Finally Friday Reads: Mask up! Vax up!

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

Good Day Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Press:
Ravages of COVID surge evident inside Missouri hospital

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

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

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Max Beckman, Woman in Chair Reading at Beach, 1939

Max Beckman, Woman in Chair Reading at Beach, 1939

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irving R. Wiles, Sunshine and Shadow Woman

Irving R. Wiles, Sunshine and Shadow Woman

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Crimes Breaking News

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

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

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

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

David Brayne Woman reading

David Brayne, Woman reading

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

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

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

January 6 Investigation News

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

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

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

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

Woman Reading at a Dressing Table, Henri Matisse, 1919

Woman Reading at a Dressing Table, Henri Matisse, 1919

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frédéric Soulacroix (1858-1933), French painter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could it have been this guy?

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


Wednesday Reads: Monster Mash

Cagle cartoons…

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: House January 6 Investigation

Good Morning!!

Trump-FascismThe House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection begins this morning by interviewing police officers who fought the invading Trump army in the Capitol. I’d like to watch as much of the testimony as I can, so I’ll get right to it. Here’s the latest news and commentary I’ve come across so far. 

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson at The Washington Post: Opinion: We have started investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Nothing will be off-limits.

On Tuesday, the bipartisan Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol begins its work investigating the facts, circumstances and causes of this assault on our democracy.

I had hoped that such an investigation would be carried out by an independent commission composed of national security experts, like the panel created by Congress after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. However, once the House Republican leadership rejected — and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered — bipartisan legislation to establish such a commission, we in the House believed we had no choice but to establish a select committee. In a recent poll, 72 percent of Americans agree there is more we must learn about that day.

Many of the Jan. 6 rioters have stated in their court pleadings that they stormed the Capitol believing they were acting on behalf of, or even at the behest of, then-President Donald Trump. The protection of our democracy demands that we comprehensively investigate what drove Americans to riot and violently assault Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police and other law enforcement officers to access the inner sanctum of Congress and private offices of top congressional leaders, including the speaker of the House.

Jan. 6 was supposed to be about the peaceful transfer of power after an election, a hallmark of democracy and our American tradition. The rioters went to the Capitol that day to obstruct this solemn action — and nearly succeeded while defacing and looting the halls of the Capitol in the process. The committee will provide the definitive accounting of one of the darkest days in our history. Armed with answers, we hope to identify actions that Congress and the executive branch can take to help ensure that it never happens again.

The bipartisan members of the committee believe strongly it is important to begin our work by hearing from law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6. On Tuesday, we will be joined by Capitol Police officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone. These officers will provide firsthand accounts of the chaos of that day and the violence perpetrated by the rioters.

VGOO3QBR45CL7FPOLOHJ6TXUG4The Wall Street Journal: Chairman of Jan. 6 Committee Casts Wide Net on Witnesses.

The House’s select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump won’t hesitate to subpoena members of Congress or Mr. Trump and will try to enforce the subpoenas in court if necessary, said the panel’s chairman.

“Anybody who had a conversation with the White House and officials in the White House while the invasion of the Capitol was going on is directly in the investigative sights of the committee,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) in an interview ahead of the panel’s first public hearing on Tuesday. He said that could include subpoenas to compel testimony, as well as records related to phone calls and other communications.

Pressed on whether the Democratic-led committee would subpoena Mr. Trump, Mr. Thompson said nobody was off limits. “I don’t want to name him, but what I will say is that in the conversations we’ve had as a committee, there’s been no reluctance whatsoever to go where the facts lead us,” he said.

Unlike the bipartisan Senate investigation into Jan. 6, which published findings and recommendations in June, the House’s select committee will go beyond security failures to look at communications between Congress and the executive branch and examine the role of individuals—including Mr. Trump—“who may or may not have contributed willingly or unwillingly to the events of Jan. 6,” Mr. Thompson said.

The New York Times: Trump officials can testify in Jan. 6 inquiries, Justice Dept. says.

The Justice Department notified former Trump administration officials this week that they could testify to the various committees investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.

lk052021dAPRWitnesses can give “unrestricted testimony” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, the department said in a letter this week. Both panels are scrutinizing the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the election in its final days and the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The decision runs counter to the views of former President Donald J. Trump, who has argued that his decisions and deliberations are protected by executive privilege. It also sets up a potential court battle if Mr. Trump sues in a bid to block any testimony.

In that case, the courts could be forced to decide the extent to which a former president can be protected by privilege. Mr. Trump’s supporters have argued that a president cannot function if privilege can be taken away by a successor, exposing sensitive decision-making and opening up the previous administration to scrutiny.

But others say that the matter is settled law, and that privilege does not apply to extraordinary circumstances.

CNN: Select committee holds first January 6 hearing with officers on the front lines.

In its opening act, the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol holds its first high-profile hearing Tuesday with testimony from four officers who will give firsthand accounts of the horrors they witnessed and endured as rioters stormed the building.

The officers are expected to recount the harrowing attacks they faced on January 6, including being beaten with a flagpolegetting crushed in a doorway, being the target of racial slurs and facing rioters who tased them. The committee also is expected to show never-before-seen videos depicting the violence from that day, just as House impeachment managers did during the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

The emotional testimony kicks off the committee’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the January 6 attack as Democratic leaders look to set the tone for a panel that congressional Republicans have dismissed as a political sideshow created merely to discredit the legacy of the former President.

The goal Tuesday, according to select committee member Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, is to portray what it was like “to be on the front lines for the brave police officers” and to push back on efforts to whitewash the events of that day.

“I’m hoping that the hearing will give the American people an even more vivid sense of what went on that day, the horror of that day, how these brave police officers saved so many lives,” Schiff told CNN.

20210723ednac-aInvestigative report from Joshua Kaplan and Joaquin Sapien at ProPublica: New Details Suggest Senior Trump Aides Knew Jan. 6 Rally Could Get Chaotic.

On Dec. 19, President Donald Trump blasted out a tweet to his 88 million followers, inviting supporters to Washington for a “wild” protest.

Earlier that week, one of his senior advisers had released a 36-page report alleging significant evidence of election fraud that could reverse Joe Biden’s victory. “A great report,” Trump wrote. “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

The tweet worked like a starter’s pistol, with two pro-Trump factions competing to take control of the “big protest.”

On one side stood Women for America First, led by Amy Kremer, a Republican operative who helped found the tea party movement. The group initially wanted to hold a kind of extended oral argument, with multiple speakers making their case for how the election had been stolen.

On the other was Stop the Steal, a new, more radical group that had recruited avowed racists to swell its ranks and wanted the President to share the podium with Alex Jones, the radio host banned from the world’s major social media platforms for hate speech, misinformation and glorifying violence. Stop the Steal organizers say their plan was to march on the Capitol and demand that lawmakers give Trump a second term.

ProPublica has obtained new details about the Trump White House’s knowledge of the gathering storm, after interviewing more than 50 people involved in the events of Jan. 6 and reviewing months of private correspondence. Taken together, these accounts suggest that senior Trump aides had been warned the Jan. 6 events could turn chaotic, with tens of thousands of people potentially overwhelming ill-prepared law enforcement officials.

Rather than trying to halt the march, Trump and his allies accommodated its leaders, according to text messages and interviews with Republican operatives and officials.

Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official assigned by the White House to take charge of the rally planning, helped arrange a deal where those organizers deemed too extreme to speak at the Ellipse could do so on the night of Jan. 5. That event ended up including incendiary speeches from Jones and Ali Alexander, the leader of Stop the Steal, who fired up his followers with a chant of “Victory or death!”

Read more at ProPublica. It’s quite long and detailed.

20210722edbbc-aThe Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: We have questions about Jan. 6. The new House committee can answer them.

…[I]n contrast to Republican claims, there is much for the select committee to uncover.

Top of the list is precisely what then-President Donald Trump did before, during and after the attack. How did he prepare his speech preceding the insurrection, in which he told the crowd to fight? What did he anticipate his audience’s reaction would be? When did he know the pro-Trump mob was threatening the Capitol? Why did he offer only mild statements long after the danger was clear? Did Trump-affiliated rally organizers coordinate with extremist groups? Answering such questions calls for subpoenaing former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner; and other White House aides with useful information.

Also relevant is what members of Congress reported to Mr. Trump and other members of his administration as the riot unfolded. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who spoke with the president and Mr. Kushner on Jan. 6, must testify, along with any other lawmakers who interacted with the Trump administration in the run-up to, during and after that day. The list includes Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and possibly Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). For that matter, the committee must examine whether any lawmakers themselves maintained connections with or even abetted the rioters.

Investigators should hear from extremist-group leaders at the center of the violence. How did they prepare? What was their goal? The committee should hear also from Justice Department and Capitol Police officials who failed to anticipate the riot. Why did intelligence officials across the government seem unaware of warnings that were all over social media? To what extent did law enforcement discount or ignore warning signs about right-wing extremists because federal and local officers did not want to cross Mr. Trump and other Republicans? Why did the National Guard take so long to arrive?

Finally, the investigation should lead to recommendations to forestall a repeat of such political violence, with a particular focus on how the government monitors domestic extremism.

If you’re watching the hearings, please let us know what you think. As always, feel free to comment on any topic. This is an open thread.

 


Monday Reads: Let’s get Cheeky!!!

Good Day Sky Dancers!

One of the problems that I’ve always had with sportsball is–even with strong unions– the owner/athlete paradigm is such a throwback to the relationship between the Roman Empire and all that slave jazz. The New Orleans Super Dome just got sold to Ceasar’s from Las Vegas, so now we have a new tacky thing to deal with while Golddigging Widow Gail Bensen gets to up her $4.3 billion net worth.  I only wish that cities or teams could own their own franchise.

I’m not thrilled with the Olympics either, which usually is framed with similar relationships between the rules and the athletes. Also, there’s usually someone in charge of women’s wear that either hates women or is overly interested in their body parts. I’ve always been a big fan of Pink, but I’m even more a fan now for this action.  This is from the UK Guardian: “Tokyo 2020: Pink offers to pay the fine for Norwegian women’s volleyball team. The ‘Get The Party Started’ singer said the European Handball Federation should be fined ‘for their sexism’”

Singer and songwriter Pink has offered to pay off the fine for the Norwegian women’s handball players who refused to wear bikini bottoms for their match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championships last week.

The European Handball Federation (EHF) fined the team $1,765 (£1,283), or about $176 for each player, asserting that the women competed in “improper clothing” when they picked shorts rather than the mandated bikini bottoms.

Male players, meanwhile, are permitted to wear shorts no longer than four inches above the knee.

The 41-year-old music artist tweeted she was “proud” of the team for “protesting the very sexist rules about their ‘uniform’” and that the EHF “should be fined for their sexism.”

“Good on ya, ladies. I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up,” she wrote.

Women athletes must wear bikini bottoms with a close fit and cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg, according to the International Handball Federation’s rules. “The side width must be of a maximum of 10 centimetres,” the rules say.

Some of the worst people are having a fit about The Cleveland Indians being renamed The Cleveland Guardians.  After all, isn’t it an American tradition to diminish the humanity and culture of Native Americans? If you can stand it, This is what the Trumperz said via The Hill.  Oh, and the most disliked Senator ever–Ted Cruz– is at it too.  This is a look at what the Deplorables of the country think about the name change.

 

Big Batty Gal by Elizabeth Prentis

The rules are always weird when it comes to women. Here’s the Daily Beast with this headline: “A Key Trump Witness Is Being Muzzled Over Her Custody Battle. Jennifer Weisselberg is the only person willing to speak publicly about Trump employees accepting untaxed corporate perks instead of salary. She’s been ordered to keep quiet.”   I only wish they could gag order Trumperz.

As the New York criminal investigation into the Trump Organization deepens, a parallel battle is quietly playing out in the city’s family court, where lawyers are trying to muzzle one of the government’s key witnesses—and cast doubt over her mental health.

Jennifer Weisselberg, the ex-wife of Trump employee Barry Weisselberg—and former daughter-in-law of one of Trump’s closest business confidants, Allen Weisselberg—has told investigators that executives at the Trump Organization were rewarded with untaxed perks.

Her documents and grand jury testimony were crucial to last month’s indictment of her former father-in-law, the corporation’s chief financial officer. And she has repeatedly explained to journalists how the tuition for her children’s private school was an untaxed corporate gift paid in lieu of salary.

But all the while, she’s said these things at great personal risk; since March 19, Jennifer Weisselberg has been under a judge’s gag order to shut her up.

“Defendant, Jennifer Weisselberg, shall refrain from having any discussions or interviews whatsoever with the press about the parties’ children… the custody proceeding… or her motivation for giving interviews insofar as it concerns the children,” reads the order, signed by New York County Supreme Court Justice Lori S. Sattler.

But if she can’t talk to journalists about her children—or even her “motivation” for speaking to journalists—then she can’t explain to the public how the Trump Organization allegedly broke the law. And she’s the only person who witnessed these alleged crimes and is willing to speak publicly.

The gag order does not limit her from speaking to investigators. But three sources familiar with the divorce proceedings describe the gag order as part of a broader campaign of witness intimidation. Attorneys separately representing her ex-husband and children have repeatedly demanded court-mandated mental evaluations and drug tests for Jennifer Weisselberg. And these sources say these orders smear her character ahead of a potential criminal trial where she would be expected to testify against the company.

Bum 2 by MC Llamas

The rules are different for many of us. David French writes this for The Dispatch: “Structural Racism Isn’t Wokeness, It’s Reality. Christians must not deny the full consequences of centuries of intentional, racist harm.”

I’m not going to address the church’s procedural disputes. (Though I will note that it is contrary to basic principles of religious liberty to ask an arm of the state—a judge—to intervene in matters of church governance.) I am going to deal head-on with the prime underlying complaint that has triggered outrage and national media coverage of a struggle for control in one of America’s largest and most influential churches. The charge against Platt and his team can be summed up in one word: wokeness.

The congregants object to what they perceive as a pastoral embrace of critical race theory, and they assert that the Bible alone contains teaching sufficient to address America’s race problems. You can read the comprehensive complaint against Platt and his team here and the allegations of teaching or advocating CRT here.

Without restating all the contents of these lengthy documents, they include complaints that Platt and his MBC colleague pastor Mike Kelsey marched in a Christian black lives matter march and that Kelsey has endorsed the “CRT concepts” of “systemic racism” and “white privilege.” They also condemn Platt for this comment, which argues that the absence of overt prejudice doesn’t absolve one of the problems of racism and racialization:

A disparity exists. We can’t deny this. These are not opinions—they’re facts. It matters in our country whether one is white or black. Now, we don’t want it to matter, which is why I think we try to convince ourselves it doesn’t matter. We think to ourselves, “I don’t hold prejudices toward black or white people, so racism is not my problem.” But this is where we need to see that racialization is our problem. It’s all of our problem. We subtly, almost unknowingly, contribute to it.

The dissenters argue that the “solution to the ‘race’ problem in America is more Bible, not more sociology books. It is not the Bible plus a secular reading list, but sola scriptura.” It’s not just unwise to rely on secular scholarship to address American racism, they argue: It’s unbiblical.

This argument echoes tenets of the secular right-wing consensus on race—that racism exists only when there is individual malign intent, that remedies for racism should be limited to imposing consequences on individual racists, and that there is no intergenerational obligation to remedy historic injustice (“I’m not responsible for my ancestors’ sins”).

Under this mode of thinking, the concept of “equality under the law”—as mandated by the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act—is both necessary and largely sufficient to address the causes and consequences of centuries of slavery followed by generations of Jim Crow.

But on the core issues of American racism, Platt is biblically and historically right, and it’s his detractors who are biblically and historically wrong. These “conservatives” have placed a secular political frame around an issue with profound religious significance. They’ve thus not just abandoned the whole counsel of scripture, they’ve even contradicted a core component of the secular conservatism they claim to uphold.

 

Venue Insomnia by Xu Yang

Somehow it’s okay for children of color to experience racism, but it’s wrong for children of certain wipipo to learn about it. Seriously, what’s that all about?  Here’s John Oliver explaining redlining and gerrymandering in his usual adroit way via the AV club.

The recent Republican push toward state-mandated literal whitewashing of American history to remove all that pesky racism and genocide has seen a lot of not-willfully-ignorant people stepping up to the historical plate. On Sunday, it was John Oliver’s turn at bat. His extra-long Last Week Tonight return from hiatus saw the reliably funny, research-supplied, and pissed-off Brit doing an especially comprehensive job of examining yet another area where white Americans’ perceptions of their history (and the inarguable and deeply inconvenient facts thereof) are skewed, predictably, in favor of said white people’s self-satisfied need to do nothing.

In his piece on housing discrimination, Oliver, as is his way, plucked out one representative case from which to expand his argument that the institutionalized bigotry in home ownership continues to undermine the potential of Black prosperity. In this case, Oliver’s pick of a depressingly voluminous litter came from Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan, California. That’s where a black couple’s valuable beachfront property was seized by the now-wealthy town, but only after even the most strenuous efforts of the local Ku Klux Klan failed to terrorize Willa and Charles Bruce from their legal residence. As Oliver put it in summarizing the way that the actions of government and cross-burning yahoos’ to disenfranchise Black Americans have always gone hand in soot-covered glove, “Sure, the vigilante racists are spooky, but you’ve really gotta worry when the motherfuckers with advanced degrees show up.”

Just to channel his most skeptical (and whitest) viewers for a moment, Oliver asked what’s to be done about this generations-old racist swindle, anyway? After all, didn’t Manhattan put up a nice plaque about how it stole a Black family’s land and put out a proclamation condemning the act but pointedly not apologizing? What more do the millions of Black Americans legally denied their chance top own property and accumulate wealth at the same rate as their white co-citizens want? (Psst, it rhymes with “steparations,” and Oliver asked his more historically clued in viewers to keep the answer under their hats until his wrap-up.)

So, thank you for coming to my Ted Rant on why we keep having to deal with this shit.

You may view more art and the ones I’ve posted today from The Guardian‘s: “The cheek of it: artists celebrate the bottom – in pictures.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?