Thursday, June 24, 2021

Right-Wing Thought Police Target Universities

 

Couching their cynical moves to promote right-wing teaching at public universities, Republican governors and legislatures have doubled down on their bogus attacks on teaching the impact of racism on our institutions (i.e., critical race theory). They're now focusing on policing instruction at public universities in their jurisdictions, going after universities which they perceive as "indoctrinating" students in liberal philosophy. 

On Tuesday, Florida's ambitious and amoral Trump enabler Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will require universities to survey "viewpoint diversity" (i.e., promulgation of right-wing studies) that could lead to budget cuts if Republican political hacks in the state want to punish them for falling short (and they will):

"The bill defines those two terms as the exposure to — and encouragement or exploration of — “a variety of ideological and political perspectives.”

'We want our universities to be focused on critical thinking and academic rigor. We do not want them as basically hotbeds for stale ideology,' DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday. 'That’s not worth tax dollars and not something we’re going to be supporting moving forward.'”  (our emphasis)

Of course, what could be more stale that peddling "lost cause" myths about the Civil War, ignore Jim Crow of yesteryear and today, "trickle down" economics, and other right-wing articles of faith?

In Republican-controlled Indiana, a bill was signed into law in late April that would "survey" students to determine whether they felt that they were free to express opinions (including misogynist, racist, etc. opinions) without negative consequences. The initiative, which was cynically couched in "free speech" terms, is part of a national drive by the right to police courses and activities on campus and to force universities to include right-wing teachings and allow their offensive activism. Leading the national drive is a right-wing organization, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is funded by conservative outfits link the Charles Koch Institute and Bradley Foundation and is opposed to "campus speech codes" protecting minorities from harassment and slander.

The actions of Florida and Indiana won't be the last, and may not be the worst, to come on this latest culture war battlefront.

 

Tracking Down The Insurrectionists: The Manhandler And The Cooperator

 

 

Yesterday, the FBI arrested another dimwitted, angry white man, Brian Glenn Bingham, in connection with the January 6 insurrection.  Bingham (pictured above) had bragged on Facebook, " I got to manhandl[e] 5 cops and live to tell." 

He'll now live to tell about charges for assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, among other charges.

Also, in a major development affecting the conspiracy case against the seditionist Oath Keepers, one of their members, Graydon Young, has pleaded guilty to several charges in a plea deal with prosecutors:

Federal prosecutors secured their first guilty plea Wednesday in the Justice Department's sprawling conspiracy case involving the Oath Keepers extremist group in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

At a hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C., Graydon Young pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. The 55-year-old Florida resident agreed to cooperate with investigators, which could prove critical as the government pursues the remaining defendants in the high-profile case.

Young is one of 16 people associated with the Oath Keepers to be charged with conspiracy, obstruction and other offenses over the Capitol riot. Prosecutors say the defendants coordinated their efforts and actions to try to disrupt Congress' certification of the Electoral College count on Jan. 6.

The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and 3 Percenters are likely being prosecuted under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), as the obstruction of an official government proceeding is considered a racketeering activity.  It could be a key weapon in taking down these fascist paramilitary organizations.

Five-hundred twenty-five (525) people have been arrested so far for their part in the January 6 insurrection.

Please check out the FBI page for tracking down these dangers to our democracy.

(Photo:  Imagine if he were a black guy/ FBI)


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Tweets Of The Day

 

"The election rules that work best are the ones that keep Democrats from voting ... y'all" --

 

 

"There is no history of systemic racism in America!" (cont.) --

 

 


Who you gonna believe, the Zip Tie Guy or your lying eyes? --



It worked out so well before --

 

 

Maybe do some ranked- choice voting? --

 

 

 

Michigan Republicans Find No Evidence Of Fraud In 2020 Results

 

Well, lookee here:

A months-long Republican investigation into Michigan’s 2020 election uncovered no evidence of widespread fraud and concluded Wednesday with a recommendation the attorney general investigate those who made false claims for "personal gain." 

The 35-page report prepared by Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, dives deep to debunk conspiracy theories perpetuated by former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters in the wake of the Michigan election, which Democratic President Joe Biden won by 154,188 votes.

While the Senate Oversight Committee investigation revealed some “glaring issues” and vulnerabilities the Legislature should fix, “there is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters,” McBroom wrote.

"Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan," the report concluded. “The committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”  (our emphasis)

Prepare for incoming from the malignant, former Big Lie guy!

(Side note -- we're curious what "glaring issues" and "vulnerabilities" they uncovered requiring the Republican legislature to "fix."  We're not sanguine.)

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Michael de Adder, Washington Post)


 (Pat Byrnes, caglecartoons.com)


(R.J. Matson, CQ/ Roll Call)

(Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)

(Clay Jones, claytoonz.com)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)


Mid-Week Song

 

Australian singer-composer Vance Joy, best known for his 2013 international hit "Riptide," has a new single out, "Missing Piece," with a playful accompanying video. Enjoy.

Cracking Down On Lawbreaking Gun Dealers




Today, President Biden is announcing new efforts to stem the epidemic of gun violence, which is producing a mass shooting nearly every day in the U.S. According to a White House fact sheet:

"- Stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including by holding rogue firearms dealers accountable for violating federal laws;

- Support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to help address summer violent crime;

- Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions;

- Expanding summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults; and

- Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities."

 Biden will announce a "zero tolerance policy" on gun dealers that violate Federal firearms laws, including  revocation of their licenses on the first offense. Last month, Biden launched a crack down on "ghost guns" -- guns assembled at home from kits -- that lack serial numbers for tracing by law enforcement, while Congressional Democrats have passed two bills that expand background checks for gun purchases and provide additional time for Federal vetting of purchases by individuals flagged for concerns. Corrupt and cynical hack Sen. Moscow Mitch McConnell (Insurrection-KY) has blocked the bills in the Senate, despite universal background checks being widely popular, as polls have shown.  It's another example of why the Jim Crow filibuster rule has to go.

(photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

Poll: Americans Believe Filibuster Creates Gridlock, Not Compromise


Proving that, while you can fool some Democratic Senators some of the time, you can't fool the American people all of the time:

(click to enlarge)



"What Could Be More Hypocritical And Cynical"

 

ICYMI, here's Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock's full speech in the Senate yesterday, during which he posed the seminal question, What could be more hypocritical and cynical than invoking minority rights in the Senate as a pretext for preventing debate about how to preserve minority rights in the society?”  The 50 anti- democracy Republican Senators then voted en masse to deny even having a debate on the voting rights legislation. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tweets Of The Day


Stop the presses! --

 


Medicaid enrollment soars --

 


Helping the opposition ensure that you lose --



The never- ending race --

 

 

Malignant narcissist can't take jokes about him -- 


 

Pride --

 


Sounds fishy to us --

 

 

 

QOTD -- "A Pertinacious Minority"

 

"... The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.

"It is not difficult to discover, that a principle of this kind gives greater scope to foreign corruption, as well as to domestic faction, than that which permits the sense of the majority to decide; though the contrary of this has been presumed. The mistake has proceeded from not attending with due care to the mischiefs that may be occasioned by obstructing the progress of government at certain critical seasons. When the concurrence of a large number is required by the Constitution to the doing of any national act, we are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper will be likely TO BE DONE, but we forget how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced, by the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary, and of keeping affairs in the same unfavorable posture in which they may happen to stand at particular periods." -- Alexander Hamilton, arguing in Federalist No. 22 that the majority must not be held hostage by the minority in Congress, a defect he saw in the Articles of Confederation that the Jim Crow filibuster rule enshrines (our emphasis).

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, gocomics.com)

(John Darkow, Columbia Missourian)

(Ed Wexler, caglecartoons.com)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

(Jimmy Margulies, jimmymargulies.com)

(Marc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal, KY)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)
 


Colbert Serves Up Trump, Kushner And More

 

Last night, Late Show host Stephen Colbert had a raucous audience and a hilarious monologue to go with it. He touched on revelations from a new book on Trump's White (Supremacist) House, the Bill O'Liely /  Loser Guy tour, cruise ships and Matt "Teen Spirit" Gaetz, and the Catholic bishops' threat to withhold communion from Catholic public figures (Biden, Pelosi) who support women's reproductive rights. He also has some choice nicknames for the "former guy": the Flag Fondler, the Quarter Flounder, and Dick A L'Orange. The enthusiastic audience responses to Colbert's jabs were priceless.

"Revolution" Planned By January 6 Rioters




Newly released court documents indicate that the FBI saw evidence on social media that violent Trumpist insurrectionists were planning "a revolution" leading up to their riot at the Capitol on January 6. FBI agent Patricia Norden acknowledged in February that unhinged supporters of their fascist Dear Leader were talking about bringing guns to the Capitol to start a revolution:

"A review of open source and social media posts leading up to and during the event indicates that individuals participating on the 'Stop the Steal,' rally were angered about the results of the 2020 presidential election and felt that Joseph Biden had unlawfully been declared 'President-Elect,'" said the report by FBI Special Agent Patricia Norden. "Users in multiple online groups and platforms discussed traveling to the Capitol armed or making plans to start a 'revolution' on that day.

Norden cited the posts as part of the FBI's justification for opening an investigation into former NYPD officer Thomas Webster, who was indicted in March on seven counts after he admitted attacking a Capitol police officer on Jan. 6. Webster, who has pleaded not guilty, says he was struck first; a federal prosecutor said Webster displayed "pure rage" befitting a "junkyard dog." Video of the alleged assault was released Thursday." (our emphasis)

Since January 6, a number of members of right-wing fanatical groups like the 3 Percenters, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy, reflecting the coordination that went on among them prior to the riot.

A disturbing aspect of this story is that the evidence brought to court by Agent Norden contradicts testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told Congress that the FBI lacked "actionable intelligence" that hundreds of rioters would engage in armed insurrection at the Capitol, at the urging of their Dear Leader. In the same testimony, Wray split hairs when trying to distinguish between "aspirational versus intentional" statements made by the extremists.

(photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty)

 

Sinema And The Filibuster

 

What can you say about someone as obstinately immune to history, logic and reality as Kyrsten Sinema:

My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles.

To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?

"We can't pass legislation because it might someday be repealed, so why bother?!"  OMFG.

Her op/ ed was published today, one day after meeting with President Biden at the White House. For now, we don't know if any light penetrated the void as a result.

Paul Blumenthal has a reality check:

The idea, espoused by [Sen. Joe] Manchin, that hyperpartisan gamesmanship is a result of eliminating the filibuster is upside-down. Hyperpartisan gamesmanship preceded former Senate Democratic Leader Reid’s elimination of the filibuster in 2013 for lower court and executive branch nominees in the form of the abuse of the filibuster.

The filibuster does not just impede bipartisan compromise. It also feeds partisanship by allowing lawmakers to signal support for legislation even if they don’t actually want to work to pass it. This is true for partisan bills, which senators can voice support for to please issue-based voters, while avoiding having to reveal how they would really vote on the matter since most bills that can’t get to 60 votes will never make it to the Senate floor.

Similarly, the filibuster increases partisanship by decreasing the likelihood of minority party lawmakers seeking to negotiate on behalf of their constituents for concessions in return for their vote. 

As seen with the infrastructure negotiations, the credible threat of passing Democrats’ priorities without Republican input through reconciliation ― a process that allows some bills to pass with only 50 votes ― is encouraging some negotiation and compromise.
Read that highlighted sentence above again and you'll recognize Sinema as one of those lawmakers.

On the page following Sinema's poorly argued essay, the editorial board of the Washington Post says of the debate that Republicans are likely to squelch today on voting rights legislation, including Sen. Manchin's For the People Act compromise:

Mr. Manchin’s reforms deserve a full hearing and an up-or-down vote. If his proposal does not get its due, Democrats should consider reforming the filibuster. There is no shortage of ideas about how to adjust the procedural maneuver without abolishing it, such as demanding that minority senators show up to sustain their filibusters; requiring three-fifths of present and voting senators to end a filibuster, rather than three-fifths of all senators; or reducing the number of votes needed to overcome filibusters. These are just a few possibilities.

If Republicans will not permit a vote on even the most obvious of pro-voting reforms, something needs to change. Senators should be cautious in reshaping the chamber’s rules — but not to a fault.

She's out of touch with her own party and Arizona voters on the issue of filibuster reform, so it begs the question, is Sinema that dense, or has someone or something gotten to her?  

Here's an ad running in Arizona now:

 

So, why are you doing the Republicans' dirty work, Sen. Sinema?

BONUS:  Ari Berman lays out the reality Sinema refuses to acknowledge --

It just seems like we are still witnessing a huge game of asymmetric warfare here where there is a 60 vote supermajority requirement in the Senate to pass any legislation protecting voting rights, but in the states Republicans are unilaterally making it harder to vote with a simple majority on party-line votes.

States like Sinema's Arizona, for instance.

BONUS II:  Greg Sargent has another swing at her illogic.

BONUS III: