American fascists are in an arms race

Ron DeSantis appears to have succeeded in his attempt to bully the College Board into stripping Black Lives Matter, discussion of gay Black thought leaders, and multiple well-known Black authors from their African American Studies Advance Placement course.

Over at the Popular.info newsletter, Judd Legum et al noted yesterday that the College Board’s revenue is increasingly coming from selling these courses (more and more students aren’t taking the SATs — their other revenue source — as colleges move away from basing admissions on testing), so to maintain their viability and their CEO’s $2.5 million annual salary, they apparently decided they pretty much had to bow to DeSantis’ threats and those from the right wingers who preceded him and he was imitating.

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Tucker Carlson, Joe Biden and whale beachings

We aren’t whaleologists — actually, the term is cetologist; we just looked it up — but neither is Tucker Carlson. So take it with all the grains of salt in the ocean when the Fox News gasbag blames Joe Biden for an elevated rate of whale deaths off the Atlantic Coast. Carlson’s rant, “The Biden Whale Extinction,” claims an uptick in offshore wind exploration for a die-off. That exploration involves some targeted sound mapping that may be upsetting whales’ navigation systems. As pure PR strategy, Carlson’s theory floats: Everyone loves whales, so if something can be blamed for killing whales, e...

The digital age is destroying the art of the letter

A “Collection of Chicago Postal History,” an assemblage of thousands of letters, will be auctioned in March by H.R. Harmer Fine Stamp Auctions of New York City. Nearly all were originally mailed from Chicago. They were found and collected over decades by Leonard Piszkiewicz, a retiree and former Chicagoan now living in Northern California. The letters resurrect Chicago history; some were sent more than 200 years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “About 200 items will be offered individually, with the rest divided into groups. Minimum starting bids are expected to range from about $50 to seve...

Of course lying George Santos has ties to Florida. It’s where truth ‘comes to die’

So, liar extraordinaire George Santos has ties to Florida! Where’s the surprise? To partially quote our illustrious governor, a fibber himself, this is the state where truth “comes to die.” The New York congressman may claim the current title of Most Prolific Liar in the Lot, his biographical whoppers running deep across cities and continents. But lying in Florida has become acceptable political practice for the state GOP. It’s strategy that wins elections all the time. Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, for example, launched her campaign against former University of Miami president Donna Sha...

America finally facing politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness and willingness to see people die

Rosaline is a 60-year-old Floridian who hopes she doesn’t get seriously ill because she’d be wiped out by the increase in her already burdensome medical debt. She has no insurance, and won’t qualify for Medicare for another 5 years.

Ron DeSantis is just fine with this. Cruelty is his trademark.

During the pandemic, Congress appropriated billions to help states expand their Medicaid programs. That money is coming to an end this year, meaning Florida — which refused to expand Medicaid with the federal subsides offered by the Affordable Care Act — is set to throw another 2 million or so residents off their only possible source of health insurance.

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Kansas GOP lawmakers want these bills to horrify you and your friends

The cruelty is the point.

That’s the only impression left after watching state Sen. Mike Thompson’s latest foul attack on LGBTQ people.

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Cops act as occupying armies to maintain the white-power status quo

Tyre Nichols getting beaten to death has sparked another round of debate over American policing. Let’s cut to the chase. First, very little will change as long as policing is determined by state laws and local authorities who are exquisitely attuned to the needs and desires of the white-power status quo.

Probably the best we can do is devise some sort of national system in which officers are recruited from around the country to create a body of police as diverse as the body of the republic. It should be thoroughly trained according to universally accepted law enforcement standards and socialized to accept and advance the immense honor of wearing a badge.

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Israel and Iran are in a state of escalation, with the US on the razor’s edge

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is spending part of this week in the Middle East, where he’s scheduled to meet with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian officials to reduce the roiling violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But you can bet that Blinken will also take this opportunity to refocus attention on another issue that is simmering to a near boiling point: Iran and its ongoing nuclear program. By its own actions, Israel has forced the subject on the agenda. Last weekend, three drones struck an Iranian Ministry of Defense facility in the city of Isfahan that was reportedly connecte...

Conspiracy nation: The rise of Trump, QAnon and mass shootings

America is a conspiracy nation awash with guns. It is an exceptionally deadly combination.

The antisemitic QAnon conspiracy theory, for example, has been linked to many incidents of lethal violence, most notably the Jan. 6 coup attempt at the Capitol orchestrated by Donald Trump.

The white supremacist great replacement theory is an absurd and fantastical lie that there is a plot by Democrats and other so-called multiculturalists working in the name of diversity to eliminate white people and replace them with Black and brown people in the United States and Europe. It has been propagated by the likes of Fox News' Tucker Carlson, the network's biggest star. And it has been directly linked to hate crimes like the May 2022 massacre of 10 Black people in a supermarket in Buffalo by an avowed white supremacist.

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A monstrous abuse of power

One of the most mysterious chapters of former Attorney General Bill Barr's tenure at the Department of Justice got a little sunlight last week when the New York Times published a deeply reported piece on the Durham Investigation, Donald Trump's "investigation of the Mueller investigation." We knew that Special Counsel John Durham, a man whose reputation was one of seriousness and rectitude, had only brought two prosecutions but failed to win convictions in both. And we knew that there had been turmoil in his office with several people resigning at what seemed to be pivotal moments in the case. But, until now, we didn't know the details — and they are explosive.

The Times story, reported by Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, essentially reveals that the investigation which was supposed to blow the lid off of the Russia investigation by proving that it was a "partisan witch hunt," was itself a witch hunt — only on behalf of Trump. Barr was enabling and covering for Trump throughout his tenure as we saw with his preemptive press conference to diminish the Mueller Report and mislead the public as to its conclusions and his willingness to back Trump's strategy to discredit Vote-By Mail during the 2020 campaign. Even when he finally deserted the sinking ship in December of 2020, his letter of resignation showered Trump with praise even as he knew he was plotting to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. But the Durham investigation was his personal project and it turns out that it was a monstrous abuse of power.

The whole point of naming a Special Counsel is to remove the taint of political interference by keeping a distance between the politically appointed Attorney General and the investigation. Barr did not do that. In fact, he directly participated in the probe by traveling overseas to the United Kingdom and Italy with Durham to interrogate their intelligence officials about whether they helped American investigators frame Trump which apparently offended them to no end since they did nothing of the sort. Durham and Barr became bosom buddies, throwing back scotch together at the end of the work day and having dinner on a regular basis. And Barr, who was convinced that the CIA had created the whole "Russia hoax," eagerly ran interference with the Intelligence agencies for him as needed. Evidently, Durham was very taken with Barr and agreed from the get-go that Trump had been set up.

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Donald Trump is the worst kind of fool

On Saturday, January 28, former President Donald Trump made the first speech of his 2024 presidential campaign since he announced his run back in November. Speaking at the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Trump claimed he was more committed than he had been in his previous two runs to campaigning and launching a grassroots effort.

He also revealed that he had a new angle to the way he wanted to frame his story of what is wrong in the United States under Joe Biden's administration. According to Trump, he is always thinking about the United States, but the other day, he had an idea of a good way to describe what he thinks is wrong. Then he decided to share it with a few buddies to see if it made sense to them:

"It's sort of strange, but I think of the United States, every day is April Fools' day. And they said, sir, what do you mean by that? I don't like the sound of that. I said, listen to this, and I just gave a couple of ideas. We have open borders when they should be closed. It's April Fools' Day. We have prisoners, people from as we just said mental institutions, and terrorists being dumped into our country when they should not be accepted. April Fools' Day, right? Who would do that? Who would do this? Who would allow prisoners in?"

Yeah, that's right. Donald Trump's big epiphany is that every day that Biden is in office is like April Fools' Day.

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Is the white working class ready to trade in some of their whiteness?

One of the major narratives about working-class white Americans - white people without college degrees - has been that they vote against their economic interests. They have shifted to the right since the mid-1990s and support policies that may preserve their cultural identity but do little to address their economic downslide. Restricting abortion is a winning issue with them, but not raising the minimum wage. Banning critical race theory is a top priority, but not universal health care.

Consider Barack Obama’s infamous 2008 remarks about Midwestern working-class voters: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

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A Kansas woman killed her abuser: At every level — in every instance — the system failed her.

The story of Sarah Gonzales-McLinn is one of incomprehensible abuse and personal redemption.

It’s also one of baffling, and repeated, institutional failure.

At every step, those who might have been expected to care for and protect a victim of grooming and human trafficking looked the other way. They retreated into legalistic formalities. All the while, a woman who thought she had no other option than to kill her rapist sits in prison for at least a quarter century.

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