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Maskgate

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 7:14am in

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Dahlia Lithwick captures the full humiliation of the Supremes. This country is so screwed up:

We are now six days into mask-mania at the U.S. Supreme Court. It all started during last Friday’s oral arguments in the vaccine-or-test mandate cases when Justice Neil Gorsuch was reportedly the only justice not masking throughout the session, though evidently Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas removed their masks for extended periods. The masking protocol at the high court has long been a bit haphazard: When the justices began to hear cases in person again in October, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only justice wearing a mask. But the other justices all began to mask last Friday, the first sitting since the omicron surge, after more guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Likely not by coincidence, Sotomayor participated telephonically last Friday. (She has diabetes, which is a comorbidity factor with COVID, even the milder forms.) The Supreme Court’s spokeswoman also confirmed to Slate that Sotomayor then participated remotely in conference, where only the justices are present.

The pattern has continued with slight modifications since then: On Monday, Gorsuch was the only one to take the bench without a mask according to the AP’s Mark Sherman, and Sotomayor again participated remotely. Gorsuch opted not to wear a mask for oral arguments again on Tuesday when both Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dialed in for the sessions. Breyer had a false positive test and was staying home out of an abundance of caution, but on Wednesday, we learned that Sotomayor would stay home all week.

All of this has launched a high-octane debate over whether Gorsuch is a monster or a hero of liberty. But all that strikes me as not quite the point. The point is not what Gorsuch’s lack of masking means; the point is that the justices get to do whatever they want, whenever they want to, and that they do so without any obligation to explain why. The real problem with the court’s masks-optional policy? It reflects the court’s much larger rules-optional policy on everything pertaining to judicial conduct.

Last Friday, the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus published a scorching critique of Gorsuch’sdecision to “break with his colleagues and disdain the mask,” connecting it to his libertarian record, his comments in the vaccine arguments about coercive government attempts to “control” the citizenry, and the breakdown of institutional norms that mean that the trivial  inconvenience of wearing a mask out of respect for a high-risk colleague (Sotomayor) represents “intolerable incursions on liberty.”

Yvette Borja noted that given that Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser reinstated an indoor mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, Gorsuch would be required to wear one basically anywhere else in D.C., from the grocery store to the pharmacy to his next speaking engagement at the Trump International Hotel,” even if he does not have to wear one on the bench. Like Marcus, she assumed that he is motivated by the symbolic value of owning the libs. “By publicly refusing to do so, Gorsuch aligns himself with some of the pandemic’s most insufferable people: the trolling culture warriors who are proud not to give a shit about anyone but themselves,” she wrote.

To be sure, we have heard from absolutely none of the justices themselves on the subject. The court’s spokeswoman has confirmed that Sotomayor is participating remotely but will not say why. The office did confirm that Breyer phoned into arguments because of his COVID test results. But the public information office will not explain why Gorsuch feels no need to mask around several colleagues who are high risk by virtue of their co-occurring conditions or their ages—despite the court’s express rule providing that everyone else who attends every sessionmust wear at least N95 or KN95 masks.

[…]

But the hyperfocus on Gorsuch’s unknown motivations strikes me as nearly as much of a distraction as the hyperfocus on who said incorrect things at oral argument, and who sought changes in official transcripts about what we thought we heard. Justices say mistaken things at oral argument all the time, especially when they are hearing fast-tracked cases. The big lesson here isn’t about verbal errors at argument or Gorsuch’s lack of concern for his colleagues. The reason his noncompliance with the court’s formal mask rule is news is because it is yet another example of the justices having rules but refusing to apply them to themselves. That’s the real issue with regard to masks, just as it is to judicial ethics, and that’s the reason why this debacle is damaging the court’s public standing. Several smart lawyers have written to ask me why Chief Justice John Roberts cannot simply order his colleagues to follow the same mask requirements imposed on everyone else. The short answer is that he cannot order his colleagues to do anything that falls within the realm of ethical behavior.

For decades, court reformers—and most recently President Joe Biden’s commission on court reform—have noted that the court’s financial and ethical rules are purely advisory, that nobody needs to follow them and that the justices will not enforce them against one another. When it comes to adopting a set of rules governing how the nine justices conduct themselves when giving speeches, or engaging in public activities, each of the nine is a law unto themselves. Efforts to remedy that, in the interest of making the court more accountable and also more legitimate, are persistently rebuffed. To extend Marcus’ analysis about Gorsuch, nobody is the boss of Gorsuch because nobody is the boss of any of the justices.

Two short weeks ago, in his annual state of the judiciary report, Roberts flicked obliquely at the connection between public confidence in the court and the need for judicial independence. Unsurprisingly, and in keeping with much of the lawyerly discourse around judicial behavior, he urged that public confidence in the court demands judicial independence at all costs. Judicial independence, in other words, is an end in itself, and public regard for the institution is, at best, a second-order concern. Roberts thus used the national decline in confidence in the courts and the existence of financial misconduct and workplace “incivility and disrespect” on the federal bench to insist that the courts themselves could handle it, and to decry efforts to exert “inappropriate political influence” on the courts’ procedures. Instead, he urged that “decisional independence is essential to due process, promoting impartial decision-making, free from political or other extraneous influence.” Roberts cited Chief Justice William Howard Taft, saying that he “was prescient in recognizing the need for the Judiciary to manage its internal affairs, both to promote informed administration and to ensure independence of the Branch.” Even the most obvious and necessary efforts to regulate judicial conduct are forever deemed a threat to the Supreme Court justices’ and their independence.A

When Ruth Marcus wrote last week about the way in which Gorsuch’s refusal to don a mask “goes to the heart of our fraying social fabric,” the issue was not just that Gorsuch has arrogated to himself the authority to determine, set, and model public health behavior. That is very much in keeping with the mood of the court and the mood of the country. The real issue is that the court as an institution has put a mask rule into effect, has allowed justices to evade it, has failed to offer any coherent explanation for why one justice has been exempted, and has thus launched another toxic and possibly unnecessary public debate. The court hasn’t just declined to be transparent about the application of its own rules to itself; it also feels no obligation to explain the breach to anyone. Into that silence falls institutional criticism that further erodes public confidence.

One way to describe this is “judicial independence”—John Roberts’ pledge to the nation that the justices answer to nobody but are driven by the imperative they take upon themselves, in the words of Taft, “the duty to remove, as far as possible, grounds for just criticism of our judicial system.” But what happens when the justices, with ever-increasing frequency, decline to evince concern for the public’s worries and uncertainties about the judicial system? What happens when day after day of raging debate over one justice’s refusal to adhere to a court rule is met with stony silence by the court? If the justices have no obligation to be ethical, or even civil, around a pandemic that has killed more than 800,000 Americans, do they at least have the burden to explain? Evidently not.

The other word for this behavior is “judicial immunity,” an immunity that requires no explanation. The court—while debating the necessity of COVID mitigation efforts—declined to enforce its own COVID mitigation efforts. Then, in the face of politically polarized reaction, the court declined to tell us why. Justices will be quick to blame the media for merely reporting on their behavior—Justice Sam Alito did so again during the vaccine arguments themselves. But when the media asks for clarity, the court fails to answer. Perhaps the problem here transcends Gorsuch, who refuses to accept that he answers to anyone. Perhaps the bigger problem is that the Supreme Court itself agrees with him, even as it declines to tell us why.

Judicial immunity. Good phrase. And these people have the nerve to wring their hands about “elitism.”

*And she doesn’t even mention the egregiously unethical conduct by Justice Thomas’s wife Ginni.

The claim that the Justices’ opinions are politically neutral is becoming increasingly hard to accept, especially from Thomas, whose wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, is a vocal right-wing activist. She has declared that America is in existential danger because of the “deep state” and the “fascist left,” which includes “transsexual fascists.” Thomas, a lawyer who runs a small political-lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, has become a prominent member of various hard-line groups. Her political activism has caused controversy for years. For the most part, it has been dismissed as the harmless action of an independent spouse. But now the Court appears likely to secure victories for her allies in a number of highly polarizing cases—on abortion, affirmative action, and gun rights.

Many Americans first became aware of Ginni Thomas’s activism on January 6, 2021. That morning, before the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C., turned into an assault on the Capitol resulting in the deaths of at least five people, she cheered on the supporters of President Donald Trump who had gathered to overturn Biden’s election. In a Facebook post that went viral, she linked to a news item about the protest, writing, “love maga people!!!!” Shortly afterward, she posted about Ronald Reagan’s famous “A Time for Choosing” speech. Her next status update said, “god bless each of you standing up or praying.” Two days after the insurrection, she added a disclaimer to her feed, noting that she’d written the posts “before violence in US Capitol.” (The posts are no longer public.)

Later that January, the Washington Post revealed that she had also been agitating about Trump’s loss on a private Listserv, Thomas Clerk World, which includes former law clerks of Justice Thomas’s. The online discussion had been contentious. John Eastman, a former Thomas clerk and a key instigator of the lie that Trump actually won in 2020, was on the same side as Ginni Thomas, and he drew rebukes. According to the Post, Thomas eventually apologized to the group for causing internal rancor. Artemus Ward, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University and a co-author of “Sorcerers’ Apprentices,” a history of Supreme Court clerks, believes that the incident confirmed her outsized role. “Virginia Thomas has direct access to Thomas’s clerks,” Ward said. Clarence Thomas is now the Court’s senior member, having served for thirty years, and Ward estimates that there are “something like a hundred and twenty people on that Listserv.” In Ward’s view, they comprise “an élite right-wing commando movement.” Justice Thomas, he says, doesn’t post on the Listserv, but his wife “is advocating for things directly.” Ward added, “It’s unprecedented. I have never seen a Justice’s wife as involved.”

It’s an outrage. But since the court is answerable to no one that’s just the way it is.

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Nome aos bois: como empresários legalizam desmonte ambiental no Brasil

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 5:32am in

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A boiada do governo Bolsonaro continua passando. E quem se beneficia do desmonte ambiental são os empresários, que negociam as terras do país para exploração e cometem crimes ambientais livres de penalização. Neste vídeo, mostramos como lobistas agem junto ao governo federal até conseguirem decretos, medidas provisórias e outras canetadas que atendam aos seus interesses. O Projeto Boiada é uma parceria entre o Intercept e o Observatório do Clima para acompanhar o desmonte acelerado das políticas socioambientais.

The post Nome aos bois: como empresários legalizam desmonte ambiental no Brasil appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump 2.0 heading for Q-land

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 5:30am in

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Ron DeSantis is now trafficking in COVID conspiracy theories. He’s complaining about health care workers being required to get vaccinated and suggesting that the vaccines cause infertility.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a foe of vaccine mandates, appeared to suggest Thursday that getting a shot to protect against the coronavirus could cause infertility.

“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses” to get immunized, he said in a speech announcing funding for nursing certification programs. “A lot of these nurses have had covid. A lot of them are younger. Some of them are trying to have families.”FAQ: What to know about the omicron variant of the coronavirus

But there is no evidence that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus makes it harder to conceive, according to a study released Thursday of heterosexual couples trying for pregnancy. DeSantis could not be immediately reached for a comment on his remarks.

By contrast, men infected with the coronavirus showed signs of a short-term decline in fertility, according to the research, which was led by an epidemiologist at Boston University and published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Epidemiology. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers studied more than 2,000 people between the ages of 21 and 45, all of whom identified as women, in the United States and Canada between December 2020 and September 2021. (Their male partners were also invited to fill in a questionnaire.) Some 73 percent of the women had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine during the study, with 74 percent of the men also having been administered at least one shot.

“Recent [coronavirus] infection has been associated with poor sperm quality, including … decreased concentration, lower motility,” the authors wrote. But “we found no adverse association between vaccination and fertility.”

Apparently he has decided that his political future depends upon him pushing the envelope on anti-vax conspiracies, putting him to the right of Donald Trump. It’s quite strategy…

I sure hope DeSantis doesn’t get this unfortunate side-effect:

A man’s agonizing penis pain was blamed on COVID infection, as docs warned of the rare side effect.

Writing in a medical journal, the Iranian team described how the virus led to blood clotting in the poor man’s shaft.  

The unnamed male had suffered penile pain for three days before being seen by a urologist in Iran, who referred him for tests.

The discomfort began following an erection while having sex, the 41-year-old married man told doctors.

If anything getting COVID seems to cause more trouble with men’s reproductive system’s than women. Maybe that ought to be publicized more. I’ll bet it would get a whole lot of men vaccinated if they knew.

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Legal Problems Everywhere

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 4:00am in

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If last week was considered Joe Biden’s no-good, very bad week, there’s a case to be made that this week was Donald Trump’s no-good, even worse week.

Let’s look at all of the legal cases and investigations that seem to be pushing forward against Trump despite his best efforts to repel them with lawsuits and delaying tactics. The good news for Trump is that it appears the Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided that all of the obstruction of justice Trump perpetrated in plain sight during the Russia investigation is not worth prosecuting. Unless they make a move very quickly, the statute of limitations is about to run out on that front. So much for Robert Mueller’s sanguine pronouncement that we needn’t worry about his refusal to recommend indictment because, of course, they could always do it after the president left office.

But that’s the only good news on this front that Trump’s received in recent days.

The former president is still facing a flurry of legal investigations from New York to Georgia while the evidence is piling up at the January 6th committee and the DOJ. The case that seems to be closest to coming to a head is the civil investigation by New York State Attorney General Leticia James. Last Tuesday, James filed a response to one of Trump’s frivolous arguments with a filing and a statement that her office has “uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.”

It’s not that anyone’s surprised by this. The New York Times exposed the massive tax fraud perpetrated by Trump’s father over decades — and Trump learned everything he knows about “business” from his daddy. There have been numerous other journalistic deep dives into Trump’s corrupt business practices defrauding customers, investors and insurance companies. The joint investigation by Pro-Publica and WNYC called Trump Inc. and the book by its main producer Andrea Bernstein called “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power” alone uncovered years of misrepresentations and double-dealing in Trump’s real estate businesses in the U.S. and abroad. This family business — as we know from previous cases such as the Trump University fraud case which Trump settled for 25 million dollars when he assumed the presidency and the embarrassing con game they ran called the “Trump Foundation” which turned out to be little more than a slush fund for themselves — has been skirting the edge of criminality for years.

This case by the NY attorney general is the first to take an official look at some of those allegations and it appears that there is plenty of evidence to back them up. For instance, James brought receipts showing that Trump had refinanced the loan on his 40 Wall Street tower in Lower Manhattan by claiming that it was worth $735 million when it was worth less than half of that. The Trump Organization’s Aberdeen Golf Club’s value was massively inflated based upon lies about how many luxury houses it was planning to build. The AG also claims that Trump gave untrue statements to the IRS, overstating the values of land at two of his golf courses by counting the values of nonexistent mansions for which he then took deductions. I don’t know about you, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if any of us tried to do something like that even on a tiny scale we would be in serious criminal trouble.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has an ongoing criminal investigation based upon the same evidence and there is some coordination between the two offices, a fact which Trump and his offspring are using to argue that they should not have to appear under subpoena. You see, if they wish to avoid incriminating themselves in the criminal case, they would have to take the 5th in the civil case, and unlike criminal cases, that can be used against them.

Just think about that: the former president of the United States and his children, one of whom was a senior white house adviser, are arguing that they will not be able to testify because they might incriminate themselves criminally. You might think they’re just trying to delay the proceedings but they must actually be very worried about criminal exposure. According to James, Eric Trump, the only one to testify until now, took the 5th 500 times in his deposition.

The criminal investigation has been much quieter than the New York attorney general’s but they have indicted the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer on unrelated fraud charges and since the case is intertwined with the civil case, one can assume they are operating from the same evidence. It’s possible they won’t be able to put together criminal charges from what we’ve seen, but if what James says is true, that means something is terribly wrong with our criminal justice system.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, the district attorney investigating Trump’s attempt to coerce state and local officials into committing voter fraud has requested a special grand jury to hear the case. That’s the one where he was recorded calling up the Secretary of State to tell him he would be in legal trouble if he didn’t “find” 11,800 votes to put Trump over the top. It looks as though that case isn’t going away any time soon either.

Back in DC, Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court betrayed him once again, ruling this week that the National Archives can turn over the records requested by the January 6th committee. (I would be very surprised if lawyers in the White House who were reportedly so concerned about the president’s unconstitutional coup planning, did not write notes to the file outlining their objections.) The committee subpoenaed Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and has asked Ivanka Trump to appear voluntarily to tell what she knows about her father sitting on his hands while his supporters sacked the Capitol.

And now we have this story of Giuliani coordinating the use of fraudulent Trump “alternate electors” who actually sent fake documents to the National Archives, which may end up being the most notorious case of voter fraud in history. (It’s enough to make your head explode.) Two state attorneys general have referred the case to the Department of Justice and it’s hard to imagine that they will not look into this. People are in jail right now for far less.

It’s raining bad legal news for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, what this means is that Trump will definitely run for president which he believes will insulate him and his family from legal exposure. Coming from the man who won his election with promises to “lock her up!” that’s especially rich, but this is Trump. And if he were to win (or “win”) in 2024, he would gain himself four more years in which to run out the clock on all prospective crimes since the DOJ policy is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Perhaps that’s one norm that really deserves to be shattered. 

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That’s some liberal bias ya got there

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 2:30am in

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Eric Boehlert and Dan Froomkin have been all over this topic, but Magdi Semrau yesterday concisely summarized the press fascination with the exotic, right minority. It is a habit of mind (or myopia) that in practice marginalizes the mainstream majority of voters who do not support the Lyin King or his authoritarian party.

The Republicans’ abjectly anti-democratic behavior is accepted as a baseline, rather than abnormal & worthy of intense inquiry, but Republican voters’ loyalty to this abnormal behavior is worthy of extreme curiosity. So we get a lot of “Trump voters still love Trump” stories.

Meanwhile, Democratic politicians are messy for attempting to participate in democracy. Democratic voters, in contrast, are treated as bores. The press largely ignores them. What’s interesting, after all, in being committed to a party that’s actually trying to be democratic?

This creates a situation where the GOP’s bad behavior gets obscured, but support for their behavior is entrenched in the public’s mind. Democrats’ pro-democratic behavior gets derided & voters’ support for this behavior is ignored. No “Biden voters still love Biden” articles.

It’s important to recognize these asymmetries. We know from psychology that hearing about a person or party’s popularity will either entrench that popularity or increase it. Hearing about a person or party’s unpopularity has the same effect, basically creating a doom spiral.

We’re in a bad spot when anti-democratic behavior is treated as normal, but support for that behavior is treated as ~fascinating~. This situation is rendered worse when pro-democratic behavior is treated as hopelessly messy & support for this behavior is treated as a snooze fest.

Bush II once complained of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” For Republican leaders, low expectations is not bias, it’s camouflage.

Democrats haven’t mastered the whole “look, shiny” thing.

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McConnell steals Biden’s title

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 1:00am in

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Michael Kinsley, the one-time co-host of “Crossfire” and founding editor of Slate, began dropping off the radar (or at least, off mine) over the last decade. His Parkinson’s diagnosis had something to do with that, as it would. Kinsley’s Twitter account went cold about the time in 2016 when he published “Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide.”

But among the witticisms Kinsley will be remembered for is the Kinsley gaffe, a form of Freudian slip: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Rather than use Kinsley gaffe, the common turn of phrase of late is the clunkier “saying the quiet part out loud.” What a shame.

The occasion for this mini-retrospective is a Kinsley gaffe committed Wednesday by Senate Minority Leader and self-described “Grim Reaper,” Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, after his 50-member caucus unanimously refused (with help from two Democrats) to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.

Asked by reporters about concerns non-white citizens express over the security of their voting rights, McConnell answered, “The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

A purer example of a Kinsley gaffe is hard to find.

Admitting aloud that Republicans do not view Black people as bona fide Americans is so very Kinsleyish for the very reason that it is among the world’s most poorly kept secrets. The party abandoned its decades-old, nudge-nudge-wink-wink stance towards racial minorities when Donald Trump descended his golden escalator and immediately declared Mexicans rapists and murderers. The euphemisms and coded language deployed since passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in the 1960s have disappeared. Notwithstanding the black faces strategically placed behind Trump’s speech last weekend, Trump’s is a white-people’s party he’s set against everyone else.

Unsubstantiated Republican charges of widespread “voter fraud” by “others” have circulated for decades. But voting restrictions passed by Republican-held state legislatures in the wake of Barack Obama’s presidency have accelerated with Trump’s 2020 loss to Joe Biden. Hence, Democrats’ efforts not only to reinforce voting rights but to defend them, and democracy itself, from frontal assault.

I mock Republicans’ use the term Real American to describe their white base by adding a trademark symbol to it, but McConnell just made a mockery of my mockery. He spoke plainly.

It is a gaffe McConnell would be remembered for if not for the many calculated legislative atrocities he’s committed over his career. Greg Sargent recalls “a largely-forgotten, 11-year-old quote” from McConnell on how he approached his role during the fight over the 2010 Affordable Care Act. He explained himself to The Atlantic‘s Joshua Green:

“We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals,” McConnell says. “Because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the ‘bipartisan’ tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.”

Sargent continues:

The counterintuitive thought here runs as follows: Yes, Americans want the parties to cooperate in a bipartisan fashion. Yes, when the parties disagree, Americans might agree with one side more than the other. But in McConnell’s theory, those things don’t matter.

Instead, when government is seen as dysfunctional amid partisan fighting, the president and his party are blamed, because they run the place. When Republicans uniformly oppose the president’s policies, voters fault him for failing to secure bipartisan cooperation. That’s why McConnell wants to deny him “broad agreement.”

Biden famously described himself as a “gaffe machine,” and he made a few during his 2-hour press conference this week. McConnell, however, is so confident in his party’s ability to engineer minority rule in what was the world’s most prominent democracy that he can say plainly that he does not consider non-whites to belong here. It’s hardly a revelation.

UPDATE: Note McConnell’s us/them hand gesture.

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Political Change and Continuity in the Dominican Republic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 4:54pm in

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As the Dominican elite consolidates its power under President Abinader and continues its relentless attacks on the working class, the revolutionary left must unite to organize workers regardless of national origin.

Read more ›

The post Political Change and Continuity in the Dominican Republic appeared first on New Politics.

Systemic Racism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 2:00pm in

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I don’t know a better illustration of systemic racism than this:

Prior to a vote to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the Senate floor failed Wednesday, McConnell was asked by a reporter about concerns among voters of color. 

“Well the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” McConnell responded.

For McConnell, it simply hasn’t registered, at any deep level, that Americans from Africa are, in fact, simply Americans.

(Adding: I’ll leave it to others to point out that it is because Blacks are, indeed voting that McConnell’s White supremacist party is using every single illegal and immoral tactic they can think of to ensure that Black votes don’t count. )

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A Third Rate Voter Fraud Plot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 12:00pm in

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This piece at the Bulwark makes a (somewhat tortured) comparison of this emerging scandal of the fraudulent electors to Watergate makes the logical case that it’s just this sort of thing that can lead from the lower levels to the top. These people committed the very crime they are accusing the Democrats of committing:

To paraphrase an old English proverb, mighty consequences from small offenses sometimes grow.

Now, an offense committed by relatively unknown people acting at the state level could grow into “Trump’s Watergate.” Of course Trump, unlike Nixon, is already out of office, but he has other worries—like protecting his fortune, keeping the door open to run again in 2024, and staying out of jail.

If state and federal law enforcement authorities convene grand juries to investigate the low-level GOP officials who signed and submitted phony electoral certificates in the 2020 election, the entire conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election could unravel.

So far, there has been no visible indication that Attorney General Merrick Garland has any appetite to launch a sweeping investigation into Team Trump’s conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Garland has said nothing about it. His silence could just be prudential—it can be unwise for a prosecutor to alert prematurely the subjects of investigations. Or he may be reluctant to pursue such a case at all, perhaps due to some combination of his cautious nature, fear that it might be perceived as partisan political retribution, the difficulty of drawing clear lines between protected speech and conspiracy, and the difficulty of proving criminal intent in the mind of a cult figure whose bizarre mental state is unfathomable.

But none of those inhibitions should apply to a routine investigation into the mundane crimes implicated by the creation, execution and submission to the government of phony electoral documents. Quite the opposite: The failure to investigate that kind of obvious election fraud would smack of political calculation.

Law enforcement officials investigating the phony documents, as distinguished from a broader conspiracy, would not have to search for a crime—they already have the smoking guns, documents that are fraudulent on their face. Nor would they need to search for the culprits. The fraudsters signed their names to the phony documents, many of them proudly recording the act on video.

This open-and-shut election fraud is a gift to Garland and his federal prosecutors. Without having to expend any political capital by opening a sweeping investigation targeting Donald Trump or those around him, prosecutors could chip away at the broader conspiracy.

The targets of the investigation would be the people who signed and transmitted the phony elector certificates, not Donald Trump.

A total of 59 individuals from five states signed the documents. We know virtually nothing about them. They are not national figures, and largely are not public figures, except perhaps in state and local circles. They seem to be a fairly representative sample of Americans with quotidian jobs, nice families, and cute pets—not hardened denizens of the criminal underworld.

Can you imagine what would happen if 59 otherwise respectable burghers were hauled before a grand jury, facing a very real prospect of going to jail? How long do you think it would take for some or all of them to seek plea deals that would keep them out of prison? How quickly will they line up to identify those who told them to do it?

In very short order, investigators would have a mountain of testimony identifying every single person who induced or aided and abetted the pseudo-electors in the planning, coordination, and execution of their fraudulent acts. And so on up the chain.

As far as it goes.

And it seems to go far:

Historian Heather Cox Richardson, writing in her January 17 newsletter, lays it all out in detail, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the scheme “appears to have been a coordinated attempt by members of the Trump administration and sympathizers around the country to overturn our government by committing election fraud.”

When the last person compelled to testify has had his or her time in the barrel before a grand jury, what started as a politically impeccable investigation of a mundane crime committed by nondescript individuals—like the investigation of the five Watergate burglars—could bring down the whole edifice.

Is it too much to hope for that the simple act of investigating a mundane fraudulent act could lead to widespread accountability in Trump World? Let’s find out. All it will take is for the Department of Justice to begin an investigation—for Attorney General Garland to prosecute the obvious crime right in front of him—and then to follow the facts upward as far as they go.

This one seems like it might have some legs to me. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for federal action against Trump. But this seems impossible to ignore. There are people in jail around the country for committing much less egregious crimes of “voter fraud.” These people wre trying to overturn the whole election by defrauding the voters of their states. It sure seems clear cut to me.

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Global labour landscape: public health and employment crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/01/2022 - 11:25am in

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from Maria Alejandra Madi According to ILO, the COVID-19 epidemic was changed from a public health disaster to an employment and social crisis. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on worldwide public health, employment, and daily life. In this scenario, a lack of comprehensive policy initiatives exacerbates inequality and limits overall workplace growth. Among […]

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