[…] FBI documents reveal that associates of Coffee, including a former college classmate who is now an FBI special agent, recognized him and turned him in.
Coffee surrendered to authorities in Dallas on Thursday. He has been charged with assault of a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, interference with law enforcement officer during civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and two counts of unlawful entry on restricted grounds.
He allegedly went into hiding at a luxury resort,Texas Monthly reports. Weeks before he surrendered he allegedly told the outlet that “if the FBI wants me I’m sure they can easily find me.” He also said that he felt as though he was “in the middle of a storm” during the riots, adding “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Regarding the events on the Capitol, Coffee says “I was ready to die last night. We thought we were, we were totally gassed. And I literally thought I was getting gassed to death like I was in Nazi Germany, a Jew getting gassed to death. Okay.”
Luke Coffee, a Dallas man with a background in TV acting, post-production work and film producing, has been identified and charged by theFBIas the much-photographed crutch-wielding assailant at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
In court documents made public Thursday, Coffee was charged with six criminal counts, including assault of federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, interference with law enforcement officer, obstruction of an official proceeding, unlawful entry on restricted grounds and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds.
The criminal complaint says that Coffee, wearing a brown hat, a camouflage jacket and blue bandana, retrieved a crutch from the outside stairs and used it to push his way into the U.S. Capitol, climbing the steps of the Lower Terrace entryway and becoming involved in an altercation with police officers. Various videos, according to the FBI’s report, show Coffee “holding the crutch in a more aggressive manner and position towards the police officers” and using it “as blunt object weapon by positioning the crutch directly toward the officer’s upper chest/head area. During this same recorded [Metropolitan Police Department] body cam footage, it appears…two MPD officers are required to hold back Coffee.”
He’s carved out a whole new audience for himself. Many of them FBI Agents…
According to the criminal complaint, FBI agents conducted an interview with Coffee on Jan. 13, during which Coffee admitted being present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and informed agents that he had been wearing a brown hat and held a crutch over his head while at the Capitol.
Coffee told agents that he, “did not engage in any type of physical confrontations with the police while at the Capitol Building,” according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, Coffee told agents that he departed Dallas in a truck on Jan. 4 and arrived in Washington D.C. on the night of Jan. 5. He stated that he “could not recall where he resided while in Washington D.C.,” the complaint alleges.
After the riot, Coffee went home to Dallas. In short order, his image began circulating on Twitter, the FBI asked him for a meeting, his father publicly urged him on Instagram to turn himself in, and his college roommate, who had remained one of his best friends, called Coffee a domestic terrorist on social media. The 41-year-old Dallasite decided to go somewhere peaceful to “clear his head.”
During our interview, Coffee sidestepped questions about how he chose the place he’d been hiding, but the resort’s owner, who’d posted on social media that the rioters weren’t insurrectionists but merely victims of a media smear campaign, was sympathetic to his case, he said, and had offered to shelter him at a discount for as long as he wanted. “It’s ridiculous,” the owner told me during dinner service at the Italian restaurant, referring to the possibility that Coffee might face jail time for his role at the riot. “The whole thing is just ridiculous.”
Coffee told me he wasn’t on the run from the FBI, but during his six-plus weeks at the resort, which is not being identified as a condition of our meeting there, he kept hearing from the bureau. He says one agent from the Dallas field office urged him to return to that city to meet “face to face.” “You need to understand,” the man wrote in a text shared withTexas Monthly, “that this situation is not getting better.” Coffee responded with defiance and hoped to stay at the resort indefinitely. Weeks later, however, the gravity of his situation would finally set in, and Coffee would turn himself in to authorities and face a litany of charges.
“Those cops I fought, uh, I was pushing against, I grabbed a crutch. And I went in and pushed against the line. I pushed all against the line and was like trying to drive them back, and God gave me some supernatural energy, and they sprayed in my eyes,” Coffee says in asince-deleted videohe posted on Facebook.
Coffee does not appear to strike the officer on the ground, but does appear to hold back other officers while members of the crowd continue to hit the downed officer with flag poles.
Regarding the events on the Capitol, Coffee says “I was ready to die last night. We thought we were, we were totally gassed. And I literally thought I was getting gassed to death like I was in Nazi Germany, a Jew getting gassed to death. Okay.”
If you have information about an almost famous deplorable who took center stage during the assault on Our Nation’s Capitol on January 6th, call1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or leave a tip online. You may also submit relevant photos and videos to theFBI here.
“It’s truly disgusting they fired hard-working journalists who did care about facts and news reporting only to turn around and hire a mini-Goebbels whose incessant lies from the White House helped incite an insurrection on our democracy that got five people killed, including a police officer,” a Fox News insider raged to The Daily Beast. “Post-Trump Fox is quickly becoming a very scary place and quite dangerous for our democracy. It’s not even conservative news anymore. They’ve plunged into an alternate reality where extremist propaganda is the only course on the menu.”
So to give McEnany some big salary, Fox shitcanned a bunch of their “newsroom” staffers. And it appears that only maybe now those who work in the trenches at Fox have realized it’s a propaganda outfit? Really? NOW?
There is more:
“It’s upsetting,” a current Fox News staffer lamented to The Daily Beast. “So many good people are out of a job now and I’m sure she’ll get a huge contract.” But the hiring makes sense, this employee said, because “Sarah Sanders just left to run for governor of Arkansas and our audience loves Kayleigh.”
A sneering sanctimonious liar like Sarah Sanders was LOVED by the Fox audience. The woman whose ass just about every reporter in D.C kissed, with the notable exception of April Ryan. Even as Sanders ritually humiliated the White House press corp folks like Anita Kumar of Politico could not get enough of her. She arranged for a going away party for Sanders. Ugh.
Another newsroom staffer said of McEnany’s hiring: “It bothers me in that it is basically a slap in the face to the hardworking journalists that value real news and facts. But it also doesn’t surprise me because they have shown that they don’t give a damn about facts and real news.”
A third Fox News employee further railed against the hiring, saying, “There is no objectivity in this business anymore. It’s a self-serving profiteering enterprise.” McEnany clearly appeals to Fox, this staffer said, because of “name recognition, notoriety, an obvious willingness to say anything her employer desires. The viewers are morons.”
For years, I have heard folks like Rachel Maddow on MSNBC say that there were good people over at Fox’s newsroom. And I would hear the same from the other journalist they had on her show or other MSNBC shows. Yeah, the management and the opinion people at Fox were bad, but there were others who still believed in facts…blah, blah, blah.
Fox has been lying for decades now. And all the people who worked for Fox knew that it was a propaganda outfit long before Trump showed up. Volumes could be written about the numerous lies told by both their opinion and newsroom sections. The people who worked at Fox did it for a paycheck. And the pay was better at Fox than at most other news organizations.
Now, however, Fox has decided to get those ratings up. And to do that, Fox needs Trump sycophants and liars. And if they have to downsize to pay for only the best liars, so be it.
There’s such a lot of good news again this morning, I can’t wait to share it. As you read, notice just how many people in so many arenas of life are working hard to build a better world! Yes, Republicans will kick and scream and sabotage and fight progress every step of the way, and Joe, Kamala and the entire Democratic leadership is ready for them. Even FDR — to whom Joe is already being compared in some circles — had a struggle to get most of his agenda to rescue America implemented, and he didn’t succeed in everything. Looking back, we sometimes forget what it must have been like at the time. It is never easy to make progress. And yet we are going to make progress. We are strong and growing stronger. The momentum is with progressives and Democrats are not going to waste it!
Before I bring you all the good news I could find last night, here is a beautiful video and new song from Pink, recorded with her daughter, Willow. I think it captures a lot of what so many of us are feeling right now — the hope and the optimism as we are finally beginning to see the rays of sunshine breaking through the gloom of despair and anxiety we’ve been enduring for so long. And I bet this darling little girl, sweetly, joyfully singing, full of promise and hope for the future, will warm your heart like she did mine.
Happy Wednesday, Gnusies! Here comes the sunshine!
There were early signs President Joe Biden would try to make good on hispledgeto be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” On the first day of his presidency hefiredPeter Robb, the anti-labor general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board appointed by Donald Trump. One day later, BidenfiredRobb’s Trump-era deputy.
The pro-union shift has now become far more public. On Sunday, Biden delivered a video message in support of unionization and against the tactics companies use to stop it. The video comes as thousands of Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are facing intense pressure from management as theyvoteon whether to unionize. Biden didn’t explicitly tell Bessemer workers to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. But it was hard to see the video posted to his official Twitter account as anything less than an endorsement.
Labor historians quickly weighed in to say it was the most pro-union message they’d ever seen from a sitting president.Labor historians quickly weighed in to say it was the most pro-union message they’d ever seen from a sitting president.
Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden urged Senate Democrats on Tuesday to rally behind a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill and stood by his proposed $1,400 payments to individuals, even as some party moderates sought to dial back parts of the package.
“He said we need to pass this bill and pass it soon. That’s what the American people sent us here to do, and we have to get America the help it needs,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters, describing a 20-minute conference call Biden had with Democratic senators.
The president’s cry for unity came as Democrats, with no votes to spare in a 50-50 Senate, sorted through lingering divisions over the emerging bill. Those included moderates’ efforts to focus spending more narrowly on those hardest hit by the deadly pandemic and resulting economic contraction.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats sorted through lingering disagreements over emergency jobless benefits and other issues Tuesday and prepared to commence Senate debate on a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that would deliver a major victory to President Joe Biden.
With Democrats having no margin for error in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, Biden was expected to urge them on by conference call. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he planned to bring the sweeping bill to the floor as early as Wednesday, teeing up first votes on a bill aimed at energizing the nation’s battle against the pandemic and its wounded economy. ✄
The legislation would provide $1,400 payments to individuals plus hundreds of billions of dollars for schools and colleges, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, mass transit systems, renters and small businesses.
It also has money for child care, tax breaks for families with children and assistance for states willing to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income residents.
Ten Democratic senators are pushing President Joe Biden to make direct payments and the extension of boosted unemployment insurance benefits automatic until the economy fully recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to take the fate of the recovery out of the hand of politicians and avoiding a key mistake of the Democratic plan to recover from the financial collapse of 2008.
Led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the senators are pushing Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party to include what are called “automatic stabilizers” in his Build Back Better plan, which is expected to be written this spring and summer and aims to jump-start the economic recovery. The stabilizers would automatically extend enhanced unemployment benefits and issue direct payments to American families until key economic indicators ― say, GDP growth, the unemployment rate or job growth ― reach predetermined levels. ✄
The 10 senators who signed the letter include the chairs of three major committees: Wyden, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who leads the Budget Committee; and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Other signatories include five veteran progressives ― Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin ― alongside newly installed Sen. Alex Padilla of California and the more moderate Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to head the U.S. Commerce Department, the agency that repeatedly sparred with China during the prior administration.
Raimondo, a Democrat tapped by President Joe Biden, will oversee the Commerce Department and its bureaus, which have about 46,000 employees.
The department includes the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Census, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service and the Foreign Commercial Service. It also helps negotiate trade agreements and enforces laws on trade and national security.
During the confirmation process, Raimondo emphasized the need for the department to address how the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the economy and underscored structural inequities facing people of color and families with lower incomes.
“In this time of overlapping crises, the Commerce Department must be a partner to businesses and their workers to help them innovate and grow,” Raimondo said during the January confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.
Among Raimondo’s most urgent agenda items in the coming weeks is overseeing the processing and release of the first results of the 2020 census, which are now more than two months overdue because of delays stemming from COVID-19 andlast-minute schedule changes by the Trump administration.
Ms. Warren’s wealth tax would apply a 2 percent tax to individual net worth — including the value of stocks, houses, boats and anything else a person owns, after subtracting out any debts — above $50 million. It would add an additional 1 percent surcharge for net worth above $1 billion. It is co-sponsored in the House by two Democratic representatives, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, a moderate. ✄
Polls have consistently shownMs. Warren’s proposal winning the support of more than three in five Americans, including a majority of Republican voters.
“A wealth tax is popular among voters on both sides for good reason: because they understand the system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and large corporations,” Ms. Warren said. “As Congress develops additional plans to help our economy, the wealth tax should be at the top of the list to help pay for these plans because of the huge amounts of revenue it would generate.” ✄
Ms. Warren estimated her initial proposal during the 2020 campaign would raise $2.75 trillion over a decade, which she proposed spending on education and child care, based on estimates from the University of California, Berkeley economistsEmmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.
For a ton of useful information about this (longer than the usual Raw Story blurb), here is more:
High-ranking House Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday to zero out domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including deep cuts in the next decade, a deadline that has support from the world’s leading climate scientists.
The draft bill would set a U.S. goal to reduce greenhouse emissions by at least 50 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2030. It would also set a national goal to “achieve net-zero” emissions by mid-century and direct heads of federal agencies to come up with plans for how to meet those targets by 2050.
“We have to act decisively,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters. “The time for small marginal change is long past. If we don’t take meaningful nationwide action now our children will inherit an economy and a world beyond their capacity to repair.”
Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., the chairmen of the panel’s subcommittees on the environment and energy respectively, said there would be hearings on the bill. While the committee members said they aim to move the bill through the committee process and gain Republican support, they did not rule out using the budget reconciliation process to advance it.
Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday tried to lay the groundwork for Puerto Rico to become a state, introducing a bill that would set up a vote for residents to decide on statehood and the election of its own senators and representatives.
The bill, introduced by Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Representative Darren Soto of Florida, has the backing of Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi and Delegate Jenniffer González-Colón, the island’s resident commissioner. Its supporters argue that the federal government doesn’t treat Puerto Rican citizens equally, something statehood would help rectify.
Soto says the bill has about 50 co-sponsors. At a news conference Tuesday, he pointed to the hardships the island has endured, including the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and he argued residents deserve the same representation as all Americans.
⚖ Justice ⚖
Fulton DA’s investigation into Trump heads to grand jury, Christian Boone and Tamar Hallerman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 2, 2021.
Fulton County prosecutors are expected to appear before a grand jury this week seeking subpoenas for documents and witnesses related to theirinvestigation of former President Donald Trumpand some of his top associates for possible election fraud, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
Legal experts are split as to whether there’s a strong case to be made, but most agree Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results merit greater scrutiny. Fani Willis, Fulton’s new district attorney, has said she’s prepared to follow the evidence wherever it leads. ✄
She indicated she’s investigating several state crimes, including solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.
WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Chris Wray condemned the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday as he defended the bureau’s handling of intelligence indicating the prospect for violence. He told lawmakers the information was properly shared with other law enforcement agencies even though it was raw and unverified.
Wray’s comments before Congress, in a rare public appearance since the deadly Capitol attack two months ago, was the FBI’s most vigorous defense against the suggestion that it had not adequately communicated the distinct possibility of violence as lawmakers certified the results of the presidential election. He also described in stark terms the threat from domestic violent extremists and said that, contrary to some Republicans, there is no evidence that anti-Trump groups were involved in the riot. ✄
In characterizing the events of Jan. 6 as an act of domestic terrorism, Wray highlighted the FBI’s growing concern about an increase in extremist violence in the U.S., including from militia groups, white supremacists and anarchists. The threat they pose is being treated with the same urgency as that from international terror groups like the Islamic State or al-Qaida.
But the oral arguments produced another seeming loser. Michael Carvin, the high-profile Republican lawyer who was representing the state GOP in the hearing. Carvin backtracked on the sweeping arguments in the GOP’s briefs, prompting skepticism from the court’s left and right wing alike. ✄
Coney Barrett’s harsh exchange with Carvin suggested that there were not five votes on the court for the state GOP’s original position that put election regulations out of reach for the results test of the VRA. The potential that the Court would take the state GOP’s suggestion and say that the “results test” did not cover election regulations was the absolute doomsday scenario for federal voting rights enforcement. There were plenty other ways, however, that the conservatives flirted with limiting the scope of that provision. ✄
How Carvin wavered on his even more hostile take on the VRA was not the only surprising moment from the hearing. He was surprisingly candid when he was asked by Justice Coney Barrett why the GOP should be allowed to be in the case in the first place. (Its opponents have argued that striking down the measures does not inflict the kind of harm to the GOP that would allow it to defend the measures in court.)
Carvin justified the GOP presence in the case by saying that blocking the policies put Republicans at a “disadvantage” because it would help more people to vote, and those people would lean Democratic.
Quick story here from Georgia (🎩 hat tip to hpg who posted about this in the Evening Shade last night, thanks!): don’t succumb to gloom and dooming about the GQPer machinations to suppress the vote. Our Democrats are outnumbered, but still going to fight like hell! Never forget that we are NOT helpless in the face of Republican fuckery!
Also, in case you still had any lingering doubt about whether Stacey Abrams is the GOAT for voting rights…
Georgia Democrats and their allies are behind an extraordinary campaign at the Capitol and in the public square to derail the new Republican-backed voting restrictions moving through the statehouse.
The pressure is mounting as Georgia House lawmakers prepare to vote Monday on a measure that would require ID for absentee voting, curb the use of ballot drop boxes and restrict weekend early voting hours.
Ads financed by Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action groupbegan bombardingthe airwaves last week with dire warnings that the new restrictions on mail-in ballots will hurt Republicans as much as Democrats.
If you’re able and so inclined, you can support Fair Fight Action here.
The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration’s first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was an intimate and favorite of President Donald Trump even amid covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. ✄
Tuesday’s step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved shot.
With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers, and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program. He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all educators by the end of March as part of his administration’s efforts to reopen more schools across the nation.
“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” said Biden, who likened the partnership between the two drug companies to the spirit of national cooperation during World War II.
Here are the details on that Merck/J&J cooperative effort:
Pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced, calling it “an unprecedented historic step,” considering that the two companies are normally competitors.
Merck will produce the drug substance at the heart of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as well as work on filling vaccine vials and getting them ready for distribution.
“The U.S. government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safety manufacture the vaccine and asking the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts,” Psaki said during Tuesday afternoon’s press briefing.
Researchers believe the new drug will be most effective in patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s and in those who are genetically predisposed to getting the disease. They warn that it’s less likely to benefit individuals who are already symptomatic because the drug helps prevent amyloid plaque from forming but doesn’t reverse damage that has already been done.
Great News from Texas!
More evidence of just how much energy and determination and people power we have on the side of equality, humanity and equality:
This is a long and deeply reported article, but hopefully I can give you the good news highlights in a few paragraphs:
Access to reproductive health care is limited statewide, butespecially in vast, mostly rural West Texas. Lubbock, a city of around 260,000 that also serves as a medical hub forpeople in surrounding counties, has largely been without dedicated family planning providers in recent years. For the 15 percent of residents who are uninsured, options for affordable reproductive health care are even more scarce after years of budget cuts by elected officials. Few publicly funded family planning clinics remain in the region. There are just three providers in the 41 counties that comprise the Panhandle and South Plains regions that are part of the federally funded Title X family planning program. The two federally qualified health centers in Lubbock, which provide a range of primary care services, sometimes have weeks-long waits for appointments. After the Lubbock center closed in 2013, there were no Planned Parenthood facilities left in the western half of the state. And for the last seven years, Lubbock residents seeking an abortion have had to travelat least 300 milesone-way to the closest provider in Fort Worth, one of the longest distances from any city in the country. ✄
In 2018, Planned Parenthood announced plans to open two clinics in West Texas, citing adearth of services in the region. Barred from state funding streams, the organization launched a $16 million fundraising campaign for the expansion, with private donations going toward running the health centers and helping to subsidize care for uninsured patients, says Sarah Wheat, chief external affairs officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. In October of 2018, Planned Parenthoodreturned to El Paso, which had been the largest city in the country without a clinic after the last one closed in 2009. Last July, Planned Parenthood announced that it would open a Lubbock clinic, though the location and timing were not released for security reasons. But after “monitoring” the old clinic location, local anti-abortion activists identified the new address and shared it, along with photos, in a mass e-mail through the statewide anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life in mid-October. Planned Parenthood opened its doors just a few days later.
Here’s How You Can Help Build Our Democracy Back Better
Democratic litigation hero,Marc Eliaswas the legal eagle behind the 60 Big Lie losses after the election. Here’s his website,Democracy Docket. You can find information about current cases he is fighting to defend voting rights around the country, as well as actions you can take to help fight voter suppression at the link!
🎩 Also, Goody posted a great list of links and I am going to borrow it because it’s great! 🎩
The only way they can win is by keeping people from voting. They are working like heck to make that happen and we need to do all we can to keep 2022 from being a year when they grab the Senate and House back from us.
Finally, when it comes time to pass HR1 (the new voting rights act) the Democrats will have to end the filibuster to do it.It will not pass without that. 10 Republicans will not vote for it. So, when the time comes, you will need to call, call, call and call your Senators to push them to do this. If you live in Arizona, Montana, or West Virginia, you may want to put in for some vacation time to really devote yourself to it. It will be the only option. Get ready!
💙 RoundUp WindDown 💙
We’ve been through a lot and there’s still plenty of struggle ahead. But, Gnusies, the path looks a whole lot brighter. we will have to work as hard as we possibly can to ensure that Democrats hold on to the House and Senate in 2022 so that we can continue to have good government working to make the country stronger, better and more equitable.
The sunlight is also visible at the end of the long, dark pandemic tunnel. We’ve got a shot at a fairly normal summer and fall this year, with vaccines and Democratic leadership to get them into peoples’ arms.
I encourage everyone to use this time of remaining pandemic social distancing to rest and recharge as much as you can. There’s a lot of work ahead of us — mostly the good, satisfying kind of work — and we will need to be at our best to keep it up.
Eat nutritious food, get some rest and try to get outdoors for a few minutes each day if you can. Being out in nature is the ideal, but even in the city we can look up at the sky and watch the clouds puff by. It will refresh your spirit.
Thanks to all of you for coming to Gnuville and reading each day. Happy Wednesday!
I am in Florida where we are afflicted with DeSantis. Ever since last summer I have felt like DeSantis is having a contest with Brian Kemp to see which of them could be the worst governor when it comes to pandemic policy.
Both Kemp and DeSantis did their best to undercut efforts by local officials to encourage or, heaven forbid require, the use of masks. Both were in favor of saving money on unemployment benefits by requiring “essential” workers in places like bars, nail salons and gyms to work even when infection levels were high. Both were in favor of cramming kids into schools where masks were optional. Both Kemp and DeSantis also appear to have resorted to dubious reporting practices to hide the real numbers of infections and fatalities.
Despite their best homicidal efforts to be the worst governors, Kemp and Desantis have so far been outdone by Kristi Noem of South Dakota. More than one out of every 500 people in South Dakota have died of Covid-19 so far. In addition to her many other pro-virus policies she thought it was a good idea to have a huge motorcycle rally last summer. Bikers from all over the country traveled to Sturgis to exchange virus-laden exhalations.
Gov. Noem insists that the biker rally was not a problem but she does not let facts interfere with her opinions. The CDC published a paper that documents 86 cases of Covid-19 in Minnesota that resulted from transmission of the virus during the motorcycle rally in South Dakota. Researchers identified 51 people who caught the virus during the rally and showed that they gave the virus to 35 more people. The researchers sequenced the whole genomes of the viruses in these patients to show that they had the same strain of the virus as a biker. Bikers from other states doubtless spread Covid-19 across the country in other states just as the bikers spread it in Minnesota.
Greg Abbott in Texas seems to want to make sure that a puny state like South Dakota does not get ahead of Texas. He has decided to try to spread the virus as much as possible before enough people are vaccinated to slow down the epidemic. The next few months may be his last chance to exterminate a greater percentage of the citizens in his state than Kristi Noem managed in South Dakota.
I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%.
I also ended the statewide mask mandate.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 2, 2021
Abbot knows that most people in Texas have not yet gotten the vaccine. His website said:
During his remarks, the Governor discussed the incredible advancements that Texas has made that allow the state to open fully and lift the mask mandate—noting the rapid increase of vaccines. Nearly 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered to Texans, and the state is now administering almost one million shots each week. By next Wednesday, about 7 million shots will have been administered in Texas and over half of seniors in Texas will have received a vaccine shot. By the end of March, every senior who wants a vaccine should be able to get one. The vaccine supply continues to increase so rapidly that more and more Texans will soon be eligible to receive a vaccine.
Texas has a population of about 29 million people. Most people in Texas have not had a chance to get even one dose of the vaccine yet. It takes at least five to six weeks after the first dose of an mRNA vaccine for someone to have full immunity. Apparently Gov. Abbott wants to take this last chance of decreasing the surplus population before everyone gets a chance to be vaccinated.
Please feel free to add other nominees for Worst Governor — Coronavirus edition. Some of you may live in states with incompetent and/or sociopathic governors that are just as terrible as these four. The rest of you can feel free to share your views on which governor is the worst and what makes them the most terrible.
Gosar showed up at the America First Political Action Conference on Friday night, serving as its surprise keynote speaker at the same time as the House was debating COVID-19 relief. At that event, he was followed by conference organizer Nick Fuentes, who called the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “awesome” and “light-hearted mischief.”
“If America ceases to retain that English cultural framework and the influence of European civilization, if it loses its White demographic core and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ, then this is not America anymore,” Fuentes said.
Arizona’s Republican Party is not alone in embracing the far-far-far right. Republican committees in North Carolina and Louisiana censured Sens. Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy for voting to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection. Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock was one of the organizers of an April event in which armed militia members tried to enter the floor of the state Senate. She also helped send 19 buses full of Trump supporters to Washington, D.C., for Jan. 6.
Then again, this is Donald Trump’s party, and in his own CPAC appearance, Trump vowed to purge the party of anyone who dares to stand against him. And that is inextricably tied to Trump’s white supremacist agenda. He’s taken the party from being one that operates in racist dog whistles and writing policies that are officially color blind but create or exacerbate racial disparities to being one where a member of Congress shows up at a white nationalist event and his state’s Republican Party has nothing to say about it.
How completely can Trump remake the Republican Party in his own image after costing it the House, the Senate, and the White House? So far, the answer seems to be like 95%.
On Tuesday, former President Trump emerged from his self-imposed exile to release a blistering letter slamming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his poor leadership skills and accusing him of losing the Senate in the 2020 election. Since Trump has been deplatformed from social media including Twitter, his favorite means of communicating with his supporters and the world, the statement was issued by his new PAC, Save America.
His aides say that Trump wrote the 600 word screed himself, but it is far too coherent and too lengthy (Trump has the attention span of a fruit fly) to have been written by someone who is barely literate. My opinion is that Jason Miller, one of his top aides wrote it with input from Trump.
It contains enough Trumpian insults that it reads like one of Trump’s barely coherent rants that has been written down and translated into comprehensible form while not losing the essence of the Trump attack style.
What set Trump off was an op-ed that McConnell published in the Wall Street Journal. In it, McConnell defended his actions in voting against conviction and then giving a speech afterwards condemning Trump’s actions in inciting the insurrection. He emphatically pointed out that Trump was responsible for insurrection and although he may have been acquitted of impeachment, he was still subject to criminal proceedings.
Both the op-ed and the interview were guaranteed to set Trump off. Trump sees himself as the leader of the Republican Party and as the sole person who will determine which Republican candidates will run in the 2022 midterms, all of whom should be Trump supporters.
The battle lines have been drawn. Who will win? The fascist dictator wannabe or the master tactician? The Insulter in Chief or the Machiavellian pol?
My money is on McConnell. Much as I dislike him and his politics, I admire his strategic abilities. As I’ve said before, McConnell always has a plan and he is always thinking 3 or 4 moves ahead. His speech, op-ed and interview are just his opening salvos in his effort to purge Trump and Trumpism from the Republican Party, something that he has been talking about in private, and winning back the Senate.
While McConnell is quiet and keeps his thoughts to himself, Trump is loud and brash. He is heavily invested in the trappings of success. The outward show is just as important to him as any actual success. That’s why his penthouse apartment in Trump Tower is gilded in a gaudy imitation of Versailles, proof of his (self-reported) immense fortune.
Midterm elections are always hard fought between the party in power and the party that wants to be in power. In 2022, we will have the added wrinkle of the Republican Party at war with itself as well as the Democrats.
The novel coronavirus still exists and is deadly, despite the increasing number of Americans who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 nationwide. Health officials are continuing to recommend people follow safety precautions including wearing a mask, whether or not they have been vaccinated. But since the start of the pandemic some people have not onlyrefused to followsafety precautions but some companies have also failed to create coronavirus protections for their employees.
What’s worse is that many of these companies are allegedly retaliating against those who speak up against their lack of safety precautions. In a recent incident, a former Trader Joe’s employee in New York said he was fired for requesting better coronavirus protection for workers. Identified as Ben Bonnema, the man sent a letter to the supermarket’s CEO requesting better protections in the workplace for COVID-19. According to Bonnema, he was fired shortly after sending the letter.
Both his letter shared on social media Friday and his terminiation letter from the company have since gone viral on social media.
trader joe’s just fired me for sending this letter to the ceo, saying i don’t share the company values. i guess advocating for a safer workplace isn’t a company value? pic.twitter.com/3TKi5B8HSJ
“Last week, more than a dozen scientists called on the Biden administration to set better air standards for workplaces,” Bonnema wrote in his letter. “It is becoming more and more clear that aerosol particles—likely more so than surfaces or even droplets—are a significant source of COVID transmission.” His letter cited multiple news outlets and reports to support his requests to better protect employees. “We put our lives on the line every day by showing up to work,” he continued. “Please, show up for us by adopting these policies.”
His letter also mentioned that he had previously spoken to management that while filters are frequently being switched out, the store’s use of MERV-7 filters do not decontaminate aerosols effectively. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a MERV-13 filter or higher is recommended to clear out potential COVID-19 aerosols. Additionally, Bonnema requested the store adopt a “three strikes” policy for customers who repeatedly refuse to abide by the store’s mask policy.
“I was recently shouted and sworn at by a customer who would not wear a mask above his nose, despite Mates already asking him to do so,” Bonnema wrote. “He was allowed to finish his shopping and check out.”
According to the Gothamist, this isn’t an isolated incident. Other former Trader Joe’s employees have spoken up about conditions in stores including one who told the outlet that a colleague was nearly fired for insisting masks be worn “before there was a mask mandate.” Additionally, employees of the grocery chain also told the Gothamist that they were in a “state of terror.”
In response to the backlash and calls to boycott Trader Joe’s on social media, Kenya Friend-Daniel, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, not only denied Bonnema’s claims but told BuzzFeed News that the company “never, and would never, terminate a crew member’s employment for raising safety concerns.”
“During his short tenure with Trader Joe’s, this crew member’s suggestions were listened to, and appropriately addressed. Store leadership terminated this Crew Member’s employment because of the disrespect he showed toward our customers,” Friend-Daniel said.
But these claims contradict Bonnema’s most recent employee review, which he posted. According to the August employee review, Trader Joe’s gave him high marks across the board, including noting that he was kind to customers. As a response to his wrongful termination Bonnema has hired an attorney to take his case to the National Labor Relations Board.
“Mr. Bonnema’s spotless employment record with the company is only further evidence that the company’s decision to terminate him from his employment was an unlawful attempt to threaten, restrain and coerce Mr. Bonnema and his coworkers from engaging in protected concerted activity,” he said. “Mr. Bonnema has a federally-protected right to advocate for the workplace safety of his colleagues. Terminating him for doing so is reprehensible.”
According toThe Washington Post, Bonnema’s letter did not go unnoticed by experts whom he referenced. Many of them wrote a letter to the Biden administration urging that steps be taken to combat airborne transmission in workplaces.
If true, this is why it’s so important for CDC to update its guidance and recommendations on transmission of COVID-19. We need strong risk mitigation in all indoor spaces where people work, shop, meet, and play. https://t.co/Ur80WIfbBS
“We wrote this letter to protect people like Ben,” tweeted Kimberly Prather, a professor at the University of California at San Diego and one of 13 experts who wrote to the White House. “His letter is an excellent science-based request. We have been shopping there for 20 yrs. We will stop until Trader Joe’s takes this seriously.”
Since the start of the pandemic, many stores have left retail and grocery workers without protection from the coronavirus and those who refuse to follow safety precautions in place to stop the spread. Viral videos shared on social media have depicted numerous incidents in which store employees have been subject to violence. These essential workers deserve protection from not only the virus but those who fail to acknowledge it.
“As the danger from COVID continues, grocery workers are among the most at risk to daily exposure to the virus,” Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told Newsweek. Perrone added that companies must “wake up to this threat” and prioritize mask mandates while also ensuring workers receive paid time off in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “We cannot afford to wait for the next outbreak or for more lives to be needlessly lost,” Perrone said.
Authorities are slowly coming down on members of the extremist organization Proud Boys. As investigations into the Capitol riots continue, members of the violent right-wing group, including those who were not involved in the riots, are slowly facing justice for their violent and racist ideology. Last year, Tacoma Public Schools in Washingtonannounced an investigation into a newly hired teacher after concerns from the community. The teacher was said to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, a group both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have deemed as a hate group.
According toThe Tacoma News Tribune, district personal records from the school’s Board of Directors meeting on Feb. 25 confirmed that the teacher will resign from First Creek Middle School once his contract expires on August 31. A records request for documents related to the investigation is pending, but a spokesperson for Tacoma Public Schools confirmed his resignation.
Pending investigation the teacher, identified as Xane Fisher, was put on administrative leave in September. Those under a contract placed under administrative leave continue to receive their salary, however, Fisher was unable to teach and will still be unable to do so through the end of his contract.
“After receiving reports from community members and viewing videos of Mr. Fisher, the District initiated an investigation into allegations that Mr. Fisher engaged in conduct that violates the District’s Policies and Regulations related to Employee Conduct; as well as the professional practices standards for certificated school employees,” Tacoma Public Schools said in a statement to The News Tribune on Monday. “While Mr. Fisher resigned before the district completed its investigation, due to the serious nature of the concerns, the District is sharing its information with OSPI’s Office of Professional Practices.”
The investigation was launched after community members shared concerns of social media posts appearing to depict Fisher as participating in a banned Proud Boys Facebook group “induction video” in 2018. The video allegedly not only depicted Fisher clearly stating his name but noting that he was “a proud western Chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world,” a declaration shared by members of the Proud Boys.
Concerns regarding Fisher’s involvement in the group are not new. Prior to working for Tacoma Public Schools he was an English teacher at Graham-Kapowsin High School where an investigation by the Bethel School District was conducted in Sept. 2019 for similar concerns. But at that time, the district concluded that there were “no overtly racial or otherwise inappropriate statements that warranted further action by the district,” according to a Sept. 5 letter from the human resources department, The News Tribune reported.
Following the Bethel investigation, Fisher wrote a letter calling the allegations false and claiming that they were spread by antifa. “Someone in that organization has stolen personal data from before I was a Bethel employee, fabricated a narrative, and manipulated the public sector’s due process to harass myself and my family over false accusations they created,” Fisher wrote in the Oct. 8, 2019, letter obtained by KIRO 7. “I am not a supremacist of any sort, nor am I a racist. The very accusation turns my stomach, and holds no credence,” the letter continued.
While the Proud Boys have been around for over five years, the group began gaining further national attention after Donald Trump mentioned the hate group during a presidential debate in 2020. Instead of denouncing white supremacy as he was asked to do, Trump gave the group orders: “Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing [problem].”
The group, known for its white supremacist ideology, openly calls “for violence generally” with leaders encouraging members to use violence to express themselves, Daily Kos reported. Following the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, multiple people including group members have been charged with involvement. But despite the number of those who get charged and are deemed associated with this hate group, the ideology still exists.
It is unfortunate that these conspiracy theories, groups, and hate ideologies exist as is and worse to see them in the educational system. As Americans continue to stand up against hate we can only hope that such individuals are unable to be involved in fields that influence the youth and educational system.
It takes a pendejoto be drawn to another pendejo. Robert Unanue, the CEO of Goya Foods, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday, Feb. 28, and doubled down on stupid by proclaiming that Donald Trump is “the real, the legitimate, and the still actual president of the United States.”
Unanue, who in January was censured by his board of directors which is family controlled, went off the chain and has gone full conspiracy crazed, including in his blatant lies about voter fraud.
“The CEO then reiterated unfounded claims related to illegitimate election proceedings, which Trump and his followers promoted after November’s general contest. The claims are widely discredited.
“I received, I think, as many people I know, and many of you, unsolicited ballots,” Unanue told CPAC attendees. “So, I mean, as a citizen of the United States, I think I’m allowed to vote once. Once. Not twice.”
CNN’s Daniel Dale tweeted the blow-by-blow.
Goya’s Unanue went on to joke, “Sorry Twitter, I’ve already been canceled. You can’t do it again. No way,” then to say that Americans aren’t entitled to vote 10 times (they didn’t), then to say that “the majority” of the people voted for Trump (Biden got the majority).
I thought I’d read that the Board of @GoyaFoods had told their blabbering fool, conspiracy theorist CEO to shut the hell up. But here is the “My Pillow Guy” of frijoles, spreading lies at Cult-PAC. Thank you @CapehartJ for reminding me, so I don’t ever buy his crappy adobo. pic.twitter.com/gNAOkyF4jm
I understand the chef’s sentiments, however I suggest that if you have any Goya products on your shelves, donate them to a local shelter or food program. I donated my Goya products to a food bank after the first calls to boycott Goya were raised in July of 2020, when Unanue made a visit to the White House and praised Trump.
My entire Mexican family has done & will continue to do the same. #BoycottGoya
Sometimes people in Washington get it plain wrong!
If conservatives support police killing citizens without justification, climate denial, fact denial, science denial, racist and misogynistic behavior, or a litany of other absurd points of view about numerous important issues, we call them out.