…a hell of a thing [DOT 7/9/21]

or hell-ish, if you prefer...

…umm…you know that saying about getting up on the wrong side of bed?

…well…maybe you don’t…maybe that’s not something people say where you grew up…but…it seems like maybe I did that today…more so than usual, even


…so this is me reminding you that you can skip straight down to the comment section by clicking the number by the little speech bubble just above the header image



…it’s not like there’s a lot that most of us can do about the ways texas is trying to make life worse for folks in general & women in particular

The Justice Department is exploring “all options” to challenge Texas’s restrictive abortion law, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday, as he vowed to provide support to abortion clinics that are “under attack” in the state and to protect those seeking and providing reproductive health services.
While some previous attempts by GOP state leaders to outlaw abortions have failed, Texas’s bill may provide other legislatures a blueprint to pass legal scrutiny. The law was designed to turn away pre-enforcement challenges in federal courts and allows private citizens to bring suit against abortion providers or anyone who “aids or abets” the procedure. Abortion providers say the ban effectively eliminates the guarantee in Roe v. Wade that people have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states are barred from imposing undue burdens on that decision.
“I was told that there are possibilities within the existing law to have the Justice Department look and see whether there are things that can be done that can limit the independent action of individuals in enforcing … a state law,” Biden said.
Garland said in his statement that the Justice Department has “consistently” pursued criminal and civil violations of the FACE Act for decades and will continue to do so.
But as Garland’s announcement suggests, the legal landscape has already shifted, prompting assurances from the highest offices of the federal government that it will protect the constitutional rights of individuals perceived by many to be in jeopardy.

Justice Department to protect women seeking an abortion in Texas [WaPo]

…though it would be nice to see some of those corporations (that are supposedly people too in the eyes of the law) throwing some weight around

An array of large American companies with ties to Texas have declined to stake out a position on the state’s strict new abortion ban, a stark contrast with corporate America’s recent willingness to speak out on racial justice, voting rights and other polarizing social issues.

Texas-based American Airlines and Dell Technologies, which earlier this year criticized Republican-led attempts to restrict voting access in Texas and other states, have remained silent since the state implemented the abortion ban this week, following the Supreme Court’s decision not to block it.
The silence from a large swath of corporate America reflects a deep uncertainty about whether and how to enter the debate over abortion, a topic that divides the nation on questions of religion, access to health care and women’s rights. Until this week, most companies had been able to avoid the issue. But the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to permit Texas to ban abortions after about six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant — may change that calculation, analysts said.
For companies, the stakes are high in Texas, which would have the world’s ninth-largest economy if it were a country, as measured by gross domestic product. Nearly 13 million workers live there. Companies love the state’s low taxes and business-friendly regulations. And Texas has pushed in recent years to attract more high-skilled workers, along with corporate headquarters, from traditional tech hotbeds such as Silicon Valley.
Some previous abortion restrictions have drawn corporate protests. In 2019, when Georgia passed its own restrictive abortion ban, Hollywood companies like Netflix said they would have doubts about working in the state if the law took effect. Disney chief executive Bob Iger said he would understand if actors refused to work in Georgia because of the ban, which was blocked by a federal judge.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at Yale University’s School of Management who has helped organize CEO discussions on issues like voting rights, said companies are responsive to stakeholders. But because abortion has not gotten the same attention as other issues, companies may be unsure about how to react to the Texas ban.
One potential sign of internal struggles over the Texas ban comes from Facebook. The social media giant’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, quickly took to Instagram this week to denounce the law, writing that it “will hurt women. It will hurt families. And it will not end abortion — it will end safe abortion. We cannot go back to the days when women suffered and died because abortion was illegal and dangerous.”

But when asked to comment on the Texas law, Facebook officials did not respond.


…but the part where the state introducing this particular travesty has side-stepped the part where it would itself be responsible for enforcement (in order to side-step – as the supreme court has to its shame allowed it to do – the means by which it might have been blocked as previous attempts to achieve the same goal have been previously) in favor of setting up an essentially vigilante-based approach to perhaps the most private of personal considerations

In the seemingly endless battle to deny disfavored groups equal citizenship, Republican lawmakers around the country have repurposed an old tool to new and cruel effect. They’ve inverted private enforcement laws — marshaled over the years to discipline fraudulent government contractors, racist or sexist bosses and toxic polluters — to enable individuals to suppress the rights of their neighbors, classmates and colleagues. Most prominent among these new laws is SB 8, Texas’s heartbeat bill. The law bans abortions six weeks into a pregnancy, lets anyone bring a lawsuit against medical practitioners who violate the ban and provides cash bounties of at least $10,000 (plus legal fees and costs) to encourage such litigation.
These laws don’t just tee up a lot of new and nettlesome lawsuits; they’re part of a campaign to make us forget what rights really are. Up until now, the law usually conferred rights on people who were seeking to exercise personal autonomy — over their bodies, their words or their votes. This new breed of private enforcement laws inverts that paradigm, giving rights to people who are merely offended by what they see, hear or imagine.
The financial incentives to enforce laws like SB 8 will provide crucial support for groups who are already waging today’s culture wars. In essence, the states are manufacturing and subsidizing a community of grievance activists. Their work will provide headlines for allies in the right-wing press to stoke the divisions that are necessary for a minoritarian political party — whose only other chief contribution is tax cuts for the ultrawealthy — to maintain an active and enthusiastic base.

Still more troubling, the new private enforcement laws endorse what amounts to a civilized form of vigilantism. Recent years have seen an alarming number of vigilante threats or acts against immigrants seeking asylum, Black Lives Matters protesters and voting rights drives. (Support for such political violence has also risen.)
It’s tempting to think that it’s better for doctors (not to mention teachers, coaches and, in time, voters) to be dragged into court rather than to be assaulted on the street, but this is a false dichotomy. The new laws encourage aggressive surveillance while functionally chilling fundamental expressions of personal autonomy.
What’s more, there is something deeply undemocratic and embarrassingly revealing about a political party that maintains power by fomenting and subsidizing discord, whether in the streets or in the courtroom. For Donald Trump’s G.O.P., however, the strategy is irresistible. In an era when fomenting — and even monetizing — social, cultural and racial grievances is crucial to the G.O.P.’s survival, SB 8 is just the tip of the iceberg.

We Are Becoming a Nation of Vigilantes [NYT]

The American right has been drunk on its freedom from two kinds of inhibition since Donald Trump appeared to guide them into the promised land of their unleashed ids. One is the inhibition from lies, the other from violence. Both are ways members of civil society normally limit their own actions out of respect for the rights of others and the collective good. Those already strained limits have snapped for leading Republican figures, from Tucker Carlson on Fox News to Ted Cruz in the Senate and for their followers.
But what was new about the Texas bill is its invitation to its residents to become vigilantes, bounty hunters and snitches. This will likely throw a woman who suspects she is pregnant into a hideous state of fearful secrecy, because absolutely anyone can profit off her condition and anyone who aids her, from the driver to the doctor, is liable. It makes pregnancy a crime, since it is likely to lead to the further criminalization even of the significant percentage of pregnancies that end in miscarriage. It will lead women – particularly the undocumented, poor, the young, those under the thumbs of abusive spouses or families – to die of life-threatening pregnancies or illicit abortions or suicide out of despair. A vigilante who goes after a woman is willing to see her die.


It began with a whimper, and ended in a bang. Last Tuesday night, as the clock struck midnight, a booming silence engulfed the US supreme court in Washington – and with it an extreme new anti-abortion law was allowed to go into effect in Texas.
“The court’s failure to rule on the request for an injunction before the Texas law took effect was a grave institutional failure,” said Kate Shaw, a law professor at Cardozo Law who co-hosts the Strict Scrutiny podcast. “The silence sent a clear message that states can act in ways that are flagrantly unconstitutional under settled law where abortion is concerned.”

One night later, also under cover of midnight, the court’s whimper burst into a full-blown explosion. By a majority of five votes to four, the rightwing core of justices – including all three of Donald Trump’s controversial appointees – refused to intervene to block the Texas law.
If the consequences for women are dire, the implications for the long-term health of American democracy are no less ominous. In her dissenting opinion, Sonia Sotomayor describes SB 8 as a “breathtaking act of defiance – of the constitution, of this court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions”.

By stipulating that no state official could execute the new anti-abortion provisions, and by outsourcing enforcement instead to ordinary citizens, the Republican framers of SB 8 had played a dastardly trick on the US legal system. As Sotomayor explained, it was an audacious ploy designed to evade the scrutiny of federal courts by removing the accountability of state officials.
Stephen Vladeck, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Texas at Austin, warned that the majority’s willingness to play along with the antics of hyperpartisan state Republicans could have calamitous long-term consequences. “This is a court telling Republican legislators that tricks are fine, that shenanigans are fine – as long as we like the bottom line that those tricks and shenanigans produce.”

Vladeck points to a decision in April in which the same five rightwing justices – including Trump’s three appointees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – did the exact opposite to what they did this week. In another unsigned order, issued similarly at dead of night, they moved this time to block the provision at hand.

In this instance, the five justices combined forces to foil the will of officials in California – a Democratic state – who were attempting to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by imposing restrictions on at-home gatherings. Same five justices, same late-night order, diametrically opposed outcome. Republicans get their way in Texas, Democrats are blocked in California. The contrast left little to the imagination.
“It is increasingly apparent that a majority of the justices are simply indifferent to what a large number of Americans think about the court as an institution,” Vladeck said. “Do they not appreciate that they are taking steps widely perceived to be harming their legitimacy or, even worse, do they just not care?”

The post-Trump supreme court: where hard-won rights die in darkness [Guardian]

…although…for some of those corporations, at least…the business of making your business their business might be increasingly a conflict of interest in these increasingly work-from-home days…so (just maybe) they’re not in a hurry to go on the record about some of the ways that approach seems pointed at a dystopian nightmare

Remote surveillance software like Sneek, also known as “tattleware” or “bossware”, represented something of a niche market pre-Covid. But that all changed in March 2020, as employers scrambled to pull together work-from-home policies out of thin air. In April last year, Google queries for “remote monitoring” were up 212% year-on-year; by April this year, they’d continued to surge by another 243%.

One of the major players in the industry, ActivTrak, reports that during March 2020 alone, the firm scaled up from 50 client companies to 800. Over the course of the pandemic, the company has maintained that growth, today boasting 9,000 customers – or, as it claims, more than 250,000 individual users. Time Doctor, Teramind, and Hubstaff – which, together with ActivTrak, make up the bulk of the market – have all seen similar growth from prospective customers.

These software programs give bosses a mix of options for monitoring workers’ online activity and assessing their productivity: from screenshotting employees’ screens to logging their keystrokes and tracking their browsing. But in the fast-growing bossware market, each platform potentially brings something new to the table. There’s FlexiSpy, which offers call-tapping; Spytech, which is known for mobile device access; and NetVizor, which has a remote takeover feature.

Tattleware platforms are hardly the sole culprits of expanded workplace surveillance. Employers are reportedly drawing on in-house IT departments to monitor emails for flagged phrases at an increased rate compared with before the pandemic. By receiving alerts when certain employees are discussing “recruiter” or “salary”, for example, management hopes to know when employees are looking to up sticks for greener pastures.

Big-name tech companies have also dipped their toes into the spy game, with varying degrees of success. In April 2020, Zoom quickly backtracked on a short-lived “attention tracking” setting, which alerted a call host when a participant was focused away from the meeting for more than 30 seconds. And in December, Microsoft bowed to tech experts’ outcry over the release of a “productivity score” feature for its 365 suite, which rated individuals on criteria that included email use and network connectivity; the tool no longer identifies users by name.

Despite controversy, tattleware and remote monitoring are not going away any time soon, even as employees shift back to in-house and hybrid work models.

Bosses turn to ‘tattleware’ to keep tabs on employees working from home [Guardian]

…so…although this is encouraging

Texas Right to Life’s website, ProLifeWhistleblower.com, which invited people to inform on those obtaining or facilitating abortions, has not stayed up for long, as website registration providers have said the online form to submit “whistleblower” reports violates their rules. On Monday, the organization confirmed that the website redirects to its main page as it seeks to find a new digital home for the form.
After hosting provider GoDaddy booted the group from its platform last week, the site’s registration changed to list Epik, a Web hosting company that has supported other websites that tech companies have rejected, such as Gab and 8chan. The site went offline Saturday, however, after the domain registrar told the Texas organization that lobbied for the abortion ban that it had violated the company’s terms of service.

A website for ‘whistleblowers’ to expose Texas abortion providers was taken down — again [WaPo]

…not to mention the part where being too far for Epik is really saying something…it’s still an uncertain & sadly pyrrhic victory in a fight that might be in a very different place had some of the largely male contingent that’s been in a position to forestall it in the legislature

If the law “is as terrible as people say it is, it will be destroyed by the Supreme Court, but to act like this is an assault upon Roe v. Wade is again something that the president is doing I think to distract from other issues,” [Sen. Bill] Cassidy [R-La.], who opposes abortion, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

New Texas abortion law could still be ‘destroyed’ by Supreme Court, says GOP senator [NBC]


The alarmists were right about everything” tweeted NBC News reporter Ben Collins on the morning of September 2, as America woke up to a new abortion rights reality. Following the dead-of-night Supreme Court decision to uphold Texas’s Senate Bill 8, the nation’s most baroquely cruel abortion law is now the law of the land. Collins was being sarcastic, but the tweet struck a nerve. As any character in a disaster movie who tries and fails to warn others of an incoming alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, or catastrophic weather event can confirm, no one’s happy to say they told you so as a worst-case scenario becomes real.

And climate scientists, historians, epidemiologists, activists, and more are frankly sick of being so right after years of being told they were overreacting. Worried about the proliferation of wildfires and hurricanes that now characterize summers on the West and East coasts? Climate alarmism. Concerned about the number of “heartbeat bills” that will likely take effect in the wake of the Supreme Court’s shadow-docket ruling? Calm down, little lady, Roe v. Wade isn’t in any real danger. Wearing your mask outside because, after all, hospitals are still packed with Covid-19 cases and you have small children, elderly relatives, or are immunocompromised? Calm down, Karen. Terrified at the speed with which democracy appears to be crumbling under a glut of voter restrictions and viral disinformation? Touch grass, dude.
This isn’t about exaggeration or hysteria (a very gendered term, by the way). This is about paying attention.
It’s no accident that people regularly scorned as alarmists tend to be those who pay attention to laws, policies, and beliefs because their lives, rights, and freedoms literally depend on it. It’s easy to claim, as CNN personality Brian Stelter did in a 2018 tweet he quietly deleted after this week’s court ruling. Comparing the United States to the fictional Gilead of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was irresponsible fear-mongering, Stelter claimed. But it’s not his bodily autonomy at stake.

History shows us that no matter how many people warn of grassroots fascism, work to elect pro-choice state legislators, or blow the whistle on everything from election meddling to dark money–funded climate-change denial, there will be those who put their heads in the sand and wonder why they didn’t see disaster coming. Many of us have been sounding the alarm about the impending death of Roe v. Wade for decades. If you weren’t listening, now’s a great time to start.


…listened to the ladies

This was predictable. In fact, it was predicted. The end of Roe v Wade and nationwide protections for abortion rights became likely in 2016, the night that Donald Trump was elected. It became inevitable in 2018, when Anthony Kennedy, the fifth pro-choice vote, retired and handed his seat to Trump to fill. But the end of nationwide legal abortion in America has been coming for decades, and there has been no ambiguity about the appetite for Roe’s overturn on the American right. And crucially, feminists have been sounding the alarm for decades, warning in increasingly desperate terms that gradual erosions of Roe’s protections in the law had led to a rapid and widespread loss of abortion access on the ground.

Perhaps the form of Roe’s eventual downfall was a surprise. Few thought that Roe’s fatal case would be over Texas’s new abortion law, with its privatized enforcement system of bounty-hunting civil suits designed to elide judicial review. And among a sea of legal observers, only Cardozo law professor Kate Shaw seems to have predicted that the court would dispose of a long-established constitutional right in so rushed and perfunctory a proceeding as a late-night order on the shadow docket. But this outcome was never in doubt. Trump promised to appoint antichoice judges. He kept that promise. This week his three appointees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas – did what all of them know they were put on the court to do. They allowed the first state to outlaw abortion within its borders.
The court would not gut Roe, we were told by politicians and academics, because they said they wouldn’t. Kavanaugh, the ruddy-faced Trump appointee, had referred to Roe as “important precedent”. That this rather tepid comment was a disingenuous bit of posturing meant to ease his confirmation to the court was evident to everyone. Nevertheless, defenders of the confirmation process implored the public to treat it as if it had been uttered in good faith.
The court would not gut Roe, we were told by the legal world, because the justices were too professional. Barrett, the third of Trump’s appointees, had been a member of an antichoice faculty group while a law professor at Notre Dame. She had given a lecture to a Right to Life group; she had signed a letter condemning Roe and its “brutal legacy”. And yet despite Barrett’s extremist and evidently very passionately held views on abortion, people posing as serious told us that we could not know how she would vote on abortion rights, that the opinions and worldviews of judges would somehow not affect their legal judgement. “My personal views don’t have anything to do with the way I would decide cases,” Barrett told Senator Patrick Leahy when she was asked about her lengthy history of anti-abortion advocacy. The statement insulted both Leahy’s intelligence, and ours.

And yet as conservative, antichoice judges consolidated their power, several myths about the court persisted. We were told that the people who looked like rabidly conservative justices were really reasoned moderates; or that at least they would be professional and impartial in their judgements; or that at least the removal of abortion rights would move slowly. These myths were presented as the only serious way to understand the court. Feminist claims that what appeared to be happening really was happening – that the judiciary really had been taken over by antichoice zealots, that the ability of women to control their own bodies and lives would soon be stripped away – were labeled as delusional and silly. Faith in the integrity of the conservative justices was cast as informed, mature, and intelligent. And it was contrasted with the supposed hysteria of feminists, whose passion and fear was taken as a sign of their own delusion, not as an indication of the seriousness of the problem.

This notion, that the only intelligent response to a threat to women’s rights is to be calm, blasé, and preemptively assured that nothing very bad or important will result, has been weaponized with particular insidiousness over the course of the abortion debate during the past five years. In the halls of power, contempt for abortion rights activists was nearly complete.
Is it ridiculous? The public has no real reason to believe that the supreme court is acting in good faith – aside from the repeated assurances of supposed experts whose predictions have usually been wrong. Instead, it was the so-called alarmist feminists, the ones warning about manufactured excuses for partisan attacks on abortion rights, who got their predictions mostly right. Maybe these women are not so ridiculous after all. Maybe it’s time to start listening to them.


…although…perhaps not all of them

While so many blue staters hadn’t been paying attention, Loesch had been developing, over the course of the past seven years, into a powerhouse conservative influencer. She is, by far, the highest-ranked woman in a field that has been dominated by older White men whose audiences are inexorably dying off.

Rush Limbaugh’s death created an opportunity and a test for Loesch. Since then, her footprint expanded significantly when she was picked up by the radio and streaming giant Audacy. The deal, which signaled a major bet that she could become an even bigger force nationally, meant she would replace Limbaugh’s show in multiple important markets. She is being introduced to listeners who might know her only as a Second Amendment crusader, rather than the host who has been delving into myriad topics for years.

She’s taking on newcomers, such as former U.S. Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, a social media juggernaut and entrepreneur who says he’s airing on 300 stations. Buck Sexton and Clay Travis, a duo signed by Limbaugh’s former syndicator, recently launched a program that airs on 400 stations. The others boast more stations and more listeners, but the question is whether they can hold them. Loesch has the built-in asset of a longtime audience and a record of high ratings.
There’s a through-line to Dana Loesch: She’s excellent at making people mad, whether organically (her fans’ take) or purposefully (her detractors’ take).
Loesch is also ready with arguments she has down pat: The “Tragedy Caucus” wants to take your guns, mass shootings are often the result of federal law enforcement negligence in spotting warning signs, regular people need weapons to protect themselves from criminals, recidivism is a root cause of gun violence. She’s told her audience that Kyle Rittenhouse, a teen who will go on trial in November for shooting two demonstrators at violent protests in Kenosha, Wis., following the police shooting of a Black man, is innocent.

Former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, a rising right-wing radio star, doesn’t care if you call her a murderer [WaPo]

…but I for one could stand to see less people listening to a laundry list of men whose rhetoric predictably lies in the territory of “I know how it looks but trust me I was actually right about everything – if you don’t heed my words there’ll be hell to pay, let me tell you”…like…oh, I dunno…this grinning idiot

In a speech to the defence thinktank Rusi marking the 20th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the US, Blair, who was British prime minister at the time , and supported military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, insisted the terrorist threat remained a first order issue.
He insisted that “despite the decline in terrorist attacks, Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first-order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated. Covid-19 has taught us about deadly pathogens. Bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction; but we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-state actors.”

He suggested radical Islamism could not be confronted solely by drone strikes, surveillance and special forces. He challenged the US president by saying nation-making must be a tool in the armoury, saying a mix of hard and soft power may still be required. By contrast, Biden has said the end of the 20-year US intervention in Afghanistan turns the page on an era of nation-building.
He added: “For me, one of the most alarming developments of recent times has been the sense that the west lacks the capacity to formulate strategy. That its short-term political imperatives have squeezed the space for long-term thinking.
“Are we going to let the situation fester until finally we get waves of extremism and waves of migration coming from there, or are we going to deal with it?”


…maybe it’s just me…but that’s a self-serving take for man who took some liberties with the truth before the parliament he led when he was leading his nation into a war that he seems to think it ought to still be engaged in

Even as recently as 2012, former British prime minister Tony Blair was asked how likely it was that the Taliban would return to power upon a full withdrawal. “I don’t believe they will come back in power,” he said.

George W. Bush and the worst predictions about the Afghanistan war [WaPo]

…but then we’re staring down the consequences of a lot of things that arguably started when the likes of him were the new political generation

The US government acted quickly after 9/11 to prevent further attacks by Islamic extremists in the US. Billions of dollars were spent on new law enforcement departments and vast powers were granted to agencies to surveil people in the US and abroad as George W Bush announced the war on terror.

But while the FBI, CIA, police and the newly created Department of Homeland Security scoured the country and the world for radicalized Muslims, an existing threat was overlooked – white supremacist extremists already in the US, whose numbers and influence have continued to grow in the last two decades.

In 2020 far-right extremists were responsible for 16 of 17 extremist killings, in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League, while in 2019, 41 of the 42 extremist killings were linked to the far right.

Between 2009 and 2018 the far right was responsible for 73% of extremist-related fatalities in the US, while rightwing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995, when a bomb planted by an anti-government extremist killed 168 people in a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Despite the statistical dominance of far-right and white supremacist killings in the US, America’s intelligence agencies have devoted far more resources to the perceived threat from Islamic terror.
But successive governments have spent most of the last two decades putting the majority of their resources towards investigating Muslims, both in the US and abroad. In 2019 the FBI said 80% of its counter-terrorism agents were focused on international terrorism, with 20% devoted to domestic terrorism.
Michael German, a former FBI special agent who specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations, said a disparity in the attention giving to alleged Muslim actors and white supremacists was growing even before 9/11.
“[There was] a disparity between how the FBI targeted Muslim Americans who simply said things the government didn’t like, or were associated with people the government didn’t like, or the government suspected just because they were Muslim, and had never committed any violent crime, had never been engaged with any terrorist group versus failing to even document murders committed by white supremacists,” German said.
The decision to not focus as intensely on white supremacist or domestic terrorism wasn’t just a strategic one, German said. He said the influence of money and big business had a role, as industries lobbied lawmakers and even the FBI itself to instead pursue anti-capitalist and environmental protest groups.

“The FBI needs resources. And to get resources, it needs to convince members of Congress. And Congress works most effectively when there are wealthy patrons who contribute to their campaigns,” German said.

“So the FBI has to cultivate a base of support in the wealthy community, and how can they do that? Well, by going to corporate boards, and telling them, you know, the FBI needs more resources.

“And then of course, that gets the corporate boards a lot of influence over what the FBI does. And what those corporate boards were saying wasn’t that there are minority communities in the United States that are being targeted by white supremacists, what are you doing about it?

“They were saying: ‘Hey these [anti-corporate or environmental] protesters are a real pain and you know, there’s a potential they could become violent.’”

When the government and intelligence agencies sought to expand its collection of intelligence post-9/11, that gave corporations another bargaining chip, German said – further knocking white supremacy and the far right down the priority list.

“Giant corporations hold a lot of private information about Americans, and getting access to that information became important to the FBI, so pleasing those corporations became part of the mission.”
PW Singer, a strategist who has served as a consultant to the US military, intelligence community and FBI and is a fellow of New American, a public policy thinktank, said the growing threat of white supremacism in the US was too complex to blame just on a lack of attention from government intelligence agencies – “but it certainly didn’t help stop it”.

“Think of it as akin to a disease striking the body politic. The person was not only in active denial, deliberately avoiding the needed measures to fight it, but the normal defenses [used] against other like threats were not deployed.”
“What was once the unacceptable extreme has become an accepted part of our politics and media,” Singer said.

“It is a hard truth that too many are unwilling to accept. It didn’t start on 6 January, but years before, where these extremist views were first tolerated and then celebrated as good for clicks, and then votes.”

Close to home: how US far-right terror flourished in post-9/11 focus on Islam [Guardian]

“Panic made us politically vulnerable,” Snowden told the Guardian as he ruminated on the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11. “That vulnerability was exploited by our own government to entitle itself to radically expanded powers that had for decades been out of reach.”

Snowden said that upon reflection the explosion of domestic spying post-9/11 should have been anticipated. “We should have known what was to come and, looking back at the public record, I think that on an intellectual level many of us did know. But political and media elites relentlessly repeated that the choice here was obvious: a guarantee of life or a certainty of death.”
“With that framing, who could care whether or not the gloves came off the machinery of state? We are only now beginning to care again – to care collectively – because we sit at the bottom of a 20-year hole carved by our neglect.”


[…it’s a long read…but that last one is well worth a look]

Post-Trump, we let ourselves hope that the new president could heal and soothe, restore a sense of rationality, decency and sanity. But the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be just a firefly.

We feel the return of dread: We’re rattled by the catastrophic exit from Afghanistan; the coming abortion war sparked by Texas; the Trumpian Supreme Court dragging us into the past; the confounding nature of this plague; the way Mother Nature is throttling us, leaving New Yorkers to drown in their basements. And now comes Donald Trump, tromping toward another presidential run.
We’re choking on enlightened climate proposals but the disparity between the disasters we see, and what’s being done in Washington, makes it feel as though nothing is happening except climate change. We’re so far from getting a handle on the problem, the discussions around it seem almost theoretical.
“Manchin’s claim that climate pollution would be worsened by the elimination of fossil fuels — or by the resolution’s actual, more incremental climate provisions — is highly dubious, if not outright false,” The Intercept reported, noting that the truth is that Manchin’s personal wealth would “be impacted.” Since he joined the Senate, The Intercept said, he has grossed some $4.5 million from coal companies he founded.
The enablers of our misbegotten occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shrieking like banshees at Biden, trying to manacle him to their own past mistakes as he attempts to lift off.

With peerless chutzpah, Tony Blair called Biden’s decision to depart cynical and driven by an “imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”
Remarkably, as Jon Allsop pointed out in The Columbia Journalism Review, the word “Bush” was not mentioned once on any of the Sunday news shows the weekend Kabul was falling.
With a memory like a goldfish, America circles its bowl, returning to where we have been, unable to move forward, condemned to repeat a past we should escape.


Hurricane Ida: nearly 350 reported oil spills investigated in Gulf – Coast Guard [Guardian]

…for what it’s worth, though…it’s not like it’s just the US where the right is looking to steal an electoral march

Boris Johnson’s government is today accused of trying to rig future elections by stifling opposition and deterring participation, as a storm of protest erupts over its controversial elections bill, which is to be debated in parliament this week.
The government says the bill has been drawn up to ensure “that UK elections remain secure, fair, modern, inclusive and transparent”. But its many critics says it amounts to a “power grab”, while doing nothing to stop big money donations.

One of the most controversial measures in the bill is that voters must show photo IDs before getting a ballot paper in a polling station at parliamentary and local elections in England – a move ministers say will improve the integrity of elections and prevent votes from being stolen. It proposes a broad range of photo IDs, such as passports or driving licences, will be allowed, as well as a free voter card available to those without any other form of ID.

Opponents insist, however, that cases of stealing another’s vote are rare and point out that huge numbers people who are less well off and less inclined to back the Conservatives do not have photo ID and will be put off, or prevented from, voting. The Electoral Reform Society, which opposes the voter ID move, has pointed out that “in the UK and US, the richer you are the more likely you are to have ID. Many citizens who can’t afford to go on foreign holidays don’t have passports, and those that can’t drive don’t have driving licences.”

In their joint letter, co-ordinated and backed by the civil society organisation Best for Britain, they say the bill will not only allow Gove to set the EC’s strategic priorities but will also allow him to unilaterally define campaigning and to ban campaigners and donors. It will also increase administrative burdens and potential risk for smaller organisations including charities, ahead of elections.

The letter, also signed by the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, states: “The bill bestows unprecedented and unchecked power to government over elections. At a stroke, the minister could ban whole sections of civil society, including unions and charities, from engaging in elections either by campaigning or donating.”

It adds: “Giving control of the Electoral Commission to ministers opens it to abuse by the government, turning it into a tool which they could use disproportionately against opposition campaigners while ensuring their own side receives less scrutiny.

“It could also be used to deter organised opposition before an election is even announced, with ministers able to instruct the Commission to retroactively criminalise groups and individuals for action undertaken up to one year before an election that the minister for the Cabinet Office defines as ‘campaigning’.

“For example, activities undertaken before an election is announced are currently not considered electoral activity by the commission, but a minister could change that guidance so a group demonstrating for higher wages for NHS workers could be criminalised if a snap election is called six months later.”

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain, said: “Despite the spin, it’s clear that the true aim of this bill is to silence critics, cripple opposition and rig future elections for those already in government.

“This power grab smacks of a government that is afraid of educating the electorate and afraid of accountability.”


…sound familiar?
[…incidentally…if you’ve any doubts regarding how spectacular a fuck up it was for the UK to let boris & co wind up in charge of anything…you could always take a glance at this…it’s not all there is to it…but it’s a solid case]
…because when it comes to a lack of education the world may yet be looking to learn that lesson the hard way

The education of hundreds of millions of children is hanging by a thread as a result of an unprecedented intensity of threats including Covid 19 and the climate crisis, a report warned today.

As classrooms across much of the world prepare to reopen after the summer holidays, a quarter of countries – most of them in sub-Saharan Africa – have school systems that are at extreme or high risk of collapse, according to Save the Children.

The UN estimates that, for the first time in history, about 1.5 billion children were out of school during the pandemic, with at least a third unable to access remote learning.

Now, as much of the developing world faces a combination of interrelated crises including extreme poverty, Covid-19, climate breakdown and intercommunal violence, there are growing fears for a “lost generation of learners”.
As much of the developed world welcomes a return to more normal schooling this term, more than 100 million children remain out of the classroom in other parts of the world due to nationwide Covid closures in 16 countries, according to Unicef.

It is feared that between 10 and 16 million children are at risk of not returning to school at all, with girls most vulnerable.




  1. Kavanaugh, the ruddy-faced Trump [Supreme Court] appointee…”

    Further proof that the British non-tabloid press, in this case The Guardian, is always worth a read, whether you agree with their positions or not.

    • …oddly enough a ruddy complexion was once thought to imply good health…but in addition to being a way of calling back to the red-faced indignation with which he blustered his way through those selection hearings in which dr. blasey ford made it so thoroughly clear he had no business being seated on a bench in any judiciary…it’s also sometimes used to discretely hint at a case of possible alcoholism

      …just sayin’

      • Oh that’s certainly how I took it. Kavanaugh does like beer, he said so himself. But that was when he was a mere wisp of a lad. I’m sure by now he’s graduated to the hard stuff and could drink Peter O’Toole under the table, if O’Toole were alive to accept the challenge.

        • …I dunno…that’s a higher bar than I expect brett-likes-beer to have ever made it over…although to be fair you didn’t say peter cook

          …for some reason references to beet-faced-brett remind me of that peter…& if anyone is curious as to why (& fairly inured to profanity) I suggest looking up the derek & clive sketch “this bloke came up to me”

          • Peter Cook was an absolute genius. “Bedazzled” (the original, with him and Dudley Moore, not that godawful remake) is one of my favorite movies.

  2. It’s not all bad news: another domino has fallen

    Alphonso David, who has been described in many ways, was a senior adviser/chief legal counsel to Handsy Andy from 2015 to 2019. Then he was chosen as the head of the Human Rights Campaign, presumably because of his close ties to Emperor Andreus Marcus Maximus. Like MeToo, the HRC was sucked into the Cuomosphere.

    Over the weekend David unleashed a series of tweets (of course he was tweeting) claiming that the HRC’s investigation of him was closed, they found no wrongdoing, and he had the full support of the Board, the staff, and the stakeholders. They were investigating him because he showed up in the Attorney General’s report, because he gladly handed over to the Cuomo Cabal (that odious Melissa DeRosa again) a confidential memo he still had in his possession, for reasons that are unclear, about Cuomo accuser Lindsey Boylan’s job performance or something. He was already ensconced in his HRC sinecure so this seems a little odd. Then of course a response was drafted to smear Boylan and David gave it a good look-see, as did Roberta Kaplan at the MeToo Legal operation, and they provided insights. 

    I read about David’s tweets over the weekend. The HRC seems pretty craven so I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth about the Board or not. But I had read previously that something like 2/3 of the staff threatened to resign if he wasn’t shown the door, so that didn’t add up. In the end the Board (actually two Boards, apparently there’s an HRC one and an HRC Foundation one, which I’m sure only adds to their efficacy and efficiency) did indeed take a vote and, except for two abstentions, they unanimously agreed that he should walk the plank.

    David’s response: “I asked for the report, they refused. They lied about producing the report … As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up. Expect a legal challenge,” he wrote.

    We would expect nothing less, Fonzie! What other confidential memos will you be producing, this time HRC-related? I’ll have to remember to dispatch Better Half to procure popping corn.

    • I don’t know about this case, but in nonprofits it’s pretty common for the staff to be miles ahead of boards. Your description definitely makes it seem like the leadership is chosen to be a bunch of weathervanes.

      • Ultimately, in the case of HRC and MeToo, the Board did the right thing. Why they did the right thing, whether from moral conviction or external pressure, only they could tell us, and they certainly won’t, preferring to “move on.”

  3. This Washington Post piece today has a prime unintentional illustration of why things are rotten:
    The framing is inexcusably awful:
    Red and blue states are increasingly divided on voting regulations


    The drift is exacerbating a growing opposition as Republicans in states across the country — most recently Texas — impose new voting restrictions while Democrats in others expand access.”
    Why not just say Bernie Madoff and clients are increasingly divided over ownership of assets? Jim Jordan and former wrestlers are increasingly divided over Jordan’s conduct?
    Division is the absolutely wrong way to frame things when one side is pushing to violate rights and one side is defending them. If this was a First Amendment case against the Post, would they frame their own position as divisive?
    Well, maybe they would.

  4. i got curious and decided to go find out what fox news has to say about the abortionlaw in texas (i know i know…too much spare time)
    apparently it has nothing to say….not a mention anywhere in the headlines i scrolled through…closest thing i found was a video about the righttolife website getting booted
    thats uhhh…some pretty selective reporting of the news there
    (not a surprise to anyone here..i know)

    • You are correct, they are trying to just divert attention away from that subject completely by singing the greatest hits: (only one mention in all these headlines and it is actually not cheering them on!)
      I heard a great reply to anti-vaxxers if you are really intereted in changing their minds…”The Democrats are responsible for all the anti-vax propaganda you hear, they are trying to killl you so you can’t vote!”

  5. Thanks for all the SB8 related articles. I appreciate the focus on this historical, unconstitutional and precedent reversing anti-abortion law.

    • …when it comes to my feelings on the matter words fail me…so I made do with a lot of other people’s…& to continue that theme…here’s another bit from the dissent sotormayor wrote

      It cannot be the case that a State can evade federal judicial scrutiny by outsourcing the  enforcement of unconstitutional laws to its citizenry. Moreover, the District Court held this case justiciable in a thorough and well-reasoned opinion after weeks of briefing and consideration. […] Instead, the Court has rewarded the State’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional  statute, enacted in disregard of the Court’s precedents, through procedural  entanglements of the State’s own creation.  The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.

      …& a bit of kagan’s for good measure

      Today’s  ruling illustrates just how far the Court’s “shadow-docket” decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process.  That ruling, as everyone must agree, is of great consequence.  Yet the majority has acted without any guidance from the Court of Appeals—which is right now considering the same issues.  It has reviewed only the most cursory party submissions, and then only hastily. And it barely bothers to explain its conclusion—that a challenge to an obviously unconstitutional abortion regulation backed by a wholly  unprecedented  enforcement scheme is unlikely to prevail.  In all these ways, the majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this Court’s shadow-docket decision making—which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.

    • I’m reminded a lot of James Gandolfini when I read about him. Tremendously talented, very unconventional looks, and died way too soon.

  6. Looks like bojo is the first to go the entirely predictable route of hey let’s make the poor pay for Rona 
    Guess now I’ll kick back and wait for the gubment here to follow suit

    • …yeah…the dipping into people’s paychecks part kinda sucks…as does the part where care in old age is only underwritten by the state if you hit the “cap” of having spent £86,000 over your lifetime while having less than £20,000 in assets…which would seem to run at odds with the idea he’s claiming to be ensuring nobody winds up having to sell their home to cover the cost of their care in a country that boasts an NHS…not up to speed with the numbers for what proportion gets subsidised if those assets are in the £20,000-£100,000 range…or quite what happens to anyone who, say, is living in a house worth more than that…but if I was in any doubt that he’s making claims that won’t be backed up in practice this part would have made it clear enough

      But the introduction of a cap only solves one part of the problem – protecting people’s assets when they face catastrophic costs.

      You will still need to be eligible for care to benefit from the cap. Access is rationed so only the most frail qualify – more than half of the requests for help are currently turned down.

      Failure to address this, means people could still find themselves paying thousands of pounds a month for care that does not even count towards the cap.

      …& they wonder why people don’t trust the tories?

  7. Calm down, Karen.
    There are a lot of amusing responses to that thread, it’s worth a look.

  8. The thing with looking at terrorism: Muslim extremism IS right-wing extremism! That’s the big third rail nobody seems brave enough to admit to publicly. If ISIS were CRISIS (i.e. Christian Rule of Islamic States) they’d be flying over to join the battle on their side with no rules unchanged. 

    • …you’re not wrong about that part…although I think when it’s viewed as turning a blind eye to the threat on your doorstep in favor of rabidly fixating on the one a good chunk of the world away there’s some validity to the criticism

      …mind you, I also think contracting “islamic extremism” down to “islamism” the way the likes of blair are wont to is more or less entirely at odds with their claims not to be attempting to vilify the faith as a whole…disingenuousness abounds on all sides of a lot of this stuff & the press all too often fails to care about such trivialities as comparing apples to apples

      …either way…the degree to which extremists of many varieties have more in common with one another than any of them would care to admit is the sort of thing that would be funny if it weren’t regularly the source of such tragic consequences

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