More to ignore, Book 24....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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As reporters were being whisked away from a White House meeting on Monday, Fox NewsPeter Doocy shouted one last question to President Joe Biden.

“Do you think inflation is a political liability …in the midterms?” Doocy could be heard asking.

Biden then could be heard muttering, in a bit of sarcasm, “That’s a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.”

The reporters had been brought in to catch a portion of the meeting and Biden’s remarks to his Competition Council, an event on Monday devoted to discussing ways to reduce costs and boost wages.


“Our economy shouldn’t be about people working for capitalism, if should be about capitalism working for people,” Biden said.....
 
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Lion8286

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You need to watch this, Marbles. Even CNN couldn't dispute what this guy was saying.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Youngkin schools country in how to create sheer chaos in first week on the job as Virginia governor
Kerry Eleveld

Little more than a week into his foray as a public servant and Virginia's governor, Glenn Youngkin has injected statewide chaos into the education system after issuing an executive order that makes school mask mandates optional.

The order, which was due to take effect Monday, immediately pitted parents against parents, parents against administrators, and drew a rash of lawsuits aiming to block it from being implemented.
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The vast majority of Virginia school districts have required in-school masking throughout the pandemic. But virtually no one knew what to expect Monday after most superintendents in the tony Virginia suburbs just outside the Beltway vowed to continue enforcing mask mandates, and the state's lieutenant governor threatened on Fox News to yank funding from any non-compliant districts.

“The governor [is] throwing jet fuel on an already divisive culture clash in Virginia, and inviting lawsuits that will now consume much of his administration,” Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, told the Washington Post.

As some parents protested in support of mandates and others planned anti-mask walk ins with their children, many school boards braced to enforce masking measures that would ensure the safety of their students.

“We advised our members to report students and staff who don’t want to wear their masks,” said Kimberly Adams, board chair of the 4,000-strong Fairfax Education Association told the Post. “Now it’s just a waiting game to see what happens.”

Arlington was one of six districts that signed on to a lawsuit brought by Fairfax County Public Schools seeking an immediate injunction to block Youngkin's order from being implemented. Fairfax filed the legal challenge on grounds that the order violated the Virginia Constitution, which states: “The supervision of schools in each school division shall be vested in a school board.” State lawmakers also passed a law last summer mandating that schools adopt federal health guidelines to the "maximum extent practicable." CDC guidelines currently recommend in-school masking in K-12 schools for everyone aged 2 and up.

According to a Post tally, school officials in at least 58 of the state's some 130 districts vowed to defy Youngkin's order and continue requiring masks.

Meanwhile, things escalated in some rural areas of the state as angry parents agitated for their districts to lift the mandates. One anti-masking mother in Page County threatened school officials if they failed to make mask wearing optional.

"My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, that's not happening,” Amelia King said at a Page County school board meeting last week. “And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready," she said, adding, "I will see you Monday." The board ultimately voted to follow Youngkin's order and make masking optional.

Youngkin seemed to acknowledge that things were escalating out of control in a tweet over the weekend begging for people to stay calm and peaceful.

"While the legal process continues on the parental opt out of mask mandates for their children in schools, I urge everyone to love your neighbor, to listen to school principals, and to trust the legal process," the Youngkin tweeted Saturday morning.

That's not the tweet of a governor who feels like they have a handle on things. That's the tweet of a political novice who failed to anticipate the explosion before jumping on the pyre.


So much for Youngkin's Midas touch and the GOP's sure-fire education formula for the midterms. Youngkin just might end up being exhibit A in what suburban America can expect if they put Republicans in control in November—sheer chaos.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Showing up at a public official's house is not universally acceptable, nor should it be
Lauren Sue

I’ll never forget my first trip aboard a Greyhound bus. A friend and I had planned a trip from our university in Columbia, Missouri, to Washington University, where Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco was performing. The bus was several hours late, but more notably when it did arrive, the only remaining seat for me was next to a man wearing a flowing ankle-length white robe and pointed white cap. He looked like a klansman. I was later told he in fact was not a klansman. Apparently, his garb was religious, but nothing and no one could convince me in that moment that my life wasn’t in immediate danger. I was a ball of fury, frustration, and tears by the time my friend relieved me and opted to swap seats. I couldn’t understand why no one on the bus but me was having this reaction, and more importantly, if everyone else did in fact view my outburst as a dramatic overreaction, why no one but my friend offered to swap seats.

I don’t blame them. I don’t even necessarily blame the man in the white robe. But there is the small matter of past experiences in this country shaping our lens moving forward. I can’t imagine what it would have triggered if several men in white robes and pointed hats showed up on my front lawn, praying or otherwise. Today’s white robe seems to have unfortunately become the American flag, and several—we’ll call them conservative activists—showed up on the property of Amanda Weinstein, a professor and wife of Ohio state Rep. Casey Weinstein. She handled her situation with far more maturity and restraint than I did.

Weinstein tweeted on Sunday: "As if getting groceries in a pandemic isn’t hard enough. Legitimate political spouse question: how do I get my @Instacart order when my house is blocked with protesters?"

She also reached out to the local police department—always something that gives me pause—and gave her Instacart shopper a heads up. The professor wrote in periodic updates:




Weinstein shared a press release announcing the passage of a bill to "allow for the issuing of temporary occupational licenses to active duty service members and their spouses living in Ohio as a result of undergoing a permanent change of station."

She shared in another tweet: “For those new to Ohio politics, this is also my husband - one of the most vocal opponents fighting against the ‘worst energy bill of the 21st century’ funded by taxpayers & the ‘largest bribery scandal in Ohio history’ orchestrated by @ohiogop”



A few tweets later, Weinstein changed focuses. “Something about standing for the flag and kneeling for the cross - because every good Christian man knows intimidating my 3 year old is part of his faith and his politics,” she wrote.



It’s that moment that should inspire any activist and their peers to rethink exactly why they’re showing up on the front lawn of a political figure’s house. And I’m a journalist from the breaking news world, so I’ve spent many an assignment popping up at elected officials’ houses when they’ve been unresponsive to calls and emails. Intent matters.

Excluding situations in which an elected official is accused of a crime, I can’t honestly say I would feel comfortable popping up at the place where someone is raising their children to advocate for a cause, however near and dear that cause is to me.



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Anti-mandates march in D.C. manifests how anti-vaxxers have morphed into a far-right movement
David Neiwert

Back when it was first gaining traction in the 1990s, the anti-vaccination movement was largely considered a far-left thing, attracting believers ranging from barter-fair hippies to New Age gurus and their followers to “holistic medicine” practitioners. And it largely remained that way … until 2020 and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” march in Washington, D.C., however, showed us, there’s no longer anything even remotely left-wing about the movement. Populated with Proud Boys and “Patriot” militiamen, QAnoners and other Alex Jones-style conspiracists who blithely indulge in Holocaust relativism and other barely disguised antisemitism, and ex-hippies who now spout right-wing propaganda—many of them, including speakers, encouraging and threatening violence—the crowd at the National Mall manifested the reality that “anti-vaxxers” now constitute a full-fledged far-right movement, and a potentially violent one at that.
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The most prominent of these extremists was former progressive icon Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has morphed over the past decade and longer, due to his obsession with the anti-vaccination cause, into a raving far-right conspiracy theorist. On Sunday, he was one of many who compared anti-pandemic measures such as masking and vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.

"Even in Hitler Germany (sic), you could, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did," Kennedy said. "I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died, true, but it was possible."

Many of the rally attendees wore yellow replicas of the Star of David badges that were forced upon Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and many of them carried signs referencing both that horrific episode of history and the German Nazi regime that inflicted it. So did other speakers, such as Del Bigtree, CEO of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, who added a threatening tone directed at journalists.

"Unlike the Nuremberg Trials that only tried those doctors that destroyed the lives of those human beings, we're going to come after the press,” Bigtree told the crowd.

Violence was also an undercurrent in the audience, some of whom carried signs suggesting a lethal response: “Shoot those who try to kidnap and vaccinate your child.” Another agreed with Bigtree, calling for “Nuremberg Trials 2.0.”

The inherent antisemitism of the anti-vaxxers’ conspiracism was also on full display: A large bus pulled up to the protest area blaring music with lyrics pronouncing “It’s God Over Government,” festooned on its side with mock “Wanted” posters featuring the anti-vaxxers bogeymen, notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and attorney Jacob Rothschild—the latter of whom has no known connection to the vaccine or mandates whatsoever, but whose last name conjures up Hitler’s antisemitic conspiracy theories that identified the family as one of the primary components of the Jewish cabal that Nazis believed secretly controlled the world.

The audience was a veritable showcase of the wide bandwidth of a far-right extremism. White nationalists from Nick Fuentes’ “Groyper army” (who have begun attaching themselves to anti-vaxx rallies as a way to recruit new followers) brought their “America First” banners. Proud Boys, who similarly have become a presence at COVID-denialism events, were also scattered throughout the crowd.

As Zachary Petrizzo of the Daily Beast reported, there were also lots of people out making money from the high percentage of hyper-gullible marks in the crowd:

Along the march route, attendees were also enticed to buy Trump paraphernalia, given religious books, and encouraged to take a free nasal spray that promises to cure anyone of the coronavirus if they are infected. Xlear CEO Nathan Jones, whose company sells the spray and has been sued by the FTC, was in attendance and baselessly claimed to The Daily Beast that his nasal solution “works” on COVID-19, adding that “just using saltwater [will] stop the spread of COVID-19 in the lungs.”

The coalescence of the anti-vaccination movement with other far-right conspiracist movements—particularly the authoritarian QAnon cult—has been an ongoing phenomenon since COVID-19 broke out in 2020, and the radicalization of its believers has been gathering steam increasingly since. Likewise, the inherently violent nature of many of these movements has resulted in an increasing drumbeat of real-world violence directed at health-care workers, local authorities, and anyone who supports the pandemic measures.

Along the way, it has spread globally. In Europe this weekend, similar anti-mandate demonstrations brought together the COVID conspiracists with neo-Nazis, white “identitarians,” and a broad array of other far-right extremists.

Some European anti-vaxxers have attempted to shut down vaccination sites by claiming they have a “crime number” for the site, meaning they’re supposedly under police investigation (they’re not). Some of them, claiming to be “common-law officers,” have attempted to arrest nurses, teachers, and even police officers. Much of their rhetoric echoes the American “sovereign citizen” movement.

As Amanda Marcotte observes at Salon, these previously diffuse movements are commingling into a perfect storm of unified right-wing extremism that runs from mainstream Republicans to smirking neo-Nazis, with consequences well beyond just the pandemic:

There are a lot of Republican voters whose hatred and desire to spite Democrats has led them to gamble with their own lives by refusing vaccines. It's not much of a leap to believe such folks are open to taking things to the next level, to reject democracy and embrace an authoritarian ideology for the same vindictive reasons. The anti-vaccine discourse is a perfect space to blur the lines between being a petty partisan who is mad about losing an election and being an outright fascist who no longer believes in holding free and fair elections.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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At least three states introduce bills to protect election workers following pro-Trump threats
Aysha Qamar

Officials across the country are finally taking action against the consistent violence election workers are subject to. Since the 2020 election, hundreds of Donald Trump supporters have sent out threatening messages to election workers. As a result, at least three states have introduced bills to create stricter penalties for those who continue to do so, in addition to making it easier to prosecute offenders, Reuters reported.

Introduced in Vermont, Maine, and Washington State, the bills come after a Reuters report published last month in which more than 850 hostile messages were reportedly sent to U.S. election officials since 2020. Nearly all of the messages reiterated false claims that the presidential election was stolen due to voter fraud. According to the report, more than 100 of them met the standard of a "true threat," or the federal threshold for a criminal prosecution, according to law professors and attorneys who reviewed them.

Each of the three states cited Reuters’ report and its finding in introducing the bills. While Washington State senators voted to make threatening election workers a felony this month, Vermont lawmakers are considering bills to make it easier to prosecute people who threaten election officials. According to Seattle news station KING-TV, the Washington bill has a penalty that could range as high as a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Meanwhile, in Maine, the proposed legislation would strengthen penalties already in place.

“This is unacceptable,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in reference to the Reuters report. She added that at least two municipal clerks in Maine were threatened with violence.



"Whether it's our staff, #VT Town Clerks, or election workers in other states, no one should have to face violent threats, intimidation or fear for their life while working on behalf of our democracy," Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condo's office tweeted Monday. According to the Brattleboro Reformer, Condo has received a series of horrific voicemails, including being threatened with execution by a firing squad.

"While these voicemails were the first that rose to the level of reporting to law enforcement due to the specific acts of violence mentioned and threatening nature of the calls, they are merely the extension of a pattern of vitriolic, often obscene, calls that our staff have had to endure during this election year," Condo told the Reformer in December.

“Justice is coming,” one man said in an October message to Condo, according to Reuters. “All you dirty c‑‑‑suckers are about to get f‑‑‑ing popped. I f‑‑‑ing guarantee it.”

While prosecutions for these cases have been historically rare, a U.S. Department of Justice task force on election threats announced its first indictment on Friday, Reuters reported. The department charged a Texas man for posting online threats against three officials in Georgia.

The task force will work with the FBI, local law enforcement, U.S. Attorneys offices, and the election community in order to address ongoing threats and protect election workers.

"A threat to any election official, worker, or volunteer is, at bottom, a threat to democracy," the task force said in June. "Election officials must be permitted to do their jobs free from improper partisan influence, physical threats, or any other conduct designed to intimidate. The Department of Justice has a long history of protecting every American's right to vote, and will continue to do so."

At this time, the criminal threats legislation has not drawn significant public opposition, although this is predicted to change once hearings begin.

Hearings on the legislation are expected to begin this month. While officials believe the legislation will not necessarily stop the threats, it is a step in the right direction. “We know that if we don’t make these changes, there’s no chance anything will happen,” state Sen. Richard Sears told Reuters.

Violence connected to Trump supporters is not a new topic. Even before the 2020 election Trump supporters consistently used violence to threaten anyone who opposed their views. Reports by multiple outlets last year found more than 50 cases that specifically cited Trump as the reason behind a violent action. Hundreds of others were designated as being inspired by Trump even though the perpetrator did not directly say Trump’s name during the attack.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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......Let’s talk, in particular, about the attack on education, especially but not only in Florida, which has become one of America’s leading laboratories of democratic erosion.

Republicans have made considerable political hay by denouncing the teaching of critical race theory; this strategy has succeeded even though most voters have no idea what that theory is and it isn’t actually being taught in public schools. But the facts in this case don’t matter, because denunciations of C.R.T. are basically a cover for a much bigger agenda: an attempt to stop schools from teaching anything that makes right-wingers uncomfortable.

I use that last word advisedly: There’s a bill advancing in the Florida Senate declaring that an individual “should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.” That is, the criterion for what can be taught isn’t “Is it true? Is it supported by the scholarly consensus?” but rather “Does it make certain constituencies uncomfortable?”......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....In an age of Covid fatigue and frustration with school closures and changing education guidance about the pandemic, Younkin played the reassuring Suburban Fleece Daddy, promising parents he would listen to them and restore sanity to the state’s Covid policies, especially regarding schools...Democrats who voted for Youngkin were indeed naive. In his very first day as governor, Youngkin issued a raft of divisive executive orders that would make Trump proud. One violated a campaign promise. While candidate Youngkin said he opposed a statewide mask mandate for schools, he also said he would not ban them. “Localities are going to have to make decisions the way the law works.” One of his first acts was to ban them instead. Seven school boards have sued to keep their mandates in place........