…ever catch yourself wondering if you might be crazy?
If you’re just tuning in, bleary-eyed and wondering how yet another thing you were told couldn’t possibly happen appears to be on the verge of becoming reality, you’re not alone. But there is a straightforward way to see what the possibilities are, what scientists currently think, and what information might resolve the dispute once and for all.Why the ‘lab-leak’ theory of Covid’s origins has gained prominence again [Guardian]
Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive and one of the architects of Trump’s Make America Great Again movement, has increasingly leveraged his “War Room: Pandemic” podcast into a kind of proxy primary. Ambitious Republicans are flocking there for the chance to demonstrate loyalty to Bannon’s former boss and pitch themselves to Trump’s voters — and, more indirectly, to Trump himself.
With Fox News appearing to lose favor among some of Trump’s most diehard fans, “War Room” appears to be gaining steam as a safe space for the far right. It’s routinely among the most popular podcasts on Apple’s platform and streams live twice each weekday and once every Saturday through the Real America’s Voice network.
On this show, Joe Biden is not the real president, and the theory that Covid-19 leaked from a Wuhan, China, lab has been a hot topic for more than a year. Bannon encourages skepticism about vaccines one minute and peddles zinc and Vitamin D pills the next.
“We pride ourselves on being the most populist, most economic nationalist wing of this movement,” Bannon said.
The podcast is a home for the most ardent Trump backers. Bannon said he’s jokingly told some, “We’re with the dead-enders now,” a reference to those who believe what Democrats and some Republicans term “the big lie” — that the election was stolen.
“And we pride ourselves on that,” he said, making no secret that he views the last election similarly. “I think politicians see that need to reach that audience.”
Along with the election, cancel culture comes up often. So does critical race theory, the academic term meant to recognize how systemic racism is inherent in American life. Republicans have made it a catchall for anti-racism and anti-diversity lessons they don’t want taught in schools — and a new front in the GOP culture wars.
The show has encouraged those on the far right to, as one guest laid out earlier this year, “invade” the Republican Party by becoming local GOP precinct committee officers — an effort that has gained momentum since Trump left office. But the show’s central focus has been China, specifically examining the role the Chinese government played in the pandemic. On the show, conspiracies involving Dr. Anthony Fauci, China and the election are all inextricably linked.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/bannon-has-his-maga-megaphone-back-gop-candidates-know-it
As the nation marks Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer, many officials are concerned that this is a preview of what they could face in cities nationwide in coming months, when the onset of warm weather almost always marks a rise in violent crime. Some worry that the violence could be especially pronounced this season as Americans emerge back into society after a year of coronavirus-related shutdowns and restrictions.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/05/30/summer-crime-spike/
Scores of cities across the country have reported double-digit increases in shootings and homicides. In Columbus, Ohio, police have counted at least 80 homicides this year, more than double the same period last year. Bigger cities also continue to see increases. In Chicago, 195 people had been killed as of early May, the highest number in at least four years, according to police statistics. Nearly 1,300 people had been shot, according to a Chicago Tribune database that tracks such incidents.
Some experts have detected some promising signs in recent crime data. In New York City, more than 500 people have been shot this year — the highest number in a decade and up more than 50 percent over the same period in 2020. But Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that percentage was better than the 158 percent increase in shootings reported last fall in the city, suggesting that the surge in violence, while still up, may be declining.
A man accused of plotting an “unthinkable” attack on a Texas Walmart has been arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat, officials said.
Last week, investigators intercepted a message indicating that Coleman Thomas Blevins, 28, of Kerrville, Texas, was planning a mass shooting, and had mentioned Walmart, according to a news release from the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office.Texas man accused of planning mass shooting at Walmart is arrested
…although while we’re talking about things that are crazy &/or stupid…it’s worth noting that guns are not required for people to engage in willful acts of violent stupidity
A hat shop in Nashville, Tennessee that reportedly sold “Not Vaccinated” badges resembling the yellow Star of David which Jewish people were forced to wear by the Nazis has removed a post promoting the item, following extensive criticism online.
The now-deleted post on an Instagram account for hatWRKS showed a smiling woman touching the front of her shirt, to which a patch was affixed, with the caption: “Patches are here!!”
The store defended its decision.
A new Instagram message said “people are so outraged by my post” but asked: “Are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? If you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me. I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance. That is the worse crime.”https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/29/tennessee-hat-shop-not-vaccinated-badges-star-of-david
Another hatWRKS post stated the belief that as the US emerges from the Covid pandemic, people will not be permitted to go about their daily business “unless you show your papers”.
“there is a historical parallel to fascism to be drawn,” the hat shop said.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nashville-hat-shop-promotes-anti-vaccine-yellow-star-david-badge
…I’m kinda serious…I mean, this kind of shit is a joke…but some days I worry about the punchline…& whether we’re it
…see…whether that’s funny or the kind of thing that makes your blood boil largely comes down to who gets to be “I” & who gets to be “you”…& not for nothing but in a lot of people’s cases “that’s not my problem” pretty much is the attitude that causes them problems
In 2018, 1 out of every 58 American adults — roughly 4.4 million people — was under community supervision, the catchall term for probation and parole. The average supervisee must follow 17 standard conditions. If they break any of these, they could be reincarcerated. As Jake Horowitz, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, explains, “The system is feeding on itself.”
Or look to Hamlet, who famously quipped, “There’s the rub”: A supervision system meant to encourage rehabilitation outside of prison often stands in the way of its own goal. And so, people like Palmer end up living in limbo, no longer incarcerated but trapped by a government that doesn’t trust them to be free. “I’m not breaking laws,” Palmer told me. “I’m not hurting people. I’m doing life the best way I can. … You begin to wonder, ‘Is this what I got out for?’ I thought parole was supposed to help me, and all it’s doing is preventing me from doing the things I was prepared to do.”The Endless Trap of American Parole [WaPo]
…either way…they say a working definition of insanity is doing the same things over & over while expecting a different result
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers are fond of claiming in court that the presidency afforded him complete immunity in judicial proceedings: They first claimed that immunity in state courts a mere six months into his term of office, in response to a defamation lawsuit filed by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos (the courts sided with her); they claimed it in challenging the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena involving the Trump Organization’s taxes (in which the Supreme Court ruled against Trump); and they claimed that Trump should be dismissed as a defendant in a New York federal defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll (which a judge denied).
Now one of his lawyers is claiming it in two lawsuits by members of the House of Representatives that seek to hold Trump civilly liable for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/why-trump-s-claims-of-presidential-immunity-in-capitol-riot-lawsuits-cannot-be-allowed-to-stand
Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy.
Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients. The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol.
“I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him,” defendant Anthony Antonio said, speaking of Trump. Antonio said he wasn’t interested in politics before pandemic boredom led him to conservative cable news and right-wing social media. “I think they did a great job of convincing people.”
The tide of misinformation continues to spread, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote Wednesday in a decision denying the release of a man accused of threatening to kill U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away,” Berman wrote in her ruling ordering Cleveland Grover Meredith Jr. to remain in custody. “Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.”
At least one of those charged plans to make misinformation a key part of his defense.
Albert Watkins, the St. Louis attorney representing Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman, likened the process to brainwashing, or falling into the clutches of a cult. Repeated exposure to falsehood and incendiary rhetoric, Watkins said, ultimately overwhelmed his client’s ability to discern reality.
Similar legal arguments failed to exonerate Lee Boyd Malvo, who at age 17 joined John Allen Mohammed in a sniper spree that killed 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002. His lawyers tried to argue that Malvo wasn’t responsible for his actions because he had been deluded by the older Mohammed.
Attorneys for newspaper heiress Patty Hearst also argued, unsuccessfully, that their client had been brainwashed into participating in a bank robbery after being kidnapped by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army group.
From a mental health perspective, conspiracy theories can impact a person’s actions, said Ziv Cohen, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. Cohen, an expert on conspiracy theories and radicalization, often performs mental competency exams for defendants.
“Conspiracy theories may lead people to commit unlawful behavior,” Cohen said. “That’s one of the dangers. Conspiracy theories erode social capital. They erode trust in authority and institutions.”
Joseph Hurley, Antonio’s lawyer, said he won’t use his client’s belief in false claims of election fraud in an attempt to exonerate him. Instead, Hurley will use them to argue that Antonio was an impressionable person who got exploited by Trump and his allies.
“You can catch this disease,” Hurley said. Misinformation, he said, “is not a defense. It’s not. But it will be brought up to say: This is why he was here. The reason he was there is because he was a dumbass and believed what he heard on Fox News.”Some accused in Capitol riot will argue they were misled by election falsehoods
Texas Republicans have failed in their efforts to push through one of the most restrictive voting measures in the US after Democrats walked out of the House at the last minute, leaving the bill languishing ahead of a midnight deadline.
The exodus came at the instruction of Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, who told colleagues at 10.35pm to “take your key and leave the chamber discreetly”, referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks, the Washington Post reported.
Governor Greg Abbott said the failure of the legislation was “deeply disappointing and concerning” but vowed to bring it back at a special session at an unspecified date.
Michael McCaul, a senior US House Republican from Texas, told CNN he thought the law “may be more of an optics issue, restoring confidence with the American people. In my state you actually do believe that there was tremendous fraud.”
There was not. Texas has only one pending voter fraud case arising from the 2020 election. Nonetheless it is the last big battleground in Republican efforts to tighten voting laws, driven by Donald Trump’s lie that the presidential election was stolen. Joe Biden on Saturday compared the Texas bill to election changes in Georgia and Arizona, as “an assault on democracy”.
Since Trump’s defeat, at least 14 states have enacted restrictive voting laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. It has counted nearly 400 bills nationwide.
The vote in the Texas Senate came a short time after a final version of the bill was made public. Republicans suspended rules that normally prohibit taking a vote on a bill that has not been posted for 24 hours. Democrats protested.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/31/texas-democrats-late-night-walkout-republicans-restrict-voting-rights-bill-failure
…I don’t know about you but the sheer number of things that seems like an accurate description of can be hard to swallow sometimes?
This Memorial Day weekend, several prominent conservative allies of Donald Trump, who have promoted almost nonstop his false narratives about the 2020 election results, are slated to hold rallies in Florida and Texas endorsed by the wealthy libertarian Patrick Byrne.
Billed as featuring the Trump confidant Roger Stone, the retired general Michael Flynn, Byrne and other pro-Trump stalwarts, the dual events underscore that Byrne – who has been leading private fundraising for the politically driven vote audit now under way in Arizona’s largest county – seems intent on funding and pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections.
Just last month Byrne created a non-profit, dubbed the America Project, which has been instrumental in funding the Arizona audit, and is promoting the two weekend rallies on its website. The Byrne non-profit quickly launched fundtheaudit.com in Arizona that has indicated it wants to raise $2.8m. As of mid May, it had reportedly pulled in $1.7m.
Byrne, whose net worth has been pegged at about $75m, has said he personally donated $1m to the America Project and $500,000 to fundtheaudit.com.
Byrne’s America Project seems to aspire to play a key role in tandem with other conservative pro-Trump bastions in spreading election disinformation: the America Project’s website says it wants to “lead a new American renaissance by arming citizens with the tools to fight for their freedoms, building like minded pro-freedom networks and uniting pro-America organizations who want to fight together in support of our nation”.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/29/patrick-byrne-trump-fundraiser-election-conspiracy-theories
Byrne is the founder and ex-chief of the company Overstock, and says he didn’t vote for Trump, but this year wrote The Deep Rig, a self-published conspiracy-ridden look at the 2020 elections. Byrne’s growing role on the far right comes after he publicly revealed he had an affair with Maria Butina, the convicted unregistered foreign agent for Russia, which prompted his resignation from Overstock in 2019.
But Byrne’s central role in funding the Arizona audit and how it is being run is attracting growing scrutiny. Byrne has acknowledged that he had some brief contacts last December with Doug Logan, the head of the little-known Florida-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas, which was selected by Arizona officials to lead the audit, even though it had no experience in doing one previously.
Byrne’s non-profit outfits, which won’t have to disclose how the funds are spent or who is writing the checks, also have reportedly played a role in recruiting volunteers for the audit.
“This is yet another piece of evidence that the whole effort in Arizona is more of a disinformation campaign than anything else,” said Larry Norden, the director of the electoral reform program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “A good rule of thumb is that you should not take election’s work out of the hands of the professionals who run them and outsource it to people with a clear political agenda. It’s profoundly dangerous for our democracy.”
Last month, Byrne in an interview with the New Tang Dynasty, an obscure television outlet whose website claims it was launched by Chinese-Americans who fled communism, flatly claimed: “It was a fraudulent election. It didn’t end for us on January 20.’’
The America Project website says if fundraising exceeds the $2.8m goal, it will use the monies “for other election integrity activities’’ including audits in other states and related expenses.
A recent report by Issue One found that “just 12 megadonors — at least eight of whom are billionaires — contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups between January 2009 and December 2020” and that those donations mean “12 megadonors and their spouses — a total of 19 individuals — accounted for about $1 of every $13 in federal politics” over that period.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/30/opinion/republicans-congress-democracy.html
Most Republican senators couldn’t vote for the independent commission because the people attempting the insurrection were their voters. The insurrectionists didn’t so much want to completely destroy democracy but to redefine democracy as a system in which their voice held more weight, determinative weight. The insurrectionists want the same thing as the Republican Party that shields them.
…now, you could argue that for some the whole point is to get the same lack-of-result every time
Days before the Senate voted down the creation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol attack, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was adamant: he would oppose the bill, regardless of any amendments – and he expected his colleagues to follow suit.
But it also underscored the alarm that gripped McConnell and Senate Republican leadership in the fraught political moments leading up to the vote, and how they exploited fears within the GOP of crossing a mercurial former president to galvanize opposition to the commission.
But what was once heralded as a necessary step to “investigate and report” on the attack and interference in election proceedings unravelled soon after, with the commission swiftly reduced to an acrimonious point of partisan contention in a deeply divided Capitol.How Mitch McConnell killed the US Capitol attack commission [Guardian]
If Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) would finally come to their senses and stop treating the filibuster like their highest priority, Republican cowardice would matter far less. Manchin rightly called GOP opposition to the commission “unconscionable” and a “betrayal of the oath we each take.” But so long as the pair continues to allow Republicans to block any bill of major consequence, that outrage is just empty words.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/05/31/senate-republicans-know-they-chose-cowardice-killing-jan-6-investigation-they-just-proved-it/
…it’s not a mystery, as such
Do you remember how, just a few short months ago, supporters of Donald Trump staged a violent insurrection? How they stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of last November’s presidential election, looting and vandalizing the seat of American democracy? The fact that they carried firearms, explosives and handcuffs, some wanting to kill Vice-President Mike Pence, and others to run the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, over with a car? And how the whole thing was incited by the former president, Donald Trump, who told the mob beforehand to “fight like hell”?
[…]As Republicans have moved more and more overtly towards rejecting the democratic process, they have to try all the more furiously to cover up their tracks. If the party were forced to admit that the man who they twice put forward to be president – and may yet put forward again – had instigated a violent insurrection, it would be hard for them to continue to function as a democratic political party. Rather than admit what they really are, they prefer to deny what they did.
But the attempt by Republicans to rewrite history extends beyond lying about their own behavior. Like pathological liars everywhere, Republicans spin vast, conspiratorial stories in which they always emerge as either the hero or the victim. Ridiculous claims that the election was stolen or that coronavirus was a minor event which the media overhyped to harm Trump are intended to recast the story of America’s recent history in a way which legitimizes the party’s ceaseless war against expertise, fact-based media and political opposition.
The inability to reach a shared understanding of recent history poses a grave danger. While political parties and factions will always disagree over how to interpret the world and its history, the give-and-take and trust which are vital to the functioning of democratic politics depend on a common baseline understanding of reality. Decades ago, the political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote that factual truth is “the ground on which we stand and the sky that stretches above us”, by which she meant that it sets the parameters and limits of political struggle. If one side refuses to accept those limits, it is signaling that it is capable of doing almost anything to gain the power necessary to remake the world in the shadow of its lies.
Another of Arendt’s observations was that once a common understanding of the world has been lost, it is incredibly difficult to reconstruct. The sheer scale of the apparatus which works to rewrite history – from TV and radio to social media posts to online propaganda outlets – creates a snug cocoon of validation which is hard to penetrate, especially when it is shared with others. Psychologists have demonstrated that human beings are hard-wired to dismiss information that contradicts their worldview and threatens their social relationships. If everyone else in your circle – at home, at the bar, on social media – is accepting the historical rewrite, the easiest thing to do is go along with it. Failing to do so could mean losing friends, falling out with family and questioning the fundamentals of your own identity.
All of these forces create powerful incentives which will remain in place for as long as the party remains committed to its assault on American democracy. It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war, but it is also the first victim of would-be autocrats and revolutionaries. Today’s Republican party has plenty of both. For as long as it and its supporters continue to travel down their current path, they will remain dependent on the constant rewriting of history. There’s no other way for them to keep going. As for where exactly they’re going – that’s a question which ought to worry us all.Republicans are trying to rewrite the history of the Capitol attack. Don’t let them [Guardian]
…the obdurate refutation of reality by the republican side of the aisle is uniform enough that the acronym might as well stand for Grift/Obstruct/Project at this point…it’s almost as if were enough people to accept the reality of…well…reality…their whole world would crumble…possibly because that is indeed the very reality they most desperately want to be able to continue to deny so hard it prevents them from pulling out of the moral and intellectual nosedive they committed to years ago
Once upon a time, a shiny new trio of young conservatives — Ryan Costello, Carlos Curbelo and Elise Stefanik — wanted to help build a modern, millennial Republican Party. The 30-somethings, all sworn into Congress in 2015, understood that millennials often agreed on many of the nation’s core problems, and believed it was up to them to offer conservative solutions. They were out to create a new G.O.P. for the 21st century.
It was clear, even then, that millennial voters across the political spectrum cared more about issues like racial diversity, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and college affordability than their parents did. Polls showed that young Republicans were more moderate on some issues than older ones, particularly on questions of immigration and climate change.
Ms. Stefanik is one of the few of this set who survived, but only by transforming into a MAGA warrior. By 2020, she was co-chairing Mr. Trump’s campaign and embracing his conspiracy theories about a stolen election. Her pivot paid off: This month, she was elected to the No. 3 position in the House Republican Party. She is now the highest-ranking woman and most powerful millennial in the House G.O.P.
But a comparison of her past goals and present ambitions makes clear that Ms. Stefanik has morphed from optimist to operator, choosing short-term power over the long-term health of her party.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/opinion/elise-stefanik-trump-republicans.html
Ms. Stefanik’s rise — and her colleagues’ fall — is not just a parable of Trumpism. It’s a broader omen for a party struggling to reach a 21st-century electorate. She ascended by embracing a movement that is all about relitigating the past rather than welcoming the future. Now she and other new Trump loyalists in Congress are caught between their party and their generations, stuck between their immediate ambitions and the long-term trends. The G.O.P. has embraced a political form of youth sacrifice, immolating their hopes for young supporters in order to appease an ancient, vengeful power.
…the seemingly inevitable culmination of which being a crash & burn spectacular that…to go back to that definition of insanity…I think I’ve been expecting to witness for approximately as long as I’ve been aware of US politics
…or to put it another way…same shit different day
…but one of the things that can be hard to adjust to is that technology can remove the requirement that anyone needs to know what they’re doing in order for them to really seriously fuck shit up
DarkSide’s attack on the pipeline owner, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, did not just thrust the gang onto the international stage. It also cast a spotlight on a rapidly expanding criminal industry based primarily in Russia that has morphed from a specialty demanding highly sophisticated hacking skills into a conveyor-belt-like process. Now, even small-time criminal syndicates and hackers with mediocre computer capabilities can pose a potential national security threat.Secret Chats Show How Cybergang Became a Ransomware Powerhouse [NYT]
…still…maybe don’t hold your breath or anything…but it’s just about still possible to claim there are ways to interpret some of the headlines as “good news”
Naftali Bennett, an ultranationalist, and Yair Lapid, a centrist, have moved closer to forming a fragile coalition government that would oust the longtime prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.Israel Moves Toward Coalition Deal That Could Sideline Netanyahu [NYT]
…call me crazy…but the world might just get along fine without the influence of some of these influential people?