Thursday, June 30, 2022

Obama And Biden, Minus Biden


If you go on a rant, it might as well be a righteous one. Early in the video below, TYT's Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian note that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has defended President Obama's decision not to urge legislative action to enshrine reproductive rights.  Uygur recognizes that unlike many Democrats (most, he believes), Ocasio-Cortez "doesn't take corporate cash- she's not influenced by that and I don't think she's at all corrupt." 

However, Uygur's focus is not on the New York congresswoman because

All of the progressives in Congress including Bernie Sanders is hat they get brainwashed by Washington. The minute you step into Washington, they tell you the most important thing to do is to kiss Democratic ass and if you're not kissing Democratic ass 24/7, you will be tarred and feathered and that part is true. You will be tarred and feathered, the mainstream media will  viciously attack you and say that every problem that the Democrats have is your fault.

Although Ocasio-Cortez has "fought more than all of them,"

There's good progressives that fight on some issues but they are still under the spell of Washington. They live in that toxic culture and they believe in a deference to authority on Biden and Obama.

He continues

You think A.O.C. would call Obama a liar. Not one progressive in Congress would ever call Obama a liar. They would call that the rudest, most offensive thing ever. Women's rights being flushed down the toilet a little less offensive in Washington? No, I'm not exaggerating or joking. If you called Obama a liar in Washington, that would be considered a thousand times more offensive than Roe v. Wade being overturned; a thousand times more offensive.

In fact, here I'll make a prediction. For you at some point, some Democratic operative and everyone in mainstream media will even use this exact clip to attack me and any ally of mine and say "can you believe that he dared to call the beloved and angelic Barack Obama and Joe Biden liars? How do you?"

My own prediction, a safe one, is that Cenk Uygur will not be returning to MSNBC any time soon. Democrats don't defer to authority only as pertains to (Democratic) presidents.  We Democrats defer to legal authorities, such as the former federal prosecutors on cable news networks who the past few years have been implying doom for Donald Trump. Or the lawyers appalled at racial bias in policing and unquestioning of the black lives movement who defend every jury decision, for the defendant or the state, and never question America's terrible jury decision.

I digress, but only barely because a naive deference to authority is the common thread in much of Democratic politics. Uygur argues this instinct is applied to "the beloved angelic Barack Obama and Joe Biden." But in so doing, he gives Joe Biden too little, or too much, credit.

Among both Democratic professionals and the Democratic street, Joe Biden is not in the same category as is Barack Obama.  President 44 is in a class of his own.  Despite the damage it can do to Democratic electoral prospects later this year- and the absence of a clear and credible successor- party people have been leaking to the media their lack of confidence in Biden being the party's standard-bearer in 2024.  Under no circumstances would this ever have been done to Barack Obama. Never.

On a positive note, there is no divide between those professionals and rank-and-file Democrats on the issue of Barack Obama. He is not to be criticized. witness the defense of his presidency by, of all people, the leader of The Squad, who pleads "The Democratic Party/voters simply did not have thee votes or solidity on this issue that they do now and swing voters weren't willing to support reliably pro-choice policies until very recently." 

Ocasio-Cortez's defense is legitimate but glosses over the reality of eight years of a Democratic President who chose to do less than he could have. From  his perspective, however, there was no real reason to govern otherwise. He was- and still is- Barack Obama, and to the powers and the voters in the Democratic Party, little else has been necessary.



 




Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Forced-Birth Cowardice Strikes Again


On Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, host Martha Raddatz received the tried-and-false response to an important question posed to GOP governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Raddatz asked "What should the punishment for women who receive abortions or doctors and anyone who assist them?"

Republicans know they will be asked that question because it is almost as obvious as it is significant. They know what (fallacious) point to make and to pivot promptly to a different issue because their explanation is illegitimate- and they will not face a follow-up question. And so Noem responded


South Dakota has been "strong" on that argument because no state has decided to hold women as responsible as the doctors. Moreover, there is nothing Donald Trump likes to hear a candidate say more than the word "strong."

Trump likes "law and order" also, but even anti-choice Republicans are not so hypocritical as to trumpet law and order upon excusing the behavior of someone committing murder. And once it is prohibited as the (alleged) ending of life, it would constitute murder.

Instead, Noem and other forced-birth advocates maintain there should be no punishment for the woman bearing, then choosing to end, what they insist is a human life.  Obviously, there is a measure of political calculation because they realize that punishing a woman for a miscarriage or a surgical abortion would provoke a devastating political backlash. (Pharmaceutical abortion presents a different opportunity.)

That's something Donald Trump learned the hard way. One evening in March, 2016 he told Chris Matthews "there has to be some sort of punishment" (for the woman). Before the evening was out, his campaign would backtrack, rationalizing "the woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb."


So Kristi Noem and virtually everyone in the pro-life movement, claiming they believe human life begins at conception, will publicly deny that the individual who initiates, and pays, for that termination should be held accountable.  The cowardice of the political party which believes life starts at conception and ends at birth continues.

 


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Abortion And Divine Control


I don't know whether this tweet refers to spontaneous or medical/surgical abortions, in the USA or worldwide. However, if you're going to praise any tweet, it should be one posted by God:


No, they don't, in part because the forced-birth crowd never acknowledges miscarriages as abortions and pro-choice advocates afford them the latitude. According to the United States National Library of Medicine

A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. Pregnancy losses after the 20th week are called stillbirths. Miscarriage is a naturally occurring event, unlike medical or surgical abortions.

A miscarriage may also be called a "spontaneous abortion."

There are medical or surgical abortions and there are spontaneous abortions, wherein "spontaneous" is an adjective and all of these events are abortions. Miscarriages are abortions, permitted by a god whom most religious Christians- largely opposed to abortion rights- believe is in control. 

They are free to support forced birth or even to maintain that abortions are contrary to God's will. However, if God is in control, the Christian right should have to answer for all those events they seemingly are convinced end a human life.



 


Uncharacteristic Honesty


All hail Clarence Thomas!

That is not sarcasm, but mere exaggeration.  Roe v. Wade was decided on the basis that a fundamental right to privacy was inherent in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote

For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous,” … we have a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents …. After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.

By contrast, in the majority opinion, signed onto by three other Justices, Samuel Alito argued

And to ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.

In the New York Times' annotated transcript of this forced-birth ruling, Charlie Savage and Sheryle Gay Stolberg explain

The claim by Justice Alito that this ruling does not jeopardize other modern-era rights that derived from the same legal reasoning — like sex between consenting adults of the same sex and the right of same-sex couples to marry —has been widely criticized as unpersuasive since the time it appeared in the leaked draft. After all, matters like rights for same-sex couples have no deep historical basis and, in some people’s minds, also raise critical moral questions.

Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating sodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

The Alito gang's feeble effort at assurance should be read in light of the statements  they made about Roe v. Wade at their confirmation hearings.  As Robert Reich points out in the video below. Gorsuch said "it is a precedent;" Kavanaugh, "it has been reaffirmed many times;" Barrett pled "I don't have any agenda to try to overrule Casey" (the 1992 decision that weakened Roe). And of course, there is Alito: "The courts in general should follow this past precedence" and "it's important because it limits the power of the judiciary."

Alito et al. also never actually denied that they would vote to upend the rights established in Griswold, Lawrence, or Obergefell. The majority opinion could have been worded "Nothing in this opinion accurately understood would cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion." Instead, it was phrased as "nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion."

Of course, in their opinion, it should not because that would be make it clearer to liberals and moderates that other constitutional rights are up for grabs. The Alito Four realize that would exacerbate the outrage over Dobbs and jeopardize the opportunity of the GOP this November o retake Congress and increase its dominance in state legislatures (also, manifested differently, a factor with Chief Justice Roberts). 

No doubt Clarence Thomas has a similar concern. However, he expresses more honestly his priorities. For him, well, the right-wing agenda takes precedence.




Friday, June 24, 2022

One Right Safe, For Now



Notwithstanding various iterations the saying has undergone, the late mayor and police chief of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo is credited with arguing "a liberal is a conservative who got mugged the night before."  

That is not universally valid, in part demonstrated by the mercy many victims, or family members of victims, express toward their victimizers. Nonetheless, it still reflects the generally valid notion that views often depend on whose ox is being gored. That seems to apply to the extreme conservative, sexually odd Associate Justice of the nation's High Court. As reported by Politico

Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion released on Friday that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to access contraceptives, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

The sweeping suggestion from the current court’s longest-serving justice came in a concurring opinion he authored in response to the court’s ruling on Friday revoking the constitutional right to an abortion. In his opinion, Thomas wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process and equal protection rights.

Since last month, when POLITICO published an initial draft majority opinion of the court’s decision on Friday to strike down Roe v. Wade, Democratic politicians have repeatedly warned that such a ruling would lead to the reversal of other landmark privacy-related cases.

In his opinion, Thomas wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process and equal protection rights.

Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion released on Friday that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to access contraceptives, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. You know what one case in the sexual/gender area is Clarence Thomas is omitting. That would be Loving v. Virginia, in which

A unanimous Court struck down state laws banning marriage between individuals of different races, holding that these anti-miscegenation statutes violated both the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

If the Court knocked down Loving v. Virginia, it would imperil the marriage of the black Justice to his white wife, the insurrectionist and ironically named Virginia. His ox, in all likelihood, would be gored.

On the other hand, there are five fingers, also this:



Thursday, June 23, 2022

Why They Call It A Cult


On Tuesday, Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, became another Republican to give public testimony to the select committee investigating the attempted coup of January 6, 2021.




"Duty To Warn" is an anti-Trump "association of mental health professionals."  However (or therefore) DTW fails to understand that the message which can be reasonably taken form Bowers' testimony s that the President's actions were not so heinous that he wouldn't enthusiastically support him again as leader of the Free World (or as Chris Hayes unironically and inaccurately refers to him as then "the most powerful man in the world").

Bowers need not have endorsed Trump to spare himself the kind of harassment indirectly brought to him and his family by the guy to whom he was given a thumbs up. He could have reinforced the idea that he is a conservative Republican by saying that he wouldn't vote for Trump again but would happily support any other conservative Republican for President. If the ex-President were nominated for anther term, Bowers might have added, he would vote for any other conservative on the ballot. Anything but "run, Donald, run."

Noting Bowers' position on 2024 is not "a pointless hypothetical" and Chris Hayes explains why:

Rusty Bowers embodies a key part of this story because there are a few people, more than a handful, faced with a great moral test, who acted with integrity and ultimately that was what saved our democracy in the end.

But the other part of the story is that the Republican Party as a whole, as an institution, in American political life, is a continuing threat to the republic even if some of its members did the right thing when called to against great odds and great pressure. and Mr. Bowers summed that all up when after that testimony he gave, he told the Associated Press that despite everything that happened to him, his family, his community, and the assault on the capital on January 6, he would vote for Trump again. "If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I'd vote for him again," Bowers said "simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the country. In my mind it was great."

Maybe that's posturing but you know, I believe him. Mitch McConnell has said the same thing. I believe him. So has Bill Barr. I believe Bill Barr.

That's it in a nutshell, the problem that we all face. the distance between the genuine individual integrity that Rusty Bowers showed and the nature of this broader force that no one, not even Donald Trump, really fully controls. In the end, then  the whole is greater nd worse the the sum of its parts. The whole really is, right now, a mortal threat to our democracy.








Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Brooks Brothers Nicole



While addressing the likely imminent  reversal of Roe v. Wade, in a stunning display of lack of self-awareness:

 


On the one-year anniversary of the insurrection, Grace Panetta in Business Insider recalled

On November 22, 2000, a group of well-dressed Republican protesters descended on a government office building in Miami. They were there to protest the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board's recount in the disputed presidential race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. They wanted to stop what they regarded as a steal, and they were prepared to resort to violence to do it.

The Brooks Brothers riot revived a new blueprint for electoral disputes, one that openly deployed violence and intimidation to frighten officials into discarding legitimate votes. Like the January 6, 2021 pro-Trump siege on the US Capitol, it was sought to replace the rule of law with mob rule.

And like that brazen assault on democracy, it was orchestrated at the top levels of the GOP. The weapon-toting, MAGA hat-clad insurrectionists of 2021 directly descend from the buttoned-down, stop-the-steal rioters of 2000.

The participants of the demonstration, primarily organized by senior Bush campaign official Brad Blakeman, became irate that the three-member canvassing board had gone to an upstairs room out of the public view and entered the building to vocally protest the process.

When local Democratic official Joe Geller went downstairs to get a blank sample ballot to demonstrate something to his colleagues, he was surrounded by the protesters who loudly accused him of stealing a voters' ballot and hounded him all the way back upstairs.

Both he and then-Democratic operative Luis Rosera got caught up in a scuffle and described being kicked and punched by the increasingly unwieldy crowd, The New York Times reported, with sheriffs' deputies having to intervene to quell the brouhaha and escort the canvassing board to safety.

At this link, you will find that the Times at the time reported

The subsequent demonstrations turned violent on Wednesday after the canvassers had decided to close the recount to the public. Joe Geller, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, was escorted to safety by the police after a crowd chased him down and accused him of stealing a ballot. Upstairs in the Clark center, several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections. Sheriff's deputies restored order.

When the ruckus was over, the protesters had what they had wanted: a unanimous vote by the board to call off the hand counting.

Panetta added

The incident, which is now often referred to as the Brooks Brothers riot or rebellion, intimidated the board into suspending their already-scaled back recount altogether, resulting in many votes going uncounted and lost in the "what-ifs" of history.



Nicole Wallace was not involved in the effort to stop a recount which would have contributed to determining who was legitimately elected President of the USA. However, she was part of the recount travesty in Florida in 2000 as press secretary for Governor John Ellis Bush ("JEB").  She proceeded to join the George W Bush administration, then served on Bush's re-election campaign and afterward in the second Bush administration.   

It is said "confession is good for the soul." Alas, it rarely benefits a professional career. Nicole Wallace could confess her own role in creating the modern Republican Party, which is a mere exaggeration- not a perversion-- of the Republican Party she happily and profitably participated in. But with her popularity riding high among MSNBC viewers, there is no practical reason for her to admit her complicity in the muck and mud that is- and has been- the Republican Party.



Monday, June 20, 2022

Beyond The Candidate


Weep not for Representative Dan Crenshaw, Republican from Texas, although as HuffPost reports

Far-right activists at the Texas GOP Convention hurled criticisms toward Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) one day after a Republican senator faced boos during his speech.

Activists, including some who were recording, approached Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost his right eye to a bomb while deployed to Afghanistan, with remarks such as “eyepatch McCain” and “globalist RINO [Republican In Name Only],” 

Other remarks made toward the lawmaker included claims that Crenshaw is a “traitor” and calls that he be “hung for treason.”

A witness told Mediaite some of the activists “got physical with multiple people, including hitting them with cameras.”

Some of the remarks echoed the words of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who called Crenshaw “eye patch McCain” after the lawmaker said sending help to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion wasn’t a factor in the U.S. baby formula shortage.



This was reprehensible behavior from "far-right" activists toward a far-right legislator. However, Dan Crenshaw will survive, either continuing as a congressman or in some lucrative capacity following a career in the House of Representatives.  Huffington Post continues

Alex Stein, one of the activists who approached Crenshaw and posted video of it on Twitter, and others were taken out of the building and a number of arrests were made at the convention, an anonymous source at the convention told Mediaite. Witnesses told Mediaite some of those involved were wearing Proud Boys gear.

On a positive note, some of the reactionary radicals were arrested, presumably, and hopefully, to be prosecuted.  But there being a First Amendment, which boundaries are being constantly tested by the Republican Party, this guy won't be arrested:

.

This is an ad from MO-Sen candidate Eric Greitens about hunting human beings, played up completely in earnest.

“The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice…There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Eric Greitens is not the Republican "base" nor the Republican street. He is not your next-door neighbor, a mere "activist," relatively inconsequential as most of us are. He is a disgraced politician who was somewhat of a longshot in his primary race and now evidently leads the pack.  He wants to be a member of an exclusive club- the USA Senate- and of an even more exclusive club, the roughly 50 members of his party's caucus there. The Republican nominee, whomever it may be, will be a strong favorite to win in solidly conservative Missouri.

Greitens aspires to be a leader of men and women and was not dragged kicking and screaming by GOP voters to threaten violence against his political enemies. It is what he believes or pretends to believe, and it may not matter which. Victory could be interpreted that Republican officials may target their enemies for death without penalty. Greitens will have been given license to respond accordingly, with or without a firearm. 

There are radicals, extremists, even would-be murderers, everywhere.  The first two descriptions apply to most GOP senators but the third, largely not. That appears to be changing and sarcasm helps explain why:

 

 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Convenient MIsunderstanding



As you've doubtless heard

Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, who has been a frequent critic of absentee fathers, especially in Black households, has acknowledged that he is the father of a second son he had not previously mentioned publicly, as well as an adult daughter who was born when he was in his early 20s.

The revelation, reported on Thursday by The Daily Beast, is the second this week about children Mr. Walker has fathered but did not publicly disclose. The outlet reported on Tuesday about a 10-year-old son of Mr. Walker’s with whom he is not in contact.

It's fair to say that Walker has a sketchy association with the truth. His dishonesty has no bounds and

Walker has also been called out for lying about graduating from the University of Georgia. He left after his junior year. He also said that he was a member of law enforcement in Cobb County and trained with the FBI. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found no evidence this was true. The Cobb County Police Department, a county neighboring Atlanta, also said it “had no record of involvement with Walker,” the newspaper reported.

So of course he was received enthusiastically at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference this weekend.  The quote in this tweet begins at approximately 3:26-29 of the video below and as you can hear, is incomplete because the recording from the conference is unclear and Walker's words particularly so. The candidate was responding to a question posed by host Ralph Reed, who falsely stated (at 3:26-02) that Democratic senator Raphael Warnock "says he's pro-abortion" because Reed long has been a right-wing supporter of plutocracy posing as a believing Christian.

Herschel Walker says Sen Warnock is a “false prophet” because he’s pro-choice: “I’m from the womb to the tomb .. I’m confused, because if a pastor says something like that .. is he like a false prophet? In the 10 Commandments, does it not say, ‘Thou shall not kill?’

Consistently applied, that reason would lead Walker to oppose both capital punishment and all wars.  However

There are several strong arguments for the case that the sixth commandment should be translated as “Thou shalt not murder.” First, the verb used in the Torah commandment is “ratsah,” which generally is translated as murder and refers only to criminal acts of killing a human being. The word “kill” generally refers to the taking of life for all classes of victims and for all reasons. This generalization is expressed through a different Hebrew verb “harag.”

Another compelling argument against the “Thou shalt not kill” translation is that there are many places in the Hebrew scriptures that command or condone warfare, the sacrifice of animals, and several methods of capital punishment.

Most, albeit not all, theologians realize the command is "Thou shalt not murder." Thus understood correctly, neither capital punishment (where authorized) nor abortion (where legal) is murder. 

In what by now, 2022, should be no surprise, attendees at a "Faith and Freedom Coalition" conference have little knowledge of the Bible they claim to revere. Neither does their chosen candidate, Herschel Walker, for that US Senate seat in Georgia.  But neither does he seem to have much knowledge about anything, which increasingly appears to be an asset for Republican candidates.



 




Friday, June 17, 2022

Taking Advantage



By contrast, this tweeter demonstrates that annual production by USA oil companies has been higher under President Biden than under the previous five Presidents. That doesn't prove that the incumbent has done a better job at encouraging oil production than the others, nor that he has done a particularly good job.

However, it does prove that he is not the problem. Let us recall that in April of 2020, a mere five months before he left (kicking and screaming) the presidency

As the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies came to an agreement on a record cut in oil production, U.S. President Donald Trump may have struck his “biggest and most complex deal,” according to oil expert Dan Yergin.

“What was so interesting — among many, very interesting things in this unprecedented event — was the turnaround, the pivot by Donald Trump,” Yergin, who is vice chairman at IHS Markit, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday.

Just a few weeks ago, Trump had said the early-March plunge in oil prices were “good for the consumer” as it meant lower gasoline prices. That drop in crude prices had been triggered by an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia after Moscow rejected a proposal by OPEC to cut 1.5 million barrels of production per day.

The sharp decline in oil prices spurred giant capex and job cuts across the U.S. shale industry, which has some of the highest production costs in the world.

But Yergin said: ”(Trump) came to see this as a national security issue, also an employment issue, and a very important factor in the U.S. economy … and he just jumped in.”

Let's hope this Yergin character, a member of the National Petroleum Council who claims less oil production is good for national security, never gets close enough to sniff a governmental policymaking position. Expansion of renewable energy is good for national security. Cutting oil production internationally raises costs to the consumer and most assuredly does not promote national security.

But Jordan and company are little interested in reducing the price of fuel and other forms of energy. If they were, they wouldn't have been unanimous in opposing (as did four Democrats) in the House of Representatives the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, which "would grant the president authority to issue emergency energy proclamations and make it illegal to increase gas and energy prices in excessive and exploitative ways. It would also expand the Federal Trade Commission's power to investigate and address possible price gouging by oil and gas companies." (It's expected to die in the Senate.)

With gas in short supply, less can be sold and yet, miraculously, oil companies are reaping record profits. There is nothing like taking advantage of an international crisis to gouge the public. So it must be Biden's fault.

Rumor has it that there will be elections throughout the country in November. Most Republicans are standing in firm, many in enthusiastic, support, of a fellow who as President tried to get the Vice President killed and to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. It shouldn't be surprising that, with high gas prices imperiling a Democrat majority in Congress, they would be standing with Big Oil and against the American public.


 



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Elite


Fox News, joined by Bill Maher, wants you to know that traditional media has downplayed the reported attempt upon the life of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  On June 11, Joseph A. Wulfsohn wrote

Earlier this week, a man named Nicholas John Roske was arrested outside the justice's home carrying a gun and a knife. He admitted to police that he had traveled from California to Washington, D.C., to kill Kavanaugh because of his apparent intention to overturn Roe v. Wade following the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion. Roske was charged with attempted murder.

However, the Times shrugged off the assassination attempt, keeping it off the front page, which drew ire on social media.

During his panel discussion on Friday night, Maher also did not give the Times a pass, calling it a case of "media bias."

"The New York Times buried this," Maher said. "If this had been a liberal Supreme Court justice that someone came to kill, it would have been on the front page."

"And that's what's so disappointing about a paper like The New York Times because they just wear their bias on their sleeves, and if it's not part of something that feeds our narrative, f--- it, we bury it," Maher added.

Three days earlier, Fox News reporter Bradford Betz hadmaintained

In the following days after the assassination attempt, mainstream media largely underplayed the news, instead suggesting that "both sides" of the abortion debate are guilty of violent rhetoric.

By Sunday morning, the story was ignored by all the major Sunday shows except for "Fox News Sunday."

Betz added

Roske had a Glock 17 pistol, ammunition, a knife, zip ties, pepper spray, duct tape and other items that he told police he would use to break into Kavanaugh's house and kill him, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in Maryland. Roske said he purchased the gun to kill Kavanaugh and that he also would kill himself, the affidavit said.

Roske, 26, told police he was upset by a leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case. He also said he was upset over the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and believed Kavanaugh would vote to loosen gun control laws, the affidavit said.

The circumstances of this offender's arrest were rather unusual, as

When he got out of the taxi, Roske was spotted by two U.S. Marshals who are part of round-the-clock security provided to the justices following the leak of the draft opinion last month. But Roske was only apprehended after he called 911 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and said he was having suicidal thoughts and planned to kill Kavanaugh, having found the justice's address online. Roske was still on the phone when Montgomery County police arrived on the scene, according to the affidavit.

Roske outed himself and turned himself in before killing the judge. Were it that this Judge had been so lucky:

A former Wisconsin judge found dead from gunshot wounds at his home Friday had once sentenced the suspect in the shooting to six years in prison.

Retired Juneau County, Wisconsin, Judge John Roemer, 68, was found dead and zip tied to a chair at his New Lisbon, Wisconsin, home, WISN reports. The suspect, Douglas K. Uhde, 56, was found in the basement with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a June 4 press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Uhde was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical condition Saturday. He was declared brain dead the same day but was kept on life support to allow for organ donation, report CNN and a press release. Uhde died Tuesday.

The person who called police had left the home and gone to a neighbor’s house. A neighbor told the Wisconsin State Journal that Roemer lived with two of his sons, and both fled. His wife and another son had died in recent years.

This was not a random hit. Just as the perpetrator, in the Kavanaugh case purportedly from the left, was politically motivated

Uhde reportedly had a hit list of other targets who included Republican U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, according to Reuters.

For those keeping score at home, that would be three Democrats and a Republican. But Mitch McConnell, despite his effectiveness, is despised by Donald Trump and the far right which typically characterize him as a traitor or Republican in Name Only.

Unlike Brett Kavanaugh, Roemer never ascended to the federal judiciary nor was he an active judge. Uhde had carried a grudge for over a decade against a judge who

had sentenced Uhde on a burglary charge in 2005 to six years in prison and nine years of extended supervision. Roemer got the case after an appeals court ruled that another judge had failed to follow the state’s truth in sentencing rules, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Uhde was released from prison in 2020.

Roemer was first elected to the bench in 2004. He retired in 2017 because of his wife’s health problems.

A judge was murdered for sentencing an individual, who had committed armed robbery and had an "extensive prison record," to a mere six years in prison. He was not a "hanging judge."

But he was not among the nine Supreme Court justices. When Nicholas Roske was arrested- before harming a Justice- Congress immediately added security for the chosen nine, in part because of the outcry over the incident. The Democratic Attorney General stated "threats of violence and actual violence against the justices of course strike at the heart of our democracy and we will do everything we can to prevent them and to hold people who do them accountable."

Not the inclusive "judges" but the exclusive "justices." Yet, Bill Maher and Fox News complained that the threat to Brett Kavanaugh was ignored.  John Roemer and the tens of thousands of active and retired judges across the nation, serving the public without the power of the conservative media machine behind them, should be so lucky.


 


Monday, June 13, 2022

Options With Consequences


Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jenice  Armstrong admits to being a longtime fan of Oprah Winfrey, who brought to prominence Dr. Mehmet Oz, now the Trump-loving, conspiracy-mongering, outwardly right-wing GOP nominee for the US Senate from Pennsylvania.

In her piece written on May 20, when results of the Republican primary hung in the balance, Armstrong noted she watched Winfrey's "show religiously and subscribed to her magazine. She's my friend in my head,"  She believes "Winfrey couldn't have predicted that Oz would become a dangerous threat to Pennsylvania by peddling pseudoscience amid a pandemic and election conspiracy theories. However, Armstrong concluded by writing "But she can use her enormous influence to make sure that voters know where she stands now. It’s time for Oprah to denounce Oz."

Though right about Mehmet Oz and the responsibility of his mentor to speak out in this critical Senate contest, Armstrong makes a common, albeit subtle, mistake (also made by the narrator in the video below) when she remarks

Her early endorsement of then-candidate Barack Obama helped turn the tide in his favor during the 2008 presidential election and helped America make history by electing its first Black president. Four years later, she turned out for Obama again in a big way during his reelection campaign. Winfrey also campaigned for Hilary Clinton and even considered a run against Trump in 2020.

Armstrong linked to an article, written by Annie Karni and published by Politico in January of 2018, which undermines Armstrong's suggestion that Winfrey actively worked for the election of Clinton. Evidence suggests that Winfrey offered only tepid, indirect support for Clinton in 2016 after having fervently opposing her in 2008. Karni wrote 

Where the heck was Winfrey in 2016?

Busy with her own business interests that made a full-throated Clinton endorsement too much of a conflict, is part of the answer, according to former campaign aides. And she was simply not as personally invested in Clinton’s candidacy as she had been in the historic run made by her personal friend and fellow Chicagoan eight years earlier — when some economists credited her with helping Barack Obama secure 1 million votes in the Democratic primary alone.

But it wasn’t for lack of trying from Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters.

In June of 2016, the task of wooing Winfrey was handed over to Minyon Moore, one of Clinton’s longtime advisers, who had recently taken a leave from her consulting job at the Dewey Square Group to work as a senior adviser on political strategy for the campaign.

Winfrey had initially raised hopes in Clinton’s camp by telling “Entertainment Tonight,” during a red-carpet interview, that “I’m with her” — a quick-hit endorsement that buoyed spirits at campaign headquarters, especially because the campaign operatives had not helped Winfrey craft it, or planted it.

Moore was dispatched for some quick follow-up to see what else the country’s biggest motivational speaker and celebrity might be willing to do for Clinton, as the candidate began turning her sights from the never-ending primary against Bernie Sanders to the general election against Donald Trump.

But there was disappointment in Brooklyn when it was reported back that an occasional “I’m With Her,” sprinkled here and there in television interviews, would likely be it, according to multiple former campaign aides.

Moore was well-known as one of a fiercely loyal inner Clinton circle of African-American women whom the former first lady had surrounded herself with and promoted since her days in the East Wing. She also came with a few of her own Oprah-world connections, which originally made the campaign hopeful of more Winfrey kudos to come.

“I knew one of [Winfrey’s] top producers,” Moore said in an interview on Thursday. “We tried to figure out if there was a timing or scheduling match. We tried to figure out what type of interview could work, what kind of event she might do.”

But nothing worked. “It was a timing issue,” Moore said, noting that Winfrey was launching two shows that summer on the Oprah Winfrey Network — “Queen Sugar” and “Greenleaf.”

“She was doubled down on that,” Moore said. “I appreciate the fact that she had a big piece of business she had to deal with. I never took offense to it, and I don’t think Hillary ever took offense to it. She was grateful any time she saw Oprah’s positive comments.”

"It was a timing issue," claims Moore, who, contrary to legitimate suspicion, did not proceed to argue for the existence of the Easter Bunny.  Clinton was grateful for Oprah's sort-of positive comments because she had no reason to believe Winfrey would even imply any preference for the Democrat in the general election.

Only Oprah Winfrey knows Oprah Winfrey's private thoughts.  However, we do know that she endorsed, and avidly supported, Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, then did little or nothing to help Barack Obama once he obviously would be the one facing the GOP ticket in the general election. Four years later she resisted efforts to do anything more than the bare minimum for Barack Obama's preferred successor, Mrs. Clinton

Ms. Winfrey has several options. She could criticize Oz and endorse Democrat John Fetterman, combining it with an endorsement; offer kind words for, but not endorse, John Fetterman; criticize Oz but avoid an endorsement; endorse Oz; campaign (however briefly) for the candidate she selects; explain that she is remaining neutral; remain neutral and silent. There may be other options.

Few people if any know how Winfrey will go in this pivotal election. However, control of the Senate, even the future of democracy, is in play and failure to use her immense influence to  help erode the destructive power of Trumpism would be an odious decision.


 


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Convenient Omission


This is a bizarre analogy, given that the purpose of airplanes, unlike firearms, is not to kill or injure.  Meanwhile, Breitbart doesn't draw the correct lesson from its observation, instead attempting to discredit McConaughey, who had pled emotionally and effectively for reasonable gun safety measures.

In the article pertaining to the tweet, Breitbart's Alana Mastrangelo criticized the content of the actor's speech.  And in an analogy rivaling Lynda Carter's for speciousness, Mastrangelo wrote "Others pointed out that while McConaughey claims to be against dead children, the actor opposed pro-life legislation in Texas — like so many other celebrities clamoring for the right of women to kill their unborn children."

McConaughey is right about gun safety and Texas' bid to end reproductive freedom.  However, Breitbart's tweet is not without merit.

The USA long has had a gun culture, which the nation has reveled in, and which has harmed us immensely. Hollywood is a huge part of that, and Matthew McConaughey evidently has profited handsomely by promoting it.


 


Presumably, he has not intended to promote it.  But an actor cannot with integrity travel to Washington, D.C. and deliver an impassioned speech about the horror of gun violence while ignoring his own involvement with firearms in movies.  "Uvalde is where I learned responsible gun ownership," McConaughey stated. Yet, he was unwilling to acknowledge his influence, as a star who has mowed down bad guys, on impressionable young males.

We can be thankful that Matthew McConaughey has joined the ranks of gun safety advocates. We should not be thankful that he is a hypocrite.



Thursday, June 09, 2022

A Little Done, More To Be Done



I may have pegged Joe Biden, whom I have considered a relatively honest but weak President, wrong. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night, the President was somewhat pressed by the host about gun safety. At 6:21 of the video below, he is asked by Jimmy Kimmel (well, obviously) "Can't you issue an Executive Order? Trump passed those out like Halloween candy. Isn't that something that could happen?"  Biden responded

Well, I have issued Executive Orders within the power of the presidency to be able to do these- everything having to do with guns and gun ownership, whether or not you have to have a waiting- all the things that are within my power. But what I don't want to do- and I'm not being facetious- is, I don't want to emulate Trump's abuse of the Constitution and the constitutional authority. And so- and so, I mean that sincerely.

I often get asked "look, the Republicans don't play it square, why do you play it square?" Well, guess what? If we do the same thing they do, our democracy would literally be in jeopardy. And I mean, not a joke.

"If we do the same thing they do," the President stated approximately twenty hours before televised congressional hearings investigating an attempted coup 17 months ago, "our democracy would literally be in jeopardy." We don't do the same things they do, our democracy is literally in jeopardy, and if the President tuned in to one of the genuine cable news networks at 8:00 p.m. eastern time Thursday evening, he noticed that.  Moreover, given that the vast majority of Republicans believes Biden probably wasn't legitimately elected, the threat to democracy is going to remain in jeopardy.

As he maintained, the President has taken action on gun safety.  CNN recently explained "Gun violence prevention organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Brady have praised the numerous executive actions the President has taken on guns since taking office, including to curb the use of so-called ghost guns and bolster community violence intervention programs." However, neither of these nor anything Biden has done has pertained to waiting periods and there are several safety measures he could enact with Executive Orders.

While it would be awful (and nearly impossible for a Democrat) "to emulate Trump's abuse of the Constitution," Biden has in fact issued many Executive Orders- 90 over the course of the almost 16-and-a-half months he has served as President. President Trump issued 220 in the four years he was President.  Thus, Trump issued an average of 4.58 Orders a month and Biden has issued an average of 5.48 per month. So Biden is either lying or unaware that he has signed, per month, more of these than did his immediate predecessor. 

Nonetheless, it is good policy being implemented and for the most part, represents effective leadership.  Both sides use, probably abuse, the power of executive action and Biden would be abrogating his responsibility if he did not frequently issue Executive Orders. Ideally, a President would employ the power only as a last resort. Yet, these are extraordinary times in which there is only one Party seriously devoted to the interests of the American people. So, sign them, Joe- on guns especially, and otherwise.

 


Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Two Actors



As Politico has reported

Matthew McConaughey, in an emotional speech at the White House on Tuesday, called for lawmakers to act on bipartisan gun reforms — two weeks after a mass shooting at a school in the actor’s Texas hometown left 19 students and two teachers dead.

“We need to invest in mental health care, we need safer schools, we need to restrain sensationalized media coverage, we need to restore our family values, we need to restore our American values and we need responsible gun ownership,” McConaughey said at the daily White House press briefing.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said McConaughey met with President Joe Biden just before the briefing “on taking action and keeping our communities safe.” The actor stressed the need for gun restrictions, such as background checks, red flag laws, raising the minimum age of purchase and a waiting period for guns such as AR-15 rifles.

McConaughey is right about investment in mental health care, responsible gun ownership, background checks, red flag laws (mostly), waiting periods, and the need for waiting periods. Raised in Uvalde, he is a believing Christian now in his first (and only) marriage to a woman with whom he has three children, thus not easily branded a hypocrite for promoting "family values" and not easily dismissed as just another "Hollywood liberal."

The "stay in your lane" angle is therefore about the only thing the right can muster against such a fellow advocating gun safety measures. Thus, this tweeter has it exactly right:

 

Because they both appreciate Matthew McConaughey's message, Hahn and Lawrence O'Donnell may appear to be on the same page (as they literally are on this post). However, Hahn is the only one of the two who noticed that the last President was a celebrity.

 

It is not the most important speech ever given by an actor. That was delivered seven years ago this month when a great actor descended an escalator in New York, New York and declared 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States.

While I love my company and what I have built, I love my country even more.  When was the last time the US won at anything? When was the last time we beat China or Japan in trade? or Mexico at the border? or anybody in negotiation? When was the last time we had a military victory that was so complete and total that the other side just said “We Quit!” It just doesn’t happen for the US anymore.

Our country needs and deserves a comeback…but, we are not going to get that comeback with politicians. Politicians are not the solution to our problems-- they are the problem. They are almost completely controlled by lobbyists, donors and the special interests—they do not have the best interests of our people at heart.....

It is way past time to build a massive wall to secure our southern border – and nobody can build a bigger and better wall than Donald Trump. A country without borders is, quite simply, not a country.  Mexico is not our friend. They are beating us at the border and hurting us badly at economic development.  They are sending people that they don’t want—the United States is becoming a dumping ground for the world.

We, the American people, bought the "love my company and what I have built" shtick. Not everyone, but enough for the star of the popular NBC shows "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice" to be propelled to his party's nomination and to the White House.

Utilizing skills he applied also in the entertainment industry, Trump in 2015-2016 portrayed himself as a successful businessman rather than as an accomplished actor. Nonetheless, as displayed in Lawrence O'Donnell's tweet, a substantial portion of both the left and of the center believed then, and still believes, that Donald Trump is crazy, out-of-control, or stupid.

For the most part, he is none of that. He is clever, scheming, and evil, the latter a concept many left-of-center individuals, typically themselves well-meaning, have trouble identifying in others.  But Donald Trump in June of 2015 was an actor who gave speech extraordinarily misleading, divisive, and important.




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