…what does it say? [DOT 29/1/23]

& where are we looking...

…like some others hereabouts I have done my best not to watch the graphic footage of a man being beaten by a group of policemen…for a number of reasons, I guess…not the least of which being that I don’t equate bearing witness to the events of a murder with the ability to grasp that a number of injustices were involved…in a lot of ways it seems like the videos of extremists beheading people in that regard…but I guess I wouldn’t confuse that with ignoring it…so…apologies for the heaping misery of it all but about the best I can say of it is this part

The Memphis Police Department chief CJ Davis announced on Saturday that she was disbanding the unit whose officers fatally beat Nichols. They were part of what was called the Scorpion unit, which had several teams of approximately 30 street officers who pursued violent offenders in areas with high crime rates, the Associated Press said.

…& I don’t know how you’d even try to figure out any kind of hierarchy of wrongs from which to pick what part of that problem might be biggest…or most urgent…or worst…but it seems like some parts of it are if nothing else at least obvious…stark, even

Earlier, New York City’s Legal Aid Society said in a statement the footage “underscores the epidemic of police violence that continues to plague communities of color nationwide”.

“This is indeed a systemic crisis, overwhelmingly impacting Black men, and each of these tragedies deepens the wounds of racial trauma that all Black people are forced to shoulder,” the office said in a statement. “We must continue to question the police’s role in society, as these incidents frequently recur, and many more happen all the time without being captured on body-worn cameras.”


…the thing is…somewhere or other I saw repeated references to a statement that the officers involved were “directly responsible“…that link goes to a video…but of the police chief making remarks rather than the one I’ve been avoiding…& it strikes me that coming from that source the direct responsibility thing seems an awful lot like one of those nelson-sees-no-ships kind of blind eye moments…because it does tend to imply pretty strongly that there might be some curing of a symptom or two but doesn’t seem inclined to acknowledge the underlying cause…& not for nothing…but that’s a path that’s not only well-trodden but runs to parallel tracks

These events have become more frequent and more deadly over time. One-third of all the mass shootings in our study occurred in the last decade.
This is no coincidence. The killings are not just random acts of violence but rather a symptom of a deeper societal problem: the continued rise of “deaths of despair.”
We think the concept of “deaths of despair” also helps explain the accelerating frequency of mass shootings in this country.
Nearly all the killers we profile are men.

…I think that might also be true of police officers accused of responsibility for wrongful deaths…& I’m not advocating a whole lot of sympathy for either…but I also don’t think it helps to leave out the context when trying to avoid producing more of the same

Mass shooters are not the victims. But in order to prevent future tragedies we must treat the underlying pathologies that feed the shooters’ despair.
We say “never again” and yet less than 48 hours elapsed between the shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, Calif. “Again” keeps happening because mass shooters are not monsters who appear out of thin air.

Mass shooters live among us. They are us. They are for the most part the men and boys we know. And they can be stopped before they pull the trigger.


…& yet…that does somewhat assume that the objective is not to produce more of the same

When the House select committee on Jan. 6 published its 800-plus-page report last month, it released a huge trove of underlying material: hundreds of deposition and interview transcripts and documents galore. The report also cites court filings, newspaper articles, public statements and, yes, a great many tweets. Hundreds of thousands of pages all told.

It is rare for a government body to show its work to the extent that the committee has. Normally, footnotes in an investigative report point to interviews readers can’t access. They refer to grand jury transcripts, internal memorandums of interviews and other materials the reader cannot simply click on and search. The Jan. 6 report’s 4,286 endnotes, small print that people so often skip, by contrast, offer a guide to this vast and vital public record.

For nearly a month, I have studied the footnotes and the document they support. Legal scholars, historians and others will analyze this material for years to come, but already some takeaways are clear. Notably, the committee shared not just its interpretation of events and the raw material from which it drew but also used the notes to make thousands of connections between the two. It’s a powerful model for future investigative bodies, one that allows anyone to check the committee’s interpretation of its evidence. It also offers pointers to journalists as to where to find the good stuff in the pile of material just dropped in their laps.
In other words, these footnotes identify more than the challenge the committee faced; they also point to tools the Justice Department might use to succeed where the committee failed.
Most of the report’s footnotes are merely citations — effectively, connective tissue between the document and source material. Some notes allow the committee to comment on its own work, including in such relatively trivial ways as commending Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to Meadows. (“The Committee sat for dozens of hours with Hutchinson and concluded that she is brave and earnest, and understood the intense backlash that would inevitably result from those who were enlisted to defend President Trump’s behavior,” reads Note 708 of the executive summary.)

But some of the notes tell stories the committee couldn’t. In the case of note 205, there is a simple message: The committee has done what it can to connect the Eastman and Clark activities, and it clearly believes there’s more to the tale than Klukowski acknowledged. But the committee had too little time andauthorityto carry this particular ball into the endzone. The Justice Department will need to pick up the ball if the public is to get to the truth.


…& that might be getting a mite previous on my part

In September, former President Donald J. Trump went on Truth Social, his social network, and shared an image of himself wearing a lapel pin in the form of the letter Q, along with a phrase closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement: “The storm is coming.”

In doing so, Mr. Trump ensured that the message — first posted by a QAnon-aligned account — would be hugely amplified, visible to his more than four million followers. He was also delivering what amounted to an unmistakable endorsement of the movement, which falsely and violently claims that leading Democrats are baby-eating devil worshipers.
In fact, two years after he was banished from most mainstream social media sites for his role in inciting the Capitol riot, his online presence has grown only more extreme — even if it is far less visible to most Americans, who never use the relatively obscure platforms where he has been posting at a sometimes astonishing clip.

Since introducing his social media website in February 2022, Mr. Trump has shared hundreds of posts from accounts promoting QAnon ideas. He has continued to falsely insist that the 2020 election was stolen and that he is a victim of corrupt federal law enforcement agencies. And he has made personal attacks against his many perceived enemies, including private citizens whose names he has elevated.
“It’s not that Trump has meaningfully changed the way he behaves online. In fact, he’s grown more extreme,” said Jared Holt, a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue who studies technology and extremism in the United States. “I don’t think anybody should reasonably expect him to be any different if he’s back on Facebook and Twitter. And when it comes to spreading conspiracy theories, Trump is the big tuna.”

Last month, as Meta considered whether to reinstate Mr. Trump, he wrote on Truth Social that even the Constitution should not stand in the way of his return to power.

[…] A Pew Research Center analysis in October found that only 2 percent of Americans used Truth Social or Telegram as a regular source for news, compared with 28 percent for Facebook and 14 percent for Twitter.
“Corporations like Facebook have continued to find ways to profit off Trump even as they’ve condemned him,” said [Rashad] Robinson, [the president of Color of Change, a civil rights group] whose group has pressured Facebook to enact policy changes through advertiser boycotts. “It’s not just that they let Donald Trump back on their platform, it’s that they benefit from it.”

He and others pointed to the fact that Mr. Trump’s campaign spent $89 million to advertise on Facebook and Instagram during the 2020 election, and $56 million to advertise on Google and YouTube. […]

In a podcast interview in June, Kash Patel, an adviser to Mr. Trump and, at the time, a director of the company that owns Truth Social, described the proliferation of QAnon-friendly content on the site as a deliberate business decision by the platform, which has struggled financially.

“We try to incorporate it into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences,” Mr. Patel said. “You can’t ignore that group of people that has such a strong dominant following.”


…if it’s true that nothing happens in a vacuum…then you’d think maybe the context might be

13 people executed in the final six months of the Trump administration — more federal executions than in the previous 10 administrations combined. Of the 13, six were put to death after Trump lost the election, his Justice Department accelerating the schedule to ensure they would die before the incoming administration could intercede. Before Trump, there had been only three federal executions since 1963; in January 2021, Trump oversaw three executions during a single four-day stretch.

Two years before that stretch, Trump had signed perhaps the lone broadly popular major initiative of his presidency: a bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill. By 2020, however, his political calculus had changed. As he geared up for another election, Trump White House sources say, the president was telling advisers that carrying out capital punishment would insulate him from criticism that he was soft on crime. And in his attorney general, Bill Barr, a longtime death-penalty advocate, he had the perfect accomplice.
Barr wrote proudly of the decision in his book One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General, published about a year after the Trump presidency ended, devoting a whole chapter — “Bringing Justice to Violent Predators” — to the blitz of federal executions. Not a shocking move from a man who, while George H.W. Bush’s attorney general in the early 1990s, praised the death penalty in a series of official recommendations, claiming that it works as a deterrent, “permanently incapacitate[s] extremely violent offenders,” and “serves the important societal goal of just retribution.” (Without a hint of irony, he added, “It reaffirms society’s moral outrage at the wanton destruction of innocent human life.”)

Trump, of course, was not so keen to engage with the subject intellectually. The sum total of his discussions of the death penalty with his top law-enforcement officer, Barr says, was a single, offhand conversation. After an unrelated White House meeting, Barr was preparing to leave the Oval Office when, he says, he gave Trump a “heads-up” that “we would be resuming the death penalty.” Trump — apparently unaware of his own AG’s longstanding philosophy on capital punishment — asked Barr if he personally supported the death penalty and why.

Trump’s lack of interest in the details had grave repercussions for the people whose fates were in his hands. According to multiple sources inside the administration, Trump completely disregarded the advice of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, an administrative body designed to administer impartial pleas for clemency in death-penalty cases and other, lower-level offenses. And Barr says he does not recall discussing any of the 13 inmates who were eventually killed with the president who sent them to the death chamber.
The office’s recommendations to the president are not made public, but days after the meeting, several sources told Bernard’s team that the attorney had recommended Trump commute the death sentence to life in prison. “It gave us hope,” says Stacey Brownstein, who served as an investigator on Bernard’s defense. “It felt for a moment that things were breaking our way.”

In another administration, that might have been enough to save Bernard’s life. But in Trump’s world, it barely registered.

While Bernard’s team was frantically trying to keep its client alive, the outgoing president was preparing to extend clemency to a host of convicted criminals who also happened to be his friends. The list included Paul Manafort, chairman of his 2016 campaign, who was serving a 47-month sentence for eight felony convictions, including multiple counts of tax cheating and bank fraud, as well as for storing assets in an undisclosed foreign bank account.

Trump was also lining up a full pardon for Roger Stone, the adviser who’d tried to thwart the federal investigation into ties between Trump and Russia. His seven felony convictions included witness tampering and lying to Congress. Trump had already commuted the sentence, but decided only a full pardon would do for a decades-old friend. A full pardon was also in the works for Charles Kushner — father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared — who in 2005 had been sentenced to two years after being convicted of 16 counts of tax evasion. (The case also saw Kushner attempt to blackmail his own brother-in-law, who’d been a cooperating witness against him, with a sex tape.) Kushner was already long done serving his sentence, but Trump deemed an additional pardon necessary.
While the executions went forward, Trump was engaged in an all-out attack on American democracy. Desperate to cling to power after losing to Joe Biden, he spent the final weeks of 2020 on doomed but damaging attempts to convince judges, lawmakers, voters, and Vice President Mike Pence that they had the authority to nullify the will of the voters and keep him in office. Barr, however, had a different project: After it was clear Trump would be leaving office in January, the attorney general scheduled a string of back-to-back executions, to squeeze in as many as possible before Biden moved into the White House. The final three would happen during a four-day stretch of the administration’s penultimate week, and 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery — the only woman on death row — would be the first to die.
It’s unclear whether Trump ever read the petition or Mattingly’s letter. On a Wednesday in January 2021, Montgomery’s legal team was preparing for a video meeting with Justice Department attorneys. They had no expectation that the president would grant them leniency, but they were hoping at least to delay the execution, scheduled for Jan. 13, just long enough to give the Biden administration time to stop it.

Then, approximately half an hour before Montgomery’s team was scheduled to log on to the call, one of her attorneys, Kelley Henry, noticed something on her TV, which was tuned to CNN. “There were people scaling the U.S. Capitol,” Henry recalls.

It was Jan. 6. Trump had just spoken outside the White House, telling supporters the election had been rigged and to “fight like hell.” Before he finished speaking, the Capitol was under attack.

Amy Harwell, another Montgomery-team attorney, recalls frantically telling Henry to shut off CNN so they could prepare for a presentation they hoped would save their client’s life. But while the meeting went ahead as planned, Harwell says it was clear that Montgomery was doomed. “We knew at that moment that there was absolutely no way [Trump] was going to pay attention to this now,” Harwell says. “He just killed several people in Washington, D.C. Do we really think he’s going to spare our client?”
“These inmates were being exterminated by the Trump administration, which was being assisted by the courts in doing it,” Henry says. “If there’s a word to describe it, I’d say it was lawless. The administration just didn’t care. And when you see the government flex its power that way — with a cold, callous machinery of death that occurred in Lisa’s case — it’s truly appalling.”
Within 72 hours of Montgomery’s death, two more inmates — Corey Johnson and Dustin John Higgs — were put to death. Within eight days of her death, Trump would be out of office, but not before issuing a last wave of pardons to the well-connected. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had been charged with defrauding donors out of more than $1 million in a phony scheme to build Trump’s border wall. Hours before leaving office, in one of his final acts as president, Trump granted him a full pardon.

There were still 44 prisoners on federal death row when Trump’s term ended. More would almost certainly be dead if Trump had won a second. The only reason the administration stopped at 13, Barr says, is that they ran out of time.


…I dunno…a cause for comparable concern?

Nine Palestinians were shot dead on Thursday morning, in the deadliest Israeli raid in the West Bank for at least a half-decade. Then, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people on Friday night outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, the deadliest attack on civilians in the city since 2008. And on Saturday, an attacker who the police said was 13 years old shot and injured two Israelis near a settlement in East Jerusalem.

These events were not unique to this government’s tenure. But analysts fear that the policies and leaders of the new Israeli administration — the most right-wing in Israeli history — are likely to further inflame the situation.

The new government is an alliance of settler activists, hard-line nationalists and ultraconservatives helmed by Benjamin Netanyahu, and its leaders variously seek to annex the West Bank, further ease the Israeli Army’s rules of engagement and entrench Israeli control over a sacred site in Jerusalem. All of that has already provoked a surge in Palestinian anger and made it harder for the remaining moderate forces in the Israeli government to defuse tensions.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new minister in charge of the police, won a record number of seats in the general election in November after campaigning to take stronger action against Palestinians he deems a terrorist threat and playing off fears exacerbated by interethnic riots between Arabs and Jews in 2021.
Mr. Ben-Gvir did not give details, but his background has made Palestinians particularly apprehensive of his next steps. In the 1990s, he was barred from serving in the Israeli Army because security officials deemed him too extremist. Until 2020, he displayed a large portrait in his home of a Jewish gunman who killed 29 Palestinians in a West Bank mosque in 1994.

“There’s a major change here,” said Hani Masri, a Ramallah-based political analyst. “We used to see this on the fringes, not among ministers.”
Internal divisions within Palestinian society and its leadership will also impede efforts to salve the situation. The Palestinian Authority, the semiautonomous body that has administered most Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank since the 1990s, is deeply unpopular among ordinary Palestinians, many of whom accuse it of collaboration with Israel for coordinating with Israeli security forces.
Tensions with the Israeli government — members of which have openly called for the authority’s collapse — are unlikely to subside fast enough to allow the authority to back down without losing face, [Ibrahim] Dalalsha [the director of the Horizon Center, a Palestinian political research group] said.

“There are no limits to how far this government can go,” he said. “It’s a slippery slope.”


…& one man’s slippery slope is another’s landslide

The editors are two Princeton history professors, Kevin M Kruse and Julian E Zelizer. They begin with a concise history of how we reached this zenith of misinformation.

The assault on truth by a rightwing “media ecosystem” began with Rupert Murdoch’s invention of Fox News, augmented in recent years by even more fantasy-based cable networks like Newsmax and One America News.

The shamelessness of these sham journalists was best summarized by lawyers defending the most successful one, Tucker Carlson, in a suit accusing him of slander. The preppy anchor’s statements “cannot reasonably be interpreted as facts”, they said, because he so obviously engages in “non-literal commentary”.

Another foundation of the disinformation crisis was the deregulation of broadcast by the Reagan administration, which eliminated the fairness doctrine in 1987. That simple change insured the pollution of the radio airwaves by Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, creating the first echo chamber.

…likely not the first in the history of human folly…but the first of the ones the essays in that book contend with

Of course, the internet allowed these waves of lies to reach warp speed, more destructive than anything humanity has experienced. In the understated description of this volume, “the conservative media ecosystem was augmented by … Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, where the tendency to find like-minded partisans and the freedom from fact-checkers took disinformation to new depths.”

These venues have given “far-right lies unprecedented access to significant numbers of Americans” and allowed “ordinary Americans to spread lies to one another”, instantly. “As a result, misinformation and disinformation have infused our debates about almost every pertinent political problem.”

The vastness of the problem is underscored by the fact that Fox News Digital ended 2022 as “the top-performing news brand” with more than 18bn multi-platform views and an average of 82.7m monthly multi-platform unique visitors. Not to mention 3.4bn Fox News views on YouTube. It was the first time Fox had surpassed CNN in these categories since 2019.
Another compelling chapter, The Southern Strategy, dismantles the assertion of the conservative political scientist Carol Swain “that this story of the two parties switching identities is a myth … fabricated by left-leaning academic elites and journalists”.

Written by Kruse, the chapter traces the Republican party’s decision to embrace racism to a cross-country tour in 1951 by a South Dakota senator, Karl Mundt, who was the first to propose a merger of Republicans and southern “Dixiecrat” Democrats committed to segregation. In 1952, the Republican platform endorsed every state’s right “to order and control its own domestic institutions”.
Republican strategy shifted so quickly that by the time the party gathered in 1964 to nominate Barry Goldwater for president, for the first time in 50 years there were no Black delegates in any southern delegation. One of the few Black delegates who did attend “had his suit set on fire”. The Black baseball star Jackie Robinson, a longtime Republican, declared that he knew “how it felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany”.


…but you’d think at some point it’d help to dig some heels in & try to make some headway in the other direction

Greene is now firmly on her way to becoming one of the senior figures in the Republican party. She has become a favorite, and key ally, of Kevin McCarthy, the new House speaker, and preparing to take up assignments on some of Congress’s most prominent committees.

It’s been a remarkable rise that few could have seen coming during a checkered first half of 2021, when Greene was making her name known through her penchant for unhinged conspiracy theories and strange remarks, but her ascension to the upper echelons of the GOP was confirmed this week by McCarthy, in an interview with the New York Times.
This apparent fondness for a tussle has seen Greene rewarded with positions on the homeland security committee, despite her previously musing that no plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, and on the oversight committee, where she is expected to be part of a subcommittee investigating the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021 Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, condemned Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” in relation to Greene having claimed support for executing Democratic politicians and harassing the survivor of a mass school shooting.
The multiple rebukes, and the egregiousness of Greene’s beliefs – whether disavowed or not – make her rise to prominence, as she takes up her seat on some of Congress’s most powerful committees, all the more remarkable.
McCarthy and Greene had spent months forging a working relationship they believed could be beneficial for both, with Greene placating the zaniest wing of both Republicans in the House and voters at home, and McCarthy providing relevance to someone who had been stripped of her committee assignments in 2021, leaving her, essentially, having nothing to do in Washington.
Greene remains one of the most popular figures among Trump supporters and believers, evidenced by her 758,000 followers on Trump’s Truth Social website – McCarthy has 113,000, Steve Scalise, the House majority leader, has 109,000 – and enjoys a close relationship with the former president, even calling Trump from the House floor during the debacle of January’s leadership vote.

Greene is also a successful fundraiser, bringing in $12.5m in the 2021-22 election cycle, the fifth most of any Republican representative, her popularity among the base and alignment with Trump making her the model of the new Republican politician.
As she tried to make herself palatable to a wider audience, Greene set about trying not to speak at any more white nationalist rallies, or discuss the “gazpacho police” who are apparently patrolling the US Capitol. (Her remark was widely understood to mean Gestapo.) She is also yet to repeat her 2018 claim that the Clinton family orchestrated the plane crash that killed John F Kennedy Jr more than two decades ago.

In addition to this new reserve, Greene hired a new aide with a track record in conventional conservative politics, and eventually began meeting with McCarthy once a week, as the pair forged a close bond, each aware of the potential benefits.
In her new roles Greene said she will be investigating: “How many of our enemies got pallets of cash!?” from Covid-19 unemployment benefits, a question she posed without any context or explanation, and has pledged to impeach the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, for his perceived failures in handling immigration.

From Greene’s political position in February 2021, when she was removed from her committee assignments by Democrats – and some Republicans – in a rebuke over incendiary and racist statements, which included her posting a mocked-up image of her holding a gun next to three Democratic lawmakers, all women of color, on Facebook, it has been a remarkable turnaround.
It’s a testament to how quickly things can change in politics, but also a very visible reminder of what the Republican party increasingly stands for.

Greene may have sought to sanitize her image, but it is clear that her brand of populism, outrage and misinformation is not the embarrassment it once was to the party leadership: this is the modern version of the Republican party.


…she’s practically the old guard at this point

The Justice Department has asked the Federal Election Commission to hold off on any enforcement action against George Santos, the Republican congressman from New York who lied about key aspects of his biography, as prosecutors conduct a parallel criminal probe, according to two people familiar with the request.

The request, which came from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, is the clearest sign to date that federal prosecutors are examining Santos’s campaign finances.
Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday interviewed two people about Santos’s role in Harbor City Capital, an investment firm that was forced to shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of operating a “classic Ponzi scheme.” SEC interest in those people came after they were quoted Wednesday in The Washington Post describing how Santos solicited an investment in Harbor City at an Italian restaurant in Queens in late 2020.

The FEC ordinarily complies with DOJ requests to hold off on enforcement. Those requests arise from a 1977 memorandum of understanding between the agencies that addresses their overlapping law enforcement responsibilities.

“Basically they don’t want two sets of investigators tripping over each other,” said David M. Mason, a former FEC commissioner. “And they don’t want anything that the FEC, which is a civil agency, does to potentially complicate their criminal case.”

The request “indicates there’s an active criminal investigation” examining issues that overlap with complaints against Santos before the FEC, said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at D.C.-based Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg.


…& there’s a whole lot of hold-my-beer out there

perhaps no staff hirings this year are being more closely watched than those of Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who since his election in November has been buried in an avalanche of revelations that point to him not being the person he once claimed to be. He did not, for instance, graduate from Baruch College (or play volleyball for its team). Nor did he work for Goldman Sachs or Citigroup. And his grandparents did not flee Jewish persecution in Ukraine.
Taking a job for Santos could prove dicey for staffers. In conversations with more than a dozen former and current Republican and Democratic lawmakers and staff members, many wondered if those who go to work for Santos, particularly higher-level staffers, would ever be able to find another congressional office that would hire them.

So far, there is public information available for just five positions that Santos has filled, including chief of staff and communications director, according to LegiStorm, which tracks and posts congressional hiring. The initial makeup of Santos’s staff seems to lack the deep Capitol Hill experience that new members typically seek to help them get off to an effective start and quickly adjust to the rhythms and demands of Congress.

Santos hired Charles Lovett as his chief of staff. Lovett served as Santos’s campaign manager and worked for six months as a field organizer for the Ohio Republican Party, according to LegiStorm. He also served as political director for Ohio Republican Josh Mandel’s unsuccessful primary bid for Senate. He has not worked on the Hill previously. Viswanag Burra, Santos’s operations director, spent less than a year as special operations director for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and recently worked as executive secretary for the New York Young Republican Club.

His communications director, Naysa Woomer, appears to have the most Hill experience. She worked for three Republican members between 2014 and 2018 before moving to Massachusetts to be the communications director for the state Republican Party and then as a communications specialist for the state Department of Revenue.

Rafaello Carone, Santos’s senior legislative assistant, worked for three GOP members, but his stints were short in each office. He spent six months as social media manager for Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), two months as deputy communications director for Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) and a month as press secretary for Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), according to LegiStorm. He also ran a consulting firm that mostly worked for long-shot Republican congressional candidates. Gabrielle Lipsky, who served as Santos’s campaign press secretary, will be his press secretary and office manager. She does not have Hill experience.
It’s hard enough to get offices up and running in normal circumstances, but Santos is under intense media scrutiny. And he’s facing calls to give up his seat not just from Democrats, but from Republicans as well, including six GOP representatives from New York.
Santos has said he will not resign his seat. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who needs Santos’s vote as he clings to a narrow majority in the House, has also rejected calls for Santos to resign and said this month that Santos was legally elected and seated without objection. House Republicans have assigned Santos to the House Small Business and the Science, Space and Technology committees.


…so…I dunno…it does kinda seem to me like even if sometimes a line must indeed be drawn

Rishi Sunak has sacked the Conservative party chair, Nadhim Zahawi, after he was found to have breached the ministerial code by failing to declare the HMRC investigation into his tax affairs.


…I’m not convinced we ought to be giving credit for how resounding a noise can be made slamming the stable door when it chiefly serves to drown out the sound of the hoofbeats of horses that have quite conspicuously bolted

Still, it feels inevitable that another betrayal narrative should be cranking up. You can never have too many, can you? Having accidentally divested itself of various of its other manufacturing industries, the UK is now world-beating in producing betrayal narratives, with supporters of any number of the politicians who played a part in the rolling chaos of the past seven years still claiming that their standard bearer was falsely victimised by people who simply lacked their vision. British politics throws the best pity parties. Consider us the Valhalla of misunderstood heroes.

Quite why this is the default narrative of UK public life is unclear, other than the fact the scorched-earth mess of it all has to be blamed on someone other than the people who just happened to be holding a blowtorch in the Westminster area at the time. The ranks of the betrayed grow ever larger, encompassing (but not limited to) such reverse luminaries as Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. Acolytes of all the above believe their leaders’ visions have been betrayed by someone or other in one way or another, when the reality is they were undone by such trifles as “the voters”, “reality” and “the consequences of their own actions”.

Alas, this is not how their various tribes continue to see it, with the preferred position being to blame someone or something else for the shortcomings. British politics has been a series of bin fires over the past few years, but the various factions would have you believe that if only their bin fire had been allowed to burn a little longer, a phoenix would have arisen from it. Within our politics, taking responsibility is dead as a concept. The result is a public realm where it is always someone else’s fault, and no mistakes, ever, can be conceded by operational figures.


…but what do I know…I mean…it’s not my fault…right?



      • I think that is the one and the same, but I found mine through a news aggregation site where they disguise the URL. Have you noticed (you probably have) that aggregator sites link to yahoo.sports URLs and those take you to NYT, WaPo, WSJ stories as you merrily skip behind the paywalls? That would be a good story. Is this legitimately the yahoo sports vertical, and if so, why? Yahoo could I suppose work out licensing deals with media outlets but why stash all the content under sports?

        • …if there’s one thing that seems infinitely opaque it’s the waters of the internet & the less-decipherable elements of their URL signposts

          …maybe there’s some poor soul at yahoo waging their own private crusade against news paywalls who discovered borrowing their sports sub-domain currently gained them the upper hand in an ongoing & unsung battle to inform the masses

          …or maybe their link-forwarding & licensing are combined by a lazily-coded in-house tool that casually mis-files content in ways nobody is paid to care about

          …either way they’ll probably fire whoever was responsible before long & go on to prove that to err is human but to really fuck things up requires a computer…or rather something that answers to “AI”?

  1. Here is a quintessentially New York story. Though there is no explicit corruption/pay-to-play involved, there is: immigrant-owned business, municipal malfeasance, an obstinate bureaucracy, The Bronx (the Fordham Road no less!), a newsstand, and in the photo bulletproof plexiglass, “organic” paper signage and stickers, several jumbles of merchandise, a bus stop, another bus stop visible a block away with an approaching bus (same route no doubt, which is why buses in NYC travel at speeds of 3 or 4 miles an hour), and quotes from patrons of the newsstand outraged by its impending closure, including this pithy description:

    “This store is very convenient! And necessary, too. Good location and these people are good people, too. You come to play your Lotto, grab a cup of coffee, the train station is there. This doesn’t make any sense.”


    • The program is bankrolled by a $1 million infrastructure initiative secured by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

      That’s for at least three locations. I’m sort of scratching my head how that would be enough. I gather that the city owns the buildings, but retrofitting them for that little seems hard to imagine. I assume there must be more money coming from somewhere, and it would be interesting to know where.

      I’d really, really hope that the delivery companies are kicking in a lot — they’ve pulled in a ton in recent years, and their treatment of workers has been shady in a lot of cases.

      You can imagine a bunch of different scenarios for why this is happening, and I’d love to know what the story is.

      • The impetus behind this is, I think, that we have tons of (illegal, according to our rarely enforced zoning laws) storefronts that have been converted into mini-food warehouses where the public is not welcome. The deliveristas congregate outside waiting for workers to assemble the orders they’ve gotten, chatting loudly, smoking, relieving themselves, etc., and we also have a plague of e-bikes being charged in apartments and blowing up, causing all kinds of death and destruction. This, I think, is to mitigate that.

        Maybe it’s for the restaurants, too, but I’ve heard stories of restaurant takeout areas being clogged by deliveristas waiting for their orders, so that civilians who want to pick up their own takeout orders have to fight through the scrum. Presumably those deliveristas have use of the facilities, too, but we’re way behind, naturally, in providing charging stations for all the e-vehicles of all kinds that we’ve all been encouraged to adopt.

        I wonder if the charging station scenario is really working anywhere? I suppose ideally you’d have a single-family house with a garage and a charging station and you’d have very restricted travel, for now. Just recently I read a story about people trying to move around Britain in their EVs and getting stranded because the few charging stations they have were either broken or the lines were too long, so the drivers tried to use the next one they knew of, same story. And as far as I know that story was not sponsored by British Petroleum; on the contrary I think it was placed by a consortium of EV enthusiasts who were try to shame the national and local  governments to get off their butts (bums) and actually provide the infrastructure to make this kind of transformation feasible.

        • I’m awfully curious about why there’s a legit business getting shut down. Does another business hope to get a contract out of this somehow — maybe selling to delivery bikers, and pulled some strings? Did the owner back the wrong politico and this is payback? Is some city employee just unable to read addresses? Does the main contractor for the deliveries find it more convenient for them than a spot a half mile away and doesn’t care that it’s already in use?

          And I suppose it’s always possible there’s some legitimate reason for shutting the place down, like a massive problem with the gas lines, but the city is too calcified to explain it.

          • …I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a sort of inertia of incompetence…in the sense that it sounds like you have the mayor saying “look I’m putting a thing I can claim to be derelict into use to create convenience” without really thinking about much other than how it’ll go down to say so…then the parks dept by the sounds of it had to implement the “policy” so they took lease/license renewal off the board because that’s the path of least resistance for them

            …plausibly neither really care if the thing works out or what it looks like to people who frequent the locale so I could see it going that way without anyone needing to tip over into kickback territory

            …admittedly though…I doubt I could pick which side of that line ockham’s razor would leave you on?

            • My experience with municipal rhubarbs is that you can never jump to conclusions because the underlying issues can just be weird. Often it’s just a rich person throwing their weight around, but sometimes it’s a feud going back to two rival pickle vendors in the days of pushcarts. Sometimes you’ll get three rich guys cutting a deal among them, but one of them is in a weird place due to a divorce. Other times it’s just a screwup by a lazy person in city hall that nobody ever seems to want to fire.

              I think direct kickbacks are relatively rare, although they do happen plenty. More often it’s about package deals where you don’t get direct quid pro quos on individual items, and it’s about networks helping networks in a variety of ways over time.

  2. This is an interesting article about infighting in the Covid misinformation crowd:


    It gets into how different players are feuding, including Fox News favorite Alex Berenson who is fighting with techie Steve Kirsch, who helped organize a false rumor about NFL player Damar Hamlin. The MIT Review dubbed Kirsch a “misinformation superspreader” and has noted that he has joined forces with the “intellectual dark web” of kooks promoted by Bari Weiss.

    Movements splintering isn’t new, of course. What’s interesting to me though is how this kind of reporting when it comes to the right gets shunted off to smaller outlets like Vice, in large part because the big outlets are welded shut to evidence that counters their longstanding narrative of rightwing solidarity.

    Which is why they completely dropped the ball on McCarthy’s speaker challenge until just days before his multiple votes, and went with beat sweetener puff pieces instead. “Dems in Disarray” is one of the defining tropes for them, and it can be a career killer for reporters at places like the NY Times to challenge it.

    • …george santos is as far as I can make out an actual living parody of the cliché of a corrupt self-serving politician…which on the one hand is sort of almost impressive to have remained in a parody-adjacent space in a post-MAGA world

      …but it’s like a slow-motion car crash…it’s hard to look away however awful the outcome seems likely to be

      …& I guess a part of me finds it hard not to draw a lot of parallels between him & the MAGA contingent…if it wasn’t possible to indict dolt45 while he was a sitting president because he was a sitting president…& it’s hard now because he once was & there’s a desire to protect the office…or at least ostensibly not to create precedent that weakens its powers

      …what exactly the fuck is there about santos’ case that keeps him from having long since been arrested other than “gee, I dunno – if we let you arrest him it’s real hard to argue that shouldn’t go for kind of a big slice of both houses of congress”

      …it’s like the one slippery slope they’re actually scared of…or something?

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