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Absence of Evidence
Sometimes it's exactly as it seems
But first, some emergency art:
This video of Joni Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now,” with back up from Brandi Carlile and Wynonna Judd, at the Newport Folk Festival made me weep. It’s one of those songs that always stops me in my tracks but seeing Joni perform again when I never expected her to be able to perform at all after her recent health problems was an unexpected gift. Watching Brandi Carlile watch Joni and Wynonna Judd trying not to cry (especially given the recent loss of her mother from suicide) kind of broke me. This is the kind of ”Both Sides” I’m here for. So much love.
Several American corporations have confirmed they will pay for the travel expenses of employees who live in states where abortion has been made illegal.
(We need to point out that, as important as this is in the current climate, it’s an accommodation not a solution. Such a stance is an almost total capitulation to the new reality being forced on us by Christian extremists.)
In an attempt to have it both ways, some of these corporations are continuing to donate funds to the Republican lawmakers who support abortion bans. In other words, they are backing the very politicians who are implementing the policies that require the provision of travel expenses for pregnant people in need of abortion in the first place.
Seventeen members of Congress were arrested for their role in the January 6th insurrection and charged with seditious conspiracy. Haha! Just kidding! Sorry if I got your hopes up. This is what really happened: Seventeen members of Congress were actually arrested for peacefully protesting against the Supreme Court’s successful attempt to turn American women into second-class citizens and its threat to do the same thing to everybody else except straight, white, “christian” men. The protests took place about a mile away from the Supreme Court because the “non-scaleable” fencing put in place shortly after the leak of the Alito draft of the Dobbs decision makes it impossible to get any closer. Hey, if they’re going to go after the 14th amendment they may as well go after the First, right?
During her testimony before the January 6th Select Committee, Cassidy Hutchinson claimed that members of the Unites States Secret Service were aware that some in the mob were carrying weapons and military gear. They were also aware of the insurrectionists’ plan to breach the Capitol and target members of Congress.
Tony Ornato, Secret Service agent turned White House deputy chief-of-staff (and currently Assistant Director of the United States Secret Service Office of Training), knew of potential threats of violence in the days before the insurrection. He reported them to Donald and Mark Meadows on the morning of January 6th. Less seriously, though still serious, Hutchinson also testified that, according to Ornato, when Donald found out he was not going to be allowed to go to the Capitol he lunged for the steering wheel of the SUV driving him and then attacked Engel.
Anonymous sources allegedly close to the Secret Service denied Hutchinson’s claims but we now know that a police officer in the motorcade has backed up Hutchinson’s testimony.
Since then, the news about the Secret Service has gone from bad to worse:
Ornato, Engel, and the driver of the SUV Donald attempted to commander, have all retained private counsel.
The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security informed Congress that text messages sent and received by agents before and on January 6th had been erased. This was last week but we now know that he’s known about the destruction of evidence since early 2021.
Agency employees were informed in two different emails that they needed to preserve their records before their electronic devices were “restored to factory settings,” a reset that had been planned in advance of January 6th. I don’t know about you but if I belonged to an agency that had been part of the worst breach of security in American history, I might have canceled the schedule reset especially since, eleven days in advance of said reset, four separate House committees asked for the documents to be turned over.
In the wake of all of this deeply damaging and suspicious behavior, a criminal investigation has been opened into the Secret Service by the DHS. It’s the least they can do.
The House of Representatives, led overwhelmingly by Democrats, have recently passed several important pieces of legislation:
The Respect for Marriage Act which, in addition to protecting same-sex marriage (and repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act), also protects interracial marriage because, apparently, this is now a thing we have to worry about. 157 Republicans voted against this.
The Active Shooter Alert Act which will create an active shooter alert system similar to the Amber Alert system for abducted children. 168 House Republicans voted against this.
The Right to Contraception Act which literally protect’s access to birth control without government interference. 195 Republicans voted against this.
The National Defense Authorization Act which requires the Pentagon and federal law enforcement agencies to report on efforts to counter white supremacists and neo-Nazi activity inside their ranks. 205 Republicans voted against this.
As Republicans in the mold of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger get forced out, the numbers of Republicans in the House refusing to support such measures will only grow—especially if they regain the majority. This is one of the many things that keeps me up at night.
Yes, Josh Hawley, senator from Missouri, is a joke and should be mocked relentlessly until the end of time. He and those like him, however, are a continuing threat to the future of American democracy. They are anti-American, pro-autocratic fascists who, from their seats of power, are orchestrating the demise of this country when, insted, they should be in prison.
Breaking news: President Biden is exactly 20 months older than he was when people voted for him in November 2020. I have no patience with anybody who is asking whether or not Biden should run for re-election in 2024. First of all, the White House is not Shangri-La. Voters decided, overwhelmingly, that Biden was the Democrat best able to beat Donald. And he did just that. Did those same voters think he was going get younger?
I was recently asked if I thought Biden should run again and I refused to answer the question. The very premise of the question suggests that, besides being too old (see above), Biden hasn’t done a good enough job to warrant re-election. About which, do not even get me started.
What makes these not-so-innocent inquiries troubling, besides the extent to which they undermine Biden, is the fact that never, not once in the course of the four disastrous, criminal, deadly, dangerous, and near-apocalyptic years of the Trump administration did I ever once hear the mainstream media call for Donald to resign or suggest he should not run for re-election. This shit is so obvious—and treacherous—it’s enough to make one’s head explode. And we need to keep an eye on it and counter it at every opportunity.
Speaking of which, a few days ago at his latest cult rally, Donald implied that he is likely running again 2024. The only question in his mind is whether or not he’ll officially announce his run before or after the 2022 mid-terms. I have some advice for him at the 4 minute and 9 second mark:
Under the Radar
I’m going to be writing about the terrifying state of afairs vis-a vis abortion soon but this is an important video from state Senator Jeff Jackson (D-NC) about what’s happening in his state—and what won’t happen in his state, as long as there are enough Democrats in the state senate to uphold Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a future abortion ban. There are a few states in which this kind of rearguard action is possible but in most red states it’s already a done deal. The only thing Republican governors and state legislators are currently debating is how far to go in criminalizing abortion and destroying the lives of pregnant people.
Three weeks ago the illegitimate Supreme Court agreed to take up Moore v. Harper during its next term. In short, the plaintiffs in the case claim the North Carolina Supreme Court did not have the authority to overturn the state legislature’s heavily gerrymandered congressional maps which gave Republicans an overwhelming and unfair advantage. Plaintiffs are relying on the “independent state legislature doctrine” which posits that state courts don’t have the authority to overrule anti-democratic state laws passed by the legislature. In layperson’s terms, this doctrine is insane and if SCOTUS decides this case in favor of the plaintiffs this could be one of the gravest threats to democracy we’ve yet faced.
I remain agnostic as to whether or not Merrick Garland is going to do his fucking job, but in one instance he very clearly hasn’t. Three years ago (!) Robert Mueller laid out a very clear case for up to ten instances in which Donald obstructed justice. The Mueller Report was a virtual road map. Most, if not all, of the leg work was done. But many of the statutes of limitations running out. And likely more will.
For reasons the beggar the imagination, the Internal Revenue Service has designated the Family Research Council a church. The FRC is a lucrative hate group led by Tony Perkins, the Wayne La Pierre of the “family values” crowd. It is virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, and anti-civil rights organization but, under American tax law, charities don’t pay taxes and churches are considered charities.
In order to receive tax exempt status, church’s need to follow certain guidelines. Their earnings can’t enrich private individuals or shareholders; they cannot spend a significant amount of time influencing legislation; and they have to stay out of politics and refrain from supporting political campaigns or endorsing particular candidates.
The Family Research Council, like most mega-churches and white evangelical organizations, breaks at least one of these rules on a daily basis. I think when we look back on all of this, we’re going to find that this country’s knee-jerk deference to religion—specifically certain kinds of Christianity, especially white Evangelicalism—was one of the contributing factors to our downfall.
Here’s some good news: On Saturday, July 15, people suffering from a mental health crisis can dial 988 in order to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a wonderful thing.
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