New York court: Woman must remove Confederate flag rock from driveway — or risk losing custody of her biracial child
A New York woman could lose custody of her daughter if she doesn't remove a Confederate flag display from her property.
In a unanimous 5-0 ruling , an appeals court in Albany ordered the Tompkins County woman to remove a rock from her driveway that's painted with a Confederate flag or risk a possible "change of circumstances" in the custody case of her multiracial daughter, reported the Times Union.
"Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child's best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance," wrote Justice Stanley Pritzker in the ruling.
The court allowed the woman and the girl's father to retain joint custody of their daughter, who was born in 2014 and goes to school near Ithaca, but the judges ordered the mother to remove the rock by June 1 or the Family Court would be obligated to consider its presence "into any future best interests analysis" for the child.
The mother testified at a fact-finding hearing that she had the Confederate flag-decorated rock outside her home, but she insisted that she did not act racist around the girl.
"In response to questioning, the mother testified that she has never used any racial slurs in front of the child or at all," the ruling said.
The child's law guardian told the newspaper that he believes the mother only recently moved into the home and he's not sure if she placed the rock there, but he backs the court's reasoning.
"I think it's appropriate," said Ithaca-based attorney Jason Leifer.
But he's concerned the ruling could lead to the future litigation of political views and opinions that could worsen already strained relationships and create tensions that aren't in a child's best interests.
"What's going to have to happen is this — if the issue is raised the court will need to hear evidence of the child how the child's well-being is negatively affected by a parent's views and opinions," Leifer said. "In some cases this will be easy, such as if a child is being indoctrinated into a hate group, but in many cases it won't be so easy."
Elise Stefanik is a shameless political shapeshifter — making her the perfect person to push fealty to Trump
I had never heard of congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-NY, until the House of Representatives hearings for Trump's first impeachment. She stormed into the national consciousness by repeatedly whining that Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was refusing to let her speak and became an overnight sensation. (He was not — she just used the opportunity to rant about how unfair the process was, instantly endearing herself to Republicans all over the country.) Donald Trump was so impressed with her obnoxious behavior that he tweeted: "A new Republican star is born!"
And her star has been rising ever since.
But as it happens, Stefanik was a woman in a hurry long before her breakout role as a pugnacious Donald Trump defender. Prior to volunteering as a Trump henchwoman, she had been seen as a moderate from New York, someone who with reservations about his leadership. She had the perfect GOP establishment resume, having attended Harvard, worked on staff in the Bush White House, on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and participated in such projects as the 2014 Republican "autopsy" which had recommended that the Party moderate and work to appeal to women, and racial and ethnic minorities. She was considered on the moderate side of the dial although she partnered with Congresswoman Liz Cheney at one point on a bill to halt the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan which put her firmly in the right-wing hawk camp. She's always had her bases covered.
But according to NPR reporter Brian Mann, who covered her since she first ran for congress in 2014, despite the stellar DC resume, Stefanik downplayed her credentials. Her pitch to the voters in her first race in 2014 was that she grew up in a small town in the district but it turned out that nobody there knew who she was. She was an excellent campaigner, however, who won her seat handily, and in the process making it clear to all the powers that be in the party that she was seriously pursuing a national profile.
2016 was a setback with the election of Donald Trump and she carefully calibrated her message to criticize while not making enemies. She sold herself as a "maverick" from a district that had long elected moderates but had voted for Trump by double digits. She voted against the Trump tax cuts, backed equal rights for LGBT citizens and supported the DREAM act. But in Trump's GOP she was going nowhere with that agenda.
So she switched gears and by the time the first impeachment came around she had become an enthusiastic Trump sycophant, a junior member of the exclusive club of important Trump henchmen like Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and Devin Nunes. She found a way to leverage her "bipartisan" record as a selling point by fatuously proclaiming that her support for Trump was particularly credible because it came out of her fealty to the Constitution, which is as Trumpy as it gets. By the time 2020 rolled around, she was one of the most vociferous purveyors of the Big Lie, even when some of the others were tiptoeing around the subject. As Mann put it on Twitter:
"Throughout the process [Stefanik] showed steady ambition, an ability to adapt and evolve her politics, and a willingness to shed old loyalties and allies while amplifying factual untruths when necessary. Her brand may be a perfect match for the modern GOP"
It's clear that she is a shameless political shapeshifter. But it turns out that her real talent is demagoguery and flamboyant outrage which, again, makes her the perfect woman for the moment.
During Trump's first impeachment trial, after her star turn on the Intelligence Committee, she was chosen to be on Trump's team of defenders (as opposed to his defense team) along with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina. They would gather in the basement of the Capitol every day with members of the press eager to hear their latest broadsides against the Democrats and "the process." They were obviously working hand in glove with the White House and the defense team to spin the trial although they insisted they weren't.
The 2020 election found Stefanik in loony Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood territory when it came to The Big Lie. There were lots of Republicans hemming and hawing, trying to walk the line between Trump's petulant refusal to accept his loss and the reality that they had to move on. But Stefanik was all in, even going so far as to issue a statement explaining her decision to vote against certifying the election on the morning of the January 6th Insurrection, in which she lied blatantly about the vote count in Georgia:
This week she went on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's podcast and enthusiastically backed the asinine Arizona recount in which an outside group is currently examining ballots for signs of bamboo in the paper in order to prove that they were part of a ballot-stuffing scheme sponsored by China.
It was a short trip from maverick, bipartisan, modern Republican to flagrant Trumpian liar in just a few years. Of course, she isn't alone. Freedom Caucus members like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan used to pretend to care about "fiscal responsibility" until Trump came along and made GOP politics solely about media attention, owning libs, and fighting the culture wars. (That's what it had been for a very long time but Trump freed them from having to pretend otherwise.)
So now Stefanik is poised to join the leadership of the party by taking the place of Liz Cheney, the party's human sacrifice to their angry god, Donald Trump. Both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his deputy Steve Scalise of Louisiana have thrown their support behind Stefanik and Trump released a statement on Wednesday giving her his "COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement," calling her a "tough and smart communicator" so she's pretty much a shoo-in.
There are some distant rumblings from the ragged remnants of the right-wing conservative movement, like Ann Coulter and The Club for Growth, because of her record of squishiness on issues they care about such as immigration and tax cuts. In fact, her voting record is far more moderate than Cheney's.
But that's not really relevant, is it?
The Republican party is no longer concerned with old-fashioned notions like "issues." This is about fealty to the Big Lie and The Big Liar to be sure. But it's really about maintaining power for its own sake, by any means necessary. Elise Stefanik is a woman who instinctively understands that and has proven over and over again in her short career that she is willing to do whatever it takes.
Ex-DeSantis' staffers form 'support group' to share tales of bullying from governor and his wife: report
According to a report from Politico's Playbook, former staffers who worked for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) are getting together to commiserate over working conditions they endured under the controversial governor when he was still a member of the House -- as well as the demands of his wife.
DeSantis, who has his eye on the 2024 GOP presidential nomination should Donald Trump not run again, has been attempting to increase his national profile in what is expected to be a large field of GOP contenders that could include both of Florida's U.S. Senators Marco Rubio or Rick Scott. With that higher profile comes more pressure and the governor is being accused of bullying staffers as well as placing blame on them when things didn't go his way on his climb to the top in the state.
According to Politico, the Republican governor "...left behind a trail of former disgruntled staffers and has no long-standing political machine to mount a national campaign."
Noting, "We talked to a dozen or so onetime aides and consultants to the Florida governor, and they all said the same thing: DeSantis treats staff like expendable widgets. He largely relies on a brain trust of two: himself and his wife, Casey DeSantis, a former local TV journalist," the report states.
Summing up the relationship between the governor, his wife and his staff, one former employee bluntly stated, "Loyalty and trust, that is not a currency he deals in. It's him and Casey. But everyone else is like a disposable piece of garbage."
Case in point, Politico reports: DeSantis often blames his staff for his own blunders, we're told. After DeSantis went on Fox News in 2018 and implored Florida voters not to 'monkey this up' by supporting his African American Democratic opponent for governor, he and his wife chewed out his campaign staff for not cleaning up the mess, according to three former staffers. Shortly after, DeSantis brought in a whole new group of advisers."
Staffers were also appalled at how he treated an official recovering from cancer surgery.
"At the beginning of his administration, DeSantis directed the Florida Republican Party leader to fire a party official who had cancer — on that person's first week back from surgery," five different ex-staffers told Playbook which gets to the point that the governor doesn't see his aides as people worthy of consideration.
According to Politico, "Aides would lure DeSantis to staff meetings with cupcakes, saying that it was a colleague's birthday to get him to attend. In the gubernatorial primary, DeSantis visited his campaign headquarters just a couple of times. On election night, he entered the war room after his win and remarked, 'Wow, I didn't know this many people worked for me,' according to four former staffers."
You can read more here.
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