Finally Friday Reads: Professional Cult Member and wife of Supreme Sex Pest Speaks to the J6 CommitteePosted: September 30, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Covid-19, Ginnie Thomas, The Patriarchy, Uncle Clarence Thomas, US Midterm Elections 2022, voting rights 15 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Must be nice to be rich and powerful enough to live in your own private reality and be allowed on public streets. Ginnie Thomas stuck to her QAnon vision of life while testifying to the January 6 Committee yesterday. We don’t have much information on it, but it sounds delusional. This is from the New York Times: “Ginni Thomas Denies Discussing Election Subversion Efforts With Her Husband. In a closed-door interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Ms. Thomas reiterated her false assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald J. Trump.” I’m just wondering how many committee members were snickering during these statements. The analysis is by Luke Broadwater and Stephanie Lai.
In a statement she read at the beginning of her testimony, Ms. Thomas denied having discussed her postelection activities with her husband.
In her statement, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Thomas called it “an ironclad rule” that she and Justice Thomas never speak about cases pending before the Supreme Court. “It is laughable for anyone who knows my husband to think I could influence his jurisprudence — the man is independent and stubborn, with strong character traits of independence and integrity,” she added.
The interview ended months of negotiations between the committee and Ms. Thomas over her testimony. The committee’s investigators had grown particularly interested in her communications with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who was in close contact with Mr. Trump and wrote a memo that Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.
“At this point, we’re glad she came,” Mr. Thompson said.
After Ms. Thomas’s appearance on Thursday, her lawyer Mark Paoletta said she had been “happy to cooperate with the committee to clear up the misconceptions about her activities surrounding the 2020 elections.”
“She answered all the committee’s questions,” Mr. Paoletta said in a statement. “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas had significant concerns about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election. And, as she told the committee, her minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated. Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results. As she wrote in a text to Mark Meadows at the time, she also condemned the violence on Jan. 6, as she abhors violence on any side of the aisle.”
I still can’t forget how unhinged those texts were to Mark Meadows, who is likely in more trouble than anyone else. Still, I can’t believe she didn’t discuss this with her husband. I also think more will come from Thomas’ role in the fake electors’ scheme.
The GOP is pouring lots of money into primaries where gerrymandering and the pattern of the out-party in midterms should be helping. But is it? Nate Cohn of the New York Times argues that structurally, the Republicans have the momentum. But can this hold given the number of extremists on the ballots and the ongoing legal troubles of its defacto lead, Orange Caligula? Cohn offers this analysis: “Gerrymandering Isn’t Giving Republicans the Advantage You Might Expect. Yes, the G.O.P. has a structural edge in the House, but it isn’t anything near insurmountable for Democrats.”
Now, Mr. Biden won the national vote by 4.5 percentage points, so even a map that’s biased toward Republicans might still have more Biden districts than Trump districts. But the simple fact that Mr. Biden won the most districts is a clear enough indication that the Republican advantage in the House isn’t totally insurmountable.
To account for Mr. Biden’s victory in 2020, a somewhat better — though more complex — measure is needed: a comparison between how districts voted and how the nation as a whole voted. If Mr. Biden won a district by more than he did nationally, it might be said to be a district where Democrats have the advantage if the national vote is tied. On a perfectly fair map, half the districts would lean toward Democrats with respect to the nation, while half would vote for Mr. Trump or vote for Mr. Biden by less than 4.5 points. And on this perfectly fair map, the district right in the middle — the median district — would have voted for Mr. Biden by 4.5 points, just like the nation.
Phillip Bump has one explanation: “A new reminder that candidate quality matters.” This opinion is in the Washington Post. The Trumpiest candidates are winning many Republican Primaries and are a way to the right and as delusional as Ginnie Thomas.
What’s apparent at this point, just over a month before voting ends in the 2022 midterm elections, is that nearly any national outcome is possible. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the state of play figures there’s about a 3 in 10 chance that Republicans win the House and Senate, about a 3 in 10 chance that the Democrats win both, and about a 4 in 10 chance that the parties split the two (Democrats, Senate; Republicans, House).
For all of the elevation of the importance of these elections, the field appears to remain fairly even. Or, perhaps, it’s because of the elevation of importance that it does. There are two reasons that a tug-of-war rope remains over the center point: No one is pulling at all, or both sides are pulling very hard.
This big-picture perspective, though, blurs the fact that overall patterns are dependent on individual races. And a spate of new polls conducted for Fox News by its bipartisan polling team shows, in essence, the importance of picking viable candidates in the first place.
The new polls evaluate the state of play in four states that are electing both governors and senators this year: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The widest overall margin is in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, where Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) leads state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) by 11 points. The closest race is in Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers (D) earns the same level of support as his challenger, businessman Tim Michels (R). Generally, the picture is consistent: These races are too close to be able to identify a clear leader.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a bump in GOP Fundraising, from GOP Billionaires. This is from CNBC: “GOP billionaire donors direct cash to Senate leaders as Trump candidates lag Dems in fundraising.”
Republican megadonors want the GOP to take back the Senate, but they don’t have confidence that some of former President Donald Trump’s top picks can catapult their party to a victory in November.
Billionaire financiers Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Larry Ellison have so far avoided donating directly to some or all of Trump’s staunchest allies running for Senate in the midterms: J.D. Vance in Ohio, Blake Masters in Arizona, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, according to Federal Election Commission records and people familiar with the billionaires’ donations.
All of those candidates have been endorsed by Trump. And many of them have previously sided with the former president on the false claims that the 2020 presidential election had widespread voter fraud — an accusation that’s been debunked by Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, federal courts and several other top Republicans who served in Trump’s administration.
One GOP fundraiser said, “They would be lighting their money on fire if they got totally swayed by these candidates.” That strategist is advising clients to, instead, give to the super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — the Senate Leadership Fund — because “they have the best polls and they won’t sink money into races they know they can’t win.” The super PAC is run by Steven Law, McConnell’s former chief of staff.
Ad tracker AdImpact last week said that the Senate Leadership Fund has canceled the rest of its TV bookings in Arizona, a state where the campaign poll tracking website FiveThirtyEight shows Masters trailing Kelly by more than seven percentage points.
We have to take care of this campaign finance issue to maintain democracy. It is just one of the Republican’s fuckery with democracy. Citizens United may prove one of the biggest hurdles to full inclusion in our democracy plus all the voting rights shenanigans by the Courts has been even worse. We have Justice Roberts to thank for a lot of that.
And, of course, while the rest of us are losing access to voting and bodily autonomy, let’s pity the poor little boys. If you want one of David Brooks’ most whiny pieces yet, try this one: “The Crisis of Men and Boys” at the New York Times, of course.
Richard V. Reeves’s new book, “Of Boys and Men,” is a landmark, one of the most important books of the year, not only because it is a comprehensive look at the male crisis, but also because it searches for the roots of that crisis and offers solutions.
I learned a lot I didn’t know. First, boys are much more hindered by challenging environments than girls. Girls in poor neighborhoods and unstable families may be able to climb their way out. Boys are less likely to do so. In Canada, boys born into the poorest households are twice as likely to remain poor as their female counterparts. In American schools, boys’ academic performance is more influenced by family background than girls’ performance. Boys raised by single parents have lower rates of college enrollment than girls raised by single parents.
Second, policies and programs designed to promote social mobility often work for women, but not men. Reeves, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, visited Kalamazoo, Mich., where, thanks to a donor, high school graduates get to go to many colleges in the state free. The program increased the number of women getting college degrees by 45 percent. The men’s graduation rates remained flat. Reeves lists a whole series of programs, from early childhood education to college support efforts, that produced impressive gains for women, but did not boost men.
Reeves has a series of policy proposals to address the crisis, the most controversial of which is redshirting boys — have them begin their schooling a year later than girls, because on average the prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum, which are involved in self-regulation, mature much earlier in girls than in boys.
There are many reasons men are struggling — for example, the decline in manufacturing jobs that put a high value on physical strength, and the rise of service sector jobs. But I was struck by the theme of demoralization that wafts through the book. Reeves talked to men in Kalamazoo about why women were leaping ahead. The men said that women are just more motivated, work harder, plan ahead better. Yet this is not a matter of individual responsibility. There is something in modern culture that is producing an aspiration gap.
I really didn’t want to include this but I think it’s important to understand just how entitled men are in this country. My experience in school was that the boys didn’t have to do much of anything but just show up. Maybe someone needs to tell them that participation trophies don’t count when you’ve got a lot of women and minorities motivated to succeed without them.
I thought I’d end with this Ed Yong article at The Atlantic about the legacy of the Covid -19 Pandemic. “All of this will happen again.”
American leaders and pundits have been trying to call an end to the pandemic since its beginning, only to be faced with new surges or variants. This mindset not only compromises the nation’s ability to manage COVID, but also leaves it vulnerable to other outbreaks. Future pandemics aren’t hypothetical; they’re inevitable and imminent. New infectious diseases have regularly emerged throughout recent decades, and climate change is quickening the pace of such events. As rising temperatures force animals to relocate, species that have never coexisted will meet, allowing the viruses within them to find new hosts—humans included. Dealing with all of this again is a matter of when, not if.
In 2018, I wrote an article in The Atlantic warning that the U.S. was not prepared for a pandemic. That diagnosis remains unchanged; if anything, I was too optimistic. America was ranked as the world’s most prepared country in 2019—and, bafflingly, again in 2021—but accounts for 16 percent of global COVID deaths despite having just 4 percent of the global population. It spends more on medical care than any other wealthy country, but its hospitals were nonetheless overwhelmed. It helped create vaccines in record time, but is 67th in the world in full vaccinations. (This trend cannot solely be attributed to political division; even the most heavily vaccinated blue state—Rhode Island—still lags behind 21 nations.) America experienced the largest life-expectancy decline of any wealthy country in 2020 and, unlike its peers, continued declining in 2021. If it had fared as well as just the average peer nation, 1.1 million people who died last year—a third of all American deaths—would still be alive.
America’s superlatively poor performance cannot solely be blamed on either the Trump or Biden administrations, although both have made egregious errors. Rather, the new coronavirus exploited the country’s many failing systems: its overstuffed prisons and understaffed nursing homes; its chronically underfunded public-health system; its reliance on convoluted supply chains and a just-in-time economy; its for-profit health-care system, whose workers were already burned out; its decades-long project of unweaving social safety nets; and its legacy of racism and segregation that had already left Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color disproportionately burdened with health problems. Even in the pre-COVID years, the U.S. was still losing about 626,000 people more than expected for a nation of its size and resources. COVID simply toppled an edifice whose foundations were already rotten.
This, along with the Hurricane Ian experience reminded me that we’re not particularly forward-looking people anymore. I was happy to see Space Dart take out an astroid’s moon. However, it seems to me that were more likely to be taken down by our own hubris. Why do folks ignore climate change and still fall for developers’ promises of paradise on the beaches of Florida? We should be looking for the next big virus while learning lessons to plan for the next. We hurl from one emergency to the next without thinking about what in our system fails us? Even Democracy is failing us in significant ways. I no longer look to the Supreme Court to save us from ourselves. They now represent the worst of our political system.
Getting Donald Trump off the Public stage is vital but the preparations for the next big trouble start with revitalizing our democratic institutions and shoring them up. Also, getting the damn money out of politics would help too. Anyway, sorry to be Debbie Downer today. Maybe I’m just more somber today because the heat of summer has broken. Also, I had my first training class in community organizing yesterday. I’m sitting here relationship mapping who I’m going to nag into to voting. So, I started with my beloved community here. Drag your ass and everyone you know to the polls! I got granddaughters now!
This election is important. Please, get everyone you know to vote blue. A lot is at stake.
What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
Mostly Monday Reads: A Fascist Returns to Power in Italy and the Return of the January 6th CommitteePosted: September 26, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes, DOJ Investigation January 6, House January 6 Committee, Italian Elections, US Midterm Elections 2022 20 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I’ve been trying to get a handle on today’s headlines, and wow, there’s chaos afoot in the world and our country. The New York Times has this for a headline: “U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons.” That’s nothing I thought I’d see again since the Cold War was over.
Then, Italy’s voters elected one of those bleach-blonde fascists we see so much these days on Fox News and Republican Conventions. For Eyes on the Right, Damon Linker analyzes the election results for us: ” What just happened in Italy? Much the same as what’s happened in France, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and the U.S.”
What happened in yesterday’s election in Italy?
At the purely factual level, a coalition of right-wing and center-right parties won big in an election trigged by the collapse of a government led by the center-left Mario Draghi.
Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) was the biggest vote winner. The Fratelli were founded in 2012 as a successor to the post-fascist MSI (Italian Social Movement), which was itself founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, who served as a minister under Mussolini. The other major members of the coalition are Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A fourth party called Noi Moderati (really a coalition of small, centrist parties) is also expected to join a right-leaning government. At the time of this writing, with about half of the votes counted, it looks like the right will take something in the range of 60 percent of the seats in both the lower and upper houses of the legislature while winning a slightly smaller share of the vote than polls had predicted. (With Salvini’s Lega, especially, under-performing.)
The reality is somewhat less ominous than one might conclude from hearing we’re living through “the return of fascism in Italy.” The incoming government is certainly Italy’s most right-wing since World War II. But it’s also the case that the members of the victorious coalition have much more in common with other right-leaning politicians and parties around the contemporary world than they do with the politics of the 1930s.
I’m not confident that reassures me especially given the Italian voter turnout. This is from The New York Times: “Giorgia Meloni’s Hard-Right Party Leads in Italy’s Voting. Early results suggest that she could be Italy’s next prime minister, the first woman to hold the position and the first with post-Fascist roots. It will still be weeks before a new government is formed.” One-third of Italian voters sat out the election.
She grew up with a single mother in a working-class area of Rome, and being a woman, and mother, has been central to her political identity.
Being a woman has also distinguished her, and marked a major shift, from her coalition partners, especially Mr. Berlusconi, the subject of endless sex scandals.
But Ms. Meloni, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Salvini share a hard-right vision for the country. Ms. Meloni has called for a naval blockade against migrants and spread fears about a “great replacement” of native Italians. The three share populist proposals for deep tax cuts that economists fear would inflate Italy’s already enormous debt, and a traditionalist view of the family.
Despite the constraints of an Italian Constitution that is explicitly anti-Fascist and designed to stymie the rise of another Mussolini, many liberals are now worried that the right-wing coalition will erode the country’s norms. There was concern that if the coalition were to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, it would have the ability to change the Constitution to increase government powers.
On Thursday, during one of Ms. Meloni’s final rallies before the election, she exclaimed that “if the Italians give us the numbers to do it, we will.”
But the coalition, while winning 44 percent of the vote and a majority in Parliament, appeared not to hit that mark.
There seems to be a growing voter backlash against what the Trump Regime SCOTUS appointments have done to Abortion Rights. Let’s hope we have a massive turnout for our elections in November.
Politico writer Steven Shepard reports, “Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022. Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again.”
Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.
Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.
Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.
It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Whether they’re public firms conducting surveys for the media and academic instructions or private campaign consultants, they have spent the past two years tweaking their methods to avoid a 2020 repeat.
But most of the changes they have made are small. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him. But others worry that Trump’s ongoing dominance of the news cycle — from the FBI seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to litigation against his businesses in New York — effectively is making him the central political figure going into Election Day.
“There’s no question that the polling errors in 16 and 20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”
Let’s hope people just turn out to say no to Trumpism.
The upcoming January 6 Committee public hearing is being overshadowed by a book and the release of information by former senior technical adviser Denver Riggleman. Riggleman looks a bit too opportunistic for me to fully trust his rationale for doing this. This is an interview with him via CBS’ 60 minutes.
Bill Whitaker: Wait a minute: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?
Denver Riggleman: On January 6th, absolutely.
Bill Whitaker: And you know who both ends of that call?
Denver Riggleman: I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.
As senior technical adviser for the January 6th committee, Denver Riggleman, a former House Republican and ex- military intelligence officer, ran a data-driven operation pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol.
Denver Riggleman: From my perspective, you know, being in counterterrorism, you know, if the White House, even if it’s a short call, and it’s a connected call, who is actually making that phone call?
CNN has identified the rioter and has more information on the Rigglemen story. Many texts from Mark Meadows “reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines.” Will this be part of the next public hearing?
As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN.
Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.
In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia.
Mark Meadows should be in some deep doo-doo over this, to use a Poppy Bushism. This analysis of the Riggleman interview comes from The Hill‘s Brad Dress. “Riggleman says Mark Meadows text messages reveal ‘roadmap to an attempted coup.’”
“The Meadows text messages show you an administration that was completely eaten up with a digital virus called QAnon conspiracy theories,” the former GOP lawmaker said. “You can look at text messages as a roadmap, but it’s also a look into the psyche of the Republican Party today.”
Before he stepped down in April, Riggleman and his team combed through phone records, emails, social media posts and text messages on behalf of the House committee.
That included 2,000 messages connected to Meadows, which Riggleman called “a roadmap to an attempted coup … of the United States.”
In those messages, Riggleman said his team traced the phone numbers of previously unidentified contacts to members of Congress and Trump allies including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who pushed to overturn the 2020 election.
Riggleman said what “shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife’s efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement.”
And, there’s this already.
This is from the Tweet posted above. “If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes. ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’”
The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending. The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has hinted at a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department, both in hearings last month and in interviews during the course of the investigation, by highlighting two potential crimes: interfering with an official proceeding and defrauding the United States. A brief the committee filed in a legal dispute with Trump attorney John Eastman, who hatched the fake-electors scheme in the multipronged effort to overturn the election, also highlights these two offenses. Cheney has further suggested that the committee may include a referral on witness tampering, based on contact Trump had with those called to testify before the panel.
The committee may be tempted to stake out a moderate position regarding criminal charges in a misguided effort to garner public support and make the unprecedented prosecution of a former president more palatable, but the Justice Department must act independently in deciding what, or whether, to charge. To be sure, the DOJ should consider any evidence of criminality uncovered by the committee, but it should give no weight to the committee’s opinion in reaching its determination.
Restricting a federal prosecution to two rather obscure-sounding charges — and a possible third relating to the integrity of the process — would not only downplay the seriousness of Trump’s offenses but could also exacerbate the view that any such prosecution is politically motivated. After the Mar-a-Lago search, that perception took hold among Trump supporters, who accuse the FBI of acting on a technicality involving federal records, even though the bureau had a search warrant signed by a federal judge and based on a showing of probable cause that a crime had been committed. Violating the Presidential Records Act by removing or destroying government documents is not in itself in the same league as insurrection or seditious conspiracy; if, however, the records in question pertain to serious national security breaches — The Washington Post has reported that some of the documents relate to nuclear weapons — that might be a different matter.
You may continue reading that at the WAPO link.
So, I think I’m confused, dazed, and befuddled enough today trying to think all this through. What do you think?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?