Friday Reads: QAnon Queen on Trial

By David Horsey
Seattle Times cartoonist

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m watching CSpan this morning and it’s a painful display of an old white codger defense attorney objecting to every question put to MTG by the plaintiff’s lawyer.  The defense is trying to wrap her entire career up in the first amendment.  She’s cornered by the plaintiff’s lawyer and instead of giving yes or no answers, she’s just blathering on and basically committing perjury because the yes or no questions are backed up with evidence and her own words.

She just said she only supports “peaceful” protests while this is on the record.

The judge keeps telling her to answer yes or no and she’s now answering with “I don’t remember” most of the time. She doesn’t remember what she said to CNN when it’s clearly on the record. She doesn’t remember what she tweeted when it clearly came from her now-defunct Twitter account.

The Old Coot Defense lawyer is having difficulty looking at the pile of evidence of what MTG has said that clearly indicates she’s said things like calling Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a traitor or posting and retweeting a lot of seditious tweets from others. She denies being aware of any of this and it was all supposed to be wild like spring break.

Everything now is “Sorry, I don’t remember.”

From NPR: ‘Marjorie Taylor Greene is in court as part of a legal challenge to her candidacy.’

Controversial Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia on Friday faces a challenge to her reelection by voters and a supporting legal group, who are seeking to knock her off the ballot for her role prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Greene is answering questions Friday in an Atlanta court as part of the candidacy challenge. That makes her the first Republican member of Congress to testify publicly under oath about the Capitol riot, even as a Democratic-led committee back in Washington, D.C., has spent months investigating the attack.

Greene is in front of a judge because a handful of voters in her district, represented by a nonprofit called Free Speech For People, say Greene should be disqualified because they allege she encouraged and supported the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Lawyers with Free Speech For People are leaning on a provision in the U.S. Constitution that forbids any member of Congress involved in an insurrection from serving in office. It’s a section of the 14th Amendment, passed in the years after the Civil War to prevent former Confederates from returning to their seats in Congress.

The legal theory is mostly untested in modern history because there hasn’t really been a serious insurrection since the Civil War.

Greene has long deployed violent rhetoric against her political opponents and has routinely spread false claims about the 2020 election, including in the leadup to Jan. 6, 2021.

Specifically, lawyers for Free Speech For People point to a tweet sent on Jan. 5, calling the next day a “1776 moment,” which is code for political violence in some far-right circles.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene fomented an insurrection on Jan. 6,” says Ron Fein, legal director for Free Speech For People. “She’s a danger in office to the entire republic.”

Mike Luckovich

Wow!  She must have amnesia!.  From CNN: ‘Marjorie Taylor Greene testifying at hearing over whether she should be disqualified from running for reelection.’

A potentially precedent-setting disqualification hearing is underway Friday in an Atlanta courtroom, aimed at determining if Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is constitutionally barred from running for reelection because of her role in the January 6 insurrection.

Greene is testifying as a witness during the marathon hearing — making her the first lawmaker to testify under oath about their involvement in the insurrection. She is currently on the stand, was sworn in and is being questioned by lawyers for the voter who challenged her candidacy.
At the disqualification hearing, Greene said under oath that she “had no knowledge of any attempt” to illegally interfere with the counting of the electoral votes on January 6.

Greene also testified that she believes President Joe Biden lost the election to Trump.

From Newsweek Tweet: “Marjorie Taylor Greene Testimony Live: Greene Says She Called for Peaceful Protest.”

‘I Never Mean Anything for Violence,’ Greene Says

After resolving IT issues, Andrew Celli, one of the lawyers for the prosecution, continued to grill Greene about her social media posts.

Greene said the prosecution was speculating her intentions behind tweeting about expected “wild” protests in support of Former President Donald Trump on January 6. She repeated that she was encouraging attendance at a peaceful demonstration that day to support Trump. Greene said no one tweeted on her account without permission, but she cannot recall who was responsible for the tweets in question.

“I never mean anything for violence, my words never mean anything for violence,” Greene said.

Whoah!  MTG just made a big mistake! She brought up Q Anon and said she didn’t believe it. And Old Codger is of course objecting while MTG just keeps whining about being persecuted. I’m pretty sure the defense didn’t want that subject introduced into the mix.

You may follow all the obfuscation with me here on NPR’s feed.

Good thing there’s all this evidence of everything she’s said and done.  She sure seems to have a sudden bout of amnesia. Oh, and everything from CNN is a chop job on her.

Well, hopefully, somebody gets rid of her presence in Congress if not the Georgia voters, maybe they’ll toss her from the House. She’s out for lunch now.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


April’s Fools (Hint: Republicans)

Poisson d’avril,
1954, movie poster

Poisson d’Avril!!

I’m not much of a prankster–certainly not a merry one–but I do know a fool when I see one.  I can remember wanting to take the day off school a lot when I was a kid because boys do dumb things on April Fools Day if the powers that be let them. I’ve embraced the French Celebration more because it’s as close as we can get to the day’s origination. It’s an interesting back story.

For one thing, we do know that April Fools’ Day customs date back to at least Renaissance Europe, but it’s likely the tradition originated long before then.

Some historians have linked April Fools’ Day to the ancientRoman festival of “Hilaria,” where at the end of March, people would come together to commemorate the resurrection of the god Attis. It was a celebration of renewal in which revelers would dress up in disguises and imitate others.

It’s also possible that the medieval celebration of the Feast of Fools, where a mock bishop or pope was elected and church customs were parodied, could have inspired the day.

Other historians believe April Fools’ Day has its origins in the 16th century, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.

The Julian calendar began in March with the spring equinox and was celebrated until April 1. By switching to the Gregorian calendar, the new year would now begin on Jan. 1.

News traveled slowly back then, and not everyone knew about or was willing to change when to celebrate the new year. Those who continued to celebrate in the spring were often ridiculed and made the butt of jokes.

Some pranks included having a paper fish placed on a person’s back as they were called “poisson d’avril,” or “April fish.”

One of the first knownreferences to this term, “poisson d’avril,” is found in a 1508 poem written by Eloy d’Amerval. The phrase itself doesn’t necessarily mean there was a holiday on April 1, but the idea of the “April fish” is that fishwere more plentiful in the spring and thus easier to catch. In other words, an “April fish” was more gullible than fish caught in other seasons.

Here’s a group that has my votes for today’s Fools.  I think Ted Cruz wins the cup though.

Ranger Betty

Our Hillary sisters in San Francisco introduced me to both the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park and its 100-year-old National Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin who retires today. Ranger Betty provided an interpretive program to the public based her life experience.

“Being a primary source in the sharing of that history – my history – and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling,” said Soskin. “It has proven to bring meaning to my final years.”

“The National Park Service is grateful to Ranger Betty for sharing her thoughts and first-person accounts in ways that span across generations,” said Naomi Torres, acting superintendent of Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. “She has used stories of her life on the Home Front, drawing meaning from those experiences in ways that make that history truly impactful for those of us living today.”

Soskin’s interpretive programs at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park have illuminated the histories of African Americans and other people of color, and her efforts demonstrate how her work has impacted the way the NPS conveys such history to audiences across the United States. Learn more about Betty’s story and watch one of her recorded programs.

I only wish I could’ve visited before this big day for her!

Okay, The King of the April Fools is in the spotlight for that gap in the White House Call Log during Insurrection Day. Reporters and the DOJ are doing the due diligence.

You may read that Twitter conversation or take a look at the Axios article.  Swan thinks he has a ‘new clue’.

On Jan. 6, 2021, during an apparent seven-hour gap in White House call logs that the House select committee investigating the attack is now trying to piece together, then-President Trump’s executive assistant, Molly Michael, was absent for most of the day, three sources with direct knowledge tell Axios.

Why it matters: Though sources said the Trump White House’s already spotty record-keeping operation had virtually collapsed by the final weeks of his presidency, Michael’s absence is a previously unreported detail that may play a role in explaining the incomplete records for a key stretch of time.

  • Her absence — coupled with the already shambolic state of record-keeping in the Outer Oval — also could complicate efforts to piece those details back together 14 months after that fateful day.

What we’re hearing: Keeping handwritten notes on Trump’s unscheduled meetings and callswas part of Michael’s duties when she took over as executive assistant from her predecessor, Madeleine Westerhout.

October 1966, Warehouse, Harriet Street, South of Market, San Francisco, California, USA — Ken Kesey’s Bus — Image by © Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS

I guess we’ll start hearing more on that. In other legal trouble for Trump news: “D.C. attorney general expands Jan. 6 lawsuit.  The suit is one of a handful of major efforts by those affected by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to seek damages from its most prominent participants.”

This is from Politico‘s Kyle Cheney.

The attorney general of Washington D.C. has expanded his lawsuit against members of the Jan. 6, 2021 mob that played leading roles in the attack on the Capitol — including Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes.

Karl Racine announced Friday that he had added six new high-profile figures to the district’s lawsuit, which already featured more than 30 defendants connected to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

“Over the last few months, we have learned more about the horrors of January 6—including more about how the leaders of the two groups behind the attack urged members to use violence to overturn the outcome of a lawful presidential election,” Racine said in a statement. “We are seeking justice for the District, our democracy, and the brave law enforcement officers who risked their lives that day.”

In addition to Rhodes, Racine added Oath Keepers Edward Vallejo, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Brian Ulrich. He also added Matthew Greene, a member of the Proud Boys who recently pleaded guilty for his role in the riot and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Racine’s suit is one of a handful of major efforts by those affected by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to seek damages from its most prominent participants. Several Capitol Police officers have sued former President Donald Trump, his top aides and leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys as well. About 10 members of Congress filed lawsuits against Trump and his inner circle as well.

Roaring 1920s La Vie Parisienne 1929 Mon Poisson D Avril

You can read more at the link. Okay, more on the Republican Fools.

From Trumpland at The Daily Beast: “Inside Ginni Thomas’ ‘Insane’ Hiring Memos for Trump. Ginni Thomas’ suggested hires included known bigots and at least one suspected foreign spy, sources say.”

Years before she became one of then-President Donald Trump’s most prominent coup supporters, Ginni Thomas was already notorious in his West Wing for, among other things, ruining staffers’ afternoons by working Trump into fits of vengeful rage.

“We all knew that within minutes after Ginni left her meeting with the president, he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal,” said a former senior Trump administration official. “When Ginni Thomas showed up, you knew your day was wrecked.”

Ever since she became a welcome guest at Trump’s residences, Thomas—an influential and longtime conservative activist, and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—had perfected a proven formula of enthralling and manipulating the president’s emotions and mood. On multiple occasions throughout the Trump era, Thomas would show up in the White House, sometimes for a private meeting or a luncheon with the president. She often came armed with written memos of who she and her allies believed Trump should hire for plum jobs—and who she thought Trump should promptly purge—that she distributed to Trump and other high-ranking government officials.

The fire lists were particularly problematic, as they were frequently based on pure conjecture, rumor, or score-settling, where even steadfastly MAGA aides were targeted for being part of the “Deep State” or some other supposedly anti-Trump coalition, according to people who saw them during the Trump administration. The hire lists were so often filled with infamous bigots and conspiracy theorists, woefully under-qualified names, and obvious close friends of Thomas that several senior Trump aides would laugh at them—that is, until Trump would force his staff to put certain names through the official vetting process, three sources familiar with the matter said.

During the Trump years, these memos would astonish various administration officials, including those working in the White House Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). Some of these officials noticed that as the Trump term went on, the Thomas lists would increasingly feature a disproportionate share of names more suited to an OAN guest line-up than any functional government. (To be fair, well before Ginni Thomas became a recurring visitor, Trump would routinely hire people because they had entertained or excited him, via Fox and other cable-news appearances.)

Well, isn’t that special?  There’s a lot more out there so go ahead and read it!  Between Ginni Thomas and the fetus hoarder, we ought to have a lot to learn about Republican women gone Mad.

However, we should focus on other things like Uncle Clarence Thomas himself and Mad Mitch.  This is from MSNBC’s Steve Benen. “The problem(s) with Mitch McConnell’s defense of Clarence Thomas.  Why is Mitch McConnell so eager to defend Clarence Thomas? It’s because the senator sees the far-right justice as an ally.”

One need not be a liberal ideologue to recognize that this is a legitimate ethics controversy. If the political dynamic were reversed, and the matter involved a left-wing justice and the jurist’s radicalized spouse, it’s a safe bet many of McConnell’s Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill would be calling for that justice’s impeachment.

So why is the Senate minority leader pretending this dynamic is benign? McConnell has already effectively told us why.

In fact, as we discussed in October, the GOP lawmaker appeared with the sitting justice at the Heritage Foundation and celebrated Thomas’ “jurisprudence on unborn life.”

These were difficult circumstances to defend. A conservative political group hosted an event for a conservative Supreme Court justice, who was in attendance for the celebration of himself. Congress’ most powerful Republican official — a man who has personally spearheaded a years-long campaign to politicize the federal judiciary — not only delivered a keynote address, he also specifically praised the justice’s work on a controversial issue that the Supreme Court will be considering this term.

Every time the high court considers abortion cases, McConnell said, “Justice Thomas writes a separate, concise opinion to cut through the 50-year tangle of made-up tests and shifting standards and calmly reminds everybody that the whole house of cards lacks a constitutional foundation.” The audience at the Heritage Foundation applauded in approval.

With this in mind, why is McConnell so eager to defend Thomas? It’s not because the senator sees the far-right justice as a neutral arbiter of unimpeachable integrity; it’s because McConnell sees Thomas as an ally.

Perhaps it is because they both love that dark money?

So, have a good start to the weekend!  Hopefully, we can all get some good spring weather going and take a few relaxing moments in the sun!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Daknikat has a cell phone emergency, so I’m filling in and starting really late–just beginning to look at the news. There’s quite a bit happening.

The Washington Post’s Michael Kranish has a big story about Ted Cruz and January 6: Inside Ted Cruz’s last-ditch battle to keep Trump in power. It turns out that Cruz and John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a memo explaining how Pence could supposedly refuse to certify the election, have known each other for 27 years. Not only that, Trump asked Cruz if he would argue the case to overturn the election if they could get the Supreme Court to hear it. From the article:

An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.

ted-cruz-january-6Now, Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyerJohn Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.

As Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could denycertifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposedobjecting to the results in six swing states and delayingaccepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentiallyenabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed hisproposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.

The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.

“It was a very dangerous proposal, and, you know, could very easily have put us into territory where we got to the inauguration and there was not a president,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Jan. 6 committee member, said earlier this year on the podcast “Honestly.” “And I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.”

Eastman and Cruz both worked for Michael Luttig, who was then on the U.S. Appeals Court. Here’s what Luttig has to say about Cruz’s actions:

Luttig told The Post that he believes that Cruz — who once said that Luttig was “like a father to me” — played a paramount role in the events leading to Jan. 6.

“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”

The story also says that Eastman took the Fifth when the Committee asked him about communications with Cruz.

Also from The Washington Post: Jan. 6 committee to seek interview with Ginni Thomas.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection will seek an interview with Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according a source familiar with the investigation.

Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, has drawn scrutiny for her text messages to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in which she repeatedly pressed Meadows to work aggressively to overturn the election and keep President Donald Trump in power in a series of urgent exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Thomas, a conservative activist, and Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

The committee’s plans to ask Thomas for an interview were first reported by CNN. A source familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal committee plans confirmed the report.

Amanda Carpenter at The Bulwark: Is Ginni Thomas’s Story Believable?

Virginia Thomas wants people to believe that her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had no idea about her activities challenging the results of the 2020 election.

“Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she told a friendly outlet earlier this month. Therefore, no one need worry about his ability to be an impartial judge on the highest court in the land. Everything is hunky-dory….

0x0Her story, as well as her election theories, don’t survive even the most basic common-sense tests.

Justice Thomas cannot plausibly plead ignorance of his wife’s Jan. 6th-related activities. Her texts were the subject of a blockbuster Washington Post-CBS story, carried by numerous other outlets such as CNN and the New York Times. Multiple outlets asked the Thomases for comment multiple times. A CNN reporter staked out the couple in their parking garage. Maybe the Thomases talked about it, maybe they didn’t—it’s impossible for outsiders to know what happens inside a marriage—but the notion that Clarence Thomas is unaware of what Ginni was up to? Not plausible.

Second, beyond the text messages revealed last week, many of Ginni’s political activities relating to Jan. 6th were already a matter of public record. Her promotion of election conspiracies was well known; she posted them on her Facebook page. On the morning of Jan. 6th, just hours before the attack on the Capitol, she lavished praise on the Trump rallygoers who wanted to overturn the election. In the weeks after the riot, Ginni apologized to a listserv of her husband’s former clerks because her election-related activities and her “lifetime passions” caused a rift in the close-knit group of Thomas alumni.* Although this was a minor controversy, her husband could reasonably be expected to know about it, since it directly involved his wife and former clerks—and the Washington Post reported on it.

To believe that Justice Thomas is unaware of Mrs. Thomas’s Jan. 6th-related activities, one would also have to believe that Ginni’s co-signed public letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanding that he remove Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the GOP conference for serving as members of the Jan. 6th Committee never crossed Justice Thomas’s radar.

More at the link.

Here’s another breaking story from Katelyn Polantz at CNN: Judge: ‘More likely than not’ that Trump ‘corruptly attempted’ to block Congress from counting votes on January 6.

A federal judge said Monday that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman may have been planning a crime as they sought to disrupt the January 6 congressional certification of the presidential election.

“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” Judge David Carter wrote Monday.

Attorney John Eastman gestures as he speaks next to U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani at the January 6 Trump rally on the Ellipse in Washington

Attorney John Eastman gestures as he speaks next to Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Carter, a federal judge in California, ordered Eastman to turn over 101 emails from around January 6, 2021, that he has tried to keep secret from the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack.

Carter’s reasoning is a startling acknowledgment by a federal court that Trump’s interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election … Every American — and certainly the President of the United States — knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed.”

Judge Carter had even more to say:

In his order, Carter made an unusually bold statement wishing for accountability so that history does not repeat itself.

“If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself,” the judge wrote.

“More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it. The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit,” he wrote.

“At most, this case is a warning about the dangers of ‘legal theories’ gone wrong, the powerful abusing public platforms, and desperation to win at all costs,” Carter added. “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”

I hope Merrick Garland is paying attention.

Another big story from The Wall Street Journal: Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian Peace Negotiators Suffer Suspected Poisoning.

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv earlier this month, people familiar with the matter said.

Roman AbramovichFollowing the meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Mr. Abramovich, who has shuttled between Moscow, Lviv and other negotiating venues, as well as at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team developed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, the people said.

They blamed the suspected attack on hard-liners in Moscow who they said wanted to sabotage talks to end the war. A person close to Mr. Abramovich said it wasn’t clear who had targeted the group.

Mr. Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators, who include Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have since improved and their lives aren’t in danger, the people said. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has met with Mr. Abramovich, wasn’t affected, they said. Mr. Zelensky’s spokesman said he had no information about any suspected poisoning.

\Western experts who looked into the incident said it was hard to determine whether the symptoms were caused by a chemical or biological agent or by some sort of electromagnetic-radiation attack, the people familiar with the matter said.

Read more at the WSJ. There was no paywall when I opened the link.

I’m going to end there so I can get this posted. What do you think about all this? What other stories are you following?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

We’ve lost another 1960s icon. Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the Ronettes died yesterday. She was a beloved part of the sound track of my high school years.

Variety: Ronnie Spector, Girl Group Icon and Leader of the Ronettes, Dies at 78.

Ronnie Spector, whose hard-edged yet tremulous voice soared on the girl-group hits of the early ‘60s, died on Wednesday of cancer. She was 78….

Née Veronica Bennett, she forged an enduring “bad girl” image with her older sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley – towering teased beehive hairdos, canopies of mascara and eyeliner and tight-fitting slit skirts – that rubbed against the aching romanticism of the Ronettes’ Philles Records hits of 1963-66.

ronnie-spector-obit

Ronnie Spector

Though producer Phil Spector employed other powerful female vocalists like the Crystals’ Darlene Love, La La Brooks and (on the memorable “River Deep Mountain High”) Tina Turner, the Ronettes’ lead singer became the ideal vehicle for the massive-sounding hits he termed “little symphonies for the kids.”

In “Out of His Head,” his biography of the producer, Richard Williams wrote, “Ronnie Bennett’s hugely quavering, massively sexy voice [was] a pure pop instrument the like of which no one had ever heard before. Spector had found his instrument, and she had found her setting.”

Like burning magnesium, the Ronettes flared hot, brightly and quickly: Their string of hits, which began with 1963’s “Be My Baby,” had played out by 1966, as the producer’s interest in the group had run its course.

Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968. It was an abusive relationship in which Spector “kept his wife a virtual prisoner in their Beverly Hills home for years…” Eventually, Ronnie’s mother rescued her from the marriage in 1972,

In later years, Ronnie Spector recorded fitfully as a solo artist, and was a beneficiary of the rock ‘n’ roll revival of the early ‘70s. She remained an icon among her musician fans: She enjoyed high-profile studio collaborations with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Eddie Money and Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone, and Billy Joel penned the single “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” expressly for her. Her second husband and manager Jonathan Greenfield helped renew her reputation as a live performer.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Ronettes in 2007.

More music news: Did you see that an old Bob Dylan song has been released after staying hidden for 40 years?

In present day news, the January 6 committee has been very busy. The latest news is about forged 2020 Electoral College certificates that came from states that Biden won. Dakinikat posted about this on Monday, but more keeps coming out. At that time we learned about documents from 4 states; now we know there were at least 7 states involved. You can see the forged documents at American Oversight.

CNN: Trump allies’ fake Electoral College certificates offer fresh insights about plot to overturn Biden’s victory.

In the weeks after the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump’s allies sent fake certificates to the National Archives declaring that Trump won seven states that he actually lost. The documents had no impact on the outcome of the election, but they are yet another example of how Team Trump tried to subvert the Electoral College — a key line of inquiry for the January 6 committee.

The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight.

The documents contain the signatures of Trump supporters who claimed to be the rightful electors from seven states that President Joe Biden won. But these rogue slates of electors didn’t have the backing of any elected officials in the seven states — like a governor or secretary of state, who are involved in certifying election results — and they served no legitimate purpose.

The documents were first posted online in March by the government watchdog group. But they received renewed attention this week, as the January 6 committee ramps up its investigation into Trump’s attempted coup, including how his allies tried to stop states from certifying Biden’s victory, in part, by installing friendly slates of electors who would overturn the will of the voters.

The real documents are posted on the National Archives website. More details from CNN.

Some of the fake certificates with pro-Trump electors were sent to the National Archives by top officials representing the Republican Party in each state, according to the documents.

They sent these fake certificates after Trump himself failed to block governors from signing the real certificates. Specifically, Trump encouraged Republican governors in states like Georgia and Arizona not to certify the election results, and falsely claimed the elections were fraudulent. But these GOP officials ignored Trump, followed the law, and awarded the electors to Biden.

Installing slates of “alternate electors” was an integral part of the ill-fated plan conceived by Trump allies to usurp power on January 6 by pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the pro-Biden electors that had been chosen by voters. The idea was promoted by Trump advisers inside and outside the White House, including controversial right-wing lawyer John Eastman.

Rachel Maddow has been reporting on the fake certificate story this week. Here’s her latest:

From Newsweek: Mark Meadows Worked on Creating Fake Electoral College To Overturn Election Results—Report.

Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to Donald Trump, allegedly worked on creating a fake electoral college following the 2020 presidential election. That’s according to a contempt report released Sunday night by the House of Representatives panel investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.

The report comes just days after Meadows launched legal proceedings against the panel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meadows filed a lawsuit in a Washington, D.C. federal court on December 8 after the committee said it would proceed with a contempt case against him for his refusal to appear for a deposition.

Among other issues, the committee said Meadows sent emails and texts about sending “alternate electors” to Congress in November 2020, allegedly saying “I love it” about the idea to an unidentified member of Congress.

“Mr. Meadows received text messages and emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain States to send alternate slates of electors to Congress, a plan which one Member of Congress acknowledged was ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows responded, ‘I love it,'” the committee report said.

“Mr. Meadows responded to a similar message by saying ‘[w]e are’ and another such message by saying ‘Yes. Have a team on it,'” it said.

The committee also said in its report that Meadows introduced former President Donald Trump to then-Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as part of efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“Mr. Clark went on to recommend to Mr. Trump that he be installed as Acting Attorney General and that DOJ should send a letter to State officials urging them to take certain actions that could affect the outcome of the November 2020 election by, among other things, appointing alternate slates of electors to cast electoral votes for Mr. Trump rather than now-President Biden,” the report said.

It sure looks like Mark Meadows is in deep sh&t.

The Trumpist Republicans are now working hard to fix future elections in their favor. Ed Pilkington at The Guardian: Trump loyalists form alliance in bid to take over election process in key states.

Extreme Republicans loyal to Donald Trump and his “big lie” that the 2020 election was rigged have formed a nationwide alliance aiming to take control of the presidential election process in key battleground states that could determine the outcome of the 2024 presidential race.

At least eight Republicans who are currently running to serve as chief election officials in crucial swing states have come together to form the coalition.

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Jim Marchant

The group shares conspiracy theories about unfounded election fraud and exchanges ideas on how radically to reconstruct election systems in ways that could overturn the legitimate results of the next presidential race.

All of them backed Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election and cling on to power against the will of American voters. Several of the alliance have been personally endorsed by Trump and have a credible shot at winning the post of secretary of state – the most powerful election officer in each state.

The existence of the “coalition of America First secretary of state candidates” was disclosed by one of the members themselves, Jim Marchant who is running for secretary of state in Nevada. A former business owner and Nevada state assembly member, Marchant has ties with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement….

In an interview with the Guardian, Marchant said that there were currently eight members of the coalition bidding for chief election official posts, with more likely to join soon. He said participants included Jody Hice in Georgia, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Kristina Karamo in Michigan – all three of whom have been endorsed by Trump.

Marchant also named Rachel Hamm in California and David Winney in Colorado, and said that further members were likely to be recruited imminently in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Several in-person “summits” of the candidates had already been held, with the next planned in Wisconsin on 29 January and Nevada on 26 February.

All the candidates named by Marchant have been prominent exponents of false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Finchem attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on January 6 hours before the US Capitol was stormed.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass voting right legislation. The Washington Post reports that Chuck Schumer has a new strategy: Schumer sets up final Senate confrontation on voting rights and the filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer prepared Democrats on Wednesday for the final phase of a year-long push to pass voting rights legislation, sketching out legislative maneuvers that could launch debate on a pair of stalled bills and force a confrontation over the Senate’s rules in the coming days.

U.S. Capitol Commemorates First Anniversary Of January 6 Attack

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

The details of the next steps, laid out in a memo that Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent to colleagues Wednesday afternoon, comes as President Biden has launched his own aggressive push to convince his fellow Democrats to band together and overhaul the filibuster — the long-standing Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority — in order to overcome strict GOP opposition to voting rights bills….

In the memo, Schumer announced his intention to use existing rules to jump-start debate on the voting bills by having the House amend an existing, unrelated bill dealing with NASA and sending it back to the Senate as soon as Wednesday night. Starting debate under those circumstances requires only a simple majority of 51 votes — not a 60-vote supermajority.

But the maneuver does not affect the 60-vote requirement for ending debate and moving to final passage of the Democratic bills. With at least two Democratic senators signaling that they are not willing to erode that provision, Schumer’s plan would set up a final confrontation when and if a motion to close debate is blocked. At that point, Schumer or another Democrat could move to establish a new, 51-vote precedent, subject to a simple majority vote.

Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both defended the 60-vote margin for protecting minority rights and encouraging bipartisanship even as dozens of their colleagues have switched their own views on the filibuster in recent months. Manchin told reporters on several occasions this week he is willing to change the rules only with bipartisan support, not on party lines.

Both Manchin and Sinema, however, have continued to meet with Democratic colleagues who have sought to change their minds. Schumer previously said the Senate would vote on a possible rules change no later than Monday — the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — and a senior Democratic aide said Wednesday that pledge remains in effect.

I’m so sick and tired of hearing about those two. Sigh . . . 

What’s on your mind today? What stories are you following?


Friday Reads

Happy Friday!!

Today is a busy news day, even though it’s the Friday before Thanksgiving week.

Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over House passage of President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The breaking news: The House passed the Build Back Better bill this morning. CNBC: House passes $1.75 trillion Biden plan that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion and renewable energy credits.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades, a $1.75 trillion bill that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, renewable energy credits, affordable housing, a year of expanded Child Tax Credits and major Obamacare subsidies.

The final vote was 220-213, and only one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine voted against the bill.

Now that it has cleared the House, President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act goes to the Senate, where it is likely to be revised in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he aims to have the chamber pass the bill before Christmas. The House will need to vote on it again if the bill is altered.

If the measure is signed into law, the bill will profoundly change how many Americans live, especially families with children, the elderly and low income Americans.

What’s in the current version of the bill:

  • Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds. In addition to helping millions of children prepare better for school, the benefit would enable parents of young children to return to the work force earlier.
  • Capping childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.
  • 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick or caregiver leave.
  • A year of expanded Child Tax Credits. During the past year, these credits have raised households with more than 3 million children out of poverty, and cut overall child poverty in America by 25%.
  • Extended pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. So far this year, these subsidies have increased ACA enrollment by more than 2 million.
  • New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every five years.
  • A $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare, and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year.
  • $500 billion to combat climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits. This represents the largest ever federal investment in clean energy.
  • Raising the State and Local Tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.

The bill represents a major victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who pulled together a divided caucus with conflicting interests and united it behind a sprawling, 2,000-plus-page bill, passing it with a thin majority.

The vote was supposed to be last night, but a deranged Kevin McCarthy decided to make a last ditch effort to prevent it from going forward. The New York Times: Kevin McCarthy Speaks for More Than Eight Hours to Delay a House Vote.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California early Friday concluded a marathon speech in opposition to the Democrats’ social policy bill, after talking for eight hours and 32 minutes, surpassing the length of one by Representative Nancy Pelosi in 2018 that held the record for the longest continuous House speech in modern history.

“Personally I didn’t think I could go this long,” Mr. McCarthy said toward the end of his monologue as some of the people behind him struggled to keep their eyes open. Finally, after 5 a.m., he finished. “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, railed against President Biden and his agenda in an effort to delay the passage of the Democrats’ $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill.

The debate over the bill had been scheduled to last 20 minutes before Mr. McCarthy took over after 8 p.m. to deliver an at times rambling speech stuffed with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated with riffs about history.

“I know some of you are mad at me, think I spoke too long,” he said at one point. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.”

Shortly after midnight Friday, when Mr. McCarthy showed no sign of yielding control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, with plans to return at 8 a.m. to finish debate and vote on the sprawling package.

The horror! The notion of the government helping regular Americans instead of enriching the already super-rich was just too much for McCarthy and the rest of the Trumpist goons.

The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Unite—to Mock Kevin McCarthy All Night as He Breaks Stupid Record.

Curiously, McCarthy stopped talking shortly after surpassing the eight hour, seven minute record set by Nancy Pelosi in 2018—yielding after eight hours and 32 minutes.

Starting at 8:38 p.m., McCarthy took full advantage of the “Magic Minute”—in which leaders from both parties are allowed to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute against the time allocated for debate—and delivered a stemwinder of half-truths, outright lies, aggrieved arguments, unrelated tangents, and recycled rhetoric….

As McCarthy began his lecture on the floor Thursday, the Democratic heckling started almost immediately. McCarthy told members he had “all night,” to which Democrats responded, “So do we!”

And both sides really did.

When McCarthy baselessly claimed the bill would cost $5 trillion, Democrats started yelling out increasingly large numbers. “$6 trillion!” one shouted, before another topped him with “$7 trillion!”—with more Democrats joining in with even more farcical projections.

When McCarthy said, “If I sound angry, I am,” Democrats chimed in with a prolonged “awww” sound, like they were watching a baby do something cute.

Read more at the link. Democrats mocked McCarthy on Twitter too. Read more at Mediaite: House Democrats Roast Kevin McCarthy on Twitter for Marathon Speech: ‘Please Saw Me in Half and Put Me Out of My Misery.’

Biden appears to be working up to getting rid of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Washington Post: Biden expected to replace Ron Bloom, USPS board chair and key DeJoy ally, on postal board.

President Biden is expected to announce Friday that he will not renominate Ron Bloom, the chair the U.S. Postal Service board and a key ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, when his term expires next month, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The move casts doubt on DeJoy’s future at the agency, the people said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The decision potentially gives liberals on the panel another crucial vote to oust the postmaster general, who can only be removed by the board of governors. The nine-member board currently comprises four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent, though Biden has only appointed three members.

Bloom, a Democrat, has backed DeJoy as the agency permanently slowed mail delivery standards and raised prices.

Biden’s decision reflects the White House’s continued antipathy toward DeJoy, who is widely viewed as a loyalist to former president Donald Trump.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a video of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy going full Joseph McCarthy on a Biden appointee.

At The Guardian, David Smith writes: ‘Professor or comrade?’ Republicans go full red scare on Soviet-born Biden pick.

Saule Omarova, 55, was nominated in September to be America’s next comptroller of the currency. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and person of colour in the role in its 158-year-history.

Omarova was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union and moved to the US in 1991. For John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate banking committee, this was like a red rag to a bull.

Questioning whether Omarova was still a member of communist youth organisations, Kennedy said: “I don’t mean any disrespect: I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

The remark prompted gasps in the hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Omarova replied, slowly and firmly: “Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.

“I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology. I would never knowingly join any such group. There is no record of me actually participating in any Marxist or communist discussions of any kind.”

Omarova then told how her family suffered under the communist regime.

“I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime. This is what’s seared in my mind. That’s who I am. I remember that history. I came to this country. I’m proud to be an American and this is why I’m here today, Senator.”

Omarova has worked mainly as a lawyer and most recently as a law professor at Cornell University. She has testified often as an expert witness on financial regulation and even worked briefly in the administration of George W Bush.

Kennedy wasn’t the only one to attack Omarova.

…in a letter to Omarova after she was nominated, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania requested a copy of a graduation paper she wrote about Karl Marx when she was an undergraduate at Moscow State University – “in the original Russian” .

At Thursday’s hearing, Toomey noted that Omarova has written several academic papers that propose sweeping changes to the banking system.

“Taken in totality, her ideas do amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services,” he said.

A judge is trying to muzzle the NYT in the Project Veritas case. The New York Times: Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas.

A New York trial court judge ordered The New York Times on Thursday to temporarily refrain from publishing or seeking out certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas, an unusual instance of a court blocking coverage by a major news organization.

The order raised immediate concerns among First Amendment advocates, who called it a violation of basic constitutional protections for journalists, a viewpoint echoed by The Times. Project Veritas issued a statement in support of the order, arguing that it did not amount to a significant imposition on the newspaper’s rights.

The judge’s order is part of a pending libel lawsuit filed by Project Veritas against The Times in 2020. That suit accuses the newspaper of defaming Project Veritas in its reporting on a video produced by the group that made unverified claims of voter fraud in Minnesota.

Led by the provocateur James O’Keefe, Project Veritas often conducts sting operations — including the use of fake identities and hidden cameras — aimed at embarrassing Democratic campaigns, labor organizations, news outlets and other entities. It is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into its possible involvement in the reported theft of a diary that apparently belonged to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, called the court’s order “ridiculous.”

“Even though it’s temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Boutrous said. “To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Read the rest at the NYT. See also The Washington Post: Court bars New York Times from publishing Project Veritas memos in move called ‘unconstitutional.’

More stories to check out today:

Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer: The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023.

The Daily Beast: Europe Locking Back Down With COVID Winter Surge Coming for Us All.

The Washington Post: Prominent scientist who said lab-leak theory of covid-19 origin should be probed now believes evidence points to Wuhan market.

The Chicago Tribune: Man spotted with AR-15 outside Kyle Rittenhouse trial confirms he is a fired Ferguson police officer.

Politico Magazine: The Bonnie and Clyde of MAGA World. For a decade, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence had surfed the wave of populist-right politics like few other people in America. Then came Jan. 6.

CNN: Trump’s ire grows as DeSantis’ popularity with Republicans takes off.

The Washington Post: ‘No one tells me what to do’: Sinema praises infrastructure, questions spending and inflation in wide-ranging interview.

What stories are you following today?