More to ignore, Book 21....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Michigan woman arrested with a truck full of guns outside of U.S. Capitol Police Building
Aysha Qamar

A woman was arrested Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol headquarters after multiple firearms including a loaded shotgun were found in her truck. But the woman was allegedly not there to cause any violence, she just “wanted to talk” police said, according to The Washington Post. The headquarters is a little more than a half-mile from the U.S. Capitol.

Identified as Kery Lynn McAttee, the 58-year-old Michigan woman told Capitol Police she drove from Michigan because she had information regarding the Jan. 6 riot she wanted to discuss. The woman had parked her 2001 Chevrolet Silverado in a no-parking zone in front of the department headquarters to talk to officers. That’s when an officer noticed a firearm in her vehicle.
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“During that conversation, one of our Agents spotted a gun case and the butt of a long gun in the Silverado,” the department said in a press release Thursday. “McAttee confirmed there were firearms in her vehicle.”

According to police, she had an unloaded .22 caliber rifle, an unloaded .50 caliber muzzleloader, a loaded .410 caliber shotgun, and a pellet gun.



"At this time, there is no evidence the 58-year-old suspect was coming here to do anything, except speak with our officers," police said in the press release. "We cannot provide the details of that conversation because they are now part of an open investigation.”

U.S. Capitol Police confirmed Thursday that McAttee has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of unregistered ammunition, unlawful possession and/or transportation of a semi-automatic rifle, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

At this time it is not clear if she has an attorney.

The incident comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the horrific attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol. Last year in August another suspect was arrested in the area after he was suspected of initiating a bomb threat, The Independent reported.

Had McAttee been a person of color I am sure the situation would be completely different. No one who just wants to “talk” shows up to the Capitol fully armed that too with more than one firearm.

Until further information is released what exactly McAttee’s intentions were will remain unclear. Who knows maybe police officials are limiting the spread of information in order to handle the situation and not increase fear already present.


Why do you think she showed up at Capitol Police headquarters?
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GrumpyOldGeek
Jan 13, 2022 at 05:44:15 PM

From the WaPo article:

McAttee’s 33-year-old son, Gregory M. McAttee, said his mother has suffered from mental illness and thought people who attacked the Capitol had also been harassing her.
He said he did not know she had come to the District and had been arrested. Gregory McAttee said his mother hunted with the muzzle loader.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Scientists and medical professionals have Dr. Fauci's back amid attacks from Republicans
Marissa Higgins

As Daily Kos covered on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who serves as a top medical adviser for the White House and heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had to defend himself against yet another attack from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Paul who, as we know, loves to espouse anti-vaccine, anti-science hysteria and has made himself a nice little grift getting campaign reelection donations by floating the idea of firing Fauci. As Fauci himself pointed out during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing about ongoing COVID-19 response, the outrageous anger against him is not only unwarranted and unfair ethically, but it’s legitimately dangerous: Fauci shared that he and his family have received threats and harassment, and someone was arrested en route to Washington, D.C., last month to allegedly kill Fauci.

If conservatives don’t want to have Fauci’s back, that’s clearly a problem in itself. People who do have his back, however, include a number of legitimate scientists and medical professionals, including the dozens who signed on to a letter defending Fauci after Paul’s latest line of attack, as reported by Politico.
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Folks who signed the letter include three Nobel laureates, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (a Republican from Tennessee), as well as former university presidents, physicians, academics, and scientists. The letter stresses that those who signed on “deplore” the “personal attacks” against Fauci, and describe the criticism as “inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded in the facts” and “motivated by partisan politics.” Attacks against Fauci serve as a “distraction from what should be the national focus — working together to finally overcome a pandemic that is killing about 500,000 people a year."

The letter characterizes Fauci as someone who has given advice regarding the pandemic with “humility” and has been clear about what is actually known for certain, and what isn’t. The group describes Fauci’s advice as “well informed” given ongoing research and “rapidly evolving circumstances.”

The letter highlights that Fauci has served the U.S. well and continues to have “unreserved respect and trust” from the scientific community.

"Scientists can and do express dissenting viewpoints,” the group wrote in part. “But a right to an opinion does not mean the opinion is right. We are grateful that Dr. Fauci has consistently stated the science in a way that represents the facts as they emerge, without unwarranted speculation."

That’s a really polite way of saying what we’re all thinking—Republicans can have their opinions, sure. But “kindling the crazies,” as Fauci himself put it, is legitimately irresponsible, dangerous, and unethical, no matter where you stand politically.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wisconsin lawmaker says mitigating COVID-19 is impossible—for the most ridiculous reason yet
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

ScreenShot2022-01-13at11.15.37AM.png


You know, I’m starting to agree with the MAGA crowd about masks. I don’t really need one, because I’ve been face-palming pretty much nonstop since 2017. That’s gotta filter out most coronavirus, right? As for the vaccine—I got all my shots. But, sadly, there’s no immunity—artificial or otherwise—against the goofball gormlessness of the Republican Party.

Yes, the party that rallied over the sacred right of Christian bakers to keep their bigotry alive and well is now poised to tell the state’s thousands of other business owners that they have no right to extend that same courtesy to their employees and customers. Because the baby Jesus cries whenever a gay couple carbo-loads on wedding cake, but the sound of thousands of unvaxxed fools gasping for air like beached carp is as soothing as an Irish lullaby.


The cheese-besotted chodes in the Wisconsin Republican Party are currently floating a bill that would ban state businesses from requiring their customers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Because, you know, they’re so pro-life.
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If these shambolic future corpses can’t get their giant muffin at Perkins without proving they’re not billowing viral flesh-bags, why the **** did we even bother to invade Iraq to protect our freedoms?

But why even worry about the virus? After all, it’s invisible! Here’s state Rep. Treig Pronschinske (in Wisconsin, that name is roughly as popular as “John Smith”) arguing that there’s no point in trying to stop the virus because, well, you can’t see it. And yet somehow the GOP’s invisible god is going to protect them from the grisliest possible outcomes.




Oh, dear God, take me now. But don’t smite me with COVID-19. I don’t want to be in the same waiting room as these pestilent pricks.

Granted, the omicron variant has changed the game somewhat as breakthrough infections are on the rise, even among the boosted. But that doesn’t mean the vaccinated have the same chance of catching and spreading omicron as the unvaxxed. They don’t. Also, maybe some business owners want to be real Christians by encouraging their customers to take lifesaving measures against a deadly pathogen. Seems like a worthier endeavor than trying to turn gay people straight by denying them pastries. But that’s just me. What do I know?


Of course, Pronschinske doesn’t see it that way. To him, the current moment evokes the brutal struggles of the civil rights era, when Black people were discriminated against for being Black—not, to be clear, because they didn’t feel like taking an extra trip to Walgreens.

WKOW-TV, Madison, Wisconsin:

Rep. Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi), a co-sponsor of the measure, said the bill was an effort to protect individual freedom. He said he was sympathetic to concerns the bills infringe on the rights of business owners but argued such policies could cut off people from vital services.
"That's a concern, looking at that side of businesses being able to make a choice," Pronschinske said. "But when we look at grocery stores or medical facilities, these are essential things that people need to, you know, go into and it would be horrible if, say, all grocery stores would say you have to be vaccinated."

Would it be horrible, though? Is it any more horrible than telling people with syphilis to stay out of the red-light district until their antibiotic regimen is completed?

Also, I’ve been around long enough to remember when conservatives were just a wee bit more concerned about communicable diseases—even ones they had very little chance of catching.

Homophobia was far more likely to infect them.



Hmm, seems they’re not being entirely consistent when it comes to their virus fears. Go figure.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Texas salon owner who gave Ted Cruz horrible haircut targets Chinese students in racist tweets
Aysha Qamar

NewsPhotos1.jpg


The Texas hair salon owner who made national headlines in May 2020 for refusing to close her business amid COVID-19 lockdowns has made the spotlight again. This time it’s not for the awful haircut she gave Ted Cruz, but for her racist commentary.

“Chinese students should be BANNED from attending all Texas universities,” Shelley Luther said on Twitter last week, NBC News reported. “No more Communists!” While her tweets have since then been deleted, of course, social media users screenshot them prior. But that’s not all: After deleting the comments, Luther chose a different approach, again targeting Asians. This time, she said state taxpayers “should not be subsidizing the next generation of CCP leaders.” She added that it’s “common sense” that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members “should not have access to our schools.”
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Luther, who gained popularity as an anti-lockdown advocate, is currently running for a House seat against Rep. Reggie Smith. She previously ran for Texas Senate and lost.



While she has received almost no backlash from Republican leaders for her comment, at least one member of the GOP who identifies as Asian American, alongside Democrats across the country, has condemned her comments.

Rep. Jacey Jetton tweeted Sunday that the GOP “should stand against canceling Chinese Students on college campuses.” Despite this request coming from a Republican, no one from the GOP acted upon it or seemed to comment on the issue.

Jetton also called Luther’s comments an “attempt to score cheap political points,” noting that she doesn’t “speak for Republicans or Texans like me.”

To make matters worse, when State Rep. Gene Wu, a Chinese American Democrat from Houston, condemned Luther’s comments and requested she publicly apologize, Luther refused.

Wu said in a statement released Friday:

“My parents came here as Chinese students. My wife’s parents came here as Chinese students. Thousands upon thousands of proud Texans originally came here as Chinese students. Like my family, these Texans also chose to use their talents and acquired knowledge here instead of returning to their home countries. In my family alone, these former Chinese students have become nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and physicists. Unquestionably, ‘Chinese students’ have made Texas and this nation a better place through their hard work and perseverance.”
“To casually conflate all Chinese students in America with actual registered members of the ruling party in the People’s Republic of China is not only ignorance of an extreme nature, it is also the type of rhetoric that drives anti-Asian hate crimes. Luther’s racist statement not only paints a target on the backs of Chinese nationals studying in America, but it labels and targets anyone who looks or sounds vaguely Asian as a potential enemy.”

In response to calls for her to apologize, Luther defended her comments. Unlike other Republicans, she didn’t even bother issuing a nonapology.

“It doesn’t surprise me that a socialist Democrat who doesn’t even know how to show up to work thinks the position that communist Chinese citizens should not access taxpayer-funded state institutions is racist,” Luther said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

She did later try to backtrack though, a typical move made by racists, in which she claimed she had not seen Wu’s statement. Obviously, that doesn’t make sense since she first directly replied to it.

Luther also attempted to explain that her comment was not referring to Asians living in the U.S. but instead “people that live outside the United States”—like that clarification makes things any better.

“I’m saying people from China right now, communist China, should not be getting free scholarships and money to attend Texas schools. Absolutely,” she said, according to the Star Telegram. “But it’s obviously not Chinese-Americans and not people that were born here.”

Referring to comments that she is a racist, Luther said:

“As far as anyone thinking that I’m racist, I’m a Spanish teacher of 13 years and in my salon when I opened it, I was the sole white person that worked in there out of 19. So, me being called a racist is ridiculous … I do not agree with communist thinking, and I do not want our state to be run, or I do not want our state to be influenced by any communism.”

Luther’s comments come as Asian Americans across the country battle another pandemic, racism. Crimes against the AAPI community continue to rise nationwide with data indicating the highest rise in crimes against the community in decades.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of organizations dedicated to addressing anti-Asian discrimination, at least 10,370 incidents of anti-Asian bias were reported from Mar. 19, 2020, to Sep. 30, 2021. This data confirms a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Last month, data by the FBI found that hate crime reports rose by 76% in 2020, Daily Kos reported.

Wu not only issued a statement condemning Luther’s comments, but also created a thread Monday featuring the achievements of Chinese Americans. “America is a better place because young people can come here and study,” he said. “The entire world is better when America educates their young.” In the thread, he included renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Olympian Michelle Kwan, and others.

In the comments, shout out an Asian American community member who has made a difference to you!
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Equity meeting goes left when white school board member makes racist remarks about Black teachers
Rebekah Sager

A first-year Houston-area school board member is backpedaling bigly after comments he made at a meeting Monday insinuating that the more Black teachers a school district has, the worse student outcomes and dropout rates are. Way to support Black educators—or any teachers for that matter—when retaining them is at an all-time low.

Scott Henry, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD school board member, made his racist comments during a session on equity, of all things. The board was meeting to review a report commissioned by the district to evaluate equity and diversity among teachers and administrators.

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Henry, a sales engineering manager at the data insight company Splunk, called the audit "a pile of rubbish" and challenged the integrity of the report. "I'm a big data guy. I know data," Henry proclaimed. "Data can be skewed any way you want to. It looks like the way [MLC] skewed this data … It makes it look like they cherry-picked this data very poorly."
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Then Henry questioned the need for increasing the number of Black teachers in the district, appearing to imply that more Black teachers would equal higher dropout rates.
"Cy-Fair has, what, 13% Black teachers?" Henry asked. “Do you know what the statewide average for Black teachers is? 10%. I looked it up. Houston ISD, which y’all used as a shining example, you know what their average number of percentages for Black teachers is? 36%. I looked that up,” Henry said.

“You know what their dropout rate is? 4%. I don’t want to be 4%. I don’t want to be HISD. I want to be a shining example, I want to be the district standard. I want to be the premium place where people go to be,” Henry said. “And quite frankly, we have a limited budget, with limited resources and we have a great place, and let’s don’t mess it up for everyone else.”
Henry’s remarks have outraged the community. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and State Rep. Jon Rosenthal are now calling for him to resign.

"Beyond unacceptable. I've not personally met any of the new @CyFairISD Trustees, but this man's blatant racism is cause for immediate dismissal as far as I'm concerned," Rosenthal said in a tweet.



"Divisiveness and racism are what’s hurting our students. Not diversity. Resign," tweeted Hidalgo.



Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also feels that Henry should step down.

“I was deeply saddened and offended to hear the comments made by @CyFairISD School District Board Member Scott Henry. His comments are unacceptable, and I recommend that he resign immediately,” Turner tweeted. “Suggesting that having more Black teachers in a school district can create an increase in the dropout rate or a decline in classroom achievement is despicable. The rich diversity that resides in our city and region unites us more than ever. We should not tolerate those who seek to divide, but rather work with everyone to ensure equal opportunities of educational access for all.”




In an effort to save himself, Henry claimed his “words are getting twisted” for political gain.

"I was defending our school district against attacks from an out-of-state political organization that claimed our schools were failing our students because we did not one pre-determined diversity metric," wrote Henry. "This political organization claimed that one metric - the percent of black teachers in our schools - determined the quality of education our students receive. I was simply refuting that by pointing out the fact there is no one metric that determines education quality - there are a number of important metrics that should also be taken into account."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Henry, along with fellow board members Natalie Blasingame and Lucas Scanlon, were all elected in the fall of 2021 and all received endorsement from the Harris County Republican Party in the wake of Texas’ laws forbidding the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools—which is bullshit, because it has never been taught in K-12 classrooms. Ever.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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COWARDS! Republican Party to Require Their 2024 Presidential Candidate (Trump) to Boycott Debates
News Corpse

With the 2024 presidential election still nearly three years away, the Republican Party is already showing signs that they are afraid of engaging in a free and open discourse with their Democratic opponent. Never mind that they have spent two years maligning President Biden as "sleepy" and mentally unfit, it is the GOP that appears to be concerned about their own candidate's ability to face off in an open forum.

The fear exhibited by the Republican Party is well warranted considering that their leading candidate is Donald Trump. For the past year Trump has been obsessively fixated on his having suffered a humiliating loss to Biden in 2020. It's the only thing he talks about, despite having failed for more than a year - and sixty court cases - to provide a shred of evidence of his claims that the election was "rigged." It is what fueled his deadly January 6th insurrection. And he is still twisting reality to insist that the “real insurrection” was on Election Day, November 3rd, 2020.

Consequently, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has announced that they intend to prohibit their Party's candidate in 2024 from participating in the presidential debates that have been hosted for three decades by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The RNC sent a letter to the Commission stating that...

"[T]he RNC will initiate the process of amending the Rules of the Republican Party at our upcoming Winter Meeting to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in CPD-sponsored debates."

Make no mistake about it. This is not a quarrel over some rationally disputed format differences. The RNC's "reforms" are all driven by complaints that crybaby Trump made in 2020 due to his cognitive inadequacies and inability to engage in a substantive dialogue. He proved that during the debates when he couldn't refrain from interrupting and had to be told by Biden to "Shut up, man."

The Republican National Committee is obviously scared, so they're issuing ludicrous ultimatums if they don't get their way. But the RNC's proposals are intrusive and one-sided. They would impose on the neutrality of the Commission by impacting the composition of its members, dictating the dates of the debates, intervening in the selection of debate moderators, and enacting punishments for violations of the terms that that the RNC is insisting on.

Clearly the RNC is doing this on Trump's behalf. No other candidate has objected to the CPD's rules or fairness for thirty years. But the RNC is worried that without these reforms Trump would likely embarrass himself again, and he and the RNC know that. He has demonstrated that he cannot face any encounter that isn't rigged to his advantage. It's why he won't submit to any interviews that aren't conducted by his pals at Fox News or other similarly servile sycophants. He is mortally afraid of being challenged.

Trump recently canceled a phony "news" conference that he planned to hold on the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection. He also chickened out of his own challenge to debate any takers on his bogus claims about the 2020 election. And now he is directing his Republican Party apparatchiks to protect him from having to engage in an open and fair debate. It's the coward's way and, therefore, Trump's way.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans say they'll bar their candidates from the presidential debates (because Trump)
Hunter

Donald Trump and his far-right, anti-democracy allies have long since purged the Republican National Committee of anyone not willing to jump to attention no matter how ridiculous Dear Leader's demands might get, so this is hardly a surprise: The committee is now signaling that their candidate won't be participating in any presidential debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit group tasked with organizing and hosting them. They're bowing out.

That's the Republican National Committee (RNC) message in a letter to the commission obtained by The New York Times. Specifically, the RNC intends to make their presidential candidates sign a "pledge" to not appear in those debates.

The reason? Well, Times reporter Maggie Haberman had to leave the most likely explanation out of her article and relegate it to Twitter, but Donald Trump was very put out with the way his own debates turned out in 2020, complaining bitterly that the debate formats and moderators and forest spirits were all conspiring against him. (Oh, also Trump showed up for one of those debates infected with COVID-19, hid it from everyone, refused to be tested for it, exposed everyone else in the room to it, and continued to hide his infection up until the point he had to be helicoptered off to a hospital a few days later. Just as a barely related aside.)
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If Trump's the 2024 nominee, he'll almost certainly refuse to participate in any debates with Biden. The Republican Party's move can perhaps best be seen as a way to justify Trump's refusal by writing it directly into a party pledge: Not only are our candidates free to dodge debates, but we're gonna make it a new rule that nobody is even allowed to debate. That gives Trump an out so he doesn't look like such a spineless coward when he refuses to do it.

Note, however, that the Commission on President Debates only hosts the presidential and vice presidential debates after both sides have nominated their candidate. The party isn't yet bowing out of all debates, just those final ones. For those final debates, the party says they intend to have their own version, hosted by a group or groups of their own choosing. That likely means that Ronna McDaniel and the rest of the Republican Party will demand "alternative" presidential debates hosted by some virulently pro-Trump outlet like OAN, demand that Biden shows up to those train wrecks in waiting, and then puff and preen when Democrats refuse.

All of this is being telegraphed in advance because the party really doesn't have any other choice. Trump is going to refuse to debate because he thinks anyone not waving a Trump flag while punching a Capitol police officer is biased against him; the task for Trump's hand-picked party leaders is to weave together some narrative that makes Trump's paranoias look vaguely defensible.

We have been here before. Donald Trump has, for decades, insisted each time that a business failed, or when he didn't win a television award, or when a photograph of him didn't come out looking how he wanted it to, that is was because the people in charge of those things had conspired against him. This is his routine. It has always been his routine. Donald Trump is a narcissistic incompetent who believes that any failure on his part can only be explained by others acting against him. It was only when he joined the Republican Party that he found a collection of marks willing not only to believe in his paranoias, but purge anyone in their midst who didn't.

When he made the same conspiracy claims about Emmy awards or his casinos, everybody just laughed at him. Now he's got sitting U.S. senators nodding along pretending he's not a crackpot ranting at imaginary elves.

Republicanism has long given up on standing for anything; during the 2020 elections, the party famously refused to adopt a new party platform after Trump's four-year rampage had torn up large parts of it based on whatever new proclamations he would blurt out during any given speech. There's no advantage in debating in any venue that demands policy positions or, God forbid, knowledge of provable reality. Even if Trump is for some reason not the nominee—an eventuality that at this point seems impossible unless he literally dies between now and then, and perhaps not even then—anyone else willing and able to cater to the Republican base of conspiracy theorists and white nationalists will have nothing to say that they want a national audience to hear.


There will be Republican debates, ones where each candidate attempts to cater to the anti-democracy base with statements that are as unhinged and provocative as possible. But there will likely be no debates afterwards in which the Republican candidate inches back towards center ground so as to prove to the general public that they are not nearly as radical as their previous statements declared. Those debates are unneeded now. The party has gone all in on appealing to the worst elements of their racist, expertise-hating base and will rely on anti-voting measures to winnow down the votes of those who are unnerved by their rhetoric. It's going to be an ugly, ugly, ugly "campaign."
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Bowing to Trump, RNC will prohibit its candidates' participation in official presidential debates
Dartagnan
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to slap sanctions on businesses tied to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a win for the Biden administration, which believes such sanctions could damage relations with Germany.

Though the vote is still open, Cruz is poised to fall short of the 60 votes needed for it to pass. Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.) and Raphael Warnock (Ga.) joined every Republican in voting for the bill. The vote has been held open at 55-43, with Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, remaining as the only two senators who haven't voted.

The vote on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will carry gas from Russia to Germany, comes at a delicate moment for White House as it navigates renewed tensions with Moscow over its buildup of troops on the border with Ukraine.

Underscoring the dilemma for Democrats, many of whom previously voted for similar sanctions, senators stressed that they are alarmed about Russia and the pipeline, but that Cruz’s legislation isn’t the most effective response.

“We can’t look at this legislation in isolation. This legislation … is coming at a time when the administration is exhausting every single diplomatic avenue to deter Putin from further violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), adding that the pipeline is “leverage that the West can use at a pivotal moment.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) argued that the bill would be a “gift” for Russian President Vladimir Putin by dividing the United States from Germany.

“We need to be sending a message to Vladimir Putin that the United States and Europe are together and that we are going to deliver a crushing package of sanctions if you enter Ukraine any further,” he said.

The legislation from Cruz would require sanctions to be implemented within 15 days. In a red flag for Democrats, Congress would be able to force a vote on putting the sanctions back in place if President Biden waived them.

Biden waived sanctions in May on Nord Stream 2 AG, the Russian-owned, Swiss-based company for the pipeline project, as part of an agreement published in July with Germany, which supports the pipeline.

Democrats and the Biden administration worked overtime to squash Cruz's effort.

Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of State for political affairs, briefed a group of potential swing vote senators this week as part of a meeting organized by Democratic senators who oppose Cruz’s legislation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also briefed a bipartisan group on Ukraine, where senators are hoping to travel as soon as this weekend.

The German government had also urged members of Congress to not slap sanctions on the pipeline, arguing that it would harm the Washington-Berlin relationship.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), backed by Schumer and the White House, also offered competing legislation, giving Democrats worried about Ukraine an alternative bill to support.

That legislation would slap new sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine, though the Ukrainian government had been publicly pushing for senators to vote for Cruz’s bill.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a tweet, said that Ukraine “asks all its friends in the US Senate to vote for S. 3436."

Cruz argued that Democrats faced a decision between backing the Biden administration despite their previous support of sanctions, or helping crackdown on a pipeline that has sparked bipartisan backlash at a key moment with Russia.

During a floor speech, he argued that his bill was the “best way to deter Putin from invading Ukraine” and that without it, “Ukraine risks getting wiped off the map.”

“The eyes of history are upon us today. Each of us will be faced with a momentous question: Can we put petty differences aside and can we come together to defend our friend and our ally Ukraine against imminent Russian aggression?” Cruz asked.

The vote on the pipeline comes after the Biden administration carried out three separate meetings with Russian officials in Europe this week to offset a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine and outbreak of war.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border in what it calls a military exercise. Moscow has said it views Ukraine’s closer ties with the West and desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a threat to its security.

Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has supported separatists against Kyiv in Ukraine’s east, called the Donbas region.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the U.S. delegation to the three meetings, stressed unity among allies to respond to increased Russia’s aggression with financial sanctions, defensive military assistance to Ukraine and increased force posture in Europe.

She echoed earlier statements by Blinken that Nord Stream 2, which has yet to become operational, provides an opportunity for Europe to exert pressure over Russia.

“The pipeline is not operational right now. The Germans’ Federal Network Agency has suspended certification. And Secretary Blinken has said... ‘From our perspective it’s very hard to see gas flowing through [the] pipeline for it to become operational if Russia renews its aggression on Ukraine.'”

Berlin, addressing U.S. opposition to the pipeline and concern over Russia’s control, agreed to impose costs on Moscow should it find that the Kremlin is holding energy hostage to threaten Europe or taking aggressive actions against Ukraine.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?517228-7/senate-session-part-2&live
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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What explains Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's chaotic, destructive behavior? She may want to run for president
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Up until now, my working theory regarding Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s anti-democratic intransigence has been that, somewhere along the line, someone replaced her soul with an angry mole rat dry-humping a Furby. But the following Twitter thread actually makes a bit more sense.

On Thursday, this preening potpourri of purple pantaloons and twee TJ Maxx tank tops decided to strangle the Democrats’ voting-rights initiative in its crib, declaring on the Senate floor that the historically racist filibuster is too precious to violate, even if 86’ing it is vital to protecting every American’s access to the ballot box. In other words, she’s carrying Mitch McConnell’s water. I’d like to think he inveigled her with his Sith Lord mind tricks, but I have a sick feeling she jumped over to the Dark Side for far less—like maybe a kooky ladybug broach and a holiday tin of Fiddle Faddle. If that.
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Of course, like many loyal Democrats, I’ve been puzzling and puzzling over Sinema’s motivations. Then I saw this thread from activist and author Amy Siskind, and all I’ll say is this theory makes as much sense as anything I’ve seen. Long story short—Sinema appears to think she’s going to be our first woman president (if you don’t do Twitter, click here to see the full thread):






Of course, when it comes to Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, The Office’s Michael Scott summed up my feelings ages ago:



I don’t give Republicans much credit for anything, but I do envy their ability to keep their members in line, even—nay, especially—when their endgame is cartoonish evil. Meanwhile, we can’t scrape together 50 votes to save the republic from a wannabe authoritarian dictator.

And if President Biden runs for reelection in 2024 and Sinema primaries him? Well, let’s just say that would hardly endear her to members of her own party. Then again, chaos is her bag. Why the **** would she change now?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Fake election certificate earns Michigan Republicans a referral to federal prosecutors
Mark Sumner

The group of Michigan Republicans who created a false electoral college certificate, claiming that Donald Trump had won the state and they were the duly appointed electors, have been referred to federal prosecutors by State Attorney General Dana Nessel. The Detroit News reports that even though Nessel indicated her intention to send the case to federal authorities, state charges remained possible.

"Under state law,” said Nessel during an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show, “I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense.”

Over the last week, information has been released showing that Republicans in multiple states created false election certificates claiming to certify a slate of electors supporting Donald Trump. In the case of Michigan, that certificate falsely claimed that Donald Trump had won the state, falsely claimed to record the official slate of electors, and falsely claimed that those electors had been selected at the state capitol. In fact, they were selected in the Michigan Republican Party headquarters in Lansing. This collection of false claims was sent by registered mail to the archivist at the National Archives as part of an extensive scheme to justify refusing to recognize the actual results of the election.

Republicans didn’t just scheme to overthrow democracy. They put it in writing and signed their names.
..........
Trump supporters created false electoral certificates in at least Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico, in addition to Michigan. These certificates weren’t created by random supporters on the street, or as part of some Q-Anon forum. They came from Republican Party leaders, local officials, and state legislators. As an example, the Michigan certificate included the state party’s co-chair and vice chair, along with a member of the national committee and a township election clerk. The 16 signatories of the Michigan document purport to be "duly elected and qualified electors" under the false claim that they "convened and organized" in the state Capitol. In truth, when the group tried to enter the Capitol building, they were stopped by police.

As the News sums up nicely:

Democrat Joe Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points, a result that's been upheld by a series of court rulings, more than 200 audits and an investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate Oversight Committee.

Asked why she had attempted to send a false certificate to the National Archives, Republican National Committee Member Kathy Berden replied, "I can’t comment on anything like that. That was a long time ago."

But Republicans in Michigan and elsewhere may not have the luxury of falling back on their oh-so-short memories. The series of false election certificates are a tangible representation of the coup attempt organized by the Trump White House.

Under that scheme, as presented by attorney John Eastman, Republicans would object to the counting of votes in “disputed” states on Jan. 6. The false slates of electors could then be used as supposed evidence that there was a question about the outcome in these states. Then-Vice President Mike Pence could then either simply leave out the electoral votes from these states, declaring Trump the winner of a much-reduced electoral college, or throw the question to Republican-dominated state legislatures. A version of this plan was briefed to Republicans in Congress in a lengthy PowerPoint presentation so they would know their roles in the scheme.

As more information reaches the public, the odds that the House select committee on Jan. 6 will refer criminal charges of conspiracy to the Department of Justice only increases. However, in the case of Michigan at least, the Department of Justice may not be waiting for the committee.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Steve Bannon thought he had a really great point on his podcast last Wednesday—the day before the anniversary of the Jan. 6th insurrection.

The federal government, he noted, led historic investigations against the Communists, the Black Panthers, the Ku Klux Klan, the Weathermen, jihadist terrorists, and others. But the government had failed to bring any major charges against the Jan. 6th rioters:

[Attorney General] Merrick Garland has said . . . this is the largest criminal investigation in the history of the FBI, the largest criminal investigation. . . . I’m talking about the largest criminal investigation. They’ve had big-time investigations before. This is larger than that. They brag about it. I just want to repeat, nobody’s been charged with insurrection. One year after. Nobody’s been charged with sedition.

The takeaway was that the Jan. 6th investigation is just another ginned-up witch hunt, a hoax investigation meant to get Trump, à la impeachment 1.0 and 2.0.

Bannon wasn’t alone in suggesting that the Jan. 6th investigation was a big bust. Also on Wednesday of last week, the Wall Street Journal published a piece by former Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia Jeffrey Scott Shapiro titled “Stop Calling It An Insurrection.” He wrote:

The demonstrators who unlawfully entered the Capitol during the Electoral College count were unarmed and had no intention of overthrowing the U.S. constitutional system or engaging in a conspiracy “against the United States, or to defraud the United States.”

And:

Those who violated the law inside the U.S. Capitol should be prosecuted and, if convicted, sentenced accordingly. But dramatizing a riot as an organized, racist, armed insurrection is false reporting and dangerous political gaslighting.

The next night, on the actual anniversary of the Jan. 6th attack, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham made the same point on her broadcast.

How many times have you heard all those buzzwords used in the press just in the last few days? But here’s a question. How many times do words like “insurrection,” “sedition,” or “treason” appear in Biden’s own DOJ indictments against the January 6 rioters? The answer: zero.

Ingraham asked her guest, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a leading question: “The charges stemming from the January 6 riots are actually a big tell, are they not, about what the DOJ actually thinks about this case?” Turley’s reply:

The FBI arrested hundreds. They investigated thousands. And they did not find a conspiracy for insurrection or rebellion. They didn’t charge those crimes. They didn’t charge anything like them. What they found was a protest that had become a riot. And that’s also what the American people see.

The impression here, dear readers, is that because no sedition charges had been brought, there was simply no reason anyone should be worked up about Jan. 6th.

Again, Bannon, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News all promoted this notion just last week.

But those talking points expired yesterday, when the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the breach of the Capitol. This is the first time seditious conspiracy has been charged in connection to Jan. 6th cases.

Pour one out for Fox News’s Brit Hume who was still making people eat that bad argument minutes before it went completely rancid:



Maybe that’s what you get when you get you crib decrepit political analysis from the likes of HERE, HERE, and HERE, Brit.


Alas, being MAGA means never having to say sorry, so don’t expect any of these folks to admit they were wrong about the investigation—let alone about what happened on Jan. 6th.

So what does the indictment tell us about the attack on the Capitol?

It describes a series of very disturbing actions by people who had carefully laid plans for war.

The Oath Keepers are “a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias,” and many of whom are “current and former military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel,” the DOJ press release explains.

According to the press release, the indicted Oath Keepers conspired in:
  • “organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.” and bringing “paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies—including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment—to the Capitol grounds”;
  • “organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics”;
  • “breaching and attempting to take control” of the Capitol, and then “using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol,” all in an effort “to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote”; and
  • “continuing to plot” after Jan. 6th on ways “to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power.”
Members of the group marched into the Capitol in two different groups using “stack” formation, wearing paramilitary clothing and patches with the Oath Keepers name, logo, and insignia. Meanwhile, other Oath Keepers “remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams” and “were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

While some members of the Oath Keepers were among the 700-plus individuals previously charged with crimes connected to Jan. 6th, the new indictment is the first against the group’s founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes. He has long been considered a high-level target of the investigation, and his group has been linked with Trump ally Roger Stone.

Rhodes started planning early.

Two days after the election, on November 5, 2020, he urged his conspirators in an encrypted group chat to ready themselves for a fight: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”

In case that wasn’t clear, he sent another message on December 11, 2020: “It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We are going to have a fight. That can’t be avoided.”

And, on December 22, 2020, Rhodes said in an interview with an Oath Keepers regional leader, “We will have to do a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them. That’s what’s going to have to happen.”


The indictment also includes stunning details about Rhodes’s weapons cache. Here’s a summary of what prosecutors say he bought in the days before Jan. 6th:
  • Two night-vision devices and a weapon sight, costing approximately $7,000 on December 30. Investigators say he shipped them to an individual in Virginia “near Washington D.C.” The package arrived on January 4.
  • $5,000 worth of firearms and related equipment on January 1 and 2 that included a “shotgun, scope, magazines, sights, optics, a bipod, a mount, a case of ammunition, and gun-cleaning supplies.”
  • While en route from Texas to Washington, D.C. on January 3, Rhodes spent approximately $6,000 on “an AR-platform rifle and firearms equipment, including sights, mount, triggers, slings, and additional firearms attachments.” The next day, while still en route, he spent another $4,500 on similar purchases.
Keep in mind, this was the weaponry brought to Washington by one man.

After the riot, the Oath Keepers remained committed to action. One member messaged Rhodes on January 12 and said, “We are excited to learn next steps and would like to know what we should be doing right now.”

Rhodes, for his part, kept buying weapons. According to the indictment, he spent $17,500 between Jan. 10 and 14 on scopes, magazines, firearm parts, ammunition, and related equipment.


On the day of President Biden’s inauguration, one of the Oath Keepers messaged another: “After this…if nothing happens…its war…Civil War 2.0.”

Prosecutors say that “around this time, Rhodes messaged others to organize local militias to oppose President Biden’s Administration.”

One has to ask: Why would all the guns be needed to oppose Biden? Why were they needed on Jan. 6th? Would it be because these folks were conspiring to overthrow the United States government through the use of force?

Sounds like sedition, all right.
 
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