You know who will get the blame for Colorado Springs, right? Each time these things happen, the right-wing go-to is to blame “mental illness.” That’s what some thought drove Robert Bowers to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to kill 11 human beings. That’s what others believed made Dylann Roof stroll into a Black church in Charleston, S.C., to murder nine human beings. And, sooner or later, conservatives will say it was “mental illness” that drove this newest killer of the marginalized to commit the latest atrocity.
Today I decided to follow up on stories from yesterday’s post by Dakinikat, including the Colorado Springs mass shooting, the terroristic threats at the University of New Orleans, and the horrific vehicle crash in Hingham, Massachusetts that I wrote about in the comments. I thought it would be a good idea to update what we know about the stories we were discussing yesterday.
Club Q Massacre Commentary
Moira Donegan at The Guardian: The US right is stoking anti-LGBT hate. This shooting was no surprise.
There’s a grim routine, these days, to the mass shootings in America. Some elements remain constant from shooting to shooting. Usually, the gunman is a young white man, and usually, he has a history of violence against women. There will have been mental health episodes, or previous run-ins with police. But none of this history will have stopped him from getting a gun. American mass shooters tend to use automatic or semi-automatic long guns, the kind that aren’t available to civilians in other countries. Almost always, they purchased them legally….
In the hours after a gunman stormed into Club Q, a morbid kind of box checking began. Yes, it was a young white man who committed the rampage – this time a 22-year-old. Yes, the shooter had a history of violence against women: the attacker was arrested last year after an hours-long standoff with police after making a bomb threat against his mother. He was charged with multiple felonies, but, yes, he still had access to guns. Yes, the killer used an AR-style long gun to murder his victims. And yes, the killer appears to have rightwing ties: he’s the grandson of a far-right California state assemblyman who supported the January 6 insurrection. On Monday, the shooter was charged with five counts of murder and several hate crimes.
There’s a morbid randomness to American gun violence – that fatal combination of scarce mental health treatment and superabundant firearms that makes America, and only America, a place where mass public massacres are common even when the nation is ostensibly at peace. But if the Colorado attack was enabled by America’s pervasive gun violence problem, it seems to have been prompted by the tenor of rightwing media, both broadcast and online, which over the past years has turned a virulent, conspiratorial and obsessively hateful eye towards the LGBT community.
In the coming days, the massacre at Club Q will be cast as an isolated tragedy, and those who point out the right’s complicity in the violence will be accused, with predictable cynicism, of politicizing the tragedy. But what happened in Colorado Springs this past weekend was the foreseeable continuation of a trend of escalating violence targeting gay spaces, and drag shows in particular.
It’s a good article; read the whole thing at The Guardian.
Brian Broome at The Washington Post: The Colorado massacre cannot be blamed on mental illness. It’s rooted in hate.
After the shooting at the LGBTQ Club Q in Colorado Springs, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), gun rights advocate and representative for her state’s 3rd Congressional District, tweeted the following: “The news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers. This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.”
In her tweet, Boebert left out the “news” that a lone gunman entered an LGBTQ space and began shooting, killing five and injuring at least 25. I’m betting Boebert did not mention these specifics because that would ruin her brand: the gun-toting, queer-hating, God-loving, outlaw whose job it is to own the liberals. If she had tweeted the specifics of the night and its tragic outcome, it might cause some of her followers to see LGBTQ people as human beings. And she can’t have that.
I don’t go to clubs and bars anymore. But when I was younger, queer spaces were a lifeline. They weren’t just bars; they were shelters where I could escape all the judgment of the world. All the Christians who seemed to delight in telling me that I was hell-bound. All the pressure to be a “real man.” All the pretending to be someone I wasn’t, just to fit into a social order that I didn’t understand. They were, in short, places where I felt free.
Everyone should have such a place. For heterosexual people, that place is the whole wide world. For heterosexual people, that place includes public parks and restaurants and any street they care to walk down, hand in hand. But LGBTQ people must find — or more accurately — create those spaces. And because of the shooting at Club Q, there is, for now, one fewer place for the queer community of Colorado Springs to go.
But are we ever going to ask why so many supposedly mentally ill people seem to carry right-wing talking points along with their AR-15s?
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Massacre at Club Q Was Only a Matter of Time.
The massacre this past weekend at Club Q, an L.G.B.T.Q. club in Colorado Springs, was at once shocking and entirely predictable, like terrorist attacks on synagogues and abortion clinics.
The police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, in which five people were killed and at least 18 others wounded. But we know that the suspect is facing hate crime charges, and that the attack took place in a climate of escalating anti-gay and anti-trans violence and threats of violence.
We also know that, in recent years, the right has become increasingly fixated on all-ages drag shows, part of a growing moral panic about children being “groomed” into gender nonconformity. Club Q hosted a drag show on Saturday night and had an all-ages drag brunch scheduled for Sunday. Perhaps we’ll learn something in the coming days that will put these murders, which took place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, into a new light, but right now, it seems hard to separate them from a nationwide campaign of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. incitement.
During the early years of Donald Trump’s administration, conservatives downplayed the contempt for homosexuality and gender nonconformity that had once been central to their movement, foregrounding racial resentment instead. Opposition to gay marriage had become a political loser, and it was hard to pose as champions of wholesome family values while enthusiastically supporting a thrice-married libertine who’d made a cameo in soft-core porn. But in recent years, as growing numbers of kids started identifying as trans, the puritanical tendency on the right has come roaring back, part of an increasingly apocalyptic worldview that sees the erosion of traditional gender roles as a harbinger of national collapse.
Chris Rufo, the entrepreneurial activist who made critical race theory into a major political issue, shifted his focus to “gender ideology” in public schools. Lawmakers began to target pro-L.G.B.T.Q. teachers, and to accuse anyone who opposed them of being “groomers.” When Florida was debating legislation restricting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary wrote on Twitter, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.”
The language of “grooming” recapitulated old homophobic tropes about gay people recruiting children, while also playing into the newer delusions of QAnon, which holds that elite liberals are part of a sprawling satanic child abuse ring. Conservatives hoped to turn this conspiracy theory into political power; according to the Human Rights Campaign, Republicans and Republican-aligned groups spent at least $50 million on anti-L.G.B.T.Q. ads in the midterms.
Read the rest at the link. Goldberg really spells out the ways in which the right has targeted LGBTQ people to light the fires of hate in voters.
University of New Orleans Terroristic Threats
I found some more details on the story Dakinikat posted about yesterday.
According to UNO, the suspect was a former student who entered a classroom last week and began acting erratically.
The New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, UNO Police, and the United States Marshal’s worked together to arrest 22-year-old Karam Mohammed in connection with terrorizing, stalking, and unlawful disruption of the operation of a school.
This story has more details:
A former University of New Orleans student is under arrest for alleged terrorizing.
The New Orleans Police Department identified the suspect as 22-year-old Karam Mohammed Alhatel. Mohammed Alhatel was charged with terrorizing, stalking, and unlawful disruption of the operation of a school.
In an email to students and faculty, UNO President John Nicklow said the threats were serious enough to close campus on Monday.
According to Nicklow, last week Mohammed Alhatel entered a classroom and acted in an erratic and disruptive manner.
Sources on campus say he threatened a teacher in the chemistry department and a group of students in the library.
Nicklow’s email also indicated UNO police officers discovered a video posted Friday on one of the suspect’s social media accounts, showing him purchasing an assault-style rifle at a gun store, and additional photographs of him brandishing the firearm were posted across the suspect….
UNO officials said local and federal authorities kept tabs on Mohammed Alhatel over the weekend.
Officers from New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, and the U.S. Marshal’s office arrested him overnight.
It certainly sounds like the university and law enforcement averted a possible tragedy.
Hingham, Massachusetts Apple Store Crash
It’s now 20 injured. Fourteen ambulances and multiple fire trucks were called to the scene. Injured people were taken to at least three different hospitals, some–presumably the most serious cases–were sent to Boston and Worcester. Some victims were still waiting for surgery this morning.
The man accused of driving an SUV into a Hingham, Massachusetts, Apple store, killing one person and injuring 20 others, has been identified as Bradley Rein, a prosecutor’s office tweeted Tuesday.
The 53-year-old has been charged with “reckless homicide by motor vehicle,” the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office said in the tweet. Rein was arrested Monday night and is scheduled to be arraigned in Hingham District Court, the tweet said without providing a date and time.
First responders described a chaotic scene after the SUV crashed through the window of the busy Apple store in the town about 20 miles southeast of Boston. Emergency services responded to the Derby Street Shops following 911 calls for help around 10:45 a.m., Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said.
A dark-colored SUV smashed through the store’s window at an undetermined speed and hit people, Cruz said.
“First responders found coworkers and other bystanders rendering first aid to multiple victims in need of urgent care,” his office said in a news release.
People were injured in front of the store and inside it, including victims who were pinned against the wall by the vehicle, Hingham Fire Chief Steve Murphy said. Seven fire engines and 14 ambulances responded, he said.
Police identified Kevin Bradley, 65, of New Jersey, as the victim killed at the scene, Cruz said, noting the investigation into the crash is active and ongoing.
There were “life and limb-threatening injuries.” One story I read said that a witness estimated the SUV was going about 60mph when it drove into the store.
First responder Dr. William Tollefsen, from South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, described using a restaurant near the Apple store to triage people and keep them out of the cold. The injured included people with head trauma and mangled limbs, he said.
South Shore was treating patients for life- and limb-threatening injuries, some of whom were still awaiting surgery Monday afternoon, said Dr. Christopher Burns, the hospital’s chief of trauma. The medical center was treating 17 patients from the crash as of Monday evening, Cruz’s office told CNN. Two other injured people initially taken to South Shore were transferred to hospitals in Boston.
More details on the driver from the Quincy Patriot Ledger: ‘It was an accident’: Driver says his foot was stuck on accelerator in fatal Derby Street crash.
A 53-year-old man told police his foot got stuck on the accelerator of his 2019 Toyota 4Runner on Monday, causing him to plow into the Apple store at Derby Street Shops. One person was killed and at least 19 more were injured, including five who were taken to hospitals in Boston.
Bradley Rein, of 108 Bickerton Way in Hingham, faced Judge Heather Bradley in Hingham District Court on Tuesday on charges of motor vehicle homicide by reckless driving, a felony, and reckless driving, a misdemeanor. At his arraignment, bail was set at $100,000.
He is not allowed to drive while the case is pending, and he must seek permission of the court to leave the state. He is due back in court Dec. 22….
State Trooper Andrew Chiachio wrote in a police report, “While driving in the area of Barnes and Noble, Mr. Rein stated his right foot became stuck on the accelerator and his vehicle accelerated. Mr. Rein stated he used his left foot to try to brake, but was unable to stop the vehicle and crashed through the front of the Apple store.”
Chiachio said Rein told him he was at Derby Street Shops to repair a lens in his eyeglasses, which he was not wearing at the time of the crash. He was given an alcohol breath test at the police station, which registered a 0.00% blood alcohol level.
More Stories to check out today
The New York Times: Army Veteran Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Club Q Gunman.
The Washington Post: From Europe, Trump special counsel takes over Mar-a-Lago, Jan. 6 probes.
The Washington Post: Graham at Ga. grand jury for testimony in probe of 2020 election.
The Daily Beast: Court Docs Rip Into DOJ for ‘Fiddling Away’ on Matt Gaetz Case.
The New York Times: Chaos on Twitter Leads a Group of Journalists to Start an Alternative.
Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Beware, DeSantis is as much a threat to America as Trump.
Ronald Brownstein at CNN: Why fewer states than ever could pick the next president.
That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’m not exactly sure how the connection from being your basic angry, miserable guy turned into being your basic angry, miserable guy who goes out to kill a bunch of people developed in this country. It seems to be a feature today, and it’s a bad one. The Colorado Springs shooter is a prime example of what happens when law enforcement ignores red laws, and a community stirs hate and resentment towards a minority community. It’s hard to feel safe anyway with that kind of shitpot stirred vigorously by right-wing politicians and more than a few churches.
The Q Club Shooting in Colorado is not the first of its kind. It will not be the last of its kind, given the current political and social environment we’re enduring right now. “Club Q shooting follows year of bomb threats, drag protests, anti-trans bills. Right-wing demonstrators have increasingly mobilized over the past year against the LGBTQ community, experts say.” This analysis was written by Casey Parks for The Washington Post.
In the hours after the shooting, investigators did not say what led someone to open fire Saturday night in a Colorado gay bar, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others. But LGBTQ advocates across the country believe a surge of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and laws is at least partially to blame.
“When politicians and pundits keep perpetuating tropes, insults, and misinformation about the trans and LGBTQ+ community, this is a result,” Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone (D) tweeted Sunday.
Titone, Colorado’s first openly trans legislator, and the chair of the state’s LGBTQ legislative caucus, said anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, including one of her colleagues, have used hateful rhetoric to directly incite attacks against LGBTQ people.
Though the most recent FBI data shows the number of hate crimes against LGBTQ people remained relatively flat between 2008 and 2020, an independent analysis by the research group Crowd Counting Consortium shows that right-wing demonstrators have increasingly mobilized over the past year against the LGBTQ community.
Already this year, armed protesters and right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys have used intimidating tactics to disrupt drag-related events in Texas, Nevada and Oregon, as well as other states. Children’s hospitals across the United States are facing growing threats of violence, including bomb threats, driven by an online anti-LGBTQ campaign attacking the facilities for providing care to transgender kids and teens. And in October, a man attacked a transgender librarian in Idaho before yelling homophobic slurs and attempting to hit two women with his car. Idaho is one of 18 states that does not have hate crime protections for LGBTQ people, though many local law enforcement agencies still track those crimes.
Every year, at every event that celebrates this beloved community in New Orleans, the most fanatical white evangelical men that are angry and miserable goosestep into town. I guess they have to find something else to do with their time since there’s now a limited number of women’s clinics for them to stalk.
According to Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director of the National Center of Transgender Equality, a quarter of those violent deaths happened in Texas and Florida. Those states have proposed dozens of anti-trans laws and regulations in the past two years or put in place anti-trans policies, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate parents for child abuse if they provide gender-affirming care for their children.
“Anti-trans legislation, fearmongering, and disinformation put the trans community and trans lives at risk,” Heng-Lehtinen tweeted.
If I have been quieter than usual this weekend, it’s because of this, although I’m not on campus this semester.
This followed today.
I suppose I should be thankful that the Campus police are actual police with all the authority of the New Orleans Police Department. They knew what to do and prevented it. So here is what the news is reporting. This is from a message from UNO President John Nicklow.
“I want to provide you with more details on the reason for today’s campus closure. Last week, a former student entered a classroom and acted in an erratic and disruptive manner. Once this was reported to the UNO Department of Public Safety, our officers responded immediately and began an investigation into the individual, which led to a confirmation of suspicious activity. Our officers discovered a video posted Friday on one of the suspect’s social media accounts, showing him purchasing an assault style rifle at a gun store. Additional photographs of him brandishing the firearm were posted across the suspect’s social media accounts. It was at this point that multi-agency surveillance of the suspect began and continued throughout the weekend. The suspect’s off-campus location was continuously monitored, and thus no imminent threat to campus existed. We were not able to share this information with you until now because it would have compromised the investigation.
“The UNO Department of Public Safety worked closely with the New Orleans Police Department’s Intelligence Division, Violent Offender Warrant Squad (VOWS) and the 3rd Police District to secure arrest warrants for Terrorizing, Stalking and Unlawful Disruption of the Operation of a School. The New Orleans Police Department’s Intelligence Division and U.S. Marshals Task Force conducted a joint operation during the overnight hours with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which arrested the suspect without incident. The suspect is in custody and no longer poses a potential threat to the UNO community or the larger community.
Information about the shooter in Colorado Springs is turning into a rather sordid, creepy tail. This is from Heavy. His mother’s father is a Maga State Senator in California who praised the January 6 Insurrection. The shooter was known to the police, and his mother thought he had mental health issues. The Shooter did not have a social media presence, but the mother did.
Online records show Aldrich living at an apartment complex address in Colorado Springs. Online records indicate he shares that address with his mother, Laura Voepel, 44, who works as a support engineer and previously lived in California.
Laura has praised her father, outgoing California state Representative Randy Voepel, in Facebook posts, writing, “Keep up the work Dad~~ You work hard to improve our lives and a lot of us take notice.”
On Aldrich’s birthday, Laura Voepel wrote on Facebook, “My boys 15 birthday! He got head to toe (6’3″) ghillie military suit ànd he is surfing cloud 9.” She tagged her mother, Pamela Pullen, in the post, who Ancestry.com records confirm is Randy’s ex-wife.
Heavy was not able to find any social media profiles for Aldrich. But Facebook posts made by his mother reveal he had been dealing with mental health issues. She posted often about her son in a Facebook group for women involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Colorado Springs area.
In one post in July 2021, she asked for help finding a criminal defense attorney: “Hello Sisters. Does anyone know of a fantastic defense attorney? I ask this with a heavy heart but my family really needs some help at this time. We have cash to retain good counsel. Thank you.” Her post about needing a criminal defense attorney came just after her son was arrested.
The police and criminal justice response to his arrest for threatening his mother with a possible bomb were underwhelming, to say the least. This is from ABC News. “Gay club shooting suspect evaded Colorado’s red flag gun law. The suspect in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb last year.”
A year and a half before he was arrested in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting that left five people dead, Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors in surrounding homes to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him into surrendering.
Yet despite that scare, there’s no public record that prosecutors moved forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich, or that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons and ammo the man’s mother says he had with him.
Gun control advocates say Aldrich’s June 2021 threat is an example of a red flag law ignored, with potentially deadly consequences. While it’s not clear the law could have prevented Saturday night’s attack — such gun seizures can be in effect for as little as 14 days and be extended by a judge in six-month increments — they say it could have at least slowed Aldrich and raised his profile with law enforcement.
“We need heroes beforehand — parents, co-workers, friends who are seeing someone go down this path,” said Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting and sponsored the state’s red flag law passed in 2019. “This should have alerted them, put him on their radar.”
But the law that allows guns to be removed from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others has seldom been used in the state, particularly in El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs, where the 22-year-old Aldrich allegedly went into Club Q with a long gun at just before midnight and opened fire before he was subdued by patrons.
One year after killing two people and injuring another because he felt threatened by the bad libtards, manchild Kyle Rittenhouse is talking about running for Congress. Who could forget his pudgy face and that poorly-acted crying jag? This is from The Chicago Tribune. ” One year after acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the battle to define his public image rages on.” Why does he have a public image, you may ask? Well, he’s still a celeb in the right-wing gun-fetish Republican Party and talking about a run for Congress.
Rittenhouse was just 17 when he shot two men to death and wounded a third during a night of unrest in 2020 that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.
Kenosha County prosecutors charged him with homicide but he claimed self-defense. At the end of a 15-day trial, jurors declared him not guilty.
His lead defense attorney told reporters at the time he hoped Rittenhouse would keep a low profile following the verdict, but that hasn’t happened. Despite initially expressing a reluctance to be “a cause person,” Rittenhouse has embraced the attention, becoming a figurehead in conservative politics and the gun rights movement.
“I’m just getting warmed up,” he told a critic on Twitter earlier this month. “Get comfortable.”
But while Rittenhouse promises to bring down the legal hammer on his detractors, he remains entangled in his own court proceedings. The family of Anthony Huber, one of the men Rittenhouse killed, is suing him and a host of Wisconsin law enforcement officials for allegedly conspiring to deprive Huber of his constitutional rights.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys filed papers in August trying to get him dismissed from the case, arguing among other things that a private detective who scoured the country for the teen delivered a summons to a home in Florida where Rittenhouse doesn’t actually live (the Tribune couldn’t reach Rittenhouse for comment, but his Twitter page gives his location as Texas).
A judge has yet to rule on the motion.
Rittenhouse and his backers are raising money for both legal fights. The Media Accountability Project, a Nevada-based LLC Rittenhouse introduced on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” is accepting donations “to hold the media accountable in court for their malicious lies, defamation and propaganda.”
The teen has also endorsed a video game called “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Turkey Shoot” that he said is meant to fund his lawsuits. Footage of the game, which is supposed to be released before Thanksgiving, shows an avatar that resembles Rittenhouse firing at “fake news turkeys.”
A GiveSendGo campaign is raising money for his defense in the Huber lawsuit, as is the National Foundation for Gun Rights, which depicts the case as a battle for the Second Amendment.
As for the Congressional run, this is from HuffPost. “Kyle Rittenhouse Meets With GOP House Caucus. The Kenosha shooter appeared to stoke his right-wing celebrity ambitions with a weird Capitol photo. “ Why wouldn’t you want to be called a shooter with this glam treatment?
He also posed for a wild Twitter photo in front of the Capitol, writing: “T- 5 years until I can call this place my office?” Given Twitter’s meltdown, it was unclear whether it was an actual message, though his profile did have a “verified” blue check.
NBC has this analysis. “How judges and state legislatures are making police officers and civilians less safe. As policymakers roll back gun laws, officers now have to worry that nearly every civilian has the means to use deadly force.” This opinion was written by By and
I must admit that staying in my home, teaching from my home, and ordering stuff to be delivered to my kitchen door has an appeal beyond keeping me safe from Covid and RSV. Plus, my dog and cats have no interest in being a well-armed army of darkness.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas declared that it was unconstitutional to prohibit domestic abusers under a protective order from having a gun.
It’s one of the latest examples in a troubling trend initiated by the Supreme Court’s June ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which signaled the potential for a wave of court-mandated rollbacks of gun regulations. An oft-overlooked consequence of this is how relaxing gun laws prevents police officers from doing their jobs properly.
In Bruen, the court held New York’s licensing of handguns violated the Second Amendment. The state had required applicants for concealed carry permits to show “proper cause,” or, in other words, a specific need for a gun. As of the time of the ruling, six other jurisdictions — including Maryland, where one of us is from — had similar “proper cause” rules regulating gun carrying, all of which were imperiled by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
So far this year, officers have seized more than 2,200 guns illegally carried on the streets of Baltimore. Without Maryland’s gun licensing law, which relies on a proper cause standard, officers are left with a dangerously vague uncertainty about whether to approach someone carrying a gun to determine whether it is illegal or not — let alone remove the gun from the streets. This means police will be required to make more split-second decisions that risk tragic outcomes on both sides of the badge.
Four months after the Bruen ruling, a West Virginia judge invalidated part of a federal law prohibiting the possession of a firearm with an altered or removed serial number. Those serial numbers are critical to helping police solve crimes and distinguish responsible gun owners from violent criminals.
As the tide moves in the direction of more guns on the streets and fewer regulations, police chiefs are the first to point out that this trend makes their jobs more difficult and puts officers at a higher risk of injury or death. That danger extends to everyone in the community — children, the elderly and passersby on the street.
Rather than reserving their firearms for the most dangerous situations, law enforcement officers now have to worry that nearly every civilian has the means to use deadly force. Tensions will rise, and trust will decline.
I’m unsure how we stop turning every public location into the OK Corral. I’m pretty sure MTG and the one from Colorado got their seats for being big gun fetishists, among other unappealing personality traits. The MAGA cheerleaders aren’t going anywhere, it seems. Yet, a majority out there wants this madness to end. This is from Steny Hoyer’s site. The Poll was taken in May of 2022.
A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out this morning shows that Americans overwhelmingly favor common-sense legislation to address gun violence.
- 88% of Americans support requiring background checks on all gun sales.
- In 2021, House Democrats passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks on all gun sales.
- House Democrats also passed H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, which would close the ‘Charleston Loophole’ and work to prevent firearms from reaching the hands of prohibited gun owners.
- 84% of Americans support preventing sales of all firearms to people reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider.
- During the first week of the June work period, the House will take up legislation to enact a national Red Flag law that would prevent those who pose a threat to themselves or others from being able to legally possess a firearm.
Senate Republicans should listen to the American people and work with Democrats on common-sense gun legislation that will take important steps towards ending gun violence in America.
That sounds like a good start.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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.
I wish I had kept a record of my sleep patterns and accompanying political events over the past 7 years. I know I rarely slept through the night during the first couple of years of Trump’s “presidency.” I would stay up late, sleep a couple of hours and wake up at 3AM to obsessively check twitter for news, and still get up early the next day. Now I’m going through a period of time when I can’t get to sleep until very late–around 1:00-2:00AM–and then sleeping until 10:00 or 11:00AM. I’m also getting old–I’ll be 75 soon–and it takes me awhile to get going in the morning. Anyway, I slept until 10:00 today, so I’m once again very late in posting. If only we knew what is going to happen with the Trump investigations, maybe I would be able to go back to sleeping like a normal person.
As everyone knows by now, yesterday Merrick Garland announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to decide whether to indict Trump in the Mar-a-Lago documents and January 6 insurrection cases–including whether Trump has obstructed justice.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigations into the retention of national defense information at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and parts of the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
Both investigations implicate the conduct of Trump, who on Tuesday declared his candidacy in the 2024 presidential race, making him a potential rival of President Joe Biden.
“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland said at the Justice Department on Friday.
Jack Smith, the former chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, where he investigated war crimes in Kosovo, will oversee the investigations….
The prosecutions of those who physically breached the US Capitol have been the most public aspect of the Justice Department’s January 6 probe, and those will remain under the purview of the US Attorney’s office in Washington, DC. But behind the scenes, prosecutors have subpoenaed scores of witnesses close to the former president for documents and testimony in the probe.
“I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice,” Smith said in a statement Friday. “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.” [….]
According to multiple sources, both the Mar-a-Lago investigation and the January 6 investigation around Trump are aiming to gather more information and bring witnesses into a federal grand jury in the coming weeks. Prosecutors sent out several new subpoenas related to both investigations in recent days, with quick return dates as early as next week.
Some of the witnesses being pursued in this round had not spoken to the investigators in these cases before, according to some of the sources.
Most of the TV/Twitter legal experts are saying this was a good decision by Garland. One dissenter is Neal Kaytal, who says it is a big mistake.
Former top DOJ official Andrew Weissmann believes that newly-appointed special counsel Jack Smith will move with haste in his investigations of former President Donald Trump.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, after the host said Smith may become the “most important prosecutor in human history,” Weissmann discussed his history with the new special prosecutor.
“So I’ve known Jack for decades,” Weissman said.
“I was the chief of the criminal division when he started in the U.S. Attorney’s office,” he explained.
“And Jack, as you noted, has had all sorts of positions that make him really perfect for this job in the sense of his experience, he’s a career prosecutor, he’s completely apolitical — in public integrity, they prosecuted Democrats and Republicans,” Weissmann said. “They don’t care, if you committed a crime, it doesn’t matter what party you’re in or whether you’re in no party.”
He noted he learned from Robert Mueller that “you can’t slow things down to use as an excuse not to move forward.”
“For people who are worried about this slowing down, I have the exact opposite reaction.”
Marcy Wheeler suggested another reason why Garland might have taken the step of appointing a special counsel:
I think that makes sense. Of course Trump and Republicans will still claim the investigations are political, and I’m pretty sure Garland knows that. This morning at Politico Playbook, Rachel Bade summarized the political reactions so far: A new special counsel sets Washington ablaze.
Attorney General MERRICK GARLAND’s decision to name a special counsel to helm DONALD TRUMP-related probes at the Justice Department roiled the political world on Friday.
In an afternoon statement delivered before cameras at Main Justice, Garland argued the appointment of veteran DOJ hand JACK SMITH was necessary given that Trump and JOE BIDEN could be facing off for the presidency in 2024. “Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland said.
Some good it did him. On cue, Republicans called foul — and rushed forward to defend an ex-president who had appeared to be losing his grip on the GOP following the party’s disappointing election performance.
AT MAR-A-LAGO … After 10 days of midterm recriminations, the announcement put Trump back in his most comfortable posture: portraying himself as the victim of his corrupt enemies. During a fancy black-tie affair at his Florida resort, Trump told Fox News’ Brooke Singman that he won’t participate in the probe and blasted the DOJ for the “worst politicization” of the department ever.
— “I have been proven innocent for six years on everything — from fake impeachments to [former special counsel ROBERT] MUELLER who found no collusion, and now I have to do it more?” Trump told them. “It is not acceptable. It is so unfair. It is so political.”
ON CAPITOL HILL … Rep. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-Ga.) tweeted that Republicans should “IMPEACH MERRICK GARLAND!” and insisted her party “refuse to appropriate any funding to Merrick Garland’s Special Counsel and defund any part of the DOJ acting on behalf of the Democrat party as a taxpayer funded campaign arm for the Democrat’s 2024 presidential nominee.”
— The latter is particularly noteworthy: It sets up a new and explosive spending clash that could easily prompt a government shutdown in the next Congress. Why? MTG and likeminded Trump loyalists will press KEVIN McCARTHY (or whoever else manages to become speaker) to toe a hard line while Democrats will absolutely refuse to defund the investigations. Watch this space.
IN LAS VEGAS … Even former Vice President MIKE PENCE blasted the special counsel appointment as “very troubling” during an appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting, according to another good-get interview by Fox’s Brooke Singman and Paul Steinhauser.
— “No one is above the law, but I am not sure it’s against the law to take bad advice from your lawyers,” he said. Pence went on to suggest that the DOJ has been politicized by Democrats and and to knock the FBI for conducting a raid on Mar-a-Lago to fish out classified information Trump had taken to his post-presidency residence. (Note that Smith won’t only be managing the documents probe, but Jan. 6-related matters as well.).
Bade notes that Republicans were all in on the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified documents while she was running for president. You can also read a bit of background on Jack Smith at The New York Times.
One more on the Smith appointment from Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Merrick Garland was right to appoint a special counsel.
Advocates of swift action against Trump no doubt will be alarmed by the announcement, but there is less here than meets the eye. For starters, Smith needs no introduction to the Justice Department. He was appointed first assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in February 2015. Before that, he worked as head of the department’s Public Integrity Section and as investigation coordinator in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. He also worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York.
Most important, the attorney general announced that the career staff who have been working on these cases will continue in their roles. That, Garland suggested, will mean the query will “not slow down.” Smith will make a recommendation to Garland on whether to prosecute Trump. Until then, Garland will have no direct supervision over Smith.
Did Garland need to wait until Trump’s campaign launch to make the appointment? Perhaps not, but so long as Trump was not an active candidate, there was little reason for Garland to step aside. Now that Trump is a potential opponent to Biden, Garland believes it is essential to add a layer of separation between himself and the line prosecutors.
Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me, “Looking over Jack Smith’s decades of prosecutorial experience, it’s hard to imagine anyone better prepared to hit the ground running and to sew together whatever loose ends remain as he puts together a comprehensive prosecution of the leaders of the attempted coup, with the former president at its center, as well as a powerful prosecution of the former president for his theft of top secret documents as he absconded to Mar-a-Lago.” He adds that, while he previously “publicly urged that there was no need to appoint a special counsel, my principal concern was the need to avoid delay, and it appears that this appointment will solve that problem.”
Norman Eisen, who served as co-counsel to the House impeachment managers during Trump’s first impeachment, agrees. “I have no concern that a special counsel will shy away from charging, and Jack Smith has outstanding experience,” he tells me. Eisen also thinks the move will not cause much of a delay. He observes: “Mr. Smith should move with alacrity. Here, where any other American who had removed the even one classified document would be subject to likely prosecution, and where the former president took dozens, the rule of law demands fast action.”
In other news, The New York Times has an important story about a Supreme Court leak that–like the recent leak of the draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade–involves Justice Sam Alito: Former Anti-Abortion Leader Alleges Another Supreme Court Breach.
As the Supreme Court investigates the extraordinary leak this spring of a draft opinion of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a former anti-abortion leader has come forward claiming that another breach occurred in a 2014 landmark case involving contraception and religious rights.
In a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and in interviews with The New York Times, the Rev. Rob Schenck said he was told the outcome of the 2014 case weeks before it was announced. He used that information to prepare a public relations push, records show, and he said that at the last minute he tipped off the president of Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain owned by Christian evangelicals that was the winning party in the case.
Both court decisions were triumphs for conservatives and the religious right. Both majority opinions were written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. But the leak of the draft opinion overturning the constitutional right to abortion was disclosed in the news media by Politico, setting off a national uproar. With Hobby Lobby, according to Mr. Schenck, the outcome was shared with only a handful of advocates….
The evidence for Mr. Schenck’s account of the breach has gaps. But in months of examining Mr. Schenck’s claims, The Times found a trail of contemporaneous emails and conversations that strongly suggested he knew the outcome and the author of the Hobby Lobby decision before it was made public.
Mr. Schenck, who used to lead an evangelical nonprofit in Washington, said he learned about the Hobby Lobby opinion because he had worked for years to exploit the court’s permeability. He gained access through faith, through favors traded with gatekeepers and through wealthy donors to his organization, abortion opponents whom he called “stealth missionaries.”
The minister’s account comes at a time of rising concerns about the court’s legitimacy. A majority of Americans are losing confidence in the institution, polls show, and its approval ratings are at a historic low. Critics charge that the court has become increasingly politicized, especially as a new conservative supermajority holds sway.
Read the rest at the New York Times.
From Georgia–NBC News reports that: In win for Democrats, Georgia judge allows early voting in Senate runoff on Saturday after Thanksgiving.
A Fulton County judge ruled Friday that the Georgia Secretary of State cannot prohibit counties from voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a victory for the state Democratic Party and Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign.
The order comes after a brief legal battle between Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office and the Democratic Party of Georgia over the Dec. 6 Senate runoff between Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
Raffensperger, a Republican, had maintained that changes to Georgia voting laws meant that there could be no early voting on Nov. 26, the only Saturday when it would have been possible for Georgians to cast an early vote in the hotly contested race.
Democrats and Warnock’s campaign filed suit challenging Raffensperger’s determination, and Judge Thomas A. Cox agreed with their arguments in a ruling late Friday afternoon. “The Court finds that the absence of the Saturday vote will irreparably harm the Plaintiffs, their members, and constituents, and their preferred runoff candidate,” the judge wrote.
Raffensberger’s office will appeal the decision.
The dispute centers on a provision of Senate Bill 202, signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in March 2021, which stipulates early in-person voting must end the Friday before the runoff. This year, that would be Friday, Dec. 2.
The law also stipulates early in-person voting not be held on any Saturday that follows a “public or legal holiday” on the preceding Thursday or Friday. Raffensperger contended that meant there would be no early in-person voting on Nov. 26, the Saturday following Thanksgiving. (It could not be held this weekend because the general election vote is not being certified until Nov. 21.)
Attorneys for the Democrats and Warnock argued the section of the law Raffensperger cited applies to primaries and general elections, but not to runoffs. Cox agreed.
Of course there is tons of news about Twitter and Musk. Here are some links to check out if you’re interested:
Yoel Roth at the New York Times: I Was the Head of Trust and Safety at Twitter. This Is What Could Become of It.
The Washington Post: Musk summons engineers to Twitter HQ as millions await platform’s collapse.
The New York Times: Elon Musk’s Twitter Teeters on the Edge After Another 1,200 Leave.
What are your thoughts on all this? What other stories are you following today?
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I just replaced my TV in the season of political infighting and maudlin Crassmas shows. At least I don’t have to fight any Black Friday Crowds in actual stores. I’m not sure I’d survive that. Even Medieval Warrior Snails have more guts to face an oncoming crowd than me. My nice Amazon delivery guy is coming with it sometime next week within a 6-day window, even with Prime. I bumped into the busy season but was waiting for my check from Hollywood South for enduring a few weekends of having my block shut down for that AMC series shoot. I bet a Warrior Snail could deliver it faster.
You know that Senator John Kennedy is known for saying some pretty outrageous things. He appears to be gearing up to run for governor despite his runaway reelection in the midterms. He always makes these weird references to pop culture, which always goes awry. I don’t think he cares he’s the butt of many memes. Try this one reported by Politico.
It’s not every day that a senator quotes a famous mob movie to describe the state of his political party after a week of infighting.
“You’ve gotta have a war every five or 10 years to get rid of the bad blood,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, paraphrasing a line from “The Godfather” to paint a picture of Senate Republicans. “And then you start over.”
Tension built within the Senate GOP for nearly two years, from former President Donald Trump’s post-insurrection impeachment through a host of bipartisan Biden-era deals that many Republicans opposed. And after the party’s midterm election losses, those cracks turned into a chasm.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) mounted a challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that embodied the conservative griping about the Kentuckian’s leadership style. As GOP senators spent roughly 10 hours in private meetings this week that at times grew highly contentious, the conference cleaved over a same-sex marriage bill that most of them opposed.
When McConnell defeated Scott, 37-10 (a tally that some Republican senators still won’t talk about) the intraparty whispers and rumors of opposition to the tight-gripped leader finally got quantified on paper. The GOP now hopes that its factions — or warring families, as Mario Puzo would put it — are at peace.
That McConnell faced his first contested leadership race in nearly 16 years atop the conference marked a turning point in the GOP. He’s held the post longer than anyone else in his party, and soon enough will break the Senate’s overall record. Despite that rarefied air, it’s clear that he was pushing for every single vote he could lock in
I’m not sure he realizes that calling the Republican party something akin to Mafiosi is strangely true and probably not a label they want. It does appear that both the Senate and House contingents have a lot of group infighting. They’re doing some strange things for a party that’s always seen its role as the top ass kisser for American Business. This is also from Politico under the headline: “GOP plans to punish ‘woke’ Wall Street. GOP lawmakers are singling out major asset managers as likely targets because of climate investing practices they see as hostile to oil, gas and coal.” I will use Digby’s take on it since it came with popcorn.
This should be super fun to watch:
Wall Street loves Republican tax cuts and deregulation. It’s going to hate the GOP’s plans for 2023.
Republican lawmakers, who will be in the House majority come January, are pressing party leaders to send a message to big financial firms: Stop appeasing the left with “woke” business practices, keep financing fossil fuels and cut ties with China. Republicans will have committee gavels and subpoena powers to back that up.
GOP lawmakers are singling out major asset managers and their Washington trade groups as targets because of climate investing practices they see as hostile to oil, gas and coal. Some Republicans want to continue hauling in big bank CEOs to publicly testify — a tradition established by liberal Democrats. GOP senators are already demanding that law firms preserve documents related to how they advise clients on environmental and social initiatives, signaling a potential investigation. Wall Street firms and Washington lobbyists are preparing for subpoenas.
Caught in the middle are Republican committee leaders who are facing pressure from their rank-and-file to adopt a populist tact toward big business.
“My members are intent on sending a message that you can’t kowtow to a far-left agenda and still have Republicans fighting the good fight on behalf of free markets and a marketplace that would benefit these companies,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who is poised to chair the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview. “This is a complicated factor for sure.”
Uhm yeah. It’s a complicated factor for sure. Free markets as long as you do what we tell you may not be a big winner with the Big Money Boyz.
Well, DeSantis certainly showed Disney (not!), so this can only signal that some of the troops are already taking on the DeSantis mantel. However, it still reminds me of the Smithsonian’s age-old question, “Why Were Medieval Knights Always Fighting Snails?”
I will mention that Josh Hawley has taken to ranting on the Washington Post OpEd page today about Republicans being out of touch with Working Americans. I’m not going to bother with that, but here’s another headline with a twist. “Ron DeSantis has reached a perilous point: Inevitability. Can you recall another politician who seemed like an Inevitable Candidate for their party and time? Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Gary Hart, Thomas Dewey, Robert A. Taft …”
“If the Florida governor ever intends to wrest control of the GOP from Trump, now is his moment,” read the headline on an Atlantic article by David Frum last week.
If he runs “he will be a formidable candidate,” Jeb Bush told Neil Cavuto in October.
Jeb Bush was also an Inevitable. Hillary Clinton was an Inevitable (twice!). Neither’s inevitability yielded the presidency. That’s the tricky thing about being an Inevitable.
“What voters will be looking for a year from now, or two years, is very unpredictable,” says Alex Conant, who was communications director for the presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio (once an Inevitable) and Tim Pawlenty (never an Inevitable). “So that candidate who looks perfect for the current moment might not be what they want later. Jeb and Trump are the perfect examples.”
And yet, the Insurrection is not disappearing from the news even as low-energy Donald announced his 3rd bid for the Presidency. This is from Kyle Cheney at Politico, “‘Do not become numb’: Prosecutors close seditious conspiracy case against Oath Keepers. After a grinding eight-week trial, prosecutors pleaded with jurors to consider the weight of leader Stewart Rhodes’ words in the lead-up to Jan. 6.”
“These defendants repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the United States government and they followed those words with action,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said in her closing statements. “Please do not become numb to these statements. Think about what is actually being called for in these statements.”
To prosecutors, the case is clear: Rhodes was the “architect” of a plan to overthrow the government by force unless Trump took direct action to seize a second term he didn’t win. As Jan. 6 approached, Rhodes grew increasingly frustrated at Trump’s inaction and assembled a team — including co-defendants Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson of Florida, Jessica Watkins of Ohio and Thomas Caldwell of Virginia. They coordinated to amass an arsenal of heavy weapons at a Comfort Inn in nearby Arlington, Va., and developed land and water routes to ferry them to Oath Keepers if violence erupted.
Two dozen Oath Keepers entered the Capitol after other rioters breached it and migrated toward the House and Senate chambers before they were repelled by police. Later, they met Rhodes outside the Capitol. Prosecutors say the group celebrated their actions and prepared to continue their efforts to oppose the government even after authorities regained control of the Capitol.
After closing arguments Friday, jurors will begin deliberating on the most significant charge — seditious conspiracy — as well as a slew of other charges lodged against the Oath Keeper leaders, including obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of property at the Capitol.
The January 6th Committee is also working on finishing up before Republicans take a very weak hold on the House. NBC News reports that “Jan. 6 committee interviews former Trump Secret Service agent Bobby Engel. Engel, the lead Secret Service agent for Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, could provide information former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony.” Representative Zoe Lofgren was on Nicole Wallace yesterday but didn’t provide any conclusions reached if any.
The House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday interviewed Bobby Engel, who was the lead Secret Service agent for then-President Donald Trump when the insurrection took place, three sources familiar with the session said.
Engel could provide key testimony related to information shared by Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She delivered bombshell testimony before the committee at a public hearing this summer.
Hutchinson testified that she was told Trump tried to grab the steering wheel in an armored SUV and lunged toward his security detail when he learned he would not be taken to the Capitol after his rally on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, the White House deputy chief of staff for operations, told her about the incident. She also said Engel had not disputed Ornato’s account. Ornato and Engel both testified before the committee before Hutchinson.
Now, to the goods news on the other side of the aisle. From the Washington Post, “Rep. Lauren Boebert race too close to call, with margin inside recount threshold. ” This will likely require very buttery popcorn too. And from CNN, “Democrat Katie Porter will win reelection in California, CNN projects . Whew, that’s a relief.
And as one historically significant and powerful Leader of the House retires, another one will become the Minority Leader, in line for the big position. This is reported by NBC News, “Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announces bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader. If elected, Jeffries, 52, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus. Reps. Katherine Clark, 59, and Pete Aguilar, 43, are seeking to join Jeffries in Democrats’ top three.”
New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said Friday that he will run to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader after Republicans took back control of the chamber in last week’s midterm elections.
If Jeffries is successful, it would represent a historic passing of the torch: Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill. If Democrats were to retake control of the House — a real possibility with Republicans having such a narrow majority — Jeffries would be in line to be the first Black speaker in the nation’s history.
The ascension of the 52-year-old Jeffries to minority leader would also represent generational change. Pelosi and her top two deputies — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. — are all in their 80s and are receiving from within the party for “new blood” in leadership; Hoyer will not seek another leadership post while Clyburn plans to stay on and work with the next generation.
Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., are seeking to round out the new leadership team, announcing Friday that they will run for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in leadership. Clark, 59, announced a bid for Democratic Whip, while Aguilar, 43, is running for Democratic Caucus Chair.
It does make me wonder who the Republicans will demonize once Leader Pelosi steps down. However, I’m enjoying those praising her, a lot. This is from Time Magazine and a likely precursor to her becoming Time’s Person of the Year. Won’t that just send the head Mafiosa into an orange rage burble that no one will care about? “Nancy Pelosi Reflects On the Not-Quite-End of An Era.”
For two decades, it has been in every congressional Democrat’s interest to stay in Pelosi’s good graces. Since winning her first leadership position in 2001, she has ruled the House Democratic caucus with an iron fist and a velvet glove, keeping her fractious party in near-lockstep during historically tumultuous times. From the Iraq War to the financial crisis, through health-care reform and government shutdowns, through two presidential impeachments, a pandemic and an insurrection attempt, she has been a constant force and consummate operator. No national politician of her era can match her combination of legislative prowess, vote-counting savvy, negotiating skill, and fundraising ability.
On Thursday, it was finally time to move on—sort of. Shortly after noon, she gave a brief speech on the House floor, announcing that she would not seek re-election as leader of the House Democrats. It was time, she said, “for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.” Yet she couldn’t bring herself to step away completely: she owed it to her constituents in San Francisco, she said, to stay on as a rank-and-file member of Congress and finish her two-year term. Like the man who fakes his own death and then sneaks into the funeral, she would stick around to see how her people tried to get along without her.
Just after her speech, the 82-year-old House Speaker sat at a white-clothed table in a small, ornate room off the House floor known as the Board of Education, a hidden chamber where former Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn used to hole up and relax. Then-vice president Harry Truman was playing cards with Rayburn here in 1945 when he learned that FDR had died and he would become President. One wall Rayburn had painted with a Texas seal; on two others, Pelosi recently added her own touches: a painting of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a tribute to women’s suffrage.
I was fortunate to meet and hear Speaker Pelosi speak at Tulane University a few years ago. I was invited by my then Congressman Cedric Richmond. She spoke to a group of young women on how to become the political leaders of the future. She was funny, gracious, and serious about getting everyone’s voice to the District. It’s great to go out on the top even though she will be sorely missed.
So, I’ve posted this youtube as one explanation of the Knights vs. Snail Battles. Maybe JJ will chime in with some theories of her own. Here’s a gory explanation from the Old Testment.
For Digital Medievalist, Lisa Spangenberg floated another idea. She says that “the armored snail fighting the armored knight is a reminder of the inevitability of death,” a sentiment captured in Psalm 58 of the bible: “Like a snail that melteth away into slime, they shall be taken away; like a dead-born child, they shall not see the sun.”
I kind of like this modern take on it.
“The snail may leave a trail of slime behind him, but a little slime will do a man no harm, while if you dance with dragons, you must expect to burn.”
I view it as a Revenge Tale painted by Nerds.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?