More to ignore, Book 23....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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It's official: Manchin and Sinema are the lone holdouts among Democrats, refusing to save democracy
Joan McCarter

At 6:30 PM ET Wednesday, the Senate Democrats will try to break the filibuster on voting rights and election reform. There will be 48 Democrats united behind doing this, according to Fix the Senate, with Arizona freshman Mark Kelly announcing this morning that he will support a change to the Senate rules, further isolating his fellow Arizonan, Kyrsten Sinema, and West Virginian Joe Manchin.

“If campaign finance and voting rights reforms are blocked again this week, I will support the proposed changes to pass them with a majority vote. Protecting the vote-by-mail system used by a majority of Arizonans and getting dark money out of our elections is too important to let fall victim to Washington dysfunction,” Kelly said in a statement to The Arizona Republic. The Senate is already broken, he said in the statement, and that is endangering the government for being able to do anything to help Americans. “We’re seeing that now, as voting rights legislation remains blocked while partisan politicians work to undermine Arizona’s successful vote-by-mail system and create more barriers to vote,” his statement said.
That’s pretty huge and aimed directly at Sinema, who got some other bad news Tuesday: Emily’s Lists, an influential donor group that supports Democratic pro-choice women candidates, is cutting her off if she doesn’t support filibuster reform for voting rights.


“We want to make it clear: If Sen. Sinema can not support a path forward for the passage of this legislation, we believe she undermines the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory, and also the mission of Emily’s List, and we will be unable to endorse her moving forward,” the group’s president, Laphonza Butler, said.

Not just Emily’s List, either. NARAL Pro-Choice America announced Tuesday that they are “changing our endorsement criteria to reflect our commitment to the freedom to vote. Going forward, we won’t endorse any U.S. senator who doesn’t support changing the Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation. Our democracy is on the line.” Emily’s List independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, spent $1.7 million in ad campaigns for Sinema in 2018. That’s apart from whatever individual donations from the organization’s members went to her.
That’s the stage set for Sinema. For his part, Manchin shot down the other 48 Democrats’ plan for filibuster reform for voting rights in a series of profoundly disingenuous, clueless, and asinine comments Tuesday night, ahead of an all-conference meeting to discuss strategies. Starting with “The laws are there and the rules are there and, basically, the government will stand behind them and give them the right to vote. We have that.” He actually said, “We act like we are going to obstruct people from voting, that is not going to happen.” He apparently doesn’t pay a lot of attention to how any of this works, despite being in the thick of it. Further evidence of that, according to people in the room, is that he told the Democratic caucus meeting that “he disagreed with the history that was being presented on the filibuster.”

Manchin walked back some of that dunderheaded positioning Wednesday morning, when he told reporters that he would speak on the floor about the rules change, and that he “would like to see us stay on the bill,” meaning not try for a cloture vote at the end of the day, to trigger the rule change. He added, “It is such an important issue that all of us have grave concerns about, and it’s worthy of the time we spend. I would like to see us stay on the bill. There’s no use to try to bring this to finality by having a vote that’s going to fail tonight. Let’s just stay on it.“

If it fails tonight, it will do so because of him and Sinema. Because he doesn’t really have such grave concerns about this important issue. Not when Tuesday night he actually said this:



Someone must have told him how utterly ignorant and thick-headed he was seeming with these statements, so today he’s been trying to do the cleanup. By the way, that’s Manchin predictably falling hook, line, and sinker for the trap Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins have set—dangling “bipartisan” reform on the Electoral Count Act as a substitute for saving voting rights and ensuring that elections are free and fair.

But whether Manchin means it, whether he really wants to just keep talking—have the talking filibuster—that Schumer and Democrats intend to try to restore with this bill, what’s his endpoint? They talk forever and don’t actually vote?

As of Wednesday morning, the plan for how the Senate would proceed was for Schumer to call for a cloture vote at 6:30 to move to final passage of the bill. It won’t pass. Schumer would at that point, probably, make a point of order that simple majority votes should be required to end the filibuster on legislation related to voting rights. The presiding officer will rule against Schumer, because it is not the current rule, and Schumer will appeal the ruling of the chair.

Then there will be a vote on that ruling, for which Schumer needs a majority of senators to vote no, to vote against affirming the ruling of the chair. So at this point, Democrats will vote no, Republicans yea. If there’s a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris would break the tie and this bit of filibuster reform will have been done. It’s important at this point to note that this is a simple majority vote—it doesn’t require 51 votes, but a majority of senators present and voting. As of Wednesday morning, it wasn’t clear how many senators might be absent.




 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Former Trump officials plot to blow up his influence and political future
Kerry Eleveld

A group of some three dozen former members of Donald Trump's administration held a conference call Monday to strategize about countering his assault on democracy, according to CNN.

What exactly members of the group might do and whether the group might be formalized in some way remained in question. But much of the call focused on how they could effect electoral outcomes, particularly in some races where Trump has endorsed anti-democracy extremists.
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Call participants ranged from former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (who was only able to attend 10 minutes of the hour-long call) to administration officials who became outspoken critics of Trump during his reelection bid, such as Olivia Troye, the former Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and former Department of Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann.

Most of the known participants are recognizable names: former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs (who Trump fired for countering his fraud claims); former Trump White House Communications Directors Alyssa Farah Griffin and Anthony Scaramucci; and former Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, who in 2018 penned the "Anonymous" New York Times op-ed criticizing Trump.

Sarah Tinsley, a top aide to former national security adviser John Bolton, also participated in the call, sharing polling collected by Bolton's super PAC. Over a series of four polls, the surveys suggest that Trump's influence on the GOP base is on the wane. "Tinsley said the polling shows Trump's favorability is declining with registered Republicans and right-leaning independents," writes CNN. (Civiqs' daily tracking poll is also picking up a drop in Trump support among Republican and independent voters.)

Although the path forward for the group remains unclear, they reportedly agreed that their efforts needed to involve more than a series of merely symbolic statements.
One participant told CNN that the group is "still trying to figure out" what it wants to do.

But "outcomes are key," they said, adding, "this cannot just be a professional trolling operation, putting out ads like the Lincoln group." The Lincoln Project is the operation created by anti-Trump GOP consultants that produced a series of anti-Trump ads throughout the 2020 election cycle.

Taylor echoed the sentiment.

"We all agreed passionately that letters and statements don't mean anything," he told CNN. "The two operative words are 'electoral effects.' How can we have tangible electoral effects against the extremist candidates that have been endorsed by Trump?"

Whether this group can find a way to have a discernible impact is an open question. But the more people who recognize the threat that Trump and Trumpism pose to American democracy and then take action to oppose it, the better.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Prosecutors: Oath Keepers had weapons stockpile, supplies for 30 days
Brandi Buchman

Oath Keeper and alleged seditionist Edward Vallejo goes before a judge in Arizona Thursday for a detention hearing, but before he does, prosecutors laid out in sprawling new detail the extremist group’s long game to subvert the 2020 election with a plot that included stashing drones, firearms, and enough supplies to last for 30 days.

Vallejo is just one of the 11 members of the Oath Keepers charged last week by the Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit sedition. Prosecutors say he and other defendants, including former Oath Keeper leader Elmert Stewart Rhodes, were engaged in a comprehensive and violent conspiracy to stop President Joe Biden from taking office.

According to Vallejo’s initial indictment, he was allegedly in charge of leading quick reaction force teams that could supply fellow extremists in D.C. on Jan. 6 with weapons. Vallejo allegedly worked closely with Rhodes before, during, and after the attack, and though some details of the plot were revealed last week, the pretrial detention memo offers further chilling insights.

Vallejo and others were positioned at the Comfort Inn Ballston in Arlington, Virginia, just a 15-minute drive from the Capitol. The plan to unite quick reaction force teams headed to D.C. began to gather steam last New Year’s Eve; prosecutors said a Dec. 31 text message sent from Vallejo indicated that he and others were headed to D.C. where teams had “dropped off at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases and ammunition.”

Vallejo Pretrial Detention ... by Daily Kos

While another team had rifles stowed and at the ready in a car parked at the same hotel, Vallejo was seen on security footage transporting the weapons cache in huge bins.

There were enough “weapons, ammunition and essential supplies to last 30 days,” the memo states.

Vallejo also tried and failed to launch a drone equipped with a camera for “recon,” or reconnaissance, prosecutors said.

But the conspiracy didn’t end there: Well into the afternoon of Jan. 6, and even as law enforcement was working to secure the Capitol’s perimeter, Vallejo was texting fellow alleged plotters.

Just around 4:45 PM, another conspirator wrote to Vallejo in an encrypted Signal chat: “So, why are we leaving??? It does NO good to show up and say your there to defend and just leave.” [Punctuation and spelling original.]

Vallejo replied: “Leaving?!? I ain’t going nowhere… My statement was to assure Arizona won’t let anyone walk.”

He added: “We will monitor all night and transport anyone that meets us on the perimeter curfew be damned.”

That same night around 7:30 PM, Rhodes messaged Vallejo and others, writing that “thousands of ticked off patriots spontaneously marched on the Capitol” and ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

“Patriots entering their own Capitol to send a message to the traitors is NOTHING compared to what’s coming,” Rhodes said.

Vallejo’s text put his enthusiasm on bald display.

“We have only begun to fight! After Action Reports will be dated 1/21/21,” he wrote.

The “After Action Reports,” prosecutors say, were a reference to the day after Biden’s inauguration.

“Although enforcement at the Capitol had successfully repelled the efforts of the conspiracy to take the Capitol on January 6, Vallejo’s words make clear that the conspiracy would continue up and through the presidential inauguration,” the memo notes.

Early on the morning of Jan. 7, just a few hours after the certification of electoral votes had finally concluded in the Capitol, Vallejo wrote to his cohorts again in an encrypted chat saying his team was going to “probe their defense line right now 6 am.”

“They should let us in,” he added. “We’ll see.”

Later that morning, Vallejo appeared on a podcast and spoke about the siege, saying that it was “not really plausible” to engage in nonviolent protest because Washington was effectively locked down and under curfew.

Vallejo also pondered aloud if Jan. 6 was the “shot heard ‘round the world moment.” When asked if he would return to Arizona or stay in D.C., he expressed uncertainty,

“i don’t know. We’ve got to see what happens on the 20th. I’m never done … I’m waiting for orders from Stewart Rhodes.”

What unfolded in the weeks after the attack was a waterfall of messages between Oath Keepers as Rhodes allegedly purchased “thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms, munitions, equipment” and summoned co-conspirators to join him in Texas.

During his initial court appearance last week, Vallejo indicated he would enter a not guilty plea when he is finally arraigned.

The messages alone could prove an insurmountable hurdle for the 63-year-old Phoenix resident. Many of Vallejo’s cohorts “took steps to destroy evidence” related to their involvement or communication about the sedition plot, and Rhodes warned Vallejo about a “turncoat” in their mix.

Recent social media posts aren’t conducive to Vallejo’s copping of a not guilty plea either. Nearly a full year after the attack, which left hundreds of police injured and several people dead, Vallejo retweeted a message that said: “There was NO INSURRECTION on J6 just a peaceful protest.”

Even up to two weeks ago, on Jan. 8, Vallejo retweeted another similar missive that said: “The real insurrection happened in the wee hours of Nov. 4, 2020.”


Vallejo goes before a magistrate judge Thursday afternoon in Phoenix, where it will be decided whether he can be released pending his trial.
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Request For OathKeeper Confinement Is Chilling
KeithDB
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Donald Trump did what the Chicago Seven were wrongly accused of doing: He incited a riot
Charles Jay
 
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McCloudersportLion

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The Last Scene of 2001 only the baby didnt win- you even had hoped Predator would win instead of this guy and he still won...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Fauci in his office, surrounded by pictures of Fauci, watching that scene from &quot;Fauci&quot; where Fauci is in his office surrounded by pictures of Fauci. <a href="https://t.co/3ALQOETaRK">pic.twitter.com/3ALQOETaRK</a></p>&mdash; Karl Dierenbach (@Dierenbach) <a href="">January 19, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Last Scene of 2001 only the baby didnt win- you even had hoped Predator would win instead of this guy and he still won...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Fauci in his office, surrounded by pictures of Fauci, watching that scene from &quot;Fauci&quot; where Fauci is in his office surrounded by pictures of Fauci. <a href="https://t.co/3ALQOETaRK">pic.twitter.com/3ALQOETaRK</a></p>&mdash; Karl Dierenbach (@Dierenbach) <a href=" ">January 19, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
I guess you will never not be a fool.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden admits the US should have done more Covid-19 testing earlier, "but we're doing more now"

Biden: I know there's a lot of frustration and fatigue in the country because of the pandemic

Biden: It will "be difficult" to have fair elections if voting rights bills are not passed

Biden says he will not scale back on priorities on his agenda despite challenges

Biden says he believes "big chunks" of his Build Back Better plan will pass

Biden: "Very few" schools are closing due to Covid-19

Biden: We need to get inflation under control

Biden on voting rights legislation: "I didn’t call many Republicans"

Biden predicts Russian invasion of Ukraine, but "minor incursion" may prompt discussion over consequences

Biden says Democrats will likely have to break up his Build Back Better bill

Biden says his "report card" going into the midterm elections looks "pretty good"

Biden: Harris will be my running mate in 2024

Biden laments Trump’s ability to "intimidate an entire" political party

Biden defends Afghanistan withdrawal: There is no way to get out after 20 years easily

Biden defends not prioritizing voting rights legislation earlier

Biden says he's "unsure" the child tax credit can pass




 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Lara Trump's FOX News Fantastical Fact-Free Revisionist History: Trump vs Biden: The First Year
News Corpse

It's that time of year again. The time when the media loves to contrive mostly irrelevant milestones in order to shape easily digested narratives that invariably oversimplify complex political and social matters. And as we approach the one year anniversary of President Joe Biden's inauguration, the spinners are coming out to create their partisan perspectives of what occurred in the recent past.

Prominent among the propagandist class is, of course, Fox News. On this occasion Fox's Sean Hannity invited Fox News contributor Lara Trump, to deliver her perverse version of events (video below), and to compare Biden's record to that of her father-in-law, Donald Trump. That's not biased at all, is it? It's the sort of "fair and balanced" analysis that Fox News is known for.

Ms. Trump began her stroll down memory-hole lane with a wildly distorted retelling of Trump's work ethic while in the White House:

"I’m old enough to remember when we had a president who worked all day everyday for the American people, and by the way, took no salary. Of course I’m talking about President Donald Trump who in four years in office made $4.00. That's right, because he had to take $1.00 a year. And I struggle to figure out any job where you could just not show up for a quarter of the days and keep your job."

Good point! And indeed, Trump did not keep his job. Also, somebody might want to remind Lara about "Executive Time," a euphemism coined to describe Trump's notorious laziness. Leaked records from Trump's White House reveal that he spent 60% of his time watching TV, phoning Fox News hosts, and tweeting undeserved exaltations of himself or bitter attacks on his foes. And that was when he wasn't sermonizing at his cult rallies or golfing. Speaking of which, Lara noted that...

"I remember when the press and the Democrats would go crazy if Donald Trump got anywhere near a golf course. He clearly wasn’t golfing a quarter of his presidency."

Actually, it was almost exactly a quarter of his presidency that Trump spent on the links. The documented truth is that Trump played golf at least 298 times (an average of once every five days) at a cost of $144 million taxpayer dollars. And most of those dollars went straight into Trump's pocket as it paid for accommodations at his hotels and golf resorts for family, staff, members of Congress, Secret Service, political organizations, and even foreign operatives with business before the U.S. government. It shows what a trifling and dishonest dodge his bragging about taking a one dollar a year salary is.

Ms. Trump went on to praise Daddy-in-law for a string of imaginary accomplishments, including "the biggest tax cut in American history" (that overwhelming benefitted corporations and the wealthy; "remov[ing] so many regulations on businesses" (that made them more profitable at the expense of safety and the environment); "And he had also gotten rid of ISIS" (which will come as surprise to ISIS that is still very active).

In closing, Lara criticized Biden for taking "vacations" to his home in Delaware:

"I think it’s time to stop vacationing Joe Biden. I think it's time, instead of walking your dog masked up on the beach in Delaware - by the way we still don’t know what happened to the first dog - It's time to roll your sleeves up, get to work in the White House, cause vacationing clearly is not working."

That's a bold critique coming from the daughter-in-law of the president who spent the most time away from work in history. For the record, Biden was not on vacation when he went home. He was working remotely and getting a fair amount done. For instance: a major COVID-19 relief package, a bipartisan infrastructure bill, historically low unemployment, solid economic growth, the most federal judge confirmations in forty years, and getting more than 71% of American adults vaccinated.

That's not to say that there haven't been setbacks. The Build Back Better bill and the voting rights bills are still stuck in congressional limbo because not a single Republican will put the interests of the America people above their partisan political interests. Consequently, Biden is suffering a painfully low approval rating. However, he's still doing better than Trump by a considerable margin.

"As Biden prepares to enter his second year in office, his average approval rating during the first year of his presidency (48.9%) is second only to former President Donald Trump, who had the lowest first-year rating of any post-World War II president, at 38.4%, according to Gallup."

Democrats just need to do a better job of communicating their successes. And if they can do that without lying, the way Lara Trump is doing, they will eventually reap the reward.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Orange County CA Republican Party Meeting Interrupted by Trumpist "RINO Hunters"
BeeD

It seems there was a bit of a ruckus at the Orange County Republican Party meeting last night!

From the Mercury News:


Police were called to step in after a group of conservatives wearing orange shirts that said “RINO hunters,” with crosshairs making a target of the “O,” tried to storm a Republican Party of Orange County meeting in Costa Mesa on Monday night.
The group was led by Nick Taurus, a self-proclaimed American Nationalist who last year spearheaded a protest during a town hall for Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, that turned violent. After provocation from Taurus’ group, a Porter supporter threw a punch and was arrested.
Taurus, R-Laguna Hills, is now challenging GOP Rep. Young Kim in the CA-40 House race. He’s labeled Kim, who’s been endorsed by the OCGOP as a RINO, a derogatory name used by the far-right for more moderate politicians who they deem “Republican in name only.”

The story continues, courtesy of MSN:

The party said on Jan. 12 that because of the coronavirus surge attendance at Monday night’s OCGOP meeting — which was aimed at endorsing candidates for the 2022 election cycle — would be limited to members of the Central Committee due to the coronavirus surge.
“There are important endorsement requests that must be voted on, but we recognize the spike in covid cases across Orange County,” the announcement said. “It is important that we as a party take care of business, but we must also take care of ourselves and each other.”
But some local Republicans didn’t agree with that decision.

Photos and videos shared to social media show a couple dozen people wearing orange RINO shirts in the lobby of the building where the meeting was being held. A witness told the Register one member tried to push past people at the door, grabbing at the handle to get inside. Police then are seen directing the protestors outside, while other people are waved by and allowed into the meeting room.

The Orange County Register sums it all up nicely:

The clash reflects a growing schism in the Republican party, pitting those who strive to elect GOP candidates in purple areas like Orange County, and those on the far right, who remain fiercely loyal to former President Donald Trump.
Costa Mesa Police say they were called to the meeting at 6:39 p.m. Monday on reports that a group of about 20 demonstrators were refusing to leave the “private political meeting,” according to department spokesperson Roxi Fyad. Officers contacted the demonstrators, told them to take it to the sidewalk, and they complied, Fyad said.

Last night’s meeting was originally to be held earlier in the month, but had been postponed due to the death of Kelly Ernby, a candidate for the California 72nd Assembly District, who had died of Covid.

And for what it’s worth, here are the endorsements made at the meeting, the OC County Republicans endorsing Young Kim rather than Taurus.

California’s congressional delegation currently consists of 2 Democratic Senators, 42 Democratic Congressmen and 10 Republican members of the House of Representatives. There is also one vacancy in the California 22nd (my home district) vacated by Devin Nunes.

Any growing schism between “Establishment” Republicans and Trump supporting elements of the party could indicate a more serious divisions that could have an effect both in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 election. And it may start off small, like last night, but that’s how brush fires start too.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Florida suspends county health officer for daring to encourage vaccination among his employees
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Republicans are really on a roll, aren’t they? First they support Donald Trump, then Vladimir Putin—and now they’re using the copious political capital they’ve built up with the pig-ignorant half of America to go all-in for COVID-19. I shudder to think what’s next. Maybe they can repeal car-seat laws so toddlers are free to catapult into chemical freight trucks as God and the Founders intended.

So Florida—which is basically Disney World surrounded by 65,000 square miles of childish fantasy—has apparently decided that making Joe Biden look bad so its governor can take over and kill everyone in the country is the summum bonum of human endeavor. And they’re not relenting. Oh, no.

Check this out. It’s not enough just to slap down every reasonable COVID-19 mitigation strategy that comes along. Now they’re going after a top health official who—wait, this can’t be right, can it?—actually encouraged his employees to get vaccinated.
.......
According to
The Orlando Sentinel:

Dr. Raul Pino, who became a trusted voice of the pandemic response in the nation’s tourist capital, has been placed on administrative leave from his post as the state’s chief health officer in Orange County as the Florida Department of Health conducts an investigation.
Sources who spoke to the Orlando Sentinel on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Pino’s status said he was placed on administrative leave after a Health Department employee complained about an email he sent Jan. 4 to agency staff about employee vaccination rates.

I can’t believe what I just read. Truly …



It’s hard to believe this is Pino’s only “offense.” He must be selling human organs out of an Igloo cooler in his ‘70s shaggin’ wagon or something, because suspending a doctor for encouraging people to get vaccinated against a deadly disease that’s already killed more than 800,000 Americans seems, erm, rather daft.

According to media reports, in the Jan. 4 email to his employees, Pino wrote, “I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it.” He also noted that only 77 of 568 members of his department had been boosted against COVID-19, while 219 had received two doses and 34 had received just one. “I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino stated in the email. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50%. Pathetic.”

Yeah, that is pretty pathetic. But somehow Florida was able to make it pathetic-er by punishing the guy who was being compassionate and responsible and refusing to champion the deeply held values of the death-spreaders.

Remember that the next time a conservative tells you they’re all about “common sense.”

”Clearly vaccines are working for us … and are the solution to this crisis,” Pino said in December as the omicron variant began to pick up steam. “The vaccine continues to be effective against the variants.”

Right? I mean, if more people were listening to Pino and fewer to Ron “Gasping Goofus” DeSantis, neither Florida nor the U.S. would have much of an omicron crisis at all.

For what it’s worth, here’s how the Florida Department of Health responded to this bonkers controversy: “As the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice that should be made free from coercion and mandates from employers, the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Health is conducting an inquiry to determine if any laws were broken in this case,” spokesperson Weesam Khoury stated in an email to The Orlando Sentinel. “The Department is committed to upholding all laws, including the ban on vaccine mandates for government employees and will take appropriate action once additional information is known.”

Hmm. That’s … bizarre. And rather Orwellian coming from a “health” department.

Then again, I suspect every Florida government agency is just a glorified Ron DeSantis for President campaign office these days. Should we really expect any better?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Washington Post makes European vaccine resisters sound so much more sophisticated than ours
Hunter

In a story that takes up a sizable portion of its front page, The Washington Post brings us the travails of one unvaccinated Italian man—a professional chamber musician who, due to his refusal to abide by Europe's ever-growing vaccination mandates, can no longer "check into a hotel, eat at a restaurant or get coffee at a bar." You are free to interpret the story as you wish. On one hand, it provides a gentle and sympathetic view of a phenomenon that many modern Americans do not fully believe in, namely the existence of Italy. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine anybody in this country or any other was piping up with won't somebody think of the over-eccentric chamber musicians?

Or maybe it's a reminder that American anti-vax whiners have no freakin' idea how pampered they are. We're in the middle of a new world war, this one against an emergent virus that has killed millions and which we probably could have stood a chance against, if humanity spent a little less time inventing new ways to be incompetent and ridiculous. Europe's chamber musicians can't even get a damn cup of coffee without being asked to show their "Green Pass," the proof of vaccination required to get on public transportation or enter many buildings or, well, get coffee. American vaccine resisters can do pretty much whatever they want, and don't even need to wear a mask.

All right, so here's the deal. "Eccentric" cellist Claudio Ronco doesn't want to get vaccinated, and he has a lot of reasons for that that range from the mention of "hydroxychloroquine" to "alternative methods" to Nazi passport documents (Ronco identifies as Orthodox Jew)—but it boils down to being an eccentric and thinking eccentric things about medical issues he knows nothing about. Unfortunately, our front-page cellist hero lives in Venice, one of the top tourist destinations on the entire flippin' planet. Venice has tight pandemic rules and you have to show your Green Pass to get on the city's water taxis no matter how talented or eccentric you pride yourself on being, so Ronco had enough difficulty traveling that he was forced to temporarily move to a home in the Italian hills where you don't need water taxis to get around.

Oh, and everyone around Ronco is pretty damn sure he should just get vaccinated and get on with his life, but Ronco instead appears to be being performative enough in his public insistence not to care that he's been shedding fans and friends and sure, okay, that's gonna happen. But because Ronco is Italian (and from Venice, no less) this is all much more artistic and sweeping and better-written than the American versions of the same story would be. The Washington Post tells a slightly meandering story of an eccentric Italian cellist who can no longer take the water taxi through the Venetian canals.

We get the American version from The New York Times every third day or so, except the person being profiled is typically a self-employed realtor from New West Bumblebrook who is incensed that they're not allowed into the town brewpub and who, when asked, says that it's because Bill Gates is putting nanochips in all our medicine and now she has to go to the farm store to get the livestock versions.

Yeah, doesn't sound nearly as ennui-filled or drenched-in-sunset-reds without the water taxis, does it? I'm sure Europeans think our crowds of unmasked "Let's Go Brandon" shouters are pretty damn eccentric themselves, though.

I mean ... okay? Sure? Guy doesn't want to get vaccinated, guy finds out that DURING A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC, LIVING IN A WORLD-RENOWNED TOURIST TRAP living your normal life is going to get increasingly uncomfortable if you're not willing to do the one thing that will help prevent you from dying. Italy doesn't want any dead cellists, thank you. They have a whole great bunch of them already—you can't go ten paces in many parts of Europe without tripping over the bones of a long-dead cellist. It doesn't matter how old or historic your cellos are, the country has a lot of problems and a lot of budgeting to do and nobody is interested in paying to haul your eccentric corpse out of your apartment because you once saw a guy tout hydro-chloro-whatever and now believe it, rather than any of the things that medical science has found to be far more helpful, is the solution the rest of the planet is refusing to see.

But it is more than that. Our cellist, being a cellist, wants to travel all around Europe for his concert gigs—without being vaccinated. Our cellist, being a cellist, wants to be able to gather paying crowds into chamber music places to hear chamber music things—without being vaccinated.

And he's living his current lonely and spartan life because "let's have unvaccinated traveling performers flit from city to city gathering new crowds of people in each place DURING A PANDEMIC" sounds objectively like one of the worst ideas anybody ever had. It is near the top of the bad idea pyramid. Even with vaccination passports it sounds like a terrible idea that should probably just not happen until the surges stop surging, but being allowed to do it while actively refusing to be vaccinated puts it up at the very top of that pyramid, in the place where the creepy glowing eyeball usually goes.

Buddy, no. Just no. And Washington Post, giving space to an eccentric eccentric who is eccentrically depressed about his eccentric life choices having consequences is sending weird signals, here. Did somebody just want to expense a trip to the Italian countryside or the Venetian canals? It's that, isn't it.

Can you imagine what would happen if our own federal government instituted a "Green Pass" requirement insisting that you needed to be vaccinated before taking the bus, or getting on a plane, or even getting a coffee? There'd be civil war. Ron DeSantis and the new private militia he's trying to start up would be on the frontlines, stripping people's masks off and spitting in their mouths in order to fight tyranny.

"You'll impinge on the travel plans of chamber musicians over our dead bodies," they'll yell. "Without the cello, no freedom exists!"

I don't know here. I think we're all very tired and a little punchy, and it's hard for anything to come into sharp mental focus. But the Post notes that "for people like Ronco, the choice is to get inoculated or face exclusion," and the most natural response would seem to be ... yes? Pretty much? That is in fact the trade being made here, as nations ask their citizens to fight a pandemic that has killed millions and some of those citizens respond with a low, resonant grunting noise?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump lawyer lobs threats as National Archives prepares to send some documents to select committee
Laura Clawson

If Donald Trump’s lawyers don’t get quick action from the Supreme Court, the first four pages of White House records relating to Jan. 6 could be turned over to the House select committee on Wednesday evening.

The National Archives has identified four pages that the committee wants and that it says are not included in Trump’s lawsuit to block the release of documents. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December issued an injunction preventing the Biden administration from turning over three tranches of documents—documents the court said can be given to the House select committee at the president’s discretion, and which President Joe Biden has said he would release—but allowed Trump time to appeal to the Supreme Court. The four pages set to be released on Wednesday at 6 PM ET are not included in those three tranches of documents, though, according to the National Archives, and Trump’s lawyers have not moved to specifically block them.
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“On December 17, 2021, the Counsel to the President directed the Archivist to withhold those records for an additional thirty days—i.e., through today, January 18, 2022—to enable the former President to seek an injunction if he wished,” the filing explains. “Because the former President has not obtained such an injunction from any court, the release will proceed as scheduled absent an intervening court order.”

A lawyer for Trump, Jesse Binnall, responded in court on Wednesday with a threat to have the Biden administration held in contempt of court. “Under no circumstances should the government's misconduct and attempt to create an ad hoc record be sanctioned by this Court,” Binnall wrote. “The weighty issues being considered by the Supreme Court should be decided under the normal course, not by the government's attempt to bypass a lawful injunction.”

But according to the National Archives’ Tuesday filing, contempt would not apply: “This Court specifically stated in its December 9, 2021 decision, however, that its administrative injunction encompassed only records from the first three tranches, which were the only tranches at issue in the appeal.” Trump’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to enjoin the release of any contested materials, but that has not (yet) happened. The four pages in question therefore fall outside of the existing circuit court injunction but haven’t yet been addressed by the Supreme Court.

Unless the Supreme Court moves to block the release in the few hours remaining before 6 PM, there is no injunction in the way of the National Archives’ plan. The four pages in question come from the Office of Records Management and are a tiny proportion of the more than 700 pages the select committee is seeking over Trump’s objections. That larger mass of documents includes daily presidential diaries and files from then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, among others.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Supreme Court clears the way for House to get Trump White House documents

The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for the release of presidential records from the Trump White House to a congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

The court's order means that more than 700 documents that could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection when hundreds of rioters converged on the Capitol attempting to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election results will be transferred to Congress.

The move effectively moots former President Donald Trump's pending appeal in the case that centered on keeping the documents secret.


This story is breaking and will be updated.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden strikes optimistic tone, but acknowledges some missteps, in press conference
Laura Clawson

President Joe Biden marked the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration with a press conference that developed along predictable lines. Biden opened with optimistic remarks highlighting the progress and achievements of the past year, then faced a series of doom-laden questions. (Notably, unlike the former guy, Biden took a lot of follow-up questions.)

Asked if he had overpromised on his agenda, Biden insisted that he had not. But, he said, he had overestimated his ability to “get my Republican friends to get in the game of making things better in this country.” To that end, Biden cited New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s explanation for opting not to run for Senate.

”They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren’t doing anything,” Biden quoted Sununu. “It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. Okay, so I’m just going to be a roadblock for two years. That’s not what I do … It bothered me that they were okay with that.”
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Biden added, “I did not anticipate that there’d be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done.” He vowed to spend much of the next year challenging Republicans to show what they’re for, instead of just blocking things.

But, as reporters pointed out, a key problem for Biden’s agenda lies on the Democratic side of the Senate, in Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. While he acknowledged the problem, Biden suggested that since both support significant parts of his Build Back Better agenda, he was confident he could get “big chunks” of it signed into law. He did not make clear how chunks of Build Back Better could get through if it wasn’t brought up under budget reconciliation.

Similarly, Biden addressed voting rights, highlighting increased enforcement from the Justice Department and expressing optimism that parts of the bills currently being blocked by Republicans (and Manchin and Sinema) in the Senate would end up being passed.

In short, Biden more or less admitted that both Build Back Better and voting rights legislation would be blocked in their full forms, but suggested that he was prepared to keep negotiating to get something passed. Asked what he would say to Black voters who feel he isn’t fighting for them, Biden said, “I have their back, I’ve had their back my entire career,” but—in a pause-laden answer—acknowledged that he had “not been out in the community enough,” and had not done enough to put a public face on his behind-the-scenes work on the issue.

Asked if he was satisfied with Vice President Kamala Harris’ work on voting rights and if she would be his running mate in 2024, Biden said, “Yes and yes,” and declined to expand on the answer.


Biden also fielded a series of questions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions toward Ukraine.

What should have been late in the press conference, before he went on to take questions from the bottom of the barrel—Fox News’ Peter Doocy, Newsmax, Yahoo’s Alexander Nazaryan appearing to audition for Fox News—Biden was asked if he thought he could have done things differently. After a brief flash of irritation, Biden expressed his confidence in his team, but said, “There’s three things I’m going to do differently.”

“Number one, I’m going to get out of this place more often,” he said, to connect with the public. Number two, “Now that some of the big chunks have been put in place, I’m going to be out there seeking the advice of more experts from outside.” And “Third thing I’m going to be doing a lot more of is … I’m going to be deeply involved in these off-year elections.”

According to Biden’s opening remarks:

  • The U.S. went from two million people vaccinated against COVID-19 to 210 million vaccinated.
  • Six million jobs were added and unemployment dropped to 3.9%.
  • Child poverty dropped by nearly 40%.
  • Health insurance premiums were reduced for millions of families and surprise medical billing banned.
Much of that, of course, is because of the American Rescue Plan. Biden also highlighted the infrastructure law that will invest in roads, bridges, ports, trains, removing lead pipes, affordable high-speed infrastructure.

“Still, for all this progress I know there’s a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country,” Biden said, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the omicron surge. He acknowledged that his administration should have focused on more testing sooner, emphasizing that both in-person and at-home testing capacity is being ramped up significantly.

“Some people may call what’s happening now ‘the new normal,’” Biden said. “I call it a job not yet finished.”
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mtulipan
Jan 19, 2022 at 06:15:15 PM

Biden stood there for 1 hr 54 mins and some idiot from Newsmax asked about mental competence. Someone should have that guy examined. Biden dismissed him. Nothing this long is going to be perfect but thank god for an engaged, decent human being actually trying to do the work people elected him to do. The media was horrible. Every question was couched as if he were continually failing… a disgrace.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Supreme Count DENIES Trump's bid to stop document release
DRo

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jen Psaki takes a break from humiliating Peter Doocy so Biden can have the fun
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

I’ll keep this short—like the leash Fox News should have on Peter Doocy, who is to journalism what Edward R. Murrow is to whatever Peter Doocy’s profession is supposed to be.

Normally, President Biden’s White House press secretary, the sublime Jen Psaki, plays tetherball with Doocy’s pasty, addled pate for a few rounds of “spot the dishonest framing.” But today, in a kick-ass press conference that reminded everyone in attendance and at home who won the damn election, Biden dispatched Doocy all on his own.

Watch (second tweet):



Bravo!

Biden might have added “traditional” Democrat—as in, the kind of Democrat who prevailed before Reaganomics cut the poor and middle class off at the knees, leading to the yawning chasm of wealth inequality we’ve been forced to live with for decades now.

And, for his part, Doocy might have asked, “Why are you trying so hard to pull the country so far to the left of Dwight Eisenhower, who presided over a growing middle class and a top marginal tax rate of 91%?”

But if he did that, he wouldn’t have a sound bite to bring home to Daddy Rupert, now would he?

Here’s wishing you luck in your quest to become a real boy, Peter. In the meantime, perhaps you should think about switching careers. Maybe you could get a job on Devin Nunes’ dairy farm. After all, literally shoving shit is a much more honest profession than metaphorically doing so.
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Biden Gracefully Guts FOX News Hack Peter Doocy Who Asks Yet Another Ridiculous Question
avatar_309201.jpg

News Corpse

On the occasion of President Biden's one year anniversary in the White House, he held a press conference to answer the many questions that the media has about the important issues of the day. Unfortunately, some members of the press corps don't take this as seriously as it deserves.

The press conference lasted a couple of hours as Biden sought to give everyone an opportunity to have their questions answered. However, some of the right-wing rabble grew impatient because they were so anxious to hear from Peter Doocy of Fox News. So they took to Twitter to complain that Biden was dodging him before the event was even over........
 

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