Patterico's Pontifications


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hello Weekend! I hope you’ve had a good week filled with love and good cheer. Here are a few news items to chew over. Feel free to share anything that you think would interest readers, and make sure to include links.

First news items


Okay, but I’m pretty sure they are trying to talk to you directly:

Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, the progressive freshman Democratic congresswoman who has made many statements critical of Israel, is refusing to participate in an interview with the St. Louis Jewish Light, the leading Jewish newspaper in the city, according to its editors.

In a May 12 editorial, the paper’s editors said they have been ignored by the congresswoman’s staff in their efforts to interview Bush about her views on Israel and other topics. The lawmaker’s staff last communicated with the biweekly in an April 20 email.

Bush’s response to their interview requests “should trouble our readers,” the unsigned editorial said. The editorial did not clarify how long the Jewish Light had been trying to speak to Bush.

The Jewish Light said its goal is to clarify Bush’s views on the topic, as well as her social media posts comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to racial justice protests in the United States.

Related: Nancy tells Ilhan Omar to knock it off:

With a rare joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her entire leadership team on Thursday sought to quell a growing controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) remarks equating war crimes committed by the U.S. and Israel to those by the Taliban and Hamas terrorist groups.

The joint statement…came after Omar responded to a request from a dozen Jewish House Democrats to “clarify” what she meant in her original remarks.

“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies,” the Democratic leadership team said in its statement.

“But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” the statement adds.

This is what got the ball rolling:

Totally unsurprising.

Second news item

OMG, CNN’s level of desperation is just stunning! Eight months after that unfortunate Zoom moment, Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN as the network’s chief legal analyst. To welcome him back, the brain trust at CNN decided to have reporter Alisyn Camerota talk about what happened. She told Toobin that she would provide viewers with a recap. He laughed and suggested she ‘help herself’:

Why, CNN? WHY??

Third news item

Texas to build border wall:

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that Texas will build a border wall along the state’s boundary with Mexico — but provided no details on where or when.

Abbott declared his plans during a press conference in Del Rio. He said he would discuss the plans next week. The Biden administration issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office.

Abbott announced the news while discussing a slew of border initiatives, such as a $1 billion allocation for border security in the state budget lawmakers just passed and a plan to establish a Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security with public safety and state government officials.

Fourth news item

The circus is coming to town:

Former President Donald Trump will go on a tour with Bill O’Reilly to talk about his presidency, with a series of paid ticketed events planned for December in Florida and Texas.

O’Reilly, the former Fox News host who now hosts the podcast No Spin News, announced the tour on his website on Monday. It’s dubbed “The History Tour,” focused on highlights from the Trump presidency and “a never before heard inside view of his administration,” according to a release.

“These will be wonderful but hard-hitting sessions where we’ll talk about the real problems happening in the U.S., those that the Fake News Media never mention,” Trump said in a statement.

Fifth news item

Wait just a minute: I thought Trump and friends accused Democrats of doing this:

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had subpoenaed.

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

Sixth news item

California’s Covid chaos:

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to have the state mostly reopen and end pandemic restrictions on June 15 was dealt an unexpected blow last week when the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board decided to continue to require mask-wearing at factory and office workplaces if all workers had not been fully vaccinated.

This cautious position was not shared by federal authorities. Citing the extreme effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on May 13 that said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face masks, including at most workplaces. The CDC’s recommendation helped prompt the Newsom administration to plan to end mask requirements next Tuesday, albeit with some fairly broad exceptions: at transit centers and on public transportation; at hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities; inside child-care centers and K-12 schools; at prisons and jails; and at emergency and homeless shelters.

Thankfully, Cal/OSHA realized that it was sowing confusion by having tougher standards than those of the administration it serves. It has acted to adopt mask rules in sync with those set by the state Department of Public Health and backed by Newsom — although they probably won’t take effect until June 28, unfortunately.

Seventh news item

Bipartisan billions and no tax increases:

A bipartisan group of 10 senators Thursday afternoon announced an agreement on a “compromise framework” to invest $1.2 trillion in infrastructure over the next eight years.

Sources familiar with the deal said it would provide $974 billion over five years. They also said the framework is focused on “core, physical infrastructure” and would not increase taxes, though it includes an option to index the gas tax to inflation.

Further, it would provide $579 billion in new funding over what would otherwise be spent without any new legislation.

“Our group — comprised of 10 senators, five from each party — has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies,” members of the bipartisan group said in a joint statement.

“This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” they added.

Eighth news item

Crazier than Jewish space lasers starting fires:

In a way only they can, supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory are bizarrely suggesting there was huge significance in the moment a cicada flew around the neck of President Joe Biden before he boarded Air Force One.

A clip of Biden swatting away an insect while he was on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews ahead of his visit to Cornwall, England, for the G7 summit was widely shared on social media on Wednesday.

“Watch out for the cicadas,” Biden told reporters shortly afterwards. “I just got one. It got me.”

The swarm of insects had already caused issues after filling up the plane’s engines, causing it to be grounded on Tuesday and delaying the president’s first overseas trip by several hours.

Rather than just seeing it as an example of the issues caused by the return of the large, loud insects after living underground for the past 17 years, some QAnon supporters claimed the reappearance of the Brood X cicadas is somehow a secret nod that justifies their radical movement.

We The Media, a collection of QAnon advocates with more than 225,000 subscribers on its Telegram account, believes Biden swatting at the cicadas is actually “comms,” a secret message that can be decoded by QAnon supporters.

“JOE BIDEN BITTEN BY A CICADA – COMMS? Just so happens that Cicada nymphs emerge after a 17-year childhood underground!!!” We The Media wrote.

For QAnon supporters, anything that can be linked to the number 17, no matter how tenuous, can be interpreted as “comms” for them as Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.

“What? CHILD? UNDERGROUND? 17? Yes. Then after a short period above ground they molt, mate, lay eggs and die,” We The Media’s post added.

The “underground” comment is a reference to a long held belief from QAnon that there exists a network of secret underground tunnels where children are being trafficked and abused by the satanic pedophiles they claim they will one day expose.


The heat of June has arrived. Thus,Flaming June:

(Frederic Leighton, 1895)

If humans acted like dogs:

Have a good weekend.


Death Threats To Georgia Secretary of State’s Family (and Others) Spelled Out

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:08 am

[guest post by Dana]

At the end of November 2020, I wrote about the death threats that Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his wife Tricia received after certifying an election win for Joe Biden. Reuters has released a damning report that includes specific threats that the family received on the heels of Trump’s election loss. These are nothing less than terrifying:

Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”

A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.”

That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.”

Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics.

A look at Tricia Raffensperger’s response to death threats:

In an exclusive interview, Tricia Raffensperger spoke publicly for the first time about the threats of violence to her family and shared the menacing text messages with Reuters.

The Raffenspergers – Tricia, 65, and Brad, 66 – began receiving death threats almost immediately after Trump’s surprise loss in Georgia, long a Republican bastion. Tricia Raffensperger started taking precautions. She canceled regular weekly visits in her home with two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5 – the children of her eldest son, Brenton, who died from a drug overdose in 2018.

“I couldn’t have them come to my house anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff.”

In late November, the family went into hiding for nearly a week after intruders broke into the home of the Raffenspergers’ widowed daughter-in-law, an incident the family believed was intended to intimidate them. That evening, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers – a far-right militia group that has supported Trump’s bid to overturn the election – were found outside the Raffenspergers’ home, according to Tricia Raffensperger and two sources with direct knowledge of the family’s ordeal. Neither incident has been previously reported.

“Brad and I didn’t feel like we could protect ourselves,” she said, explaining the decision to flee their home.

Brad Raffensperger told Reuters in a statement that “vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone.”

Clearly, it wasn’t just the Raffenspergers who were targeted after the election:

In Georgia, people went into hiding in at least three cases, including the Raffenspergers. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told Reuters she continues to receive death threats. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – a Democrat who faced armed protesters outside her home in December – is also still getting threats, her spokesperson said, declining to elaborate.

But many others whose lives have been threatened were low- or mid-level workers, just doing their jobs…

The intimidation in Georgia has gone well beyond Raffensperger and his family. Election workers – from local volunteers to senior administrators – continue enduring regular harassing phone calls and emails, according to interviews with election workers and the Reuters review of texts, emails and audio files provided by Georgia officials.

One email, sent on Jan. 2 to officials in nearly a dozen counties, threatened to bomb polling sites: “No one at these places will be spared unless and until Trump is guaranteed to be POTUS again.”

Moreover, Fulton County’s elections director, Richard Barron, whose staff is predominantly Black, said that there was any number of ugly racial slurs directed at workers:

Among those targeted was Barron’s registration chief, Ralph Jones, 56, who oversaw the county’s mail-in ballot operation and has worked on Georgia elections for more than three decades, including senior roles.

Jones said callers left him death threats, including one shortly after the November election who called him a “n—–” who should be shot. Another threatened to kill him by dragging his body around with a truck. “It was unbelievable: your life being threatened just because you’re doing your job,” he said.

And Barron, who is White, also received ugly death threats:

At a Dec. 5 rally – ahead of a runoff election in Georgia that would determine control of the U.S. Senate – Trump showed a video clip of Barron and accused him and his staff of committing a “crime,” alleging they tampered with ballots. After the rally, Barron was bombarded with threats. “I underestimated how hard he was going to push that narrative and just keep pushing it,” Barron said of Trump.

Between Christmas and early January, Barron received nearly 150 hateful calls, many accusing him of treason or saying he should die, according to Barron and a Reuters review of some of the phone messages.

“You actually deserve to hang by your goddamn, soy boy, skinny-ass neck,” said a woman in one voicemail, using a slang term for an effeminate man.

And so it goes.

You ask why this matters now? Because the same individual that ratcheted up the anger and fury with outrageous lies about a stolen election appears to be the Republican Party’s current presumptive nominee for 2024:

A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that two-thirds of Republican voters (66 percent) said they would like Trump to run for the presidency in 2024, while only 30 percent were opposed to the idea…

“The numbers fly in the face of any predictions that Donald Trump’s political future is in decline,” the Quinnipiac poll analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement. “By a substantial majority, Republicans: (1) believe the election was stolen from him, (2) want Trump to run again, and (3), if they can’t vote for Trump, prefer someone who agrees with him.”

Two-thirds of Republicans said they believed President Joe Biden’s election victory was illegitimate, and only a quarter told pollsters they believed his win was legitimate.

Asked for their opinion on Trump, most GOP voters (84 percent) said they had a favorable view of him, and a marginal 13 percent had an unfavorable view of their ex-party leader.

And if anything, today’s Retrumplican Party has made loyalty to Trump a litmus test of worth and viability within the Party, as well as becoming their brand. If another post mentioning the outrageous corruption and lies of Trump and the illegal behavior of his loyal fanatics bother you, turning that annoyance toward the real root of the problem would be more appropriate.

Exit question: If Trump runs in 2024 and loses, tell me why you don’t think a repeat of his 2020 election loss insanity wouldn’t be repeated? We know that he hasn’t changed, and apparently his followers haven’t changed either (given the polling), so what would make another election loss any different?


In Upcoming Talks Between Biden and Putin, Guess Whose Side Trump Is On?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

An Internet friend says “Trump’s.” And that’s ultimately the right answer. But if all Trump cares about is himself, then ask yourself: given that Putin has praised Trump and Biden has criticized him . . . then between Biden and Putin, whose side is he on?

The answer is wholly unsurprising:

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday wished President Biden luck in his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin — and also encouraged him to stay awake.

“Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin—don’t fall asleep during the meeting, and please give him my warmest regards!” Trump said in an emailed statement.

“Warmest regards” to Putin; “don’t fall asleep” to Biden. Friendliness towards the President of Russia; derision for the President of the United States.

Yeah, he’s on Putin’s side.

Such basic hostility to our side — such a basic lack of patriotism — cannot be justified on the basis that it’s attributable to narcissism. Even though it obviously is.

Trump cares about Trump — more than principles or our country, he cares about himself. And dictators know this about him, which is why they are able to play him like a fiddle.

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