Mike Pence and several senators finally spoke out on Monday. There is a good argument that politicians and journalists should avoid responding to every one of the ex-president’s provocations. In this case, however, the reluctance to rebuke Trump erodes the already-shaky taboo against antisemitism in Republican politics.
Goldberg goes on to note that “other narcissistic celebrities are now joining him in reveling in reactionary transgression.”
Ye is launching a vanity presidential campaign run by the far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who recently wrote on Telegram, “We’re done putting Jewish interests first.” After buying Twitter, Elon Musk enthusiastically welcomed both Trump and Ye back to the platform, and has been tiptoing up to the edge of antisemitism himself. On Sunday, he tweeted that Alexander Vindman, the Jewish retired Army officer who testified about Trump’s attempt to extort Ukraine’s president, is both “puppet & puppeteer,” echoing an old antisemitic trope about Jews pulling the strings behind world events. On Monday, Musk tweeted an image of the alt-right symbol Pepe the Frog.
And now Musk owns Twitter, which has become a kind of public square that is important to people, causes, and even government agencies around the world. I knew nothing about Musk until recently, when he began making noises about buying Twitter. Now it’s clear to me that he is a full-blown malignant narcissist, very similar to Trump. He appears to be on a path to turning Twitter into an unmoderated hell scape like 4chan and 8chan, where Qanon and other crazy conspiracy theories festered. Recently Musk announced that he will reinstate all of the account that were previously banned by Twitter moderators. According to NPR,
In the days after the Capitol insurrection, Twitter banned 70,000 QAnon-linked accounts for spreading the conspiracy theory. Some belonged to influencers with large followings, including high-profile Trump supporters Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, who had also spread false claims of election fraud and had tried to get the election results overturned.
Many more accounts have been banned since then. Even more concerning, despite his claims that protecting children is important to him, Musk’s layoffs and firings have made Twitter more dangerous for children.
Wired: Layoffs Have Gutted Twitter’s Child Safety Team.
REMOVING CHILD EXPLOITATION is “priority #1”, Twitter’s new owner and CEO Elon Musk declared last week. But, at the same time, following widespread layoffs and resignations, just one staff member remains on a key team dedicated to removing child sexual abuse content from the site, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who both requested to remain anonymous.
It’s unclear how many people were on the team before Musk’s takeover. On LinkedIn, WIRED identified four Singapore-based employees who specialize in child safety who said publicly they left Twitter in November.
The importance of in-house child safety experts cannot be understated, researchers say. Based in Twitter’s Asian headquarters in Singapore, the team enforces the company’s ban on child sex abuse material (CSAM) in the Asia Pacific region. Right now, that team has just one full-time employee. The Asia Pacific region is home to around 4.3 billion people, about 60 percent of the world’s population.
The team in Singapore is responsible for some of the platform’s busiest markets, including Japan. Twitter has 59 million users in Japan, second only to the number of users in the United States, according to data aggregator Statista. Yet the Singapore office has also been impacted by widespread layoffs and resignations following Musk’s takeover of the business. In the past month, Twitter laid off half its workforce and then emailed remaining staff asking them to choose between committing to work “long hours at high intensity” or accepting a severance package of three months’ pay.
The impact of layoffs and resignations on Twitter’s ability to tackle CSAM is “very worrying,” says Carolina Christofoletti, a CSAM researcher at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. “It’s delusional to think that there will be no impact on the platform if people who were working on child safety inside of Twitter can be laid off or allowed to resign,” she says. Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Twitter in-house child safety team is vitally important to outside organizations who work to protect vulnerable children, because the metadata and analysis are only available inside Twitter.
Whether you love or hate Twitter, that is frightening. We’ve spent the past 7 years dealing with one narcissistic psychopath who could still run for president again. Now there’s another one in charge of the most important platform for communication with journalists, government leaders, historians, researchers, and more. Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s a topic for another day.
What do you think? What stories are you following today?
Sunday Reads: The FuckeningPosted: November 20, 2022 Filed under: 2022 Elections, 2024 Elections, Black Lives Matter, Congress, court rulings, Crime, Elon Musk, Fox News, morning reads, open thread, Political and Editorial Cartoons, Twitter 21 Comments
When your day is going too well and you don’t trust it and some shit finally goes down
Ah, there it is, the fuckening.
Hello, yes…The Fuckening has begun, and from what has been said on the real verified Twit accounts (not those that paid for there blue check) it seems that it is just a matter of time now before Twitter finally bites the dust.
Veep predicted everything!
And now, the cartoons via Cagle website:
I know I posted this information about Shanquella Robinson before, but it’s important.
That is all…this is an open thread.