Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Drop Everything and Pass This (Almost) Nothingburger



No, Amy, just no:

As noted by HuffPost

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to codify protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, a historic vote aimed at protecting people’s civil rights in the event that the conservative-led Supreme Court decides to dismantle marriage equality on the heels of gutting abortion rights.

The Respect for Marriage Act passed, 61 to 36. Every Democrat present voted for it, and they needed at least 10 Republicans to vote with them. They got 12...

The measure now heads to the House and, assuming it passes, to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday that the House plans to take up and pass the bill as soon as next Tuesday.

The bill does two things: It repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that banned same-sex marriage, and it requires states to recognize valid same-sex marriages from other states. It also ensures the same protections for interracial marriages.

Klobuchar's tweet is wrong on several levels: 1) "marriage equality" (i.e., same-sex marriage) already had been protected by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in Hodges v. Obergefell that no jurisdiction could prohibit it: 2) whatever is protected by the bill is not protected merely by action in the Senate but must also be passed in the House (as noted in the ABC News video below)- which might alter it with an amendment by the chamber's Republicans- and signed by the President; 3) the bill applies to interracial, as well as same-sex, marriages.

Other than that, the esteemed Senator from Minnesota has it exactly right.  By contrast, ABC News political reporter Brittany Shepherd seems to understand at least that the legislation is limited in scope- which (presumably) Klobuchar also does, but who as a Senator has motive to hype it. However, Shepherd also referred to it as a "monumental move for Democrats" and a "magnanimous, huge win for Joe Biden and Democrats." 


 


HuffPost explains

The bill does two things: It repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that banned same-sex marriage, and it requires states to recognize valid same-sex marriages from other states. It also ensures the same protections for interracial marriages.

Same-sex and interracial marriages are, of course, already legal nationwide. But Congress is pushing through this bill in response to conservatives on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this year, destroying 50 years of precedent, and suggesting that they could use the same rationale for overturning landmark decisions that have established the right to same-sex and consensual relationships.

Justice Clarence Thomas, for one, had this to say in a concurring opinion when the court overturned Roe v. Wade in June: “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

The Supreme Court already had overturned the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, in 2013 in United States v. Windsor. If the current bill is not enacted into law, jurisdictions nonetheless could not prohibit same-sex marriage, thanks to Hodges v. Obergefell

This bill would guarantee full faith and credit for intra-sexual and interracial marriages were Hodges to be overturned, such that a state enacting prohibition of same-sex marriage would be required recognize such a marriage which took place elsewhere. Good, but call me unimpressed.

Meanwhile, Republicans- including the most likely Speaker of the House- Kevin McCarthy- in the next Congress- are threatening to refuse to raise the debt limit in order to force a reduction in spending, including in Social Security and Medicare. Spending cuts would be disastrous; a default would be disastrous. But, hey, now if the Court overturns its ruling on same-sex marriage, a state banning gay marriage would be required to recognize the marriage of two men or two women married in a state permitting such unions. 

Several of those twelve Republicans who voted "aye" would sooner sooner run naked through a Chick-fil-A restaurant than vote for anything substantive proposed by Democrats. But they voted for this bill. Senator Klobuchar is thrilled, but we should not be shocked by this.




Monday, November 28, 2022

Pretend Christian


If you're a Bible-believing Christian, as Greene claims to be, you should know she's a fraud. If, as with most people, you're not a Bible-believing Christian, you should know she's a fraud.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is famous, or infamous, for many things, including in June declaring "We need to be the party of nationalism and I'm a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists." She claimed Christian nationalism would stop "crime in our streets," school shootings, and "sexual immorality" and "we should be most proud of Christianity. So if Christian nationalism is something to be scared of, they're lying to you."

This, then, should strike Bible-believing Christians as highly incongruous:

In a verse well-known even to some people not well-versed in Scripture, the apostle Paul told the Romans "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." If Marjorie were half as committed to Christianity as she purports to be, she'd be familiar with this fundamental principle of the faith.  

Those unfamiliar with Paul's admonition or skeptical of its authenticity themselves are aware that all are imperfect because, well, no one is perfect. Moreover, that young person who is confused or uncertain (or determined to transition) about his or her sexuality would soon find out that he or she is not perfect and then realize that the counselor, friend, or family member who said otherwise was lying. 

Greene's remark won't change the mind of a non-Christian or lukewarm Christian, nor that of devout Christians, most still supportive of an ex-President who was openly contemptuous of Christians and Christianity. Still, it's helpful to understand that as right-wing and nasty as Marjorie Taylor Greene is, she's also a fake, phony, and fraud.



 



Sunday, November 27, 2022

Tweet of the Day- RNC




Adam Kinzinger, again. Of course, this would be great, and for two reasons related to each other (which, of course, Ronna is to Mitt Romney, which she hid by dropping the "Romney" in her name).

McDaniel fed the alligator by being a loyal supporter of Donald J. Trump- and by being effectively convincing the mainstream media otherwise. In an article last November,  CNN reporter naively wrote

“Painfully, Joe Biden won the election and it’s very painful to watch. He’s the President. We know that,” McDaniel said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington, DC.

While the RNC has for months criticized Biden in press releases and rapid response materials, McDaniel’s comments Thursday marked the first time the party chairwoman has clearly stated that Biden “won” the 2020 election.

(Warning: sarcasm ahead.) What was her first clue? Was it the projection by networks a few as it when electors met in each state on 12/14/20 and cast their votes for the Delawarean? Was it the certification of the Electoral College of the results? Was it when Congress certified the electoral college vote in the early morning hours of January 7, 2021? Was it when Trump failed on 61 of 62 lawsuits he filed to overturn the election? Or was it when McDaniel saw Joe Biden speaking from inside the White House, or outside of it in the Rose Garden, at a lectern with the presidential seal?

Or this could have been a clue:


 

That the ex-vice president won the election and became President was never in doubt, except to a tiny minority of the hard-core MAGA people, and probably only to a tiny minority of them. To believe otherwise would not have been merely wrong, stupid, or even evil but certifiably delusional. 

The issue always has been- to a majority of Republicans, a small number of unaffiliated voters, and to Trump himself- whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected.  McDaniel never has admitted that he was and in February declared “Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line. They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”


 


Much of the media does not seem to understand who (or what) Ronna Romney McDaniel is. But Mike Lindell, though admittedly dangerous, is an open book and clearly embodies qualities which most of America rejects. If he does stand for election to head of the Republican National Committee, he might not win. However, if he does become its chairman, the entertainment value would be off the charts.




Saturday, November 26, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Not So Fast, Liz



Liz Cheney was defeated in the GOP primary in her bid for a to represent Wyoming for a fourth bid in the US House of Representatives because she voted for the impeachment of President Trump and is vice chairperson on the January 6 commission. Adam Kinzinger also voted to impeach President Trump and opted out of seeking re-election to the House of Representatives from Illinois.

Nonetheless, they are not the same person.  We know that one wants the report of the insurrection to be about three things: Donald Trump, Donald Trump, and Donald Trump. We don't know of the preference of the other Republican congressman on the committee, but he clearly believes there is something rotten about the GOP that goes beyond the former President.


Cheney and Kinzinger were responding to news that

Former President Donald Trump had dinner Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago estate with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, a Trump adviser confirmed to CBS News on Friday….

Fuentes is a leading figure on the far-right, having attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6. Fuentes, who has spread antisemitic conspiracies, is considered a white supremacist by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the ADL, "Fuentes 'jokingly' denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven."

I don't know Adam Kinzinger's mind. However, when someone says "or nah," it's a rhetorical question and a little snide, for which we should agree: good on Adam. Kinzinger. He already knew the answer, and it's an emphatic "no."

It's a reminder that if Kevin McCarthy does become Speaker of the House, it will be only as the de jure Speaker. We all know the de facto Speaker will be the greatest liar in American political history, the man who has retired the award.



 




Thursday, November 24, 2022

What Goes Around Comes Around


In midst of an ad campaign nearly two years ago in which she flaunted her decision to carry a firearm around the District of Columbia, the Denver Post reported

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert — who has vowed to carry her Glock across Washington, D.C., and was rebuked by the city’s police chief for saying so — caused a minor incident at a security stop at the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night.

The Rifle Republican reportedly attempted to walk through newly installed metal detectors, which sounded as she did. She then refused to turn over her bag to Capitol Police, who in turn refused to let her enter House chambers, according to reporters on the scene.

It’s not clear how the matter was resolved.

Then last December, the

gun-toting Colorado Republican who is under threat of being removed from her committee assignments for Islamophobic comments targeted at fellow lawmakers, faced more backlash on Wednesday after sharing a family photo showing her four children posing with guns in front of a Christmas tree.

"The Boeberts have your six, @RepThomasMassie!" Boebert wrote on Twitter late Tuesday, in apparent solidarity with GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a fellow gun enthusiast, who faced criticism for posting a similar photo last week of his family proudly holding firearms in front of their Christmas tree. Both families appeared smiling while heavily armed ahead of the holiday season.




In the wake of the Colorado Springs massacre, for which the congresswoman expressed condolences, Boebert was criticized by several Democrats for anti-LGBTQIA/pro-gun sentiments.

Boebert says she’s also a victim of the Club Q shooting: “I’ve been accused of just about every mass shooting there has been. I’ve been blamed for all of it. It has to come to an end. The Left is pissed I won my election, so they’re trying to find something to go after me about.”

I'll take some cheese with that whine. Though even gun-loving members of Congress such as Boebert shouldn't be held primarily responsible for mass shootings, the congresswoman obviously has brought this upon herself.

Opposing gun safety- as do most Republicans- would not have earned Boebert the scorn she did.  She has chosen not to be a gun control skeptic but a pro-gun, in-your-face, whatever-the-law-is-I-don't-care belligerent.

An old advertising slogan ran "you asked for it, you got it, Toyota." Own it, Lauren- you asked for it, you got it. 



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Noticed or Not, Killing Go On


There is no unanimity in characterization of a violent attack by firearm as a "mass shooting." However, it is reasonable to argue that in the USA in the past week alone, there have been three (3) unfortunate manifestations of 2nd Amendment freedoms. They've taken place in Chesapeake, Virginia on 11/22, leaving 7 dead and 4 injured; in Hennessey, Oklahoma on 11/20, with 4 killed and one injured; in Colorado Springs, Colorado on 11/19, resulting in 5 killed and 17 injured.

As I've written before, I rarely watch Fox News, which is far more politically extremist than either CNN or MSNBC. On the latter two, however, there has been much less coverage of Chesapeake and Hennessey than of Virginia Beach, which is to say: the extent of coverage of the Colorado Springs massacre has been proper, of the other two, insufficient. Those not born on November 22, 2022 (i.e., yesterday) will recognize greater coverage because the murders took place at a gay nightclub. 

That's not the best reason for emphasizing the story. However, these atrocities receive insufficient attention by the right, so we should be thankful for whatever reporting there is on cable news.

And in the USA, there undoubtedly will be only limited attention paid to certain other obscenities, from the progressive left or the centrist media, whose narrative they contradic,; nor from the GOP, which cannot easily blame them on Joe Biden. The Times of Israel reports

The body of an Israeli man who died after a car crash in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday morning was believed to have been snatched by Palestinian gunmen from a hospital in the city, the military said.

Tiran Fero, an 18-year-old from the Druze-majority town of Daliyat al-Karmel was critically injured along with his friend who was seriously hurt in the crash.

The Israel Defense Forces said Fero was taken to a hospital in the Palestinian city due to his critical condition, while his friend was transferred to a nearby checkpoint before being rushed by the army to a hospital within Israel proper.

The body of an Israeli man who died after a car crash in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday morning was believed to have been snatched by Palestinian gunmen from a hospital in the city, the military said.

Tiran Fero, an 18-year-old from the Druze-majority town of Daliyat al-Karmel was critically injured along with his friend who was seriously hurt in the crash.

The Israel Defense Forces said Fero was taken to a hospital in the Palestinian city due to his critical condition, while his friend was transferred to a nearby checkpoint before being rushed by the army to a hospital within Israel proper.

Fero died at the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, and later his body was apparently snatched by unidentified gunmen, according to the IDF and Palestinian media reports.

Fero’s uncle, however, said his nephew was still alive and connected to a ventilator when he was taken. “They disconnected him from the machines and tossed him into a car,” he told the Kan public radio Wednesday morning.

Images of Fero’s Israeli ID card circulated on social media, seemingly after being taken from the hospital.

Fero was not a soldier, but a 12th grader at a school in the Druze town….

There was no immediate public claim of responsibility by any terror groups for snatching the body.

Not so reticent, however, were some of their supporters:


 

Of course, Hamas will be Hamas.

Israel proper occupies .288% (including occupied territories, slightly more) of the Middle East . That is too much for some people, including a portion of the Middle East and right-wing and left-wing anti-Semites in the USA. They will largely ignore the continuing effort to destroy our nation's one democratic ally in the region while American media will mostly turn a blind eye to most murderous rampages in the USA.  

This is not peak media performance. But decent folks must be allowed to sleep easy o' nights, mustn't they?



                                               HAPPY THANKSGIVING

 


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Going from Sick to Sicker


Texas now has three significant abortion bans in place and several administrative regulations governing the procedure, setting up a potential conflict as the largest state to ban abortion navigates this new legal landscape.

The trigger law criminalizes performing an abortion from the moment of fertilization unless the pregnant patient is facing “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” The statute specifically prohibits prosecuting a pregnant patient who undergoes an abortion.

Violations of the law are punishable by up to life in prison. The statute also says that the attorney general “shall” seek a civil penalty of not less than $100,000, plus attorney’s fees.



Elsewhere, the Associated Press has reported a case in which

Weeks after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Dr. Grace Ferguson treated a woman whose water had broken halfway through pregnancy. The baby would never survive, and the patient’s chance of developing a potentially life-threatening infection grew with every hour.

By the time she made it to Pittsburgh to see Ferguson, the woman had spent two days in a West Virginia hospital, unable to have an abortion because of a state ban. The law makes an exception for medical emergencies, but the patient’s life wasn’t in danger at that moment.

“She was just kind of standing on the edge of the cliff,” Ferguson said, “waiting for an emergency to happen or for the baby to pass away.”

In Pennsylvania, at the hospital a four-hour drive away, Ferguson was able to induce labor to end the pregnancy.

A growing number of physicians and families tell similar stories as a post-Roe fear comes to pass: Pregnant women with dangerous medical conditions are showing up in hospitals and doctors’ offices only to be denied the abortions that could help treat them. Some doctors in states with restrictive abortion laws say they’ve referred or suggested more patients go elsewhere than ever. Some women are facing harmful, potentially deadly delays.

Doctors say they’re forced to balance medical judgment with potential punishments, including prison time. Although even the strictest laws allow abortion to save a mother’s life, a weighty question lingers: How close to death must the patient be?

“You don’t automatically go from living to dead,” Ferguson said. “You slowly get sicker and sicker.”

It’s impossible to say when that line is crossed, said Dr. Alison Haddock, who’s on the board of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “There’s just no moment where I’m standing in front of a critically ill patient where I know: OK, before their health was just in danger. But now, their life is in danger,” she said.

Referenda pertaining to abortion were on the ballot in six states in 2022. The three pro-choice measures were passed; the three pro-life measures were defeated. It turns out these were part of not only a pro-choice or pro-abortion rights movement, but of a women's health movement.



Monday, November 21, 2022

What Mike Pence Is


As The Guardian reports, Mike

Pence was speaking to CBS, to promote a new book in which he sets out his version of events on the day supporters of his president, Donald Trump, attacked Congress, some chanting that Pence should be hanged.

Pence previously said he would consider testifying. But to CBS, he said: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States.

“And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Trump supporters attacked Congress after he told them to “fight like hell” to stop certification of Joe Biden’s election win, in service of the lie that it was the result of electoral fraud. Nine deaths have been linked to the riot, including suicides among law enforcement.

You might say an attempted coup encouraged by the outgoing President of the USA against this nation's government establishes a terrible precedent, especially if a Vice President refuses to testify about it.

In the book he is granting interviews to promote, Mike Pence noted of the insurrectionists "And, as I later learned, many had come looking for me." They had not come to join the evangelical Christian for Bible study. Rather, according to The New York Times

Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety.

Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged...

Another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mr. Meadows who was present in his office when he recounted Mr. Trump’s remarks, was asked by the committee about the account and confirmed it, according to the people familiar with the panel’s work.

Pence acknowledged that he learned the President's "reckless words had endangered my family and all those serving at the Capitol." However, Mike Pence will not: testify before Congress; state that he would not support Donald Trump if he were nominated for President (or even for the nomination); state that lynching a Vice-President is wrong. (He was not asked the latter, to which he'd probably equivocate.)

That is not a profile in courage.  It is a profile of cowardice.


 

 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Heresy


In what is both an about-face and described as "a rich tradition of restricting alcohol at the World Cup."  the Qatari royal family has announced it is banning the sale of alcohol around match games in Doha. That led to a question (beginning at 1:06 of the video below) during the Overtime segment of Friday's Real Time, which responses highlight both Bill Maher's politically incorrect boldness and the wisdom of Laura Coates.

Asked her take on the World Cup being hosted in Doha, Coates lamented the death of  "hundreds of people up to a thousand....  being in sweltering heat to build this stadium" but stated also "I hear Qatar is a lovely place for other reasons."  (The number of casualties may have been far smaller or far larger, as explained here.) However, Maher, toward Coates, remarked

It probably would not be a lovely place for any woman who wasn't wearing appropriate dress and wasn't paying attention to Sharia law and maybe, you know, if you leave the house without permission of a guardian, O.K., that's the shit that goes on in places like Qatar that we need to talk about and somehow the world doesn't because that's Islamophobia- which is bullshit. It's violation of every liberal principle. women are equal. So that's what I have against Qatar.



Were it to rate that statement's accuracy, Politifact would probably give it a "half true" because, as The Times of Israel observes, Qatar "is neither as liberal as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates nor as conservative as parts of Saudi Arabia."  While "Qatar’s laws are rooted in Islamic Shariah law, but also include civil laws"

Most Qatari women wear the modest head covering or headscarf, known as hijab, and long black robes known as abayas. Qatari men dress in traditional long, loose white garments known as a “thoub” — pronounced “thuwb"'''

Qatar’s laws punish “offending” Islam or any of its rites or beliefs, as well as committing blasphemy against Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.

The circulation of texts that provoke religious strife or contain material that defames one of these three religions is a punishable offense. The government closely monitors and censors websites, newspapers, magazines and books if they display content deemed as derogatory of Islamic values.

Authorities generally permit various faiths to practice privately, but proselytizing for any religion other than Islam may result in a prison sentence. Hotels and stores, however, display Christmas trees and decorations in December.

The only religions registered in Qatar to have their own places of worship are Islam and Christianity, according to the US State Department.

Notably and wisely, Coates stayed silent as both Maher and the camera focused on her. WarnerMedia likely would not have been amused if one of CNN's A-List hosts had agreed with Maher, often accused of "Islamophobia" for merely addressing the radical Islamic practices of some Muslim countries. Sometimes, silence is golden.

Maher understands "there are bad things that go on in countries like this that we should talk about,"  which go well beyond the mere ban of alcohol sales at a a prominent and popular athletic venue. Instead, discussion of Islam or radical Islam is assiduously avoided.

Avoided not only by a careful Coates, but also by both her network and MSNBC, which report extensively (though insufficiently) on protests inside Iran, typically without even mentioning the terms "Islamic," "Islamist," "radical Islamic," "Islamist," or even "religion."  Religious fanaticism is intrinsic to the uprising in Iran, yet is rarely spoken of.

I don't know how the events are treated by Fox News, though that network probably also has been downplaying the impact of religious fanaticism in that Mideast nation and probably elsewhere in the region.  Avid support for what it euphemistically terms "religious liberty" has become an obsession for the right, rationalizing discrimination while posing as guardians of spiritual faith. Confronting the role of religious extremism in violent upheavals abroad is one instance of wokeism which conservatives rarely criticize.

Bill Maher may get the details wrong, as he seemed to do when he implied that Qatar strictly adheres to Sharia law. And it's unfortunate that it takes an unabashed atheist to question Islamism.  However, both the left (for its reasons) and the right (for far different reasons) want to disappear the issue of religion from events in other parts of the world. If there are few others than a centrist, Democratic-leaning libertine to keep it- almost- in the national conversation, that's what we're left with.

 


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Not Dealing With It



"But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged," wrote the legendary Albert Camus. That is not Jon Stewart's favorite quotation. The sleight of hand he demonstrates, however, is quite impressive. Stewart tells Stephen Colbert

If the point of all this, then, is to heal people, the only way to healing a wound is to open it up and cleanse it and that stings. And I'm afraid that the general tenor of conversation of this country is cover it up, bury it, put it to the outskirts and don't deal with it.

That was the opportunity for Stewart to thank Colbert for having him on, smiling and waving to the audience, and walking off, having made a lot of sense. Instead, Stewart proceeded to contradict himself by cleverly demonstrating the disturbing- or what should be disturbing- impulse to subordinate truth to the desire to cause no discomfort. He states

And what I would say is, you know, look at it from a black perspective. It's a culture that feels that its wealth has been extracted by different groups- whites, Jews. Whether it's true or not isn't the issue.

Evidently, to Jon Stewart and others who whose allegiance to facts is narrow and qualified, whether something is true "isn't the issue." It should be.  Now that we know that what is real and what isn't real is barely inconsequential to Stewart, we are reminded that he can be as patronizing as he is indifferent to the truth. Fresh off advising us that "whether (something is) true or not isn't the issue," he continues

That's the feeling in that community. And if you don't understand that that's where it's coming from, then you can't deal with it, and you can't sit down with them and explain that being in an industry isn't the same as having a nefarious and controlling interest in that industry and intention, right?

Most of us "understand that that's where it's coming from." However, as Stewart addresses anti-Semitism, he argues that that blacks believe "wealth has been extracted by different groups," including Jews. Although Jews are among the individuals who have at times harmed the black community, he doesn't explain why blacks (allegedly) believe wealth is extracted from their community by Jews acting as Jews. Protestants per se aren't being blamed for extracting wealth. Catholics per se aren't being blamed for extracting wealth. (Nor should either be.)

If Jews are, that's a problem, yet not one of failing to understand the sentiment. The problem is the belief itself.  If Stewart accurately understands the perspective of the black community, the obstacle isn't in not being "understood." It's the mistaken impression. Feelings may be understandable and wrong, and need to be rebuked if wrong.

Stewart, who reminds us that he himself is Jewish, is presumably not anti-Semitic, as he claims he is accused of being. Nor is he necessarily hypocritical, at least not nearly as much as the jackals chanting USA! USA! at rallies celebrating an ex-President who has referred to the USA as "evil." 

So I'll maintain perspective. However, here we have a celebrity who recognizes the growing national  tendency when there is a problem to "cover it up, bury it, put it to the outskirts and don't deal with it."  Then practically in the same breath, he contends that the "black perspective" (as he sees it) must be condoned "whether it's true or not."  Stewart should have stuck with the first thought.


 




Wednesday, November 16, 2022

It's the FBI, Not the Congressional Progressive Caucus



Deceitful! Duplicitous! Underhanded! (Also, standard operating procedure.)

Chatting with writer Julie Kelly, who identifies as "Ultra MAGA," Laura Ingraham refers to a New York Times article headlined  "FBI Had Informants in Proud Boys, Court Papers Suggest."

Ingraham shows a clip from a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee in which Louisiana Republican Clay Higgins asks FBI Director Christopher Wray "Did you have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters inside the Capitol on January 6 prior to the doors being open?"

Once Wray replied "again, I have to....," Higgins interjected "should be a 'no'."

Well, of course he did. In the article cited by Ingraham, we learn

The F.B.I. had as many as eight informants inside the far-right Proud Boys in the months surrounding the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, recent court papers indicate, raising questions about how much federal investigators were able to learn from them about the violent mob attack both before and after it took place.

The existence of the informants came to light over the past few days in a flurry of veiled court filings by defense lawyers for five members of the Proud Boys who are set to go on trial next month on seditious conspiracy charges connected to the Capitol attack....

In a sealed filing quoted by the defense, prosecutors argued that hundreds of pages of documents related to the F.B.I. informants were neither “suppressed” by the government nor directly relevant to the case of the Proud Boys facing sedition charges: Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former leader; Joseph Biggs; Ethan Nordean; Zachary Rehl; and Dominic Pezzola.

If the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not use these methods, it might as well shut down. As one of hundreds? (thousands?) of examples, consider that sometime before his death, FBI Special Agent James Ingram recounted the success of the agency in undermining the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. He stated

[W]e infiltrated the Klan in many ways. We had female informants. … And we had police officers that were informants for us...

When you look back, the FBI can be proud that they stopped the violence [of the KKK]. We had the convictions. We did what we had to do from Selma, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia....

In the words of Special Agent Rollins, “…the FBI broke the back of the Klan in Mississippi. And eradicated it…

Although that was before Ingraham's time, she should know that the FBI is not in the habit of conspiring against the right-wing and its causes. To the contrary, in the runup to the 2016 election

On October 24,  a smiling Rudy Giuliani told Fox News “We got a couple of surprises left... I call them early surprises in the way we're going to campaign to get our message out, maybe in a little bit of a different way. You'll see. And I think it'll be enormously effective."

There was no discernible change in campaign message or tactics but The New York Times on November 3, 2016 recounted that

Since August of 2016, Rudy Giuliani has publicly claimed that F.B.I. agents were telling him that Mrs. Clinton should have been criminally charged for the email server.

“It perplexes numerous F.B.I. agents who talk to me all the time,” Mr. Giuliani said during an August interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN. “And it embarrasses some F.B.I. agents.”

Two days later, CNN revealed

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani now denies that he was told by FBI agents that the bureau was reviewing newly discovered emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server before the review was publicly revealed.

Earlier, he had suggested that he was told by FBI agents about the review before it became public.

Giuliani, a top Donald Trump surrogate and adviser, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Friday that the FBI’s announcement “came as a complete surprise, except to the extent that maybe it wasn’t as much of a surprise.”

“I got it all from former FBI agents. Tremendous anger within the FBI about the way, number one, Jim Comey’s conclusion (to not recommend criminal charges in July) and, number two, the way they believed they were being obstructed by what they regard as a pretty corrupt Obama Justice Department,” Giuliani said. “Cutting off a grand jury investigation, cutting off subpoenas.”

But earlier Friday, Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said he had “heard about” a forthcoming FBI announcement before it became public.

“This has been boiling up in the FBI. I did nothing to get it out. I had no role in it. Did I hear about it? Darn right I heard about it,” Giuliani said on “Fox and Friends.” He continued, “I can’t even repeat the language I heard from the former FBI agents.”

A week earlier – before Comey’s disclosure to Congress – he told Fox News there was a “pretty big surprise” coming, though he did not provide further details. He told Blitzer the surprise was an upcoming advertising campaign: “I knew that was going to come as a big surprise.”

I don't, and didn't, buy it. (A DOJ investigation was inconclusive.) No dramatic "upcoming advertising campaign" materialized. However, as a former US Attorney for the Southern District, Giuliani had a lot of friends in the FBI's New York field office and three days after he tipped off Fox News, Comey said that emails relevant to the investigation of Clinton's private email server were discovered on the computer of the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. 

A few days later, the FBI director explained that he met with agency investigators (who) "said we found a lot of new stuff," but that most of the emails were ones previously seen. Clinton was cleared. Nonetheless, by then the inaccurate announcement that new, relevant emails had been found already had been "enormously effective."

With Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives beginning in January, there will be investigations, including of the FBI and probably of its role in the insurrection, to feed the GOP rage machine, undermine President Biden, and pave the way for a new Trump presidency.  There is much to question of the agency's operations, including in the 2016 election and its willing failure, and subsequent coverup, to investigate credible allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  

If Republicans want to investigate the FBI, Democrats should insist that there be a real, comprehensive inquiry. Hoist the GOP by their own petard.

 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Wherever


Whether or not there was divine intervention, Kari Lake has gotten what she deserves.

 



This brings to mind Abraham Lincoln's great line,. No, not that one, the probably spurious  "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God's side." It sounds great but if we are on God's side, God unavoidably is on our side (not surprising, then, that Barack Obama favored the line). Instead, in his Funeral Address Delivered at the Burial of President Lincoln (courtesy of Emory University Libraries), Reverend Matthew Simpson on May 4, 1865, stated

To a minister who said he hoped the Lord was on our side, he replied that it gave him no concern whether the Lord was on our side or not "For," he added, "I know the Lord is always on the side of right," and with deep feeling added, "But God is my witness that it is my constant anxiety prayer that both myself and this nation should be on the Lord's side."

It's unsurprising that a thoughtful yearning in which "it is my constant anxiety prayer that (we) be on the Lord's side" has been distorted to a pithier version. But Lincoln evidently lacked the certainty- nay, arrogance- of believing they know God's will that Kari Lake and many public figures have today.

By contrast, Navarro-Cardenas, though for many years a supporter of John McCain, says only, and properly, "wherever he may be."  It may be where Arizona's losing gubernatorial candidate appears convinced it is or instead where Navarro-Cardenas and most of us hope it is- but it is not Kari Lake's decision, nor hers to know. 

 


Sunday, November 13, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Jews in Hollywood


Having seen this live on Saturday night (hence "Saturday Night Live"), I should have picked up on this immediately, but didn't.

A few decades ago, yet during and after the civil rights movement, there was a remark made by many whites of questionable commitment to the great American mosaic. "Some of my best friends are colored" was that age's near equivalent to the modern-day argument that in electing a black man as President, we Americans proved that we're not racist. 

For Dave Chappelle (as at 2:05 of the video embedded in the tweet), it's "I grew up around Jewish people. I have a lot of Jewish friends." After that, evidently, almost anything is acceptable, such as (at 6:10)

I can see if you had some kind of issue.  You know what I mean- you might go out to Hollywood and you might start connecting some kind of lines, maybe adopt the delusion that the Jews run show business. It's not a crazy thing to think- but it's a crazy thing to say out loud.

Dave Chappelle did not cite an instance which demonstrates that Jews make decisions on the basis of their religion, or at least their cultural background. In the absence of that, I might have something to say about him but it might be (mis-) interpreted as a crazy thing to say out loud.



Saturday, November 12, 2022

Opportunity Beckons


Responding to a bad idea, Democratic and Republican

state legislators accused Shelley Luther, a Dallas salon owner who’s running to represent state House District 62, for perpetuating anti-Asian sentiment after she tweeted last week that Chinese students should be banned from “attending all Texas universities” and called for “No more Communists!”

While the tweet has since been deleted, Luther doubled down on the sentiment with two other separate posts, saying that taxpayers “should not be subsidizing the next generation of CCP leaders,” and that it’s “common sense” that “CCP members should not have access to our schools,” in reference to the Chinese Communist Party.

In an ugly bid to divert attention from newly (and easily) re-elected Ron DeSantis of Florida, Donald Trump/Dan Scavino on November 11 posted an, uh, "interesting tweet" on the ex-president's Truth Social platform":







If I didn't know President 45 is a bigot, I'd conclude that he issued the tweet as a put-down of Youngkin. However, Trump says the governor "admits it" (Trump's pivotal role in Youngkin's victory) and asserts "he'll get it done" in Virginia. That's not terribly insulting.

The tweet served three purposes for Trump: the aforementioned attention-grabber; sending the message to potential rivals that he's still on his name-calling game; with "Young Kin," reminding the GOP street that he's still a bigot.



Nonetheless, Donald Trump could turn his penchant for attention and instinct for anti-China bigotry to good use.  Before President Biden meets with the President of the People's Republic of China (mainland China), the former President should urge his successor to do the right thing:


Donald Trump repeatedly blasted the "Deep State" and never fully described it. One of the great ironies of his presidency and post-presidency is that while there may be some sort of deep state- whose primary bias is toward secrecy- it was never one Trump acknowledged nor was concerned about. Trump's "Deep State" always meant nothing more and nothing less than the institutions and individuals he didn't like.  And despite his apparent distaste for mainland China, he continually praised its President for his response to the coronavirus.

Over a million Americans have succumbed to Covid-19 and its variants, and we still do not know whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market or a library. Determining its origin has nothing whatever to do with anti-Chinese or anti-Asian bias. That may be why Donald Trump remains totally disinterested.



Thursday, November 10, 2022

Pennsylvania



Adam Jentleson, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been tweeting promiscuously (or in woke, "tweeting as a sex worker") about the US Senate race in which John Fetterman beat Mehmet Oz.  He was primarily exorcised by the mainstream media which brought the message that the Fetterman's difficulties in the debate with his opponent debate seriously jeopardized the likelihood the Democrat would prevail. 

But Jentleson made a couple of good peripheral points in his tweet thread. He noted

The Fetterman camp said reactions to the debate were likely to be shaped by the central fact of the campaign: people like John and do not like Oz. They’d be sympathetic to John’s struggles because they are decent human beings and not schoolyard bullies or overconfident GOP flaks.

It's what in recent years has been characterized roughly as "have a beer with test," which is similar- not identical- to the traditional factor of charisma. When Fetterman ran, unsuccessfully, for the Democratic nomination for the same Senate seat (then and until January still held by Pat Toomey) six years ago, I believed that he'd be the strongest nominee because he was an individual voters would be drawn to.

If nothing else, he was and still is down-to-earth, plain-spoken, frequently sporting shorts and a hoodie because, presumably, he is comfortable doing so. Moreover, he seemed to be, well, not an intellectual's intellectual or stuffed shirt, a trait to which voters in Pennsylvania (especially Pennsylvania) would relate to. It's why, along with the Hobbes decision, I believed from the start that Fetterman would blow Oz away, probably by around 20 points.

That turned out to be wildly optimistic. However, Jentleson's expectation that voters would "be sympathetic to John's struggles because they are decent human beings...." likely would not have been borne out if Fetterman himself were more stodgy than relatable, more like the stereotype of a college professor than a guy who had just hopped off his Harley. (This is, after all, Pennsylvania, arguably part of the Rust Belt and cultural cousin to Ohio.)

That explanation, related to Jentleson's suspicion (and hope), is speculative and though probably valid, applies specifically to the candidate himself. This, however, does not:

The abundance of evidence says that debates almost never matter. Yet in the face of all evidence and in many cases without bothering to check, many reporters immediately bought into the idea that this debate was an exception - that it had not just mattered, but was decisive.

Debates are rarely ultimately determinative, and seldom make a marginal difference in an election outcome, especially if there is more than one debate.

Surely, that opinion- observation, really- would be held also by Presidents H. Clinton, John Kerry, and Al Gore. Clinton is generally believed to have "won" at least two of her three debates with Donald Trump and Al Gore clearly "won" the first and third of his three debates with George W. Bush. (At the second, Gore seemed to have overdosed on Valium.) Kerry dominated- simply dominated- Bush in their debates and appeared to be the embodiment of a candidate who would be "ready on day one" for the job.

Nonetheless, the best example would be Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale in 1984 because the first debate featured a 73-year-old candidate who appeared to be physically or mentally deficient, remarking in summation

I think that most of the people in this country would say, yes, they are better off than they were 4 years ago. The question, I think, should be enlarged. Is America better off than it was 4 years ago? And I believe the answer to that has to also be “yes.” 

There followed so much concern about the incumbent's fitness that the chairperson of the Republican National Committee was forced to deny his party's nominee harbored mental or physical deficiency. In the following faceoff, Reagan rambled in his closing statement about driving along a Pacific coast highway, nuclear weapons, and a time capsule. But it had no impact. He cleverly quipped, in a response to a question occasioned by his previous debate performance, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth, and inexperience. "

Game, set, match. Notwithstanding two closing statements that suggested the elderly Reagan was suffering from dementia, he had his sound bite- a devastating one- and he went on to crush the more capable Mondale.

Not surprisingly, the Oz campaign ran a debate snippet that displayed Fetterman fumbling while unable to give a to a question about fracking. Fetterman's advantage in polling went down- but his final margin of victory was extremely close (maybe even a little above) the margin which polls indicated the Democrat enjoyed before the debate.



Fortunately, the difference between the two candidates on abortion became ever clearer when in the debate Oz commented that "women, doctors, local political leaders" should be in on the decision. Evidently, it was a boon for Fetterman, as a CBS News exit poll found. 


Which ONE of these five issues mattered most in deciding how you voted today: (CHECK ONLY ONE)
Sample: 1,134FettermanOz
Crime (11%)51%49%
Abortion (37%)78%21%
Inflation (28%)27%72%
Gun policy (9%)--
Immigration (7%)--


Two years from now, during the next election cycle, news outlets will hype upcoming debates by trumpeting their importance to the outcome. Then, as almost always, they will be wrong. 

 


Drop Everything and Pass This (Almost) Nothingburger

No, Amy, just no: Today we protected marriage equality in the U.S. Senate. — Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 29, 2022 As noted...