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Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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Is American democracy already lost? Half of us think so -- but the future remains unwritten

Is American democracy already lost? Half of us think so — but the future remains unwritten
New poll finds that more than half of all Americans think democracy is toast. But that's only true if we surrender

PUBLISHED JUNE 23, 2022 6:30AM (EDT)

(Salon) The American people understand that their democracy and their society are in deep trouble. But they do not agree on who or what is the cause of the problem, and do not share a common understanding of basic facts. To make matters worse there is a kind of sinister synergy between America's democracy crisis and other serious problems facing the country, which risks creating a state of collective paralysis.

During his prepared comments before the House Jan. 6 committee last Thursday, retired judge J. Michael Luttig, a lifelong conservative Republican who advised former Vice President Mike Pence before and during Donald Trump's coup attempt, issued this dire warning:

A stake was driven through the heart of American democracy on Jan. 6, 2021, and our democracy today is on a knife's edge.

America was at war on that fateful day, but not against a foreign power. She was at war against herself. We Americans were at war with each other — over our democracy.

Jan. 6 was but the next, foreseeable battle in a war that had been raging in America for years, though that day was the most consequential battle of that war even to date. In fact, Jan. 6 was a separate war unto itself, a war for America's democracy, a war irresponsibly instigated and prosecuted by the former president, his political party allies, and his supporters. Both wars are raging to this day. … America is now the stake in these unholy wars. … America is adrift. We pray that it is only for this fleeting moment that she has lost her way, until we Americans can once again come to our senses.

In response to a question from committee chairman Bennie Thompson about the danger to the republic still represented by Trump and his supporters, Luttig elaborated further:

Almost two years after that fateful day … Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.

That's not because of what happened on Jan. 6. It is because, to this very day, the former president and his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election, they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.

If there are any reasonable and intelligent Americans who continue to doubt that this country is in the midst of an existential crisis, facing the dangers of Trumpism and a growing white supremacist authoritarian movement, Luttig's words should shock them back into reality.

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll adds even more weight to Luttig's warnings about American democracy as it teeters on the precipice of irrecoverable disaster. The lead finding is that more than half of those surveyed, across the political spectrum — 55% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans — believe it is "likely" that the United States will "cease to be a democracy in the future."


This situation is undeniably bewildering, and deliberately so. But for pro-democracy Americans, inaction is not an option. That will inevitably lead to defeat. In military terms, a successful ambush is almost always disorienting, but the best option is always to fight back, not hunker down. The Republican-fascists and their allies want the American people to feel so confused and overwhelmed by their unending attack on democracy, the rule of law, the common good and basic human decency that they essentially turn away, close their eyes and surrender. In essence, the Republican-fascist movement is using their own version of a political "shock and awe" strategy here at home against the American people.

The Lincoln Project recently offered this evaluation of America's democracy crisis:

After three [Jan. 6 committee] hearings we know for certain the nation is at one of the most dangerous moments in its history. These revelations will not change the true MAGA believers mind but will cause them to double and triple down on the "Big Lie" — making them more dangerous and perhaps more violent. Every single American needs to decide if they are the side of the seditionists who tried to tear down a free and fair election, or do they support our Republic and its democratic principles?

In short, the American people must act with deliberate purpose and speed if they hope to save their democracy and society. Voting is of course necessary, but by itself is insufficient. "Hashtag activism," with its "likes" and "shares" and memes, is for the most part symbolic or performative politics that accomplishes little or nothing in the long run, and may actually be counterproductive if people mistake it for real action. In the long-term struggle, substantive movement-building and organizing will be required to defeat fascism in America and around the world. ..........(more)


Far-Right Anti-Vaxxers Aren't Just Influencing Americans

(Slate) Last year, Saphinah Kenyando was struggling to decide whether to get vaccinated against COVID. Kenyando, who is 38 and teaches chemistry and biology at a high school in Kenya, had read about horrifying side effects—blood clots, long-term disabilities—that sounded worse than the virus itself. She watched a (possibly doctored) clip from former U.S. President Donald Trump saying that the effects included gruesome facial deformities that develop as a person ages. And she wondered whether the rumors circulating on Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube were true: that a person could take the jab and drop dead shortly thereafter.

In addition to working as a teacher, Kenyando also serves as the school chess coach, a duty she takes very seriously. She believes the game imparts valuable lessons to students: Make the right move, and you’ll reap the benefits. Make the wrong one, and you’ll be forced to deal with the fallout. “Chess is life,” she says. “Every decision we make in life is about the game of chess.” That’s how Kenyando framed her own decision on whether to get herself and her children vaccinated against COVID. She decided to hold off until she had more information.

The misleading posts Kenyando had seen were just a small portion of the avalanche of disinformation that flowed through social media in Kenya as the pandemic intensified and the virus infiltrated the households of everyday Kenyans. Wanja Kimani, a house cleaner in Nairobi, read that the vaccine could cause mental illness. Lucy Wambui, a human rights activist in Nairobi, heard that COVID doesn’t exist in the slum where she lives and concluded that the vaccine is a way to control populations in neighborhoods like hers. She warned her own elderly father that he shouldn’t get vaccinated.

In the United States, the proliferation of disinformation about COVID vaccines and treatments has been widely publicized, and most of these myths come from a few powerful influencers. Last year, the anti-extremism group Center for Countering Digital Hate found that 65 percent of vaccine disinformation on Facebook and Twitter came from just 12 people, including the activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the natural lifestyle influencer Joseph Mercola. The target audience, the media reports, is in bastions of American conservatism—in rural communities, among evangelical Christians, and among Trump voters.

But there is increasing evidence that American vaccine disinformation campaigns don’t stop at the borders. Over the last year, global public health experts have documented rising rates of vaccine hesitancy in other parts of the world, from Africa to South Asia, from Eastern Europe to South America. While some disinformation is locally sourced, these experts have traced many of the myths to American anti-vaccine activists who create an onslaught of social media content at virtually no cost, says Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which is based in the United Kingdom. They can afford to “flood the zone and see what sticks,” he says. In the United States, it might be a patriotic meme about how vaccine mandates are a form of government overreach; in other parts of the world, a post that plays up historical distrust of Western interference into local communities might gain more traction. Each piece of disinformation has a way of finding “the right audience,” Ahmed says, “like a homing missile.” ...........(more)


Michigan DNR warns: Watch out for moose when driving in the Upper Peninsula

(Detroit Free Press) Keep an eye out for moose and exercise extra caution when driving in the dark, the Department of Natural Resources is telling motorists in the Upper Peninsula.

In the last week, five bull moose have been struck and killed by drivers on portions of M-95 and U.S Highways 141 and 41 West in Marquette and Baraga counties. All were killed after dark, and darker-colored bull are even more difficult to see.

“Each of these accidents occurred in areas marked with ‘moose crossing’ signs,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer.

Moose are native to Michigan. They are currently found in two areas of the Upper Peninsula: a reintroduced population in Marquette, Baraga and Iron counties, and a smaller remnant population in the eastern U.P., found primarily in Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce and Chippewa counties, according to the DNR. The western U.P. moose range covers about 1,400 square miles. ...................(more)


Toronto City Council moves design forward for Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront East LRT projects

Toronto City Council moves design forward for Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront East LRT projects
June 17, 2022

The Eglinton East LRT project will connect traditionally underserved communities while the Waterfront East LRT will provide rapid transit to the East Bayfront.
Mass Transit Staff Report

On June 15, the Toronto City Council advanced two light-rail transit (LRT) projects: the Eglinton East LRT and the Waterfront East LRT.

The city council previously voted in December 2020 to support the projects by having staff continue their evaluations on each project. The vote on June 15 will advance designs of the projects.

“We’re seeing unprecedented transit expansion in our city. These two LRT projects are just as important as the other major transit projects already under construction. For the first time in our city’s history, we have a more than $28 billion transit plan approved and funded by all three governments – the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto. I am just as determined to get both the Eglinton East LRT and Waterfront East LRT built because I know they will make a meaningful difference for everyone traveling in these areas,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The planned 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) Eglinton East LRT will connect historically underserved communities by extending the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Kennedy Station through the University of Toronto Scarborough to Malvern with 21 stops and connections to GO Transit. ...............(more)


Man dressed as cow among several arrested in drug house bust

(WSVN) - Several people were arrested in a drug house bust in Florida, including one suspect taken to jail in a one-piece cow suit.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement Friday in a Facebook post.

According to the post, on Friday, members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force and the Special Response Team served a probable cause narcotics search warrant on a home in Okeechobee.

Methamphetamine, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia were located inside the home, leading to the arrests of Richard Anthony Bonnell, David Allen Lewis, Loren Johnston, Monique Rumsley, Karlie Lacey and Kimberly Stein. ...............(more)


The Far-Right's Assault On An Idaho Pride Event Was Meticulously Planned

(HuffPost) At a Republican fundraiser in Stateline, Idaho, a local GOP official named Dan Bell was excited to introduce the next speaker.

“He’s definitely not OK with trans or any of that gay shit,” Bell, youth chair of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, said into the microphone as the crowd laughed. “Please give it up for Dave Reilly!”

Reilly took the stage that day, April 16, to cheers. “A big round of applause for our Sheriff Norris, who keeps us safe!” Reilly said, pointing to Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris in the crowd, according to video footage obtained by HuffPost. Reilly is a white nationalist who recently moved to Idaho and aims to take over the state political system from the ground up.

In the crowd with the sheriff was a mix of fellow white nationalists, along with Proud Boys, militiamen and a far-right bike gang. Over the ensuing two months, what bound this group together was a deep ire toward LGBTQ people and a desire to stop a Pride event in nearby Coeur D’Alene on June 11.

With the blessing of local Republican officials and using the same rhetoric as many GOP politicians nationwide, this far-right coalition churned out propaganda falsely labeling Pride as a haven for “groomers” and “pedophiles.” Participants also issued warnings to would-be Pride attendees: We’ll be there to confront you, and we’ll be armed. ............(more)


Trump wanted a different insurrection: Jan. 6 hearing reveals violent intent behind Pence plot

Trump wanted a different insurrection: Jan. 6 hearing reveals violent intent behind Pence plot
Trump and his henchmen may very well have known their actions would incite an insurrection — from Biden voters

PUBLISHED JUNE 17, 2022 9:57AM

(Salon) Over the many months of revelations about Donald Trump's attempted coup, one lingering question has rarely been asked: What would have come next if Vice President Mike Pence had done what they asked?

A collective "Oh well, I guess Trump is president for another four years after all" from the country sounds unlikely, to say the least. And if the courts had become involved, it's hard to imagine that Trump's followers would have been any less angry than they already were. So, what was the plan?

Thursday's January 6th Committee hearing finally addressed that question, at least obliquely, through testimony by Donald Trump's staff and Mike Pence's inner circle. The answer was not comforting.

This third hearing discussed the campaign to pressure Pence, then the vice president, into overturning the election — and what a campaign it was. The main player in this scheme was Republican lawyer John Eastman, who appears to have been a Trump true believer (as well as a highly credentialed, conservative, constitutional scholar) who offered his services to serve Trump's pre-fabricated conspiracy theory that the election had been stolen. Trump was apparently pleased with his devotion to the Big Lie and Eastman quickly became the primary January 6th coup plotter.


It is pretty clear that Eastman knew there was a good chance for serious bloodshed if Pence overturned the election. And I think it's fair to say that Trump knew that too. In fact, he was probably welcoming it. It would give him the chance to do what he'd been wanting to do for ages: invoke the Insurrection Act. ...........(more)


Wanna bolster your chances in a Republican primary? Get arrested.

(Detroit Metro Times) Getting arrested by the FBI is usually a death knell for political candidates.

But not for Ryan Kelley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who was arrested by the FBI last week for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

With less than two months before the primary election, Kelley is now leading the pack of five Republican candidates vying to face Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November, according to an EPIC-MRA of Lansing poll.

In the poll, conducted between June 10 and 13, Kelley was ahead, with 17% saying they preferred the alleged insurrectionist. ............(more)


Yes, Donald Trump is an "American monster": But he wasn't built by a mad scientist

Yes, Donald Trump is an "American monster": But he wasn't built by a mad scientist
Maureen Dowd's description overlooks a crucial point: It took decades of America's decay to birth this monster

PUBLISHED JUNE 17, 2022 6:30AM

(Salon) In a recent New York Times column, Maureen Dowd describes Donald Trump as an "American monster." This is an entirely reasonable view, but American society is mired in such a state of malignant normality that this monster has tens of millions of followers, who worship his greed, criminality and cruelty.

Dowd contrasts Trump to the monster in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," who begins with "elegance of mind and sweetness of temperament, reading Goethe's 'The Sorrows of Young Werther' and gathering firewood for a poor family." But then his creator, Victor Frankenstein, abandons and rejects him, refusing to make him a mate:

The creature finds no one who does not recoil in fear and disgust from his stitched-together appearance, his yellow skin and eyes, and black lips. Embittered, he seeks revenge on his creator and the world.

"Every where I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded," he laments. "I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend."

Before he disappears into the Arctic at the end of the book, he muses that once he had "high thoughts of honour," until his "frightful catalogue" of malignant deeds piled up.

Shelley's monster, unlike ours, has self-awareness, and a reason to wreak havoc. He knows how to feel guilty and when to leave the stage. Our monster's malignity stems from pure narcissistic psychopathy — and he refuses to leave the stage or cease his vile mendacity.


But who created this American monster? Donald Trump was not built by a deranged scientist in a secret lab. He is not an orphan, and did not emerge out of nowhere. He was the almost inevitable result of a decades-long assault by the "conservative" movement aimed at ending American democracy (especially multiracial democracy) and replacing it with a pseudo-democratic authoritarian state, perhaps organized under the system political theorist Sheldon Wolin described as "inverted totalitarianism."

As part of that long-term assault, most or all the historic victories of the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, the gay rights movement, the labor and environmental movements and other struggles for human dignity and a more just society are being rolled back. If this project succeeds, America's already threadbare social safety net will be virtually eliminated. White Christian fascists and corporate plutocrats will forge a ruling coalition with near-total dominion over American life and society. The separation of church and state, along with the guarantee of free speech and most of the Bill of Rights, will disappear.

There is no longer a "normal" or "traditional" version of the Republican Party for so-called conservatives to return to. Even those conservatives who have disavowed or denounced the Trump movement are implicated in his rise. They are like political Dr. Frankensteins, horrified by what they have created but unable to kill it. Over the course of decades, they painstakingly built the monster and created the blueprint for American fascism. .........(more)


DC/VA/MD: How to get around this fall's Blue, Yellow Metro line construction

(WTOP) Metro has released details about travel alternatives aimed at helping riders prepare for significant Blue and Yellow line construction that’s set to begin in September.

Work to connect the future Potomac Yard Station with the mainline rail system and to rehabilitate the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations is scheduled to begin on Saturday, Sept. 10.

The work will result in no rail service south of Reagan National Airport for a month and a half next fall and no Yellow Line service crossing the Potomac River until next spring.

Metro said free shuttle bus service will be available for customers “throughout the duration” and said it will also run more frequent Blue and Green line service. ............(more)


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