10,000 on ignore, Book 163: The Days of Reckoning, Part 22.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A federal grand jury has indicted four former Minneapolis police officers in connection with the death of George Floyd, alleging the officers violated Floyd's constitutional rights, according to court documents filed in federal court in Minnesota.

The indictment says Derek Chauvin -- who was convicted last month on state murder charges in the Black man's death -- deprived Floyd of the right to be free from "unreasonable seizure, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer."

Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were also charged in connection with their failure to intervene in Chauvin's use of unreasonable force, per the indictment. Chauvin, Thao, Kueng and the fourth officer, Thomas Lane, all face a charge for failing to give Floyd medical aid.

According to the indictment, "the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd.".......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Not guilty by reason of Sean Hannity: Insurrectionist's lawyer claims he suffered from 'Foxitus'
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

The gendarmes are still rounding up the Trumpaloompas who tried to steal our democracy on Jan. 6, and by now it’s clear that these Fisher Price militiamen have lost much of their revolutionary fervor after being placed under the klieg lights of the criminal justice system lo these many months.

So you get lots of weird excuses from lawyers attempting to explain why all these nice white folks went all Leeroy Jenkins on our republic earlier this year even after we’d pulled off the most secure election in our country’s history.

But this excuse takes the (beautiful piece of chocolate) cake:




Hmm, when I watch Fox News, I just get liver damage, because I can’t get through 20 minutes of Tucker Carlson without downing at least a fifth of Scotch and stabbing myself in the abdomen with the broken bottle.

But, hey, our bodies are all different, aren’t they?

Good luck, Anthony! Not sure that “Foxitus” is a real condition, but if it is you’re certainly not alone. Maybe we can start a GoFundMe for you. Or at the very least make sure your ailment is counted as a preexisting condition under Obamacare.

*Note:
I saw the “not guilty by reason of Sean Hannity” bon mot in some saucy wag’s tweet. It’s not original with me, but it was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the tweet I stole it from. If it’s you, step right up to claim your free soft pretzel and pair of Alvin Styczynski tickets.
 
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Conspiracy theory-driven Arizona audit is 'incredibly important,' Stefanik tells Bannon
Laura Clawson

Rep. Elise Stefanik’s first big interviews since announcing her challenge to Rep. Liz Cheney for a top Republican leadership role, and those interviews said everything about how Stefanik is positioning herself. First of all, she did not go on CBS or CNN or even Fox News. She went on former Trump-whisperer Steve Bannon’s podcast and talked to former Trump official Sebastian Gorka. Talk about sending up a “this is who I am” flare.

On Bannon’s podcast, Stefanik hugged Donald Trump as tight as she possibly could, saying “My vision is to run with support from the president [Trump] and his coalition of voters, which was the highest number of votes ever won by a Republican nominee.” She even described Trump—who she repeatedly called “the president”—as the “strongest supporter of any president when it comes to standing up for the Constitution.”
..........
To further show her fealty to Trump, Stefanik went in on the fake “audit” of the 2020 election being held in Arizona. While Cheney is being ejected from House Republican leadership for insisting that the 2020 election was valid and that Republicans must honor that and the results of future elections, Stefanik embraced the partisan dumpster fire that is that ongoing count aimed at undermining the actual vote in Arizona. The fauxdit is “incredibly important,” Stefanik insisted.

Discussing a procedure being carried out by a partisan firm that has gone to court to keep its methods secret and has several documented departures from the state’s elections guidelines and breakdowns in security, Stefanik said, “We want transparency and answers for the American people.”

”What are the Democrats so afraid of?” she asked. Gee, I dunno, the fact that a firm led by a Trumpist conspiracy theorist is carrying out what one elections expert called “just a fishing expedition by people who are determined to find something wrong,” in service of the months-long whines of a sore loser who has already incited a deadly insurrection that overran the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent the certification of the election?


In another strong sign of the Republican Party’s direction, the woman who is, as one of Cheney’s deputies described it, getting a “coronation” from House Republicans actually has a much less conservative voting record than the woman she is expected to replace. The Club for Growth, for instance, ranks Stefanik among the five House Republicans with the worst records by its execrable standards. But she has been unwaveringly loyal to Trump since she decided that he was her best path to advancement, and that is what matters—is all that matters—to Republicans. Given the choice between a hard-right lawmaker who is willing to criticize Trump in defense of democracy and the Constitution, or a historically more-centrist lawmaker who is all about Trump and ready to promote his Big Lie, today’s Republicans will go with the latter, no question.
 

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Just when the Arizona Republican election 'audit' couldn't get any worse, it somehow does
Hunter

The Arizona Republican "recount" of Dear Orange Leader's presidential election loss continues, and continues to be the Fyre Festival of fascist conspiracy peddling. It is the “Springtime for Hitler” of election audits. No matter how bad you think at can be, it somehow manages to be inspirationally worse.

To review, the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate ordered a bizarre private audit of the state's 2020 presidential election results after a large chunk of the Republican rank-and-file and party officials both simply refused to believe that an unpopular twice-impeached incompetent blowhard responsible for a half-million pandemic deaths could possibly be rejected by the American electorate, so there must have been "fraud" involved. The Republican senators hired an online conservative conspiracy theorist peddling those fraud theories to conduct the "audit" through his company, Cyber Ninjas, which has absolutely zero experience in any of this, and the results have been a fountain of bumbling conspiracy-premised chaos.

Some of the chaos is mere ridiculousness, and therefore funny. Some of the chaos has called into question the integrity of the ballots the conspiracy-promoting Republican volunteers are thumbing through, which is not funny because at the end of this the ballots will have been permanently spoiled, thus introducing the very "uncertainty" this conspiracy-promoting clown car of militant weirdos claim they are attempting to put to rest.

Among the not-funny fiascos introduced by the Chuck E. Cheese-inspired Cyber Ninjas Ballot Ballpit since its late-April start:

• Observers reported that the ballot auditors were using black- and blue-ink pens on the counting floor. These are banned in real recounts, because they can obviously be used to alter ballots and change votes. Organizers had to scramble to procure the customary red pens instead.
• Both ballots and computers used in the audit procedure have been left unattended at times, raising the possibility that they could have been tampered with.
• There are no fixed procedures for doing the counting. Ballots are being evaluated according to varying standards depending on which workers are doing it and when.
• Observers have warned of a possible intermingling of counted and uncounted ballots, which could result in ballots being counted multiple times or not at all.
• Cyber Ninjas claim that their methods of counting ballots are a trade secret, and thus has refused to divulge their procedures. A judge has declared that to be absolute bullshit, in the very real and legally binding sense, and ordered them to produce it.


As a result of those court battles, we now know that while the private auditing team had no apparent standards for evaluating how the ballots should actually be counted, once they got to the actual counting part, they did spend considerable time gaming out what would be done if antifa attacked the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in an attempt to ruin their counting efforts.

If we're being honest with ourselves, the vibes coming off from this thing already have a heavy aura of "somebody is going to end up in jail by the end of this, and it's not going to be antifa."

Actual non-seditionist authorities are, after two weeks of this bumbling, now paying close attention. The potentially criminal incompetence in how Arizona voters' official ballots are being handled has resulted in the Arizona secretary of state, a Democrat, penning a six-page letter asking the Senate's appointed "Audit Liaison" what they intend to do to rein in this clown show, only to be quickly rebuffed by clown management.

More ominously for the audit's backers, the Department of Justice is now warning the Arizona Senate that its audit appears to be breaking federal laws. Federal law requires ballots to be kept in control of state elections officials for 22 months after an election; delivering the ballots to a collection of private cranks may not count as keeping "control" of them. The Justice Department is also warning about Cyber Ninja's plan to contact individual voters to ask them about their ballots, which could amount to "intimidating" those voters—especially if the private company appears to target minority voters with such calls.

Given that most of the Republican-backed hoax theories as to how the election was "stolen" from Trump are specifically premised on supposed plots by Black Americans, Latino Americans or "China," the Justice Department doesn't have to go far with its speculation that Cyber Ninjas may highlight names that don’t sound white for these additional ballot checks.

Already, then, we have at least one sure outcome of this Republican-ordered, propaganda-premised audit: These Arizona ballots will never be able to be recounted again, because chain-of-custody concerns and incompetent ballot handling has resulted in ample opportunities for just the sort of crooked ballot tampering the auditors claim they themselves are looking for. Whether that is by plan or only side effect is not fully apparent. Whether any of it will turn out to be criminal is also unclear.

In any case, this truly is a ballot "audit" unlike any government-conducted election audit in modern U.S. history. In exchange for spoiling every presidential ballot in Arizona, what crack tools are being brought to bear by the hired team now "checking" the ballots for evidence of conspiracy?


• Holding them up to UV light. This is, um, never actually done in real audits, but is ostensibly being used by this team to check for fingerprints on each ballot, with some theorists speculating that all of the ballots on which such traces of bodily fluids are not readily apparent may have been mass-produced by robot and dumped into the ballot stream "somehow."
• Looking under microscopes to determine the manner in which they were folded, if they were folded. This one's a stumper, but apparently hand-folded and machine folded ballots would look different, under a microscope, enabling the crack Ninja team of "whoever we could find" to sort them into human piles and robot shenanigans piles.
• Looking for bamboo fibers in the ballots.


No, really. I am not f--king making that up.

In an interview, volunteer observer John Brakey explained that one piece of equipment is meant to take high-definition images of the ballots to test for "bamboo in the paper." This is because there is an insurrection-backing conspiracy theory that supposes "that 40,000 ballots were flown into Arizona and stuffed into the box, okay, and that it came from" Asia. Obviously, the way to test this theory is to look carefully to see if any of the ballots have "bamboo" in them. Or pandas. Or fragments of communist literature. Mostly the bamboo, though.


So after the ballots are tested for Suspicious Asian Bamboo, what tests are next? Do the auditors then test the ballots for werewolfism? Do they put each ballot under bright lights and ask the ballot a series of math questions? The Senate Republican audit of Donald Trump's election loss appears, literally, to be a carte blanche means of poking at the ballots to test any and all conspiracy theories any anonymous brickhead on the planet ever tweeted out in the past six months.

The premise of the audit, at least according to the Republican sedition-backers justifying it, is that if this collection of incompetent, inexperienced yahoos can find no bamboo fibers or robot sperm on the ballots even after a comprehensive regime of whatever, it will reinstall "confidence" in the election that they have lied about since last November. A more likely scenario might be that the Cyber Ninjas collection of Some Guys will file a report declaring that they still believe trickery was afoot, but the plot between Communist China and sexy robots was simply to complicated to unravel in the limited time available.

That argument is already being field tested. The ballot free-for-all is scheduled to end on May 14, because the Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been booked next for the Phoenix Union High School District's graduation ceremonies. Because the counting so far has been (say it with me now) an incompetent, bumbling fiasco, the conspiracy team is already trying to weasel out of that deadline by proposing that, like, what if we just move the ballots into some other room so the high schoolers can graduate, then move them back.

It will never end. Conspiracy theories by design never have an end date to them; if the conspiracy cannot be proven to exist, say its promoters, that only proves that the conspiracy is even more wide-ranging and nefarious than anyone had anticipated. They will demand another recount, and a recount to be done by some other group, and a recount of that other group's recount, and it will not end because the Republican Party has declared that the election was "fraudulent" not based on any evidence at all, but simply because they did not win. It is a fascist propaganda campaign, and one that Donald Trump and his team of deplorables openly stated they would be promoting if Trump lost the election. He did. They did. It resulted in insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol, a barrage of new voting restrictions premised on ex-presidential delusions, and an Arizona Republican move to throw the counting of ballots to the very people promoting the hoaxes.

The Arizona Senate will simply declare that the results are whatever they wanted them to be, much like William Barr announced that Robert Mueller's conclusions were whatever William Barr said they were. The propaganda is the strategy; the goal is to stoke the notion that elections not won by the Republican Party are illegitimate, and that new means must exist for throwing out those election results when Republican lawmakers don't like them. It is a fascist movement; the insurrection is still going on.

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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I never gave THESE bozos access to my ballot
Mother Mags

kern-5.png

Anthony Kern lost his Arizona legislative race in November, helped lead the state's Stop-the-Steal movement, attended the Capitol insurrection on January 6, and is now counting ballots in the Maricopa County audit.

My November 2020 ballot and those of more than two million other Maricopa County voters are stored at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which locals used to call the “Madhouse on McDowell” when the Phoenix Suns played there. The team left in 1992, but the nickname fits even better these days—so much so that the US Department of Justice just ordered Arizona Republicans to explain why this bigoted charade does not violate federal law, starting with ballot security. At the same time we learned of the DOJ letter, AZ Mirror reported on a number of security and procedure problems.


Observers with the Arizona’s Secretary of State’s Office who were granted access to the state Senate’s audit of the Maricopa County election said they witnessed concerning issues in regards to security of computers, ballots and a general lack of procedures around the process.
“What we are seeing here is outside what is normal ballot handling procedures,” Jennifer Morrell, a former elections official and partner at Elections Group, said to reporters Thursday.

These are, after all, actual citizen ballots, sacred documents in this thing we call democracy, so there’s all kinds of federal laws governing their security. But here’s our information floating around, unsafe, in an old basketball arena with Arizona Republicans, which pretty much means white supremacists, insurrectionists, and utter crackpots.

This week The Arizona Republic published a “Who’s Who” of the principal players behind and in front of the GOP’s election audit. Another article reported on the people who are recruiting auditors:

One recruiter is a retired police officer who works as an investigator for an extremist right-wing group that warns of “the growing threat of the Marxist and the Islamic movement in America.”

Take a wild guess at the kind of patriots he’s recruiting. One hired auditor, former State Rep. Anthony Kern, not only attended the DC riot and was a well-known election fraud activist, his name is on the friggin’ ballot he’s inspecting! Sure, okay, no conflicts there.

In addition to Cyber Ninjas’ Doug Logan, the biased fraudster overseeing the recount, the other players driving this “dangerous” and “precedent setting” scam, to borrow Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ words, add up to a frightening list, especially when you consider that these goobers have access to our records, and who knows WTF they’ll do with them? If nutters will push the lie about the November election, why wouldn’t they lie about any stage of the recount?

Start with our Big Lie piss ants in government—legislators who attended the insurrection; congressional screwballs like Gosar, who went back and voted to overturn the election immediately after the insurrection; and party officials like conspiracy queen and terrible person Kelli Ward. There must be fraud, they say, we need to investigate, no way Biden could win Arizona—ignoring all the polls that showed Dems with at least a 5-point lead. Republican lawmakers are joined by Stop-the-Steal, QAnon, and militia quacks, rightwing media outlets like OAN, corporate wackers like that pillow boob, and outright hucksters.

Up yours! I mailed my ballot to the Maricopa County Elections Department, as we’ve done for decades. Nowhere did I give racist clowns who wipe their ass with the Constitution the right to read, count, or otherwise examine my ballot.

By the way, Arizona GOP, you’re shitty at your job, having only processed one-tenth of the 2.1 million ballots, you’ve botched every step of this muck-off, and now you have to be out by May 14—a hard deadline, the Coliseum has other bookings. The GOP knew going into this that the company they hired, Cyber Ninjas, had zero experience, unlike other firms that bid on the project. But the CN price was lower and the Republican decision makers had to know of CEO Doug Logan’s election fraud comments, even authoring a document telling politicians how to find fraud (which he stands by), so they probably figured they were hiring someone who’d uncover something, or at least invent it.

Soon everyone knew, though, that Cyber Ninjas and the Republican Party didn’t know what they were doing—having no actual procedures in place until a judge demanded them. Then CN said, No we can’t reveal internal documents because they’re “trade secrets,” when everyone ****ing knew they couldn’t produce them because didn’t have them (reporters mentioned rules made “on the fly”). The judge was having none of their bullshit and ordered the documents, which CN finally produced.

The 200 pages don’t really disprove what election experts have said from the beginning: CN doesn’t have the time, money, personnel, experience, or plan to do what they said they’d do—a quick and fair audit. CN didn’t want anyone to know that, natch, so the media were initially kept out, nor would they disclose the dark money sources funding the audit (millions). Beyond that, given the conspiratorial membrane that links nearly everyone involved with the recount, they’ve obviously got their finger on the scale.

The whole thing’s been very unNinja, more like Flat Earthers on meth, so they’re way behind, and getting more behind because now they’re looking for bamboo in the ballots. No shit. See, election screwball Jason Pulitzer says 40,000 ballots from Asia, all for Biden, were added to the mix, because that would be an easy thing to pull off—to forge the ballots, signatures, and have all the bar codes and other identification marks match Maricopa County’s records, and then for those fake ballots to make it through the two audits that have already occurred, one a hand recount, neither finding anything. But, hey, Pulitzer said “40,000 fraud” and Asia makes paper with bamboo, so that was enough for Republicans to bring in some bamboo-sniffing machines because Pulitzer’s someone to listen to, not an absolute lunatic at all.

Soon, though, they’ll have to load up millions of ballots and tons of equipment and find a cavernous, available, and secure location (nothing found yet) to continue their electoral circle jerk, which they now say could last into summer. Arizona voters should feel secure, knowing this bigoted band of Keystone Kops is packing, trucking around, setting up, and once again examining federal election records for Asian fibers. What could go wrong?

As part of their investigation, CN says they will go door-to-door and ask people about their vote. I’m not brown or black, so they probably won’t try to intimidate me, but I really, really hope one of these peckerheads knocks on my door. Come on in, have a seat, let’s talk. Here’s a diary for ya.
 

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Gee, I wonder why Kevin McCarthy is worried about testifying...
Alonso del Arte

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is a traitor in the sense that he has betrayed the United States. But he’s not a traitor in the sense that he has committed legally provable treason.

Though maybe there’s a small chance that could change if he has testify under oath about the terrorist attack against the U. S. Capitol on January 6. Cristina Cabrera for the Talking Points Memo:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is reportedly worried about at least one thing in particular if Congress successfully put together a bipartisan commission to study the Capitol insurrection on January 6: Being forced to share under oath his allegedly explosive communications with then-... Donald Trump on that day.
CNN correspondent Jamie Gangel reported on Wednesday that McCarthy is, in her words, “very concerned” that the commission would call on him to testify on his call with Trump in which the GOP leader pleaded with the [Trump] to call off the mob of his supporters.
“[McCarthy] does not want to do that,” Gangel said.
The House Republican leader, who’s been hard at work trying to get into Trump’s good graces in the aftermath of the insurrection, refuses to discuss the details of that call, especially when asked to confirm Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s (R-WA) claim that Trump had told him “well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election then you are.”
“My conversations with the [Trump] are my conversations with the [Trump],” McCarthy told Fox News last week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) efforts to put together a bipartisan commission on the Capitol siege have stalled as Republicans, including McCarthy, insist on expanding the scope of the study to include the George Floyd protests last summer.

Of course he does: he wants to distract from how he abetted the Trump terrorists by impugning peaceful protesters.
 

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Rep. Mo Brooks has been hiding from process servers, after bragging about his role on Jan. 6
Mark Sumner

On Jan. 6, in the hours just before insurgents overran the Capitol, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks stood on the “Stop the Steal” stage and delivered a message designed to set the stakes for the already riled-up crowd.

“I’ve got a message that I need you to take to your heart and take back home and along the way, stop at the Capitol,” said Brooks. “Today, Republican senators and congressmen will either vote to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed and socialist nation on the decline, or they will join us and they will fight and vote against voter fraud and election theft and vote for keeping America great.” And in case that invitation to “stop at the Capitol” was too subtle, Brooks made his intentions absolutely clear.
......
“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Brooks. “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?” Brooks then repeatedly shouted at the crowd, “Will you fight for America?” before saying, “We, American patriots are going to come right at them!”

In March, Brooks kicked off his campaign for senator in Alabama, with the goal of filling the seat left by retiring Senator Richard Shelby. As CNN noted at the time, Brooks has placed his support for the Big Lie and that speech on Jan. 6 right at the center of his campaign. Brooks is literally running on his support for the insurgency.

But when it comes to facing a court case based on charges of incitement, Brooks is running away.

As Axios reported on March 5, Rep. Eric Swalwell filed suit in U.S. District Court citing both Brooks and Donald Trump as being "responsible for the injury and destruction" of the Jan. 6 attack. That lawsuit states that the deadly attack on the Capitol, including the attempt to kidnap and execute members of Congress, came “As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally.”

More than a month later, Swalwell says Brooks is continuing to dodge process servers and refusing to be served with the lawsuit. Others charges in the suit, including Trump, have waived service—meaning that the case can proceed to court—but Brooks remains as a lone holdout. He has neither waived service, nor acknowledged the paperwork that has been delivered to his office.


As Forbes reported earlier this week, Brooks is far from apologetic about his speech on Jan. 6. In fact, Brooks is using segments of that speech, and attempts by Democrats to censure him for his call to violence, as cornerstones of his campaign ads.

On Jan. 6, Brooks put out a brief statement that he “always condemns violence.” However, he followed this almost immediately with a tweet insisting that the cause of violence was not the people he had just told to “kick ass” and “come right at them” in an effort to save the nation. Instead, wrote Brooks, the assault was conducted by “fascist ANTIFA”—a term that may set the record for cognitive dissonance.

Brooks has continued to repeat claims that antifa was behind the attack. However, in his campaign he has also highlighted scenes of the Jan. 6 rally and stated that on that day, “I did my duty for my country.” The level of ridiculous self-contradictory elements in Brooks’ statements may seem obvious, but then he is running as the most MAGA of a number of MAGA candidates vying for Shelby’s spot. Being ridiculous is part of the job description.

As Swalwell’s attorney noted, “It seems clear that Brooks is choosing to make a political stunt out of a part of the process that essentially is a formality, which is unfortunate.” But Mo Brooks doing something just because it would draw more attention to his campaign shouldn’t be a surprise. Neither should his unwillingness to go to court and discuss how he deliberately stirred up a crowd and told them to put their lives on the line, go to the Capitol, and prevent America from becoming a “godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed and socialist nation.”

Brooks previously ran for the Senate in 2017 in the hopes of capturing the seat that once belonged to Jeff Sessions. He enjoyed the support of Trump along with Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. He came in third in the Republican primary.
 
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NY attorney general finds over 80% of anti-net neutrality 'public comments' were completely fake
Walter Einenkel


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Under Trump’s choice for chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, the Obama era net neutrality protections were done away with. The silver lining at the time was that Pai and his internet service provider (ISP) overlords were unable to take away the rights of individual states to decide whether or not they wanted to protect their own citizens. One of Pai’s first moves as chairman of the FCC was to announce this rollback and then open up the comment period to the public. Millions of comments flooded into the system and it crashed! Pai claimed that this mess was too much to handle and too hard to figure out and therefore, instead of actually trying to find out what the American public wanted out of their government, Pai would roll back net neutrality protections. It was a naked power grab.

Since that time, a pile of evidence has come out pointing to a lot of anti-net neutrality fraud being perpetrated in connection to the “cyber attack” and comment period. On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office released a report of their investigation into the 2017 FCC comment period debacle. Guess what? “The Office of the New York Attorney General (OAG) found that fake comments accounted for nearly 18 million of the more than 22 million comments the FCC received during its 2017 rulemaking.” That means that more than 80% of the comments received were fraudulent. And guess what again? Many of those fake comments came after “the country’s largest broadband companies banded together to fund a campaign to generate millions of comments for the FCC’s 2017 net neutrality rulemaking proceeding.”
.......
At the time of the comment crash, Pai offered up that maybe John Oliver’s comedy show—specifically his call to send comments to save net neutrality—had crashed the system. Pai furthered his lie and said the FCC had been under a cyber attack, but that most of the comments seemed to asking for Ajit Pai to free Americans from the restraints of net neutrality. What were those restraints? Never you mind, said Pai. And even though early evidence of telecommunication giants’ involvement in dubious shenanigans around a net neutrality repeal was evident, Pai—being a former Verizon lawyer and forever shill—threw his hands up that nothing could be done to untangle a cyber attack and serve the American people. Pai would later admit that the cyber attack was a fraud and that the comments were fraudulent, but he lied during his admission by revising history to say it was the Obama administration that presided over this fraud. The Trump years—crazy, right?

James’ report is a damning statement against the big ISPs in our country. Not only did they allegedly mine subscribers’ personal data in order to fake comments, their fraud included a multipronged fraudulent attack. According to the report, “more than half a million messages to members of Congress purportedly signed by their constituents” were sent by the broadband industry. And because the broadband industry knew it was perpetrating a fraud, they made sure to obfuscate the trail of their dirtbaggery.

The OAG’s investigation determined that the bulk of the broadband industry’s comments — nearly 80% — were expected to be collected through a type of lead generation known as co-registration. In co-registration, consumers are offered rewards — gift cards, sweepstakes entries, or an e-book of recipes, for example — for providing information about themselves and responding to a series of marketing offers. Marketing offers varied widely, and included everything from discounted children’s movies to free trials of male enhancement products, as shown in Figure 1. The broadband industry created solicitations to run alongside these marketing offers, asking consumers to join the campaign opposing net neutrality. Responses would be collected and used to generate comments. The remainder of the comments — roughly 20% — were to be generated using online ads placed on websites across the internet.
To conceal the true source of these comments, the broadband industry created webpages for the conservative-leaning advocacy groups through which visitors could submit comments to the FCC supporting repeal. Few comments were submitted through these webpages. But the pages created the impression that comments the FCC received had originated from the advocacy groups’ websites and reflected true grassroots support

The New York Attorney General’s office says that the broadband “engaged in fraud” all six times they generated leads this way. As a result, “nearly every comment and message the broadband industry submitted to the FCC and Congress was fake, signed using the names and addresses of millions of individuals without their knowledge or consent.” Protocol reports that the “AG's office reached agreements with three of the lead generation companies, Fluent, Opt-Intelligence and React2Media, which collectively agreed to pay more than $4 million in damages.” Unfortunately, James’ office did not find that the broadband industry itself had violated the laws—they just took advantage of lacking oversight.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “a three-year Government Accountability Office investigation into fake comments on regulatory proposals across the U.S. government is expected to be shared with members of Congress later this year.” James’ office found that this isn’t the first rodeo for these “lead generation companies,” and the report to Congress will likely uncover a world of fraudulent activities.

The impotence of a toothless FCC was seen during the global pandemic after Pai scrambled around to try and get various ISPs to sign onto a nonbinding pledge that they wouldn’t cut Americans and American businesses off from the internet during the pandemic for lack of payment; and that they might even lift their “unlimited” data caps so as to not gouge the millions of adults and children, using more bandwidth than ever before, as many were stuck in their homes. The good news is that the general popularity of consumer protections, and a president who isn’t entirely inside of the pocket of Sauron, means that those net neutrality protections should be coming back in the coming year.

The Biden administration has begun asking for a new round of comments on the matter from the American public. Maybe this time instead of the crass scam run by Pai and Republican operatives, a FCC interested in actually hearing what the majority of Americans want will offer to do the bidding … of the American people.
 

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Jen Psaki shows the way the White House should respond to 'many people are saying' questions
Walter Einenkel

On Friday, the White House press briefing included the conspiracy-addled jumble of thoughts from right-wing Newsmax reporter (big question mark if she can be called a reporter) Emerald Robinson. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki does charity work every briefing by allowing right-wing outlets a chance to ask what passes for “questions” about made up right-wing things at virtually every press conference. Newsmax and Fox News and other organizations overselling the word “news” in their name will frequently raise their hand and then attempt to ask what passes for gotcha journalism in the conservative blogosphere.

This means creating false narratives filled with strawman arguments and made up facts, that like the twice impeached former president are always prefaced with phrases like, “Some people are saying,” or “Lots of people are saying,” or some other such construction of a fake audience wondering about things most people are not wondering about. An example would be today, when Psaki called on Robinson, who proceeded to just babble on endlessly from one conspiracy theory to another. But Psaki isn’t a two-bit confidence shill like the previous administration’s merry-go-round clown parade cast of press secretaries, and she isn’t having any of this.
.......

Robinson begins what we will call an English sentence by saying she has loads of questions about lots of stuff (yaaaaaaaaaay?), before saying this, verbatim:

EMERALD ROBINSON: Given the number of former Obama administration officials that are now in this Biden administration, and the president’s relatively light schedule, there’s a growing perception that this is really just the third term of President Obama. What do you say to people who say that?

It’s like watching a pre-school kid trying to retell you a knock knock joke they heard during a EDM concert at an outdoor festival. Psaki matches Robinson’s question by being as serious as she can be when facing down someone starting a bullshit rumor, as we used to call it in high school by asking Robinson, “Who is saying that?” Robinson responds with, “You hear that a lot in the media,” which is interesting as no one around these here parts has heard this thing that Robinson’s media is saying.

Psaki then asks Robinson, “Who in the media?” to which Emerald Robinson, a grown adult person, literally say, “Different people.” It not only reads like a bad high school movie, it plays out like a truly terrible one. Psaki just lets Robinson try to explain herself, offering her a chance to dig her grave of ignorance and petty ambition deeper and deeper.

Robinson, unable to give the names of her imaginary three brain cells who told her stuff, attempts asking a question that implies Vice President Kamala Harris did all of the heavy lifting when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came to town. Psaki reminds Robinson that she can’t react to imaginary people who are saying imaginary things, but if Robinson ever runs into these people, she can remind them President Biden met with Prime Minister Suga, had a meal with Prime Minister Suga, held a long press conference with Prime Minister Suga. This also is not an administration where the vice president was picked because of their vapid and immoral bootlicking capabilities.

Robinson has zero at this point and attempts to say that Harris has more responsibilities than any other previous vice president. It’s “unprecedented,” in fact. Psaki smiles and says she would love to see the “data” on that, and would welcome it from Robinson, at which point Psaki might be able to answer that made up question, too.

Robinson, seeing the clock begin to tick down on her relevance, goes for the big conspiracy question: Why did Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institutes of Health help fund a virology lab in Wuhan, China, and where does Biden stand on the YouTube conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a lab leak? (By the way, the conspiracy theory is not that there’s a lab leak being covered up, it’s that this lab leak is being covered up because Fauci and others have purposefully used this pandemic to turn everybody’s children into Chinese Muslim atheists who want to enslave white people. Or something in that lane.)

Psaki reiterated the White House position that they would like a full impartial investigation into the origins of the 2019 novel coronavirus, but until there is real evidence presented, investigated, and analyzed, speculating in the fashion that people like Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson was makes an ass out of you and you. Robinson, having take up almost four minutes of time with her fact-free nonquestions, attempts to continue following up until finally Psaki semi-politely tells her, “I’m sorry, Emerald, I think you’ve had plenty of time today.”

This isn’t the first time Emerald Robinson has attempted to push the conspiracy-soaked half-meanderings of the MAGA audience she gets paid to hold wool in front of, and it likely will not be the last time. But Psaki understands that Robinson is a lightweight and seems content to just let Newsmax spin its fact-free wheels and not give any credence to their deluded world view.

Put on your tinfoil hat and enjoy!

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Study indicates that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are actually over 900,000
Mark Sumner

As of Thursday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded 576,238 official deaths due to COVID-19. WorldOMeters—which includes some reported out-of-hospital deaths that were thought to be coronavirus-related but not officially diagnosed—has the number at 594,006. Both of those numbers are horrific (and include about 400,000 deaths that researchers have deemed the totally unnecessary result of Donald Trump’s mismanagement). But both of them may turn out to be far below the real total. That’s because a new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has a new number: 905,289.

While it’s been clear for some time that numbers reported in countries like Iran, Russia, and more recently India are drastically undercounting COVID-19 deaths, it may seem impossible that over 324,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 without someone noting the massive error. But the thing is, 324,000 Americans didn’t drop all at once and all in the same place. They died one at a time, across the country. All it took was someone failing to note COVID-19 on their death certificate.

There have been hints that something like this might be the case for some time. After all, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t move to cover up data from county medical examiners because he was going to carefully label each COVID-19 deaths. Subsequent studies have indicated that the state undercounted coronavirus-related deaths by at least a third. A more recent study in Missouri shows that COVID-19 deaths were “much higher” than the official number and that “an accurate tally of coronavirus deaths may not be possible.”

These states may be more the rule than the exception, and it may take some time for everyone to realize that COVID-19 was even worse than anyone credited.

.........
From the beginning of the pandemic, Trump supporters out to downplay the danger of COVID-19 have insisted that the media was actually overreporting COVID-related deaths. They’ve insisted that the numbers often reflected people who died “while having COVID-19, but not from COVID-19.” Not only does this turn out to be untrue, the evidence is very good that many people who have died directly from COVID-19 have been overlooked.

The Missouri results, based on statistics from the state health department examined by KCUR radio, are particularly instructive. The state recorded 8,745 official deaths from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic through April 2021. However, the number of excess deaths in the state was 13,880 higher than the same period in 2019 through 2020. In December, when recorded COVID-19 deaths were at their worst, so were the number of excess deaths not attributed to COVID-19. Excess deaths at that time were 50% above the previous year.

The first thought of many might be that the state had increased deaths only tangentially related to COVID-19—heart attacks for patients afraid to visit their doctors, or excess suicides from people trapped at home. However, despite anecdotal claims, suicides decreased in 2020. And the fact that the highest rate of excess deaths in Missouri corresponded to the periods of highest reported COVID-19 deaths suggests that the link was much more direct. People in Missouri have been dying from COVID-19, and those deaths were reported at something else—the opposite of what Trump supporters have been claiming.

However, when it comes to the big number reported by IHME, the difference is not just a matter of totaling up excess deaths and comparing them to the previous year. Instead, it used total reported deaths against a model that predicted deaths accounting for “both seasonality and the secular trend in all-cause mortality.” (“Secular” here doesn’t have anything to do with religion; it’s more in the Roman sense of “over a very long period.”) In other words, they attempted to project what the pandemic period would have looked like in a normal year, taking into account issues like seasonal flu and other factors that would have happened had there not been a once in a lifetime pandemic.

IHME then ran this model against a number of countries, finding that almost all of them undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths. Some countries—like Russia, Mexico, and India—reported drastically fewer COVID-19 deaths than the model indicates. In Russia, that means underreporting by more than 80%. In India, it means that the official death rate is barely a quarter of what the model shows. Other countries, such as France, did a much better job of assigning cause of death, but still undershot the number of COVID-related deaths by 25%.

The end result of the study is that essentially all the excess deaths over the pandemic period are attributed to COVID-19. That’s because increases in some areas, like patients reluctant to seek treatment, were more than offset by decreases in deaths from things like travel and flu.

The study suggests that far from attributing too many deaths to COVID-19, almost every nation has badly underreported the truth. For the most part, this hasn’t been intentional. COVID-19 patients display a large number of symptoms, and deaths from pulmonary symptoms are only a segment of a much larger span of loss. It doesn’t take skullduggery to account for the massive undercount—though the U.S. is far from alone in having reasons why local medical examiners or state officials might be encouraged to write anything other than “COVID-19” when filling in the critical block on a death certificate.

More than a century later, researchers are still arguing about the actual number of people who died from the 1918-1919 flu epidemic. A hundred years from now, they’ll likely be having the same arguments about COVID-19.


But it is worse than we thought. And what we thought was already terrible.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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According to former DeSantis staffers, the governor is an awful person in private, too
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

In case you didn’t already know that Ron DeSantis is an awful, Hardee’s grease trap of a human being, the following eye-opening revelations about the country’s foremost COVID-19 superspreader are bound to disabuse you of any notion that he's got a soft spot—unless you’re talking about his wee cartilaginous skull.

Seems he’s not simply awful to state employees who think COVID-19 is a serious problem that needs to be honestly confronted. He’s pretty much a dick all the time. If, during his next press conference, he squeaked up to the podium in a pair of big, hairy, novelty scrotum shoes, I would not be surprised. (Pro tip: Do not Google “scrotum shoes.” It won’t end well, as I’ve only recently discovered.)
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So this guy appears to have presidential aspirations, assuming Donald Trump realizes that he’s just a cacophonous panic yam who has no business in politics or, more likely, spontaneously sluices through a sewer grate after the vaccine he took turns him into the powerful X-Men mutant Languid Goop Puddle. (I really don’t think Trump will run again. He will, however, sop up lots of money and attention, leaving mini-Trumps like DeSantis in an indefinite holding pattern.)

In Friday’s edition of Politico’s Playbook, the curtain is pulled back a bit more on the inner workings of Team DeathSantis, and what we’re treated to is an unnerving glimpse at Prince Dick himself. The news outlet spoke with “a dozen or so” former DeSantis aides and consultants who all agreed: “DeSantis treats staff like expendable widgets.”

From
Politico:

— A “support group” of former DeSantis staffers meets regularly to trade war stories about their hardship working for the governor. The turnover in his office and among his campaign advisers is well known among Republicans: In three of his five full years in Congress, he ranked in at least the 70th percentile in terms of highest turnover in a House office, according to data compiled by Legistorm. In the governor’s office, he has only two staffers who started with him when he was a junior member of Congress.
— Within six months of taking office as governor in 2019,
DeSantis fired five staffers. One was a 23-year-old scheduler who’d been with him since the beginning of his gubernatorial race. Shortly after she was sent packing, an unnamed member of DeSantis’ administration was quoted in a Florida blog trashing her performance. A month later, his deputy chief of staff left, prompting Florida reporters to press him about the rapid churn in his operation.
— Another story relayed to us by five former staffers: At the beginning of his administration, DeSantis directed the Florida Republican Party leader to fire a party official who had cancer — on that person’s first week back from surgery.

Hmm. That staffer wasn’t Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife, was it? Because that would really be a story.
Politico also notes that DeSantis frequently blames staff for his own mistakes. For instance, after DeSantis went on Fox News to beg Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for his Black Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, he and his wife allegedly “chewed out his campaign staff for not cleaning up the mess” before “DeSantis brought in a whole new group of advisers.”

Politico also reports that aides were forced to bring cupcakes to meetings just to get DeSantis to show up; so rare were his visits to his own campaign headquarters, that on the night he won the gubernatorial primary, he allegedly said, “Wow, I didn’t know this many people worked for me.”

Another former staffer was particularly blunt about DeSantis: “Loyalty and trust, that is not a currency he deals in.”

None of this is a surprise. This is the same guy who basically sneezed in the rest of the country’s face by giving the green light to out-of-state disease vectors spring breakers earlier this year. And when vaccines were still in short supply, guess who got first dibs? Oh, yes. Rich people! It’s nice to see them finally catch a break, huh?

It’s no secret that DeSantis appears to have his eye on the White House. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky aspiration, because apparently being an enormous yawning asshole is now a prerequisite for securing the GOP nomination.

But that doesn’t make it any less scary.
....
......

FL-Gov: "It's him and Casey. But everyone else is like a disposable piece of garbage."
poopdogcomedy
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden officials release ambitious plan to conserve 30% of lands and water in the United States
Marissa Higgins

On Thursday, the Biden administration released an ambitious and sweeping report, “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” breaking down its hopes to conserve 30% of land and water in the United States by 2030, as reported by Reuters. The Department of the Interior, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the Department of Agriculture and Commerce all contributed to the report.

"The President’s challenge is a call to action to support locally led conservation and restoration efforts of all kinds and all over America, wherever communities wish to safeguard the lands and waters they know and love," officials wrote in the report. Basically, this approach prioritizes local efforts and voluntary participation over a national mandate. With literal decades of work outlined, this isn’t a quick fix or an easy task, but given that the literal planet is at stake every day we don’t act in the face of the climate crisis, conservation is hugely important.
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The report identifies six areas the government should focus on in terms of what land should receive federal protection or similar investments. For example, preserving fish and wildlife habitats, supporting Tribal conservation efforts, creating more green spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities, especially in communities that have little nature as it is, creating incentives for fishers, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to voluntarily conserve lands, and investing in restoration projects. The report also describes a new tool officials hope to develop in order to track conservation progress, called the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.

“Where this path leads over the next decade will be determined not by our agencies, but by the ideas and leadership of local communities. It is our job to listen, learn, and provide support along the way to help strengthen economies and pass on healthy lands, waters, and wildlife for generations to come,” officials including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo wrote in the report.

As you likely recall, this initiative is a direct opposite of what the Trump administration tried to achieve during his years of office, as his administration sought to make more federal land available for drilling and mining.

Now, this isn’t the first time this 30% promise has come up. In fact, President Joe Biden pledged to conserve 30% of land and water in the U.S. months ago, back into 2020. Biden stressed that he wanted to protect biodiversity, work toward climate change solutions on the national level, and slow extinction rates. Biden also directed Cabinet members to come up with recommendations for carrying out this goal after his first 100 days in office.

In terms of cost, White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy explained, “I don't think that we're prepared at this point to put a total figure on this,” as reported by CNN. The report outlines actions that could span decades, and as we know, the climate change crisis is growing every day, so no matter the price tag, saving the planet—and protecting the people and animals on it—is far from something we should try to cut corners on.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....Trump’s erasure of the institutions of the pre-Trump GOP was, of course, the promise of his presidency — his anti-establishment fervor a feature of Trumpism, not a bug. Long before Trump ran for office, he publicly criticized Ronald Reagan, called Pat Buchanan a “Hitler lover,” and wrote of the Bush family in 2013 that “we need another Bush in office about as much as we need Obama to have a 3rd term.”

Even so, Trump’s feats of political engineering — his felling of family legacies that once defined the party — are remarkable. He has almost single-handedly managed to sever the Bush family line, brutalizing “low energy” Jeb Bush, then the Florida governor, in the 2016 primary and depriving the Bush dynasty of a third presidential nominee. Once in office, Trump even described himself as a “far greater” president than Reagan.

“He shits on everybody, even former presidents,” said Mark Graul, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin who oversaw George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign in the state.

Cheney, he said, just “happens to be the daughter of the [former] vice president.”....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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GOP pollster on 2022: 'Donald Trump single-handedly may cause people not to vote'
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Normally it’s a given that the party that wins the White House will lose congressional seats in subsequent midterm elections. In 2010, Democrats got clobbered after Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory. And a blue wave took hold in 2018, almost certainly in response to Donald Trump’s 2016 creepy-twins, blood-elevator Overlook Hotel red wave.

One notable exception was 1998, when Democrats actually picked up seats, presumably as a result of GOP overreach and hypocrisy.

Will 2022 be another anomaly? It could be, because this time the X factor is a defeated would-be dictator. A loser who refuses to go away, refuses to concede the election he lost, refuses to eat his vegetables, won’t stop spitting out his binky, and recently launched a new cutting-edge (for 2001) internet platform—because Facebook won’t let him fundraise, Twitter won’t let him post, and there’s still no Rosetta stone with which to decipher the shit-smears his fans left on the Capitol walls during his Jan. 6 bumble**** putsch—though I’m certain Trump’s new blog will provide fresh clues for us day after day after day. (Assuming we go there to read it, which I don’t recommend.)
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Then again, I’m a pointy-headed snowflake beta cuck with a concave chin and the testosterone count of a female vole fetus, so what do I know? Of course I’m going to fall into sweet reveries about a brighter future, where every Mr. Potato Head in the country is savagely gelded by machete-wielding intersectional feminists. But that’s just me. I’m a demographic group of one.

But Frank Luntz is a conservative pollster, and he sees some roadblocks ahead for the GOP’s fever dream of retaking the Senate and House in 2022. Or, rather, one rather large, crusty, and creamed corn-colored roadblock.

From The Hill:

Luntz noted in an interview on the New York Times podcast “Sway” released Thursday that “more than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen,” warning that a widespread and unproven belief that there was rampant fraud last November could turn Republicans off from voting in the midterm elections.

Yeah, what a ****ing shame that would be. If they’re not all dead from COVID-19, Republicans may just decide that the system is simply too corrupt to participate in. Maybe they should all burn their absentee ballot applications again.

“What Donald Trump is saying is actually telling people it's not worth it to vote. Donald Trump single-handedly may cause people not to vote. And he may be the greatest tool in the Democrats' arsenal to keep control of the House and Senate in 2022,” Luntz said.

Yeah. Say, remember when Trump wouldn’t shut up about voter fraud in advance of Georgia’s Jan. 5 runoff elections and we picked up two crucial Senate seats in a traditionally red Sun Belt state? Would be a shame if that happened again.

By the way, not all of Luntz’s prognostications are quite so reassuring. He also thinks Republicans’ ugly head will rear up again in 2024.

"If Donald Trump runs for president as a Republican, he's the odds-on favorite to win the nomination," Luntz said during an appearance on the New York Times podcast “Sway” released Thursday. "He could never win a general election, but I can't imagine losing a Republican primary. ... I would bet on him to be the nominee and I would bet on him losing to whatever Democratic nominee there was."

I like the part about his losing to the Democratic nominee, but I don’t like the part about his winning the primary, because if I have to sit through another election night with his poor man’s Boris Yeltsin face profaning my TV screen, I’ll age so quickly I’ll be circling my programs in the TV Guide before the week is out. And that’s without even mentioning the months of whining, inveigling, bullying, and baldfaced lying that would inevitably follow his second electoral beatdown (see also: the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath).

Either way, we need to redouble our efforts—as Joe Biden is doing—to buck historic trends and retain our razor-thin congressional majority in 2022. And we very well may get a big assist from the elephant in the room … who won’t ****ing leave, no matter what anyone says.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Norwegian Cruise Lines will pull ships out of Florida if required to take unvaccinated passengers
Dartagnan

In April, Republican presidential hopeful and Trump imitator Ron DeSantis made a dramatic public gesture of issuing an executive order prohibiting Florida businesses from requiring the state’s citizens to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19. In a self-laudatory speech this week, DeSantis explained that for those Floridians who choose to remain unvaccinated, “no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.” The intended effect of this EO was to affirm to DeSantis’ voter base his commitment to vaccine denialism, a necessary byproduct of the same “hoax” mentality regarding the COVID-19 virus employed by Donald Trump in his failed attempt to get reelected.

But the practical ramifications and actual legality of the order (and of the codifying legislation produced by an equally Trump-rabid Florida state legislature earlier this week) were never really explained. What if a business, for example, found that its bottom line—or worse—its very existence were threatened by being forced to provide services to unvaccinated people?

Nowhere does this unforeseen collision between an anti-science ideology and business reality come into focus quite as sharply as on a cruise ship.

As reported by Hannah Sampson for The Washington Post:

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has said it intends to require 100 percent of passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated to sail. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order in March barring businesses from requiring proof of vaccinations. He signed that order into state law on Monday.

Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio said that the company is “in talks” with the governor’s office, and believes that its requirement of full vaccination for customers on its cruise ships falls under federal, as opposed to state law, with the implicit assumption that federal law would preempt any state legislation to the contrary. Del Rio is adamant that the company will not be allowing unvaccinated passengers on its ships.

Nor should it. Cruise ships typically stop at various international ports-of call, allowing passengers to disembark and mingle with the local population. That fact alone should end the discussion right there. But in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise ships were also horrific early examples of mass spread of the virus, attaining a highly visible and highly negative perception at the outset of the pandemic. As noted by
AARP:

The industry suffered a public relations calamity when the virus exploded last February on big ships like the Diamond Princess, spurring ports to turn others away out of fear that passengers might transmit it.
Between March 1 and July 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 and 34 deaths across 123 ships.

And while it’s frankly curious that anyone would want to get aboard such a ship now, given their record of inadequate medical preparation and treatment to handle COVID-19, apparently there is a subset of the population eager to once again set sail on them, even as the pandemic continues unabated in many areas of the country.

It seems clear, however, that the cruise industry is aware it’s facing a potential extinction moment if another publicized outbreak occurs on even one of their ships. Which is why you have corporate CEO’s making statements like this:

“[A]t the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and god forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from,” (Del Rio) said. “And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida.”

It isn’t just Norwegian, either. As Sampson points out, DeSantis’ order and the Florida legislation actually undermines Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for cruise ships preparing to operate out of the U.S. as early as July of this year.

But he has sought to undermine one of the key safety measures that many cruise lines have embraced: guarantees that the thousands of fellow passengers will be inoculated. As part of their plans to start cruising again, either from the United States when permitted or from other countries, cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Virgin, Crystal and Norwegian’s brands have said they will require everyone on board or every adult on board to be fully vaccinated.

What isn’t exactly clear is why cruise ships should have any greater standing than an ordinary business concerned about protecting its customers, employees, and of course, its bottom line. Airlines, bus companies, taxis, and other modes of transportation face similar risks, at least to some degree. So do hotels, and for that matter, bars and restaurants. The list of work environments possibly subject to rapidly spreading COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated people is effectively unlimited. How long will it be before companies realize that, particularly in a state famous for catering to its elderly, it might be much better for business to have everyone vaccinated?

This is what happens when ad hoc ideology and reckless political pandering meets scientific, medical—and in this case, economic—reality. Although it may take a while to sink in, reality doesn’t care. Unlike politicians looking towards the next election, it has all the time in the world.