Saturday, March 25, 2023

Something to Know - 25 March

It was a very interesting and historic event yesterday.  The 3-day strike by the members of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) local 99, in solidarity with the teachers' union, and others, came to an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District on an agreement.  After decades of neglect and kicking the can down the road, the issue of a living wage and benefits hit the wall, and was addressed with a 30% increase.   Yes, this is going to send a shock wave to every school district  across the nation, and each district will have to deal with this.   But, beyond that, it will empower employees in every facet of the economy that organizing and standing up to decades of being denied the right to organize is real, and can be done.  Yes, there is a growing wealth gap in our society that is not healthy for our economic well being.   This is but one step in helping to do the right thing.  HCR speaks to some of the history on this issue:


Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American heathercoxrichardson@substack.com Unsubscribe

Mar 24, 2023, 10:34 PM (10 hours ago)
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A follow-up to last night's examination of the confusion among the Republicans about their budget plans: today when a reporter said to House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) that the chair of the House Budget Committee, Jodey Arrington (R-TX), had said that he and McCarthy were finalizing a list of proposals to give to President Biden about spending cuts, McCarthy answered: "I don't know what he's talking about."

Noise also continues from former president Donald Trump, who early this morning posted on social media that his indictment could lead to "potential death & destruction"; hours later, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg received a death threat in an envelope with white powder in it. For three days this week, Russian accounts have emailed bomb threats to the court buildings where the grand jury is meeting.  

Tomorrow, Trump will hold a rally in Waco, Texas, where a 1993 government siege to extricate the leader of a religious cult who witnesses said was stockpiling weapons led to a gun battle and a fire that left seventy-six people dead.  

Although a Republican investigation cited "overwhelming evidence" that exonerated the government of wrongdoing, right-wing talk radio hosts jumped on the events at Waco to attack the administration of Democratic president Bill Clinton. Rush Limbaugh stoked his listeners' anger with talk of the government's "murder" of citizens, and Alex Jones dropped out of community college to start a talk show on which he warned that the government had "murdered" the people at Waco and was about to impose martial law.

After the Waco siege the modern militia movement took off, and Trump is clearly using the anniversary to tap into domestic violence against the government to defend him in advance of possible indictments.

But will it work? His supporters turned out on January 6, 2021, when he was president and had the power—they thought—to command the army to back him. In the end, that didn't happen. Since then, Trump's foot soldiers have been going to prison while he dines at Mar-a-Lago and rails about how unfairly he has been treated.

Trump is also in more trouble today, as Judge Beryl Howell ruled last week that Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe, former top Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, former national security advisor Robert O'Brien, former top aide Stephen Miller, former deputy chief of staff and social media director Dan Scavino, and former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee all have to testify before the federal grand jury investigating Trump's attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Special counsel Jack Smith had subpoenaed these members of the Trump administration, and Trump had tried to stop their testimony by claiming it was covered by executive privilege. Howell rejected that claim. In the past, she rejected a similar claim by arguing that only the current president has the right to claim executive privilege and Biden had declined to do so. Meadows is the key witness to Trump's involvement in the events of January 6.

Also today, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a repeal of so-called right-to-work legislation passed in 2012 by a Republican-controlled legislature, whose members pushed it through in a lame-duck session without hearings.  

That legislation had a long history. U.S. employers had opposed workers' unions since the organization of the National Labor Union in 1866, but the rise of international communism in the early twentieth century provoked a new level of violence against organized workers. In 1935, as part of the New Deal, Democrats passed the National Labor Relations Act, popularly known as the Wagner Act, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it into law. 

The Wagner Act confirmed workers' right to organize and to bargain with employers collectively (although to appease southern Democrats, it exempted domestic and agricultural workers, who in the South were mostly Black). It also defined unfair labor practices and established a new National Labor Relations Board that could issue cease and desist orders if workers testified that employers were engaging in them. 

The Wagner Act gave workers a unified voice in American politics and leveled the playing field between them and employers. But while most Americans of both parties liked the Wagner Act, right-wing Republicans hated it because it put large sums of money into the hands of labor officials, who used the money to influence politics. And organized workers had backed Democrats since the 1860s.

So, in 1947, a Republican-led Congress pushed back against the Wagner Act. The previous year, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) had launched "Operation Dixie" to organize Black workers, which seemed a threat to segregation as well as white employers. Together, business Republicans and segregationist Democrats passed the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft-Hartley Act. Ohio Senator Robert Taft (who was the son of President William Howard Taft) claimed that the Taft-Hartley Act would simply equalize power between workers and employers after the "completely one-sided" Wagner Act gave all the power to labor leaders. 

The Taft-Hartley Act limited the ways in which workers could organize; it also went after unions' money. Although the Wagner Act had established that if a majority of a company's workers voted to join a union, that union would represent all the workers in the company, it didn't require all the workers to join that union. That presented a problem: if workers were going to get the benefits of union representation without joining, why should they bother to pay dues? 

So labor leaders began to require that everyone employed in a unionized company must pay into the union to cover the cost of bargaining, whether or not they joined the union.

The Taft-Hartley Act undermined this workaround by permitting states to get rid of the requirement that employees who didn't join a union that represented them must pay fees to the union. 

Immediately, states began to pass so-called right-to-work laws. Their supporters argued that every man should have the right to bargain for his work on whatever terms he wanted, without oversight by a union. But lawmakers like Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), who pushed a right-to-work law in his own state, were clear that they were intent on breaking the power of organized workers. He was determined to destroy the political power of unions because, he said, their leaders were stealing American freedom. They were, he said, "more dangerous than Soviet Russia." 

Michigan had been known as a pro-union state, but in 2012, Republicans there pushed through two right-to-work laws over waves of protest. Repealing the laws has been a priority for Democrats, and now that they are in control of state government, they have made it happen.  

Joey Cappelletti of the Associated Press notes that twenty-six states currently have right to work laws, and although Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law in 2017, it has been 58 years since a state repealed one. Indiana voters repealed theirs in 1965; Republicans put it back into place in 2012.  

Republicans say that since the neighboring states of Indiana and Wisconsin have right-to-work laws—although there were huge protests when those laws went into place in 2012 and 2015—Michigan's repeal of right to work will make that state less attractive to employers. 

But after signing the law today, Governor Whitmer embraced a different vision for the state, saying: "Today, we are coming together to restore workers' rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan's middle class."

Notes:

https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/whitmer-signs-repeal-of-right-to-work-bill-as-michigan-rolls-back-union-restricting-law 

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/3916061-trump-warns-of-potential-death-and-destruction-if-hes-indicted/

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/24/death-threat-to-manhattan-da-bragg-after-trump-warning.html

https://abcnews.go.com/US/meadows-top-trump-aides-ordered-testify-jan-6/story?id=98101813

https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/national-labor-relations-act#transcript

https://hotelworkers.org/article/michigan-becomes-a-so-called-right-to-work-state

https://www.law360.com/articles/1589920

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/12/11/166946294/michigan-lawmakers-poised-to-pass-right-to-work-bill-outraging-union-protesters

https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/michigans-right-to-work-law-could-be-overturned-by-states-democrat-leadership

https://www.mlive.com/news/2012/12/gov_snyder_signs_right-to-work.html



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Juan

Q. What's the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo?

A. A Hippo is really heavy, and a Zippo is a little lighter.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Something to Know - 24 March

You are used to seeing the good and the bad of politics on this page.  Today, however, there is something very important to know about our environment, and how we have abused or ignored our custody of it.   The story in the LA Times is about a submerged cloud of DDT off the pacific ocean.   We were advised a few years ago that the chemical was encased in concrete and dropped down into the water off of Catalina Island many years ago.   We then found out later that the concrete was deteriorating and that the field of concrete containers were leaking.   Today, we are learning about the harm it is doing to marine life, which is bad enough, but we do know that what ails the oceans has a way of entering our food stream via the food we eat and drink.   There will be action taken to find out how this can all be mitigated; it will be very expensive and marine and human life will endure fatal outcomes.   If we can take one thing away from all of this, it is that we need to control and regulate (you Libertarians pay attention) the manufacturing and disposal of what is made, with particular attention on what becomes of it all when the useful life of a product ends, and how to process the disposal.  We can invent and build things that make our lives easier and cheaper - but if we can't dispose of it properly, we should never manufacture them in the first place.  



Scientists uncover startling concentrations of pure DDT along seafloor off L.A. coast


Much of the toxic chemical dumped many decades ago never broke down.

First it was the eerie images of barrels leaking on the seafloor not far from Catalina Island. Then the shocking realization that the nation's largest manufacturer of DDT had once used the ocean as a huge dumping ground — and that as many as half a million barrels of its acid waste had been poured straight into the water.
Now, scientists have discovered that much of the DDT — which had been dumped largely in the 1940s and '50s — never broke down. The chemical remains in its most potent form in startlingly high concentrations, spread across a wide swath of seafloor larger than the city of San Francisco.
"We still see original DDT on the seafloor from 50, 60, 70 years ago, which tells us that it's not breaking down the way that [we] once thought it should," said UC Santa Barbara scientist David Valentine, who shared these preliminary findings Thursday during a research update with more than 90 people working on the issue. "And what we're seeing now is that there is DDT that has ended up all over the place, not just within this tight little circle on a map that we referred to as Dumpsite Two."
These revelations confirm some of the science community's deepest concerns — and further complicate efforts to understand DDT's toxic and insidious legacy in California. Public calls for action have intensified since The Times reported in 2020 that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, banned in 1972, is still haunting the marine environment today. Significant amounts of DDT-related compounds continue to accumulate in California condors and local dolphin populations , and a recent study linked the presence of this once-popular pesticide to an aggressive cancer in sea lions.
With a $5.6-million research boost from Congress, at the urging of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), numerous federal, state and local agencies have since joined with scientists and environmental nonprofits to figure out the extent of the contamination lurking 3,000 feet underwater. (An additional $5.2 million, overseen by California and USC Sea Grant , will be distributed this summer to kick off 18 more months of research.) The findings so far have been one stunning development after another. A preliminary sonar-mapping effort led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography identified at least 70,000 debris-like objects on the seafloor.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after combing through thousands of pages of old records, discovered that other toxic chemicals — as well as millions of tons of oil drilling waste — had also been dumped decades ago by other companies in more than a dozen areas off the Southern California coast.
"When the DDT was disposed, it is highly likely that other materials — either from the tanks on the barges, or barrels being pushed over the side of the barges — would have been disposed at the same time," said John Lyons, acting deputy director of the EPA's Region 9 Superfund Division. He noted that the new sci-ence being shared this week is critical to answering one of the agency's most burning questions: "Is the contamination moving? And is it moving in a way that threatens the marine environment or human health?"
In recent months, Valentine, whose research team had first brought this decades-old issue back into the public consciousness , has been mapping and collecting samples of the seafloor between the Los Angeles coast and Catalina.
Analysis of the sediment so far shows that the most concentrated layer of DDT is only about 6 centimeters deep — raising questions about just how easily these still-potent chemicals could be remobilized.
"Trawls, cable lays could reintroduce this stuff back up to the surface," Valentine said. "And animals feeding — if a whale goes down and burrows on the seafloor, that could kick stuff up."
On a chilly winter morning in between storms, Valentine and a team of students boarded the RV/Yellowfin and set out to collect more seafloor samples along key points of a hot-spot map that they've been piecing together.
As his students sliced and cataloged each layer of mud, they gasped in wonder at the tiny worms, snails and sea stars that lived so deep under the sea. They squinted at each tube that came out of the water and laughed apprehensively when asked about all the chemicals they were possibly holding in their hands.
"The goal is to collect as much mud as possible so that we don't have to come back out every time we have a question," Valentine explained as the ship's mechanical pulley churned for the eighth time that day. "We are starting to build a really exceptional data set … that will help us understand the time history of how things were transported, how they were transformed, and what their ultimate fate is."
Other scientists have also been chipping away at the many pieces to this deep-ocean puzzle.
Thursday's research updates included plans for the next Scripps mapping expedition, which will scan the seafloor with advanced sonar technology and take hundreds of thousands of photos. Microbiologists shared their latest studies into whether deep-sea microbes could possibly help biodegrade some of the contamination, and chemical oceanographers discussed the many ways they've been trying to identify "fingerprints" that could help determine where the DDT is coming from — and how and if it's moving.
Biological oceanographers, marine ecologists and fisheries scientists also started to connect some dots on the various organisms they've found living in the contaminated sediment, as well as the midwater species that could potentially move the chemicals from deeper waters up closer to the surface.
All of them noted that there were uncomfortably high concentrations of DDT and DDT-related compounds in the samples they studied. Even the "control" samples they tried to collect — as a way to compare what a normal sediment or fish sample farther away from the dumping area might look like — ended up riddled with DDT.
"This suggests to us, very preliminarily, that there's some connection potentially — there's connectivity in these deep food webs across the basins and across the system," said Lihini Aluwihare, a marine chemist at Scripps.
On top of all this research, the EPA has been developing its own sampling plan, in collaboration with a number of state and federal agencies, to get a grasp of the many other chemicals that had been dumped into the ocean. The hope, officials said, is that the groundbreaking science now underway on the deep-ocean DDT dumping will ultimately inform how future investigations of other offshore dump sites — whether along the Southern California coast or elsewhere in the country — could be conducted.
Mark Gold, an environmental scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council who has worked on the DDT problem since the 1990s, said that as he listened to the latest research discoveries, he couldn't help but think that "our nation's ocean dumpsites all have horrible contamination problems. And yet they are unmonitored."
There are also more shallow areas off the Palos Verdes coast and at the mouth of the Dominguez Channel that have been known DDT hot spots for decades. Figuring out how to clean up those contaminated areas in an underwater environment has been its own complicated saga .
For Katherine Pease at Heal the Bay, an environmental group that has been making sure the public remains engaged on this issue in substantive ways, these latest revelations have been eye-opening.
This is, after all, what it truly means to live with a "forever" chemical. After all these decades, scientists are still uncovering new and unsettling surprises about the full extent of the contamination.
"We're still grappling with this legacy of treating the ocean as a dumping ground," said Pease, Heal the Bay's science and policy director. "And the public — whether they're folks that like to fish ... or people who like to swim and visit the ocean — we all need to understand the history that went on, as well as the impacts. And partly that's to learn ... to make sure that we're able to protect our public health, but also to think about how we are treating the ocean now , as well as into the future."

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Juan

Q. What's the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo?

A. A Hippo is really heavy, and a Zippo is a little lighter.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Something to Know - 23 March

The disgusting swirl and stench of Trump's legal matters need to be put into perspective on the overall effect on our democratic system of elections, and our adherence to the rule of law.  We have people right now who are locked in prison for violations of the law.   Wonton disregard of the law, by using money and an endless string of lawyers is no excuse to let violators run free.  Our system of justice runs very slowly, and it grinds away at great expense, but it does achieve results.  HCR addresses these issues today, so that we do not get hung up on a small matter of a hush money payment; it is the essence of conning the American voters:


Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American heathercoxrichardson@substack.com Unsubscribe

Mar 22, 2023, 10:16 PM (12 hours ago)
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This week, news has been focused on the former president's possible indictment for paying $130,000 in hush money to adult film performer Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their 2006 affair before the 2016 election. The information currently being thrown about has been shaped by Trump himself and is obviously suspect (among other things, he has apparently raised $1.5 million since he claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday).

Although Republican lawmakers have no more idea than any of the rest of us do what the Manhattan grand jury might have seen, or what charges might be brought against Trump, they have tried to gloss over the scandal by claiming it is about a non-disclosure agreement or that it happened seven years ago or that its investigation is "a political witch hunt perpetrated by one of the far left radical socialist district attorneys," as Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said. But as journalist Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky explained today in Public Notice, the payment was a big deal in the larger scheme of American democracy.

Trump bought Daniels's silence because he was willing to break laws in order to get elected. Then–Trump fixer Michael Cohen paid Daniels for her story in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement. Cohen testified that he paid her through a shell company to keep Trump's connection to the payment hidden. Then Trump reimbursed Cohen for "legal fees."

That's a problem with regard to business filings and tax fraud. It is also a problem for the campaign finance laws intended to protect clean elections. Cohen's payment was a contribution to the Trump campaign because it was made "in order to influence the 2016 presidential election." The payment was intended to make sure voters didn't hear another sex scandal in October 2016, just after the Access Hollywood tape came out in which Trump talked vulgarly about sexually assaulting women, when it might have hurt his chances at election. The $130,000 contribution was far above the individual limit of $2,700, and the Trump campaign did not disclose it.

This is not small potatoes. When the issue came to light, Cohen pleaded guilty for his role in the payments, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. Cohen testified that he made the payments at Trump's direction.

This is also not an isolated incident. Trump has proved himself more than willing to cheat to win elections. In the 2020 presidential election season, before he tried to overthrow the election altogether, he tried to strong-arm Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into the son of the Democratic candidate about whom he was most worried: Joe Biden. Trump knew that the media would run with an announcement of an investigation, wounding Biden's candidacy by keeping the story in the news even without any real investigation behind it.

The Trump campaign had done much the same thing in 2016. According to the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, which investigated the ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, Trump's people were willing at the very least to work alongside Russian operatives to weaken Trump's Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign also boosted Trump's standing in the 2016 election season with the recurring refrain of the investigation into Secretary Clinton's emails, convincing voters—falsely—that she had committed crimes.

The pending issue of the hush-money payment is not just about 2016, and it is not just about Trump. That today's Republican leaders have not condemned any of his attempts to cheat speaks volumes about the party. As Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) pointed out today, when "Cohen was arrested, indicted, convicted, and went to prison for participating in an illegal hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels, not a single Republican leader complaining now said a thing about what happened to Michael Cohen." So why the rush to defend Trump in the same case?

It appears Republicans have gotten to the point that they don't believe they can win a free and fair election, and in their conviction that Democrats will destroy the country, they believe cheating to win is justified. They cannot condemn Trump because he delivered what they wanted: a victory.

In a democracy, the way parties are supposed to win elections is by making a better case for being in power than their opponents do. Losing elections is supposed to make leaders think deeply about how better to appeal to voters. That system keeps all parties constantly honing their policies, thinking through problems, benefiting their constituents.

Our election laws are designed to try to hold the playing field level, and a party should want to keep the system fair in order to keep itself healthy. But if a party is willing to cheat to win, it no longer has to work on policies that appeal to voters; it can simply game the system to dismantle the competition on which democracy depends and instead create a one-party state.

There are many legal problems in Trump's front yard these days. Some, like his theft of documents with markings bearing the highest level of classification and his attempt to overturn the Georgia results for the 2020 presidential election, are heating up fast, and their significance is clear.

But for all that the case we are currently hearing so much about seems less serious on its face than the other things charged to Trump's account, a hush-money payment to silence someone whose story might have affected the 2016 election is no laughing matter.

Notes:

Public Notice
By Noah Berlatsky Donald Trump may finally be facing something like consequences for his long history of criminality and corruption. The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is expected to charge the former president soon with crimes, including campaign finance violations…
18 hours ago · 80 likes · 12 comments · Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky

https://abcnews.go.com/US/manhattan-das-investigation-trump-stormy-daniels-hush-payment/story?id=97951106

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/michael-cohen-scheduled-to-be-sentenced-for-crimes-committed-while-working-for-trump/

https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/publications/report-select-committee-intelligence-united-states-senate-russian-active-measures

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Juan

Q. What's the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo?

A. A Hippo is really heavy, and a Zippo is a little lighter.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Something to Know - 18 March

Putin has been marked for arrest.   May not be an issue for him until he tries to visit outside of Russia.  However, how does this play out for those who associate with him?   There are apparently MAGA-style political leaders who think Putin is just a swell guy, and he is not a problem.   Potential presidential candidates will have to explain to the American voter around this minefield of a question.   Next, we have been alerted by former president Trump that he expects to be arrested and charged because of his conduct in the porn star hush money issue.....he is alerting us?   Trump did it to alert his base to protest and do his own "take America back" dance.   The Justice Department will need to figure out how to take him into custody; maybe SWAT armored vehicles will be called upon.   If the arrest takes place in Florida, will DeSantis help out the arrest by calling out his state's national guard?  Interesting confluence with both Putin and Trump being held accountable in the same time period.   By the way, there is a very interesting article in this month's Atlantic magazine on "The New Anarchy" by Adrienne LaFrance, which curates a history of violence by antisocial and violent prone movements.



Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American 

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The International Criminal Court today issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Putin's commissioner for children's rights, for war crimes:  kidnapping Ukrainian children and transporting them to Russia. Russia does not recognize the ICC, which is established at The Hague—the government seat of the Netherlands—and for its part, the Russian government claims its deportation program is humanitarian and patriotic. The international assessment that Putin and one of his top officials have personally engaged in war crimes drives another wedge between Putin and the rest of the Russian people as over time his inability to interact successfully with the rest of the world will have growing consequences for the people at home,

The arrest warrant is unlikely to put Putin in custody any time soon. But an official charge of war crimes will make it harder for other leaders and countries to associate with the Russian regime. Chinese president Xi Jinping is scheduled to travel to Russia next week for his first visit since Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Suddenly, that visit, which was fraught enough to begin with, has become more complicated.

Russia promptly announced that Putin and Xi will sign accords ushering in a "new era" of ties, while China's foreign ministry called the trip "a visit for peace." But the trip, coming after recent evidence that China has been supplying Russia with war materials, means its involvement with Russia could lead to sanctions against China, a hit that its currently fragile economy can't easily absorb. 

That the warrant focuses on children is also significant. Of the 123 countries that are parties to the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, 33 are African, 19 are in the Asia-Pacific region, 18 are in Eastern Europe, 28 are in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 25 are in Western Europe and elsewhere. All nations care about children, but the trafficking of children to serve as soldiers, sex slaves, drug mules, and so on, is an especially sensitive issue for many of the parties to the Rome Statute. 

The international assessment that Putin has engaged in war crimes is significant in the United States as well, even though the U.S. is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. The American right wing has held up Putin and his attack on the secular values of democracy as a model, saying that his rejection of LGBTQ rights, for example, and his alleged embrace of Christianity show how a modern nation can reclaim what they see as traditional virtue. Putin's arrest warrant for war crimes, centered in crimes against children, will make it harder to spin his authoritarianism as a virtue, especially as they claim their policies are designed to protect children.

The right-wing rejection of democracy was on display at a meeting of the Federalist Society in early March. Politico's Ian Ward covered the meeting. The Federalist Society organized in the 1980s to argue that the civil rights decisions of the past several decades corrupted democracy because liberal judges were "legislating from the bench" against the wishes of actual voters. The society's members claimed to stand for judicial restraint.

But now that their judges are on the bench, they have changed their philosophy. Last summer, after a Supreme Court stacked with Federalist Society members overturned the right to abortion, voters have tried to protect that right in the states. Now, according to Ward, the Federalist Society appears to be shifting away from the idea of judicial restraint in the face of popular votes and toward the idea that judges should "interpret the Constitution" in ways right-wing Americans support. They are quick to claim that democracy is not the answer: it would result, they say, in the tyranny of the majority. 

That abandonment of democracy is about more than just voting their folks into office. Right-wing figures frustrated by the secular values of democracy—religious freedom, companies that respond to markets without interference by the state, academic freedom, public schools, free speech, equality before the law—want to restore what they consider human virtue by using the state to enforce their values. 

Because they think all aspects of the modern U.S. have been corrupted by liberal democracy, people on the far right are eager to destroy those institutions and replace them. When Trump said, as he did yesterday, that "the greatest threat to Western civilization today is not Russia," he was echoing this ideology to mobilize his followers (even though his concerns are probably less to do with civilization than with his legal issues). His call for firing "deep staters" and reconstituting "the State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all of the rest" is an explicit call to radicalize our government. 

Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor, endorsed Trump's worldview, saying "Trump is absolutely right, our greatest threat currently is right here at home. We must 'fundamentally change' by severely reforming the government deep state bureaucracy. They (among many parts of our USG[overnment]) represent a menace to our way of life." (Flynn's ties to Russia forced him out of office, and he pleaded guilty to lying about them to the FBI; Trump pardoned him.)

Flynn has been on a far-right road tour across America since shortly after Trump left office, recruiting an "Army of God" to put Christianity at the center of American life and institutions. "At this ReAwaken America Tour, Jesus is King [and] President Donald J. Trump is our president," a co-organizer, Clay Clark, said. 

Kiera Butler of Mother Jones today explained how Flynn and his conspiracy-minded supporters have leveled a hate campaign against Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, accusing it of killing Covid patients by denying them the horse-deworming drug ivermectin. They have organized a group called The Hollow 2A to help "Americans gather to lawfully take back our country" with guns and activism at the local level. Along with two other groups, they are planning to swamp the hospital board meeting on Monday, acting as a groundswell of local activists protesting hospital malpractice when, in fact, they have joined forces to attack a hospital that adheres to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency.

Today Ohio joined five other Republican-dominated states—Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Missouri, and Florida—in leaving the Electronic Registration Information Center, a national data-sharing consortium that updates national voter rolls. Right-wing election deniers say that the bipartisan ERIC is controlled by left-wing groups that enable fraud. Those still belonging to ERIC deny all of the accusations and point out that getting rid of ERIC would get rid of one of the country's most powerful tools for stopping individuals from voting multiple times, as a number of people from Florida's The Villages did in 2020. 

In a sworn affidavit today, the top lawyer for the Capitol Police said that neither he nor the police chief was informed that anyone other than House members would see the video footage from January 6, 2021, that House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) permitted Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson and his staff to review. Republicans also ignored the Capitol Police's repeated requests to review and approve all of the footage that Carlson used on his show. Carlson tried to present the attack on the Capitol as a tourist visit as part of his narrative that the FBI and the Department of Justice are corrupt. 

But the attempt to destroy the fabric of our government has not yet succeeded. Today, in one of her last rulings before stepping down, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the D.C. District Court ordered Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to testify in the investigation into Trump's handling of classified documents. Howell agreed with Department of Justice prosecutors that discussions between Trump and Corcoran met the threshold for the crime-fraud exception, meaning that they are not covered by attorney-client privilege because they were part of a crime. 

Meanwhile, CNN's John Miller, as well as journalists from many other outlets, reports that sources in law enforcement are telling them that "senior staff members from the Manhattan district attorney's office, the New York State Court Officers—who provide security at the state Supreme Court building in lower Manhattan—and the New York Police Department" have been meeting all week to prepare for a possible indictment of the former president, as early as next week.

Notes:

https://www.icc-cpi.int/news/situation-ukraine-icc-judges-issue-arrest-warrants-against-vladimir-vladimirovich-putin-and

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2023/03/17/world/russia-ukraine-putin-news#the-international-criminal-court-issues-an-arrest-warrant-for-putin

https://asp.icc-cpi.int/states-parties

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-childsoldiers-factbox-trfn/factbox-ten-facts-about-child-soldiers-around-the-world-idUSKBN2AC0CB

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230317-xi-jinping-to-visit-russia-next-week

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/03/16/chinese-rifles-body-armor-russia-ukraine-00087398

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/03/17/federalist-society-democracy-opinion-00087270

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2021/11/19/22787269/conservatives-america-chris-rufo-patrick-deneen

https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-trump-flynn/trump-pardons-former-adviser-flynn-who-pleaded-guilty-in-russia-probe-idUSKBN28536B

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-resort-to-host-pro-qanon-speaking-tour-led-by-michael-flynn

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/michael-flynn-reawaken-america-tour/

https://apnews.com/article/reawaken-america-tour-michael-flynn-910e83b515185751be82868b227ca22e

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/03/mike-flynn-and-maga-activists-wage-war-against-a-florida-hospital/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/03/17/ohio-withdraws-eric-voter-rolls/

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/03/17/house-gop-capitol-police-jan-6-video-00087636

https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/16/politics/chief-judge-howell-boasberg

https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/17/politics/law-enforcement-prepare-possible-trump-indictment/index.html

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2023/01/30/4th-resident-of-the-villages-admits-to-voting-twice-in-the-2020-election/



--
****
Juan

Q. What's the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo?

A. A Hippo is really heavy, and a Zippo is a little lighter.