The Widdershins

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I can hardly believe it, but it’s Thanksgiving next week, Widdershins! I hope you’re all going to take some time to relax. Two viruses – the pandemic and the Republican virus of vaccine and mask resistance – have cast a pall over holiday gatherings this year. The pandemic is the one affecting Thanksgiving for me. I am thankful that my family is all vaxxed, AND, that I am seeing my aunt and uncle from Baltimore for the first time since the Rona reared its ugly head. We’ll still need to get negative PCR tests before we can go inside my brother’s house for Turkey and Tofurkey Day (my sister-in-law is vegetarian), but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Despite the wretched Rittenhouse verdict, we had a lot to be thankful for this week. President Biden signed the BIF and Speaker Pelosi got the Build Back Better bill signed in the House. Now, the bill goes to the Senate, but thanks to the reconciliation process, only Democrats need to vote for it. Despite Manchinema saying they’ll wait for the CBO report to say how they vote, the report is coming soon, and I don’t think they’ll make a lot of trouble after what happened in New Jersey and Virginia. Oh, and remember how McConnell insisted a couple of months ago that he would absolutely, totally, NOT vote yes on raising the debt ceiling on December 15? Looks like he and Chuck are talking about it now. Something tells me Chuck will get what he wants.

I hope you all will indulge me as I take a minute to marvel at what the Democrats have accomplished so far. The Party has had full control of the federal government only since February 3, 2021, when Schumer and McConnell agreed on power-sharing in the Senate. Given that metric, it’s been nine and a half months.

We have been so traumatized and terrified by the hostile maladministration of Rethugs that we are not used to any good news coming from government sources. I believe this trauma, in combination with our blatantly fascist media, are what’s preventing us from appreciating the revolutionary nature of this time in our political history. There has not been a truly significant investment in the 99% since the Affordable Care Act – and even that was weak sauce compared to what’s being passed now. I can only compare the current furious activity to the New Deal, without the racism of that legislation. And Democrats are doing it all with a majority of 1 vote – the revolutionary, first Black and Asian woman Vice President Kamala Harris. (PRESIDENT Kamala Harris for a few hours this week! Incredible!)

I have often said that the job of President of the United States is the hardest job in the world. 350 million souls, so many of them suffering due to social and economic inequality; and the rest of the world, looking to Biden for leadership, aid and partnership – with a few countries trying to destroy him and America from the inside. Imagine coming into that job after almost 27 years of Rethug destruction, plus a global pandemic that has been botched almost beyond repair, with a forever war to end in Afghanistan and an ongoing attempted coup added in for good measure!

Leaders talented enough to take on this job successfully need two traits in combination. One is, the ability to communicate a shared purpose that people can believe in; and the other is the ability to build the right team to drive it forward.

I think Pelosi and Schumer have been able to wrangle the Democrats into passing these historic bills not just because they too are very talented leaders (they certainly are!), but also because Biden has convinced Congressional Dems that his purpose is the right one. (This doesn’t count the Squad, of course, but they’re DINOs.) His purpose to me is quite simple: let’s join the 21st century so China and Russia don’t destroy us. He’s looking ahead strategically and seeing how many of our people are mired in poverty, illness and incarceration without access to the Internet, child care, education and healthcare. This state of the Union makes us less competitive on the world stage, holding us back from making progress on difficult problems like climate change and clean energy. Every initiative Biden has put forward has been consistent with this purpose; whether it’s the American Rescue Plan, which included an increased Child Tax Credit that has already cut child poverty by 50%; or the BIF, which includes billions for clean water and renewable energy; or the Build Back Better Act, which in its current form regulates the cost of child care, provides four weeks of paid parental and sick leave for all American workers, provides free universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds, and boosts Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, as well as containing $500 billion to address climate change. Women’s rights are far from forgotten – the latest annual budget proposal drops the Hyde Amendment for the first time since 1976, as well as the less-known Weldon Amendment that works in tandem with it, and includes historic amounts of funding for Title X and access to abortion. And let’s not forget the executive orders he’s signed to mandate vaccines in workplaces through OSHA, and block the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more details, this poster on Twitter always has receipts.

Biden’s ability to build a stellar team is on display all day, every day. From our marvelous VP Kamala Harris, who (despite getting the Hillary treatment from the media) is succeeding on multiple fronts, to his diverse and talented Cabinet, Chief of Staff and Press Secretary, all of his team are on point, on message and doing what needs to be done.

There is plenty of bad that’s going on in this world, but today, I’m thankful for what the Democrats have done for the American people. And today and every day, I’m thankful for all of you Widdershins who have kept me going through good times and bad, for lo, these many years.

Happy Thanksgiving all! Open thread as always.

Hello Widdershins! What a week. As usual, the Beltway press was salivating and the pundits were putting debt default countdown clocks on every show because McConnell Said The Republicans Wouldn’t Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling OMG! We’re all going to dieeeeeeeee!

But that didn’t happen, mainly because the Democrats threatened to nuke the filibuster. Apparently, McConnell didn’t think Manchin and Sinema would withstand the pressure from the rest of the caucus, who all want to do SOMETHING about the 60-vote rule, in this very dire situation. McTurtle blinked, and 11 Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling. And some members of his own Party are shaking their heads. Lady Lindsey, Ted Cruz and (of course!) der Drumpfenfuhrer are calling it capitulation. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer mildly and rightfully criticized all Republicans for bringing the U.S. to the point of financial ruin to try to win some pathetic partisan advantage. [Thanks for facepalming behind him, Joe Manchin – I don’t even have words at this point.]

Upon receiving bad reviews from the left and the right, McTurtle went on offense to try to make himself look less weak. In an embarrassing letter to President Biden, he sputtered in hypocritical fauxrage, lambasting Schumer and making hollow threats. Yeah Mitch, we know. You’re very powerful. Do you need some warm milk?

“[Schumer’s] tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

This is, of course, complete Kentucky Derby horse pucky. I’m sure you all know this, but I feel compelled to point out that all of the spending McConnell claims to be upset about has already been authorized! Indeed, $7T of it came from the maladministration of The Former Guy, and even if the Democrats hadn’t passed ANY spending bills in 2021, the ceiling would still have to be raised. This means that trying to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised doesn’t have any impact on future Democratic spending. At all.

The way this went down proves that the Rethugs are indeed terrified that the Democrats will alter the filibuster in some way, robbing them of any power whatsoever, and that McTurtle, despite all the ink and screen time the pundits give him, is not immune to that threat.

Let’s see what happens when the codification of Roe v. Wade, passed on a party line vote in the House in late September, comes before the Senate. Will the Democrats have the same energy to protect these existential threats to the health of hundreds of millions of Americans, as they did to protect existential threats to the economy? Will they finally nuke the filibuster?

When women’s rights are on the table, McConnell is armed with thousands of years of white supremacy on his side to defeat them. The Beltway press and punditry are already saying the House bill has no chance in the Senate. I sincerely hope they’re wrong, again.

Open thread, as always. DYB, this musical selection is for you!

Hello Shinners! I’m extra heads-down at work this week, but wanted to give you all some fresh thread to munch on.

Here are some stories that interested me this week:

The Arizona Audit: A Fricasseed Chicken Ate My Ballot

The Ford F150: Electric Biden Boogaloo

It’s up to you, Noo Yawk

Injustice for Andrew Brown Jr.

Fighting for Florida

Tawk amongst yerselves!

It’s hard to imagine two attorneys who have been more harmful to the United States of America than Rudy “New York’s Nosferatu” Giuliani and Faux News’ Victoria Toensing. Between the two of them, they have helped Republicans perpetrate numerous and deadly crimes against this country.

Let’s start with Rudy. As we have talked about for years at TW, Rudy was THE CAUSE of the terrible fallout of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Countless first responders died on that day, and became ill and died later, because he moved the city’s Disaster Response Center out of Brooklyn and into the WTC. He, of course, did this because he wanted to be closer to his mistress when he was doing the serious business of Mayorin’. And since then, this goo-oozing sycophant has done nothing but dive head down into the muck of wingnuttery and just keep swimming. He’s been the mover and shaker behind so much evil:

The faux Hunter Biden story (now being used to justify his FBI-raided apartment)

The Big Lie that Drumpf won in 2021

Weird Hillary lies about 9/11

Corrupt Ukraine lobbying

Collusion with Russia in 2019 and 2020

Four Seasons Total Landscaping (okay, that one was just funny)

Yes, Rudy is a well-known and well-recognized goon for the Republican Crime Syndicate. But Victoria Toensing – she’s flown a bit more under the radar. Here are some of her (and her husband’s!) greatest hits. (Wonder what hubby’s up to these days?)

You might not know them well, but without Toensing and diGenova, the most outlandish theories might not have found their way into the ether. Toensing’s client and longtime friend John Solomon is the one who spread the rumor that Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, hated Trump; so-called “documentary evidence” of Joe Biden firing a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son had emerged in a case that both Toensing and diGenova are working on; and the couple have also alluded to the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine — and not Russia — that meddled in the 2016 election by seeking to help Hillary Clinton. Often lording over the whole spectacle, in their telling, was Soros — the billionaire who has become a bogeyman for the right. (The line that he is seeking to run Ukraine, for one, could have come straight out of the mouth of Vladimir Putin.)

[snip]

Toensing and diGenova fortified their conservative bonafides throughout the Bush and Obama years, with Toensing particularly active. She penned op-eds in favor of the Patriot Act and in defense of the reporter who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. She lobbied for the MEK, a violent fringe Iranian group, just as Giuliani has, as it sought to get off the US list of terrorist groups. She represented “whistleblowers” in the Benghazi hearings who accused Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, of refusing to let them testify, as well as an informant who claimed to have information that Clinton had orchestrated the sale of part of Uranium One to a Russian company in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation (she didn’t). She picked up Erik Prince as a client and took part in numerous Judicial Watch panels devoted to the subject of Clinton’s missing emails. As the Trump era approached, both Toensing and diGenova found themselves more and more on Fox News, regulars on Sean Hannity (another Toensing and diGenova client) and Lou Dobbs.

I’ll tell you, I am absolutely over the moon that these two traitorous morons are finally getting investigated by the FBI, now overseen at DOJ by the brilliant and most importantly, honest, Merrick Garland. Now all the crimes they were committing in plain sight will be thoroughly investigated.

Let’s have the last Drumpf attorney who was investigated by the FBI, Michael Cohen, give the last word.

Open thread, as always.

Image courtesy of KTSP TV

Widdershins, something truly extraordinary happened yesterday. Derek Chauvin, the psychopathic cop who was caught on video killing a Black man in cold blood, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Across the country, but especially in Minneapolis, the celebration and relief were palpable. Even though the officer’s guilt was documented clearly for all the world to see, and was not questionable by any seeing human being, most people were cautious in their hopes for accountability.

After all, murdering police officers are so rarely convicted for their crimes.

Garrett said there are hundreds of instances where police use deadly force each year but despite the fatality, very few of those incidents result in an officer facing criminal charges.

In the aftermath of Chauvin’s guilty verdict, Garrett believes there will continue to be a “rethinking” of how and when officers should be held civilly and criminally liable when they cause a death. The problem is that there is very little data available on deadly force used by police.

In police brutality cases, the question is whether the officer accused of misconduct acted “reasonably” and their behavior was necessary under the circumstances — but how “reasonable” is defined remains largely elusive.

“There are so few cases that tell us what reasonable is, and that’s why a conviction in the Derek Chauvin trial would set a standard for reasonable that we didn’t have before,” said Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and civil rights attorney.

The Chauvin trial is a rare example of “zealous prosecution” in hundreds of years where prosecutors have failed to prosecute White people for crimes against Black people, Browne-Marshall said.

So the Chauvin trial turned out the way it should have, which is a rare victory for the forces of social justice. But not everyone felt that way. Some seemed to feel that Chauvin, as a white man, should have had the right to kill George Floyd however and whenever he wanted to. (No wonder the Republican House voted against Kamala’s anti-lynching law in 2019!) If you look over at Foxnews.com (don’t worry – I did it for you and I need disinfectant), you’ll see some normal-seeming headlines surrounded by batshittery: a straightforward description of the verdict is in the same space as accusations of “mob justice” from Candace Owens and Democratic extremism from some random Black guy in a MAGA hat. (I don’t know who he is, and my life is better for it.)

As so many have said, this is one very tiny step towards a better world, and it wouldn’t have happened if some very brave people didn’t record the murder on their phones. What will happen to the police officers who murdered a 15-year-old girl in Columbus on the same day the verdict was returned (yes this really f*cking happened)? What about Chauvin’s fellow officers who helped him – what will become of them when they are tried in August? Will the Senate be able to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act now? (I predict no, not without reforming the filibuster!)

So many questions about what comes next…at least we’re asking them knowing George Floyd’s killer will be held accountable.

Ze thread, she is ouverte.


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