Friday, August 11, 2023

Crooked Clarence continues making a mockery out of the taxpayers

The Supreme Court has many corrupt justices but none is worse than Crooked Clarence Thomas.  Darragh Roche (NEWSWEEK) reports:

Calls are growing for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to resign following a report about previously undisclosed gifts to the justice including 38 vacations.
Social-media users, including Democratic members of Congress, called for Thomas to step down from the nation's highest court on Thursday in the latest round of criticism directed at him.

ProPublica reported on Thursday that Thomas had received vacations, including a previously unreported trip on a yacht around the Bahamas, as well as 26 private jet flights and eight helicopter flights, among other gifts.

Thomas, who is the longest-serving member of the current Supreme Court, has previously faced calls for an investigation into his relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow and demands that he face impeachment.

ProPublica reported that Thomas had received gifts from three other billionaires. They are Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol; oil businessman Paul "Tony" Novelly; and H. Wayne Huizenga, who helped to grow Blockbuster.

The outlet also said that Thomas may have violated the law by failing to disclose flights, yacht cruises and sports tickets, citing ethics experts.

He does need to resign.  But Chief Justice John Roberts lacks the spine to tell him that.  Roberts is probably working his own corruption racket, in fact.  He was appointed to the Court the same year as crooked Samuel Alito.  Martin Shiel (THE MESSENGER) notes:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) recently appeared on MSNBC’s Lawrence O'Donnell show and lamented the whole Clarence Thomas RV acquisition deal, saying it was suspicious and raised significant tax questions that needed to be answered. 

The senator did not detail his tax concerns, so let me.

According to the New York Times, Justice Thomas paid $267,230 in November 1999, for a used Prevost Marathon recreational vehicle, which the Times described as a "condo on wheels" and the “Rolls Royce of motor coaches."

The Times further quoted Thomas as telling friends that "he scrimped and saved" to make his dream purchase.

However, the Times discovered that Anthony Welters — a longtime friend of Thomas’s and a wealthy executive at United Health — provided at least some of the financing. It’s unclear exactly how much, but the Times outlined Thomas’s existing debt at the time and quoted experts saying he would have been unlikely to get a conventional bank loan for the luxury purchase.

Welters told the Times: "Twenty-five years ago, I loaned a friend money … He used it to buy a recreational vehicle, which is a passion of his.” Roughly nine years later, he said, "the loan was satisfied." 

Welters further provided the Times with a copy of a purported lien release dated Nov. 22, 2008. Yet, until recently, Fairfax County, Va., still listed Welters as the lienholder.

What gives?

If there was a legitimate loan, then a valid loan agreement — with an interest rate and repayment schedule — should be available to peruse, but none was forthcoming when the Times requested it. 

Also, a potential six-figure loan to a Justice of the Supreme Court likely should have compelled the reporting of such a large liability on the annual disclosure form required of each member of the Court — especially if the terms were not what one would expect from a commercial loan. Nor has Thomas disclosed the RV or any part of its financing as a gift, which would be required under a number of circumstances, particularly if portions of the private loan had been forgiven.

Something smells in Denmark — or at least in the Virginia driveway of Justice Thomas.


On these gifts, Ayelet Sheffey (BUSINESS INSIDER) looks at the gift givers:

One of the funders of those gifts was David Sokol, a billionaire and former executive at Berkshire Hathaway. According to the report, Sokol had treated Thomas to five Nebraska sporting events in recent years, and he flew Thomas by private jet to his ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2019.

Sokol has also been a vocal opponent of President Joe Biden's student-debt relief plans. During a speech in October where Thomas was not in attendance, Sokol criticized Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers, reportedly saying during his remarks obtained by ProPublica that "it's going to get overturned by the Supreme Court."

Wow.  Don't you wish you had access to a Supreme Court judge so you could make your political views known as you gifted the corrupt judge?  Back to the article:

Months later, the Supreme Court in June indeed struck down the student-debt relief, with Thomas voting in the majority. Sokol told ProPublica that he has "never once discussed any pending court matter" with Thomas.

"Our conversations have always revolved around helping young people, sports, and family matters," he said.

This is not the first time Thomas has come under fire for accepting undisclosed gifts from billionaires. In April, ProPublica published a separate investigation on the luxury trips Thomas was gifted by Harlan Crow, a Republican megadonor, to which Thomas released a statement saying that he "sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable."

Martin Pengelly (GUARDIAN) notes some of the Congressional response:

Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat and chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, rendered an especially damning verdict.

“Unprecedented. Stunning. Disgusting. The height of hypocrisy to wear the robes of a [supreme court justice] and take undisclosed gifts from billionaires who benefit from your decisions. 38 free vacations. Yachts. Luxury mansions. Skyboxes at events. Resign,” she posted.

From the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic judiciary committee chair, said: “The latest … revelation of unreported lavish gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas makes it clear: these are not merely ethical lapses. This is a shameless lifestyle underwritten for years by a gaggle of fawning billionaires.”

The ProPublica report followed extensive previous reporting, by the non-profit and competitors including the New York Times, of undisclosed gifts to Thomas from a series of mega-rich donors.

Supreme court justices are nominally subject to ethics rules for federal judges but in practice govern themselves.

Durbin said Thomas and Samuel Alito, another arch-conservative justice who did not declare gifts, had “made it clear they’re oblivious to the embarrassment they’ve visited on the highest court in the land.

“Now it’s up to Chief Justice [John] Roberts and the other justices to act on ethics reform to save their own reputations and the court’s integrity. If the court will not act, then Congress must continue to” do so.

It's outrageous.  He's doing so damage to the Court's image and he's abused the public's trust.  THE LOS ANGELES TIMES' Noah Bookbinder and Dennis Aftergut weigh in:


Thomas’ misuse of his lofty position to enrich himself and live a life of luxury is just the kind of thing that has eroded the public’s confidence in a crucial institution. The Supreme Court’s perceived legitimacy has dropped to an all-time low.

Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to disclose these gifts, according to ethics experts. They also raise the possibility of conflicts of interest and improper influence. As the ProPublica writers point out, Thomas’ billionaire donors “work in industries significantly impacted by the court’s decisions.”

More fundamentally, corruption can spring from an official’s conscious or unconscious sense of debt to those who treat him favorably and a tendency to share their worldview. The recipient of such extravagant gifts can hardly help but feel pressure to conform his beliefs to the expectations of the people footing the bill for his luxury flights, yachts and lodging. It’s not unreasonable to question whether Thomas has been guided by the good of our country or is unable to abandon the ideological preferences of his wealthy allies — particularly at the risk of losing a lifestyle to which he and his wife have become accustomed.

And here is the press release Sentor Sheldon Whitehouse's office put out on the scandal:


Whitehouse Responds to Newest ProPublica Report Detailing Breadth of Secret Billionaire-Funded Gifts to Justice Thomas

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Courts Subcommittee, today released the following statement after another bombshell report published by ProPublica further exposed the breadth of undisclosed billionaire-funded gifts to Justice Thomas:

“Clearly there is a lot more we still don’t know about the extent to which right-wing billionaires have underwritten Justice Thomas’s billionaire-like lifestyle over the years.  From fossil fuels to hedge funds, these billionaires’ fortunes were made in industries regularly affected by the Court’s rulings.  There may have been a time when the honor system worked well enough for the American people to trust in the ethics of the justices, but that trust has been squandered.  Congress needs to pass my ethics bill and root out the billionaire infiltration of the Roberts Court.”

Whitehouse has long been the Senate’s leading voice for improving transparency and accountability at the Supreme Court.  Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Whitehouse’s Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act, legislation that would help restore the American public’s sinking trust in the Supreme Court by fortifying regulations regarding judicial conflicts of interest and recusal.  The bill was endorsed by The New York Times editorial board.

The SCERT Act would end the practice of Supreme Court justices judging their own conflicts of interest, require better disclosure and transparency so the public knows when a justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court, and require judges to explain their recusal decisions to the public. 

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

Friday, August 11, 2023.  The illegitimate Supreme Court gets a lot more crooked thanks to Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Ron DeSantis wants to dumb down America further, shame on parents who allow him to, and much more.

Starting with the US, the location of the corrupt and illegitimate Supreme Court, Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is facing growing calls to recuse himself from a case that could hamstring Congress' ability to enact a federal wealth tax, a policy that progressive lawmakers and economists say is needed to rein in out-of-control inequality.

Late last week, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter urging Chief Justice John Roberts to "take appropriate steps to ensure that Justice Alito will recuse himself" from Moore v. United States, which the Supreme Court recently agreed to take up.

The lawmakers' demand was prompted by a friendly interview that Alito gave to The Wall Street Journal's opinion section, which in June allowed the right-wing justice to get out in front of a ProPublicastory on his luxury trip with billionaire hedge fund titan Paul Singer.

The interview late last month was conducted in part by David Rivkin Jr., an attorney who is representing the plaintiffs in Moore v. United States. The case, which is mentioned in passing in the Journal's write-up of the Alito interview, concerns whether unrealized gains such as stock appreciation can be subject to federal taxation.

Unrealized gains are currently untaxed in the U.S., allowing billionaires such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk to accumulate massive fortunes while paying little to nothing in federal income taxes.

Supporters of the Moore plaintiffs, who are specifically challenging an obscure foreign earnings provision in the 2017 Republican tax law, have encouraged the Supreme Court to explicitly address the constitutionality of wealth taxes in its ruling.

"This case presents the court with an ideal opportunity to clarify that taxes on unrealized gains, such as wealth taxes, are direct taxes that are unconstitutional if not apportioned among the states," the right-wing Manhattan Institute argued in a May amicus brief. (Proponents of a tax on unrealized gains, such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have expressed confidence that such a tax is constitutional.)

The Manhattan Institute is chaired by Singer, whose private jet flew Alito to an Alaska fishing trip that the justice did not disclose.

"Alito needs to recuse himself from the case deciding the constitutionality of a wealth tax," Americans for Tax Fairness, a progressive advocacy group, said Wednesday. "First he accepted lavish gifts from billionaires and failed to disclose them. Then he gave a buddy-buddy interview to one of the case's anti-wealth tax lawyers. Enough." 

Alito's a crook.  Sadly, he's not the only one on the Court.  Crooked Clarence is back in the news. 

An investigative report published Wednesday by Pro Publica outlines the utterly corrupt lifestyle of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The most right-wing of the nine justices, the most consistent advocate of the interests of the super-rich and enemy of democratic rights, has lived like a billionaire throughout his three decades on the high court.

The report, published under the headline, “Clarence Thomas’ 38 Vacations: The Other Billionaires Who Have Treated the Supreme Court Justice to Luxury Travel,” is a devastating exposure of corruption and criminality. 

The report declares: 

Thomas has secretly reaped the benefits from a network of wealthy and well-connected patrons that is far more extensive than previously understood… 

During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed steady access to a lifestyle most Americans can only imagine. A cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to far-flung vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events and sent their private jets to fetch him including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. 

The gifts include “at least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas.” This is better than one expensive vacation every year of Thomas’s 32 years on the court. In addition, there were “26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.”

These trips were largely unreported, either by the corporate media or by Thomas himself in his annual financial filings with the court. Pro Publica observes, “Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to disclose flights, yacht cruises and expensive sports tickets, according to ethics experts.”

At least four billionaires, representing several sectors of the US economy, have been identified as sponsors of Thomas. There may be others, but these four, as profiled by the New York Times and Pro Publica, include:

  • Harlan Crow, heir to the commercial real estate giant Trammell Crow, founded by his father, which became the largest US owner of real estate. Harlan Crow controls the family holding company, Crow Holdings, with assets of $20 billion.
  • David Sokol, oil and finance executive, who made his initial fortune at Berkshire Hathaway, the massive investment firm founded and headed by Warren Buffett, before resigning in disgrace over an insider trading scandal.
  • The late H. Wayne Huizenga, whose fortune derived from Waste Management, the leading waste disposal firm in North America, Auto Nation, once the largest auto dealer, and Blockbuster video. He also owned at one point or another most of the professional sports teams in Miami, Florida.
  • Paul Novelly, oil executive, whose family owns the billion-dollar independent Apex Oil and several other oil industry firms, most involved in trading and storing heavy oil products, including fuel oil and asphalt.

What these billionaires have in common, besides enormous wealth, is an extreme right-wing political perspective, opposing any restriction on the capitalist market and any effort to provide state support for working people whose jobs and living standards have been devastated by market forces.

They were not “personal friends” of Thomas, as the justice claimed of Crow when his financial ties with the real estate mogul was brought to light by Pro Publica earlier this year. All four began their relationships with Thomas only after he had become a Supreme Court justice in 1991, when he was in a position to reinforce the drastic shift to the right in the high court which was already under way.

Thomas occasionally reported trips and gifts from Crow, but never for any of the other three, although these relationships were extraordinarily lucrative as well. 

Betty covered the latest developments in "Crooked Clarence and the corrupt Court" last night.  Let's note Isaiah's  THE WORLD TODAY  "Crooked Clarence" from April.

crooked clarence

The illegitimate Court can't be mocked because it's already make a mockery of itself and of the law.  Impeachment is required but, as Betty notes, a Republican controlled House refuses to take the measures required.  

The verdicts of late and the scandals have destroyed the Court's image.  That really kicks off with DOBBS where the Court ignored and overturned precedent.  This is  Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "The Experts"


There's no rebuilding the image -- or the integrity -- with the same crooked members.  And the Court had been the only branch with any real consistent support from We The People.  

Stand Up America issued the following:

Brett Edkins, Managing Director of Policy and Political Affairs for Stand Up America, issued the following statement in response to reports that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted gifts and travel likely worth millions of dollars from four billionaires.

“Today’s ProPublica report brings to light a litany of new ethics violations by Justice Thomas, including accepting and failing to disclose extravagant gifts and luxury travel paid for by his billionaire benefactors. The Supreme Court’s legitimacy hangs by a thread. Justice Thomas' pattern of misconduct is a stark reminder that we cannot trust Supreme Court justices to hold themselves to a higher ethical standard on their own. The Supreme Court needs a code of ethics now.

“It’s time for Congress to behave like a coequal branch of government and address corruption on the Supreme Court with the urgency it demands, including by passing the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act. This latest report from ProPublica begs the question: what is it going to take for our leaders in Congress to do their jobs and finally hold this Court in check?”

Stand Up America is a progressive advocacy organization with over two million community members across the country. Focused on grassroots advocacy to strengthen our democracy and oppose Trump's corrupt agenda, Stand Up America has driven over 600,000 phone calls to Congress and mobilized tens of thousands of protestors across the country. 

Chris Hayes noted Clarence's corruption last night.

Donald Trump, former US president, is running for the GOP's presidential nomination while he hopes to avoid a federal conviction in one of many cases currently working their way through the courts.  His attorneys feel that Clarence is their inside judge if they're able to kick any of the cases up to the Supreme Court.

Donald's not the only nightmare wanting to be president of the United States currently.  

Robert F. Kennedy Jr is willing to destroy his own name and his family's name as he pursues the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

In some good news, he still has the support of Tulsi Gabbard.  You know Tulsi, right?  She ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2020.  Remember how many delegates she was awarded in 2020's contest?  Two.  Maybe Junior can get two as well.  Joe Biden won the nominations with 2687 delegates.  But Tulsi -- Tulsi Garbage, as Trina has dubbed her -- only got two. 

Today, Tulsi says she left the Democratic Party and preaches hates against LGBTQs and embraces Moms For Bigotry and takes that scarred acne face where ever cameras can be found as she attacks Joe Biden.  She never points out that she refused to hold Joe accountable for the Iraq War in the only debate she was in with Joe -- Jake Tapper not only gave her a chance, when she flubbed it, he came back around to her and gave her a second chance.  She not only defended Joe and excused him for his support of the Iraq War, she later dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe -- not Bernie, she endorsed Joe.  That's why I find any of her hateful criticism so puzzling -- she endorsed Joe.  In March 2020, she endorsed him.  When does she take accountability for that?  When does she take accountability for anything?  

Another crazy that Junior has in his corner is Naomi Wolf -- and if her med dosage is correct on the day of the primary, she'll vote for him.  He's spent recent days announcing he will not call for Medicare For All.  He doesn't believe in it.  He believes Barack Obama wasted time and leverage trying to address healthcare.  This is the man, please remember, who believes the free market will solve climate change.

At COUNTERPUNCH, Jeffrey St Clair notes Junior and GOP hopeful Ron DeSantis:

+ One of RFK Jr.’s super PACs has been paying thousands to a xenophobic outlet called Creative Destruction Media that blasts out alarums about the threat of “Black and brown invaders” with a “primitive culture”.  Not much of a surprise there. Last month, RFK Jr stood with the big irrigators in Arizona who are sucking the Colorado River dry and smeared immigrants for stepping on their arugula plantations….

+ Which imperial family’s disintegration has been more complete: the Windsors, Kennedys or Cuomos? According to a story in the NYT this week, Madeline Cuomo, the sister of former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, worked with a pro-Cuomo group called We Decide New York, Inc. to smear and intimidate women who had accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.

+ DeSantis auditioning for the Joker in the next Batman reboot?

+ Is it any wonder he’s campaign is in free fall? DeSantis is now polling less than half of the support from people who pick a candidate not named Trump.

+ DeSantis, who was billed as the political Ken doll for the Moms of Liberty demographic, is now polling at 11% nationally among GOP women.

+ In a desperate effort to reverse his slide into political oblivion, DeSantis used his autocratic powers as Florida governor to remove the elected state attorney in Orlando, a black reformist prosecutor named Monique Worrell, saying she’d been weak on criminal prosecutions. Worrell responded by saying, “I am your duly elected state attorney and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that.” Meanwhile, DeSantis has taken no action against the DA of Jacksonville, despite the fact the city has the highest murder rate in Florida. Of course, he’s white and a Republican.

+ This latest action has means that DeSantis has nullified the electoral decisions of more than 15.5 percent of the voters in the state, leaving 3.3 million Floridians without their elected choice of prosecutor.

+ Here’s DeSantis defending his plan for death squads on the southern border:

+ “These people in Iraq at the time, they all looked the same.” This is certainly calls out for a deeper probe into DeSantis’ time in Fallujah, as well as Guantanamo.

Ron DeSantis is a clear and present danger as his campaign makes more clear with each passing day.  At SALON, Amanda Marcotte writes:

Another week, another lesson in a truth that will not be heeded by the mainstream media: Republicans are liars, and you should never take what they say at face value. This time it was over yet another education scandal in Florida under the leadership of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. It started when the College Board, a non-profit that manages educational standards for those seeking higher education, announced that Florida had banned an Advanced Placement (AP) psychology course that over 30,000 Florida high school students had enrolled in for the fall.

Long story short: The DeSantis-signed bill barring schools from offering "instruction" in gender or sexual orientation, dubbed the "don't say gay law" by critics, made it impossible for teachers to address very basic ideas like "sexuality is a part of the life experience." Rather than offer a substandard program, the College Board was forced to pull the AP classes, which many students could use for college credit, from the schools. 

In response to the bad press, the GOP-controlled Florida government went into heavy spin mode, releasing a letter claiming the AP Psychology course can be "taught in its entirety," but only "in a manner that is age and developmentally appropriate." This was widely — and falsely — reported in the press as a "reversal," with even LGBTQ-oriented sites getting caught up in the hype. Thankfully, the team at Popular Information was on hand to debunk the lie, pointing out that the "developmentally appropriate" language is a poison pill that amounts to a de facto ban on the AP Psychology course. 

"A teacher can exclude the content in AP Psychology related to sexual orientation and gender identity and put their students at risk of not receiving college credit," Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria explain. "Or a teacher can include those topics and risk losing their certification and their job." Despite reports implying otherwise, therefore, Florida schools are canceling the classes. 

Luckily, the Washington Post quickly updated the story with the correct information, under the headline "Florida schools drop AP Psychology after state says it violates the law." 

All this confusion is very much by design. The mixed messages coming from Republican leaders on what is and isn't allowed in schools serves a larger purpose: making it so impossible for teachers to do their jobs that they give up even trying.

In some cases, teachers leave the profession or move to a less hostile state to work. In others, it's more a quiet-quitting, as the limitations force teachers to offer a substandard education to their students, out of fear that actually challenging kids to learn will cross some legal line that will land teachers in serious trouble. Either way, children in red states are losing access to quality education. 

He's carrying out a war on information.  Shame on any parent who is okay with their child's education being sub-standard because Ronald wants to promote racism and homophobia.  In ten to twenty years, when your kid is trying to get a job, do you really think, "We sent them to Florida public schools" is going to look good on a resume?  It's not.  That's especially true if they try to get employment outside of Florida.  You are allowing him to harm your child's future -- including their potential income making power.  I have no idea why you would try to doom your own child.

But you need to grasp that's what you're doing.  The world is laughing at Florida.  Baily Richards (PEOPLE magazine -- repeating, PEOPLE magazine) notes:

The works of William Shakespeare are now being censored in some Florida schools amid confusion stemming from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new book-challenge law, HB 1069, which has spawned an uptick in book bans and increased scrutiny surrounding schools' education materials.
After the Florida governor approved and promoted the legislation last week, media specialists said that the English playwright’s works — many of which are longtime staples of American high school curriculum — would likely be deemed unfit for classroom use, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

At WSWS, Sandy English observes:

Education in Florida has been ravaged by book banning for the last year under the “don’t say gay” law as well as other laws that allow parents to object to almost anything in curriculums. In fact, according to the Parental Rights in Education law, Diaz is inviting any Florida educator to lose his or her job—or worse—by verbally recommending “Romeo and Juliet” to a student or including it in a curriculum.

The confusion and fear sown in Florida’s educational standards are a part of the wrecking operation by far-right groups such as Moms for Liberty and their would-be Il Duce, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis. A small Evangelical Christian and fascist-minded constituency has lit the bonfire of book banning in Florida’s schools and in those of other American states.

As the WSWS noted in April:

The numbers and types of books that have been removed from Florida schools are truly staggering. In February, in Martin County, Florida, over 80 works, by authors such as Toni Morrison, James Patterson and Jodi Picoult, were removed from elementary school libraries at the request of a single parent, who wrote that these works had no “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for students.”

The parent, Julie Marshall, is the head of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty.

“One of the books removed, Picoult’s novel The Storyteller (2013), is a bestseller that tells the story of the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor who meets a former SS officer. “Banning The Storyteller is shocking,” Picoult told the Washington Post, “as it is about the Holocaust and has never been banned before.” This ban recalls the censorship of the graphic novel Maus in Tennessee, an action with distinct overtones of anti-Semitism.

“When one parent in Pinellas County [Florida] complained that Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), had a rape scene in it, the principal of the local high school banned it, and it was subsequently banned in the entire county. In February over 100 high school students protested the decision.”

Recent banning also includes a graphic novel based on the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, which “was removed from the library at Vero Beach High School in Florida after a complaint from one parent.”

The crusade against culture is not simply one of exclusion, but of active historical falsification. Last month Florida’s State Board of Education approved standards for African American history curriculums that include such historical revisionism as the claim that slavery gave black people a “personal benefit” because they “developed skills,” and that a racist pogrom against blacks in Ocoee, Florida, in 1920 included “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.”

This week, Ron DeSantis, now a candidate for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, reinforced his fascist credentials by telling the media that the standards are “probably going to show some of the folks [i.e., slaves] that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.”

This is little more than a rephrase of the South Carolina senator and arch-defender of slavery John C. Calhoun’s notorious 1837 speech before Congress, arguing that African American slaves “had attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically but morally and intellectually … in the course of a few generations it has grown up under the fostering care of our institutions, as reviled as they have been, to its present comparative civilized condition.”

A Civil War was fought to destroy the “fostering care” of those institutions, and it is a marker of the decline of political culture under capitalism that DeSantis can openly echo the reactionary sentiments of the slaveowners.

The book banning, restrictions on Shakespeare and the teaching that slavery was a positive good serve to wipe away all that is progressive and enlightened in world culture and American history and to teach subservience, conformity and worship of authority to a generation of young people now coming into struggle against war, climate change and the very fascism with which the Republicans, with the acquiescence of the Democrats, are poisoning the cultural air.

Florida parents are failing their children right now.  Advancing Ronald to the White House would fail all of America's children.  Valerie Strauss (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

We know what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his allies in the state legislature don’t want students to learn in public school classrooms — but here’s what the state just approved for use in classrooms: material created by a nonprofit advocacy organization called PragerU, which says it offers “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”

The materials include videos, magazines and books that in some cases disparage the Black Lives Matter movement, deny that police unfairly target Blacks, question the impact of human use of fossil fuels on the environment, and call out “climate alarmism.” There are videos on “How to Embrace Your Femininity” and “How to Embrace Your Masculinity,” one on “How to Be a Rational Patriot” that says the United States was founded on “Judeo-Christian values,” and one under the categories of “Life Lessons and “Judeo-Christian values” called “How to Learn to Forgive.” Topics covered under the PragerU Kids banner are divided into categories for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6+ and are wide-ranging, including financial literacy, history, civics, character development and life lessons.

The move by the Florida Department of Education is the latest in the DeSantis administration’s efforts to dictate what teachers can say about specific topics. Laws now forbid teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity and restrict what they can say about race and racism in the United States. The department banned an Advanced Placement (AP) class on African American studies and threw the use of an AP class on psychology into question because of discussions of race and gender, respectively. It has also censored textbooks and instructional materials, removing material it says is leftist indoctrination.

PragerU was founded in 2009 by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager and screenwriter/producer Allen Estrin and is promoted as being in the “mind-changing business.” It offers 2,600 videos on its YouTube channel and other materials on its website that it says are aimed at “promoting pro-American values,” some of which have been challenged by historians for accuracy.

Are we really willing to dumb this country down further?  Fabiola Cineas (VOX) notes:

Despite strong backlash from Democrats and fellow Republicans, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is tripling down on his state’s newly approved social studies curriculum guidelines that erroneously teach students that enslaved people “developed skills” that they could use for “personal benefit.”
Since news of the state’s new standards gained attention in mid-July, DeSantis has faced criticism — including from four of the five Black congressional Republicans, almost all of whom support former president Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

“What slavery was really about was separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives,” said Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is also running for president. “It was just devastating. So I would hope that every person in our country — and certainly running for president — would appreciate that.”

But DeSantis is continuing to defend the standards. In a recent NBC interview this week, the governor stated that enslaved people “developed skills in spite of slavery, not because of slavery,” adding that “it was them showing resourcefulness and then using those skills once slavery ended.”

In the interview, DeSantis also defended the steps his administration has taken in the past year to overhaul various aspects of that state’s education system. “We’ve been involved in education, not indoctrination,” he said. “Those standards were not political at all.”

The controversy is the latest in a string of education-related fights for DeSantis, including the state’s rejection of the AP African American History course, the dismantling of the state’s tenure system, and the conservative takeover of the small New College of Florida. With each move, DeSantis has attempted to model what he would do nationally as president.

We need a better future.  Stupidity is not the answer to that.  Oliver Milman (GUARDIAN) reports:

Videos that compare climate activists to Nazis, portray solar and wind energy as environmentally ruinous and claim that current global heating is part of natural long-term cycles will be made available to young schoolchildren in Florida, after the state approved their use in its public school curriculum.
Slickly-made animations by the Prager University Foundation, a conservative group that produces materials on science, history, gender and other topics widely criticized as distorting the truth, will be allowed to be shown to children in kindergarten to fifth grade after being adopted by Florida’s department of education.

Teachers who use the materials “will not be reprimanded, cannot be pushed back on about it, we are approved on the curriculum”, said Jill Simonian, director of outreach at PragerU Kids, the youth arm of the organization. “More states are following. Florida – I’m applauding. This is step in the right direction.”

But experts who have studied the videos and other PragerU output have warned that many of Florida’s 3 million public schoolchildren risk being exposed to a form of rightwing indoctrination that conforms to the worldview of the organization’s funders but bares little resemblance to reality.

We'll wind down with this, Brooke Migdon (THE HILL) reports:

group of LGBTQ veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation sued the Defense Department in federal court Tuesday, arguing it violated their constitutional rights when it failed to update them to honorable discharges after it repealed the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy more than a decade ago.

“The U.S. Armed Forces allows that discrimination to live on in the discharge papers carried by LGBTQ+ veterans, denying them privacy, benefits, and pride in their service,” reads the class action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of five veterans.

Veterans who were discharged under “don’t ask don’t tell” for their actual or perceived sexual orientation often received discharge paperwork that identifies their sexuality as the reason for their discharge, according to Tuesday’s lawsuit. The discharge papers, known as DD214s, also burden veterans “with discharge rankings below honorable” and bar them from reenlisting.

“Discharge paperwork bearing these markers carries the legacy of the anti-LGBTQ+ policies that the military has now disavowed,” the lawsuit says.

While the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy has been inactive for years, the government “has taken no steps to correct this discrimination systematically,” the suit argues. 

The following sites updated:

  • Thursday, August 10, 2023

    Crooked Clarence and the corrupt Court

     Remember  Isaiah's  THE WORLD TODAY  "Crooked Clarence"?  

    crooked clarence

    It's still accurate.  Lauren Sforza (THE HILL) reports:

    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken dozens of trips paid for by at least four billionaire friends during his time on the bench, a new report from ProPublica found.
    The report expands upon ProPublica’s previous investigation into Thomas’s relationship with Harlan Crow, a GOP megadonor who gifted the justice with vacations, flights and even paid for his mother’s house in Georgia. 

    ProPublica’s newest story sheds additional light on the two men’s friendship and details trips Thomas purportedly accepted from three other billionaires: former Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol, oil businessman Paul “Tony” Novelly and H. Wayne Huizenga, who helped expand Blockbuster.

    The report detailed how Thomas’s friends footed the bills for at least 38 destination vacations, 26 private jet flights and eight helicopter flights. Besides travel costs, billionaires paid for 12 VIP passes to sporting events, two resort stays in Florida and Jamaica and one “standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club” on the Atlantic coast, according to the report. Some of the trips were previously known.

    Sokol and Novelly’s companies did not immediately return requests for comment. Huizenga is deceased.

    I think crooked Clarence needs to step down.  I think most Americans now agree he's not fit to serve on the bench.  You'll notice that Jonathan Turley has buried this story.  Every day, he talks about Joe Biden or Hunter Biden or offers idiotic excuses for Donald Trump.  We all get it.  He's a con artist.  He's a grifter. 

    It is an illegitimate Court and it's a disgraced one.  That's due to Clarence more than any other member.

    And what are we seeing?

    That when the Republicans control the House of Representatives, we have no oversight, we have no accountability.  

    This is outrageous.  Congress should have moved to impeach Clarence when the first scandal emerged this spring.  It is not doing it's job.  Clarence is a grifter.  He's used his official office to enrich himself personally -- that is the very definition of political corruption.

    The lack of transparency from Thomas has unearthed an ethical debate over the justices' responsibility to disclose their finances to the public each year. Other justices, including Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, have had their finances questioned recently, but none have matched the scope of Thomas' reported activities have reached.

    Although the hospitality from friends at their homes may not be something the justice is required to report, ethics experts told ProPublica the gifts like sporting event tickets, should have been disclosed.

    These new revelations have called into question whether or not Thomas has violated the law by failing to reports the gifts and hospitality he has received .

    In April, CNN reported that Thomas planned on amending his disclosures to include his activities with Crow to at least include Crow’s 2014 purchase of Thomas’ mother’s home.

    ProPublica interviewed over 100 people with knowledge of the situation for their investigation, including staff who worked on some of Thomas' trips. They also reviewed records from the U.S. Marshal Service, personal photographs, and tax court filings.

    As former Senator Claire McCaskill noted on TV today, "Clarence Thomas is permanently damaging the Supreme Court."

    Wait, wait.  It gets worse. Tori Otten (THE NEW REPUBLIC) reports:

    Clarence Thomas has for years hosted charity fundraisers in the Supreme Court building for his Republican billionaire friends. In return, they have taken the justice on dozens of luxury vacations worth millions of dollars, according to a stunning new ProPublica report.

    “To use the Supreme Court to fundraise for somebody’s charity is, to me, an abuse of office,” Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, told ProPublica. “It’s pay to play, isn’t it?”

    ProPublica found that Thomas has happily accepted at least 38 luxury vacations from four different billionaires: Harlan Crow, David Sokol, H. Wayne Huizenga, and Paul Novelly. The gifts include yacht trips around the world, tickets to sporting events, transport on private jets, and stays at their exclusive resorts and private properties.

    Thomas has disclosed none of these gifts on his financial statements, but ProPublica estimates the total value to be in the millions. And this is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

    “It’s just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire,” Don Fox, the former general counsel of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and the senior ethics official in the executive branch, told ProPublica.

    We're getting ready to start the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin and C.I. said she's going to the kitchen for snacks, did I need anything and what did I think about the charity angle on the Clarence Thomas story?  Huh.  I missed that!  Anyway, now it's in the post and I agree with Don Fox, "It's just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire."  Exactly.

    "Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):

    Thursday, August 10, 2023.  Climate change in Iraq has not been "a wake up call," a gay activist (man, of course) joins the right-wing in attacking marriage equality and doesn't get called out, Iraq bans the term "homosexual" and insists instead upon "sexual deviance" -- how far away is that from the US when you've got idiot activist attacking marriage equality?  That and more.

    AFP insists "Iraq's rising temperatures a 'wake-up call' for world." Really?  Because it's not been a wake up call for Iraq.  Their government officials -- corrupt and apparently stupid -- have done nothing of value to address it or to prepare for it and, in fact, plan to continue in the next few years with more actions that will only make things for the Iraqi people and, yes, for the world.

    From the article:

    Iraq's rising temperatures and protracted drought are a "wake-up call" for the world, United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk has said in Baghdad.

    Turk spoke to AFP news agency during a visit to Iraq on Wednesday, which the UN says is one of the five countries in the world most touched by some effects of the climate crisis.

    Iraq has been experiencing its fourth consecutive summer of drought, and temperatures in parts of the country, including the capital Baghdad, and in the far south, have been around 50 degrees Celsius.

    "Rising temperatures plus the drought, and the fact that the loss of diversity is a reality, is a wake-up call for Iraq and for the world," Turk said. 

    Again, it's a wake up call that's being ignored.  When it's all too late, what happens?  Do the Iraqi people confront a fraud like Moqtada al-Sadr in the public square and rip him limb from limb for all the garbage he's pulled, for all the times he's refused to use his power to improve their lives, for the way he's condemned Iraq to be a living hell?  A lot of people are going to have to answer because they are refusing to address reality and, every day, it's a little bit more too late.

    (AP) notes, "The United Nations' human rights chief on Wednesday warned that Iraq's water crisis could affect other countries in the region.  Severe water shortages in Iraq because of climate change and government mismanagement have destroyed wheat and fruit harvests, and killed off fish and livestock. Humanitarian organizations have warned for years that drought and mismanagement could deprive millions of people of water from the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, which also run through neighboring war-torn Syria."

    Before leaving Iraq, the UN notes, Volker Turk delivered the following speech:

    Thank you all for coming. I have just concluded the first-ever visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Iraq. I thank the Government of Iraq very much for its invitation, and for the extensive discussions we have had at the highest levels during my time here. I feel a deep personal connection with the people of this country, and I come here as a friend.

    I spent the past four days in Baghdad, Erbil and Basra, meeting the Prime Minister of Iraq, the President and Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and other high-level officials, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice, as well as the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Judge of the High Judicial Council, and the Chief Judge of the Appeals Court in Basra.

    I also had several meetings with civil society, including women human rights defenders, environmental activists, journalists, lawyers, artists, members of the Marsh Arab (Ma’dan) community, as well as representatives from the diverse and rich cultural and religious fabric of Iraq.

    And I experienced first-hand the reality of climate change in the Al-Salhiyah area of Basra’s Shatt Al-Arab district, in southern Iraq.

    In 50-degree-Celsius heat, in the midst of drought-ridden and barren fields, local community leaders and representatives showed me pictures of the lush date palm trees that – just 30 years ago – lined parts of the now dried-up Shatt-al-Arab waterway.

    Standing in searing heat in that scarred landscape, breathing air polluted by the many gas flares dotting the region, it was clear to me that the era of global boiling has indeed begun.

    This is a climate emergency. And it is high time it is treated like one. Not just for Iraq but for the world. What is happening here is a window into a future that is now coming for other parts of the world – if we continue to fail in our responsibility to take preventive and mitigating action against climate change.

    Iraq is among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. The serious environmental degradation here is the result of a toxic mix of violence, oil industry excesses, global warming, reduced rainfall, and lack of effective water management and regulation.

    Just yesterday the Minister of Water Resources announced that water levels in Iraq are the lowest they have ever been. The water issue has wider regional implications, and all countries have to work to manage this precious resource as a public good. Water is a global public good.

    Civil society actors spoke to me about the chronic pollution in Basra and the resulting health problems in the community, including high rates of cancer and other serious ailments. They also stressed the need for increased transparency. “People have the right to know what is going on, about the dangers to their health and environment, and to help with strategies to work together to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change,” as one rights defender said to me.

    I welcome the Government’s public commitment to address, as a priority, the challenges of climate change and water scarcity. Much work lies ahead – in awareness raising, legislative and policy reform and capacity building of institutions. It is essential that this is done with the meaningful involvement of those most affected.

    But I am concerned that a series of actions taken by people in positions of power – for example, bringing criminal defamation suits against journalists and civil society actors – have created a chilling effect on freedom of expression. There have also been reports of violence, intimidation and death threats against environmental activists, including by armed elements, stifling the open space for discussion that is so crucial to addressing these issues.

    One activist pleaded for the protection of rights defenders, saying: “It should not be dangerous to share data and raise awareness of the problem. We need to work together to mitigate the impact – lives are at risk.”

    This is an issue we have been working closely on, and we are planning a report on freedom of expression in Iraq.

    Iraq has historically contributed so much – cultural, literary, intellectual, civilizational – to shaping our world today. It is a mesmerizing history, breathtaking in its beauty and diversity.

    But as we know all too well, Iraq also has a more recent history of repression, injustice, conflict, trauma and some of the worst violations of human rights and dignity to which the world has borne witness. I can only but admire the incredible resilience of the people of Iraq who have lived such realities within their lifetimes.

    Estimates suggest that up to a million people disappeared under the regime of Saddam Hussein and hundreds of thousands more since then, including between 2014 and 2017 when Da’esh took control of vast swathes of Iraqi territory, and in subsequent security operations. Such staggering figures are difficult to fathom. Behind each of these individuals is a family – a spouse, a child, a parent, loved ones who deserve recognition, and whose rights to truth, justice and accountability are violated.

    I welcome the Government’s invitation to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which visited Iraq last year. I urge implementation of the Committee’s recommendations. I understand that a law on enforced disappearances is due to come before the Council of Representatives – a welcome step in the right direction. It is high time a law is passed, in line with international human rights standards. My Office will follow closely the consideration and passage of this law and is ready to advise and support, based on our experience in other countries grappling with this issue.

    There is also a painful history of the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – under Saddam Hussein, during the US-led occupation of Iraq, during the conflict with Da’esh, and continuing into present-day Iraq. I’m encouraged by what I heard both from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice on tackling the issue of torture in the country, and to take preventive measures to ensure that torture has no place in the future of Iraq. I welcome their commitment to consider ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture. The Optional Protocol mandates the creation of a national preventive mechanism, which conducts regular visits to places of detention and can play an important role in eradicating torture. I have offered our support in this regard.

    Key to stopping such serious human rights violations is putting an end to the impunity that past perpetrators of human rights violations have enjoyed. This was a matter I discussed extensively with the Government and civil society, including in relation to the Tishreen protests of October 2019.

    We have documented that at least 487 protesters were killed and 7,715 injured during demonstrations between 1 October 2019 and 30 April 2020, due to the use of force by Iraqi Security Forces and armed elements against protesters. The Government established a fact-finding committee and provided welcome support to victims through compensation programmes. Given the passage of time and lack of accountability, I have urged swift, transparent action to stem the impunity that has taken hold in relation to the Tishreen protests.

    Equally important is the strengthening of judicial and national human rights institutions so that they can work independently and effectively – which I raised in my conversations with senior officials. I welcome all efforts of ongoing law reform in line with international human rights standards.

    I have also called on the authorities to declare an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iraq – where more than 11,000 people remain on death row.

    Issues of concern that arose in almost every interaction I had were access to basic services, the need for good governance and transparency – and corruption. It is crucial that robust anti-corruption measures are taking hold, and that a culture of transparency, open to public scrutiny, is fostered. I also offered our Office’s expertise on human rights in national budgeting, to ensure that national budgets can deliver on basic services and are inclusive, building upon the Government’s important social safety net for the most vulnerable.

    I am also in Iraq at a time when the terms “gender” and “women’s empowerment” are – astonishingly – under attack, distorted and confused. This makes no sense in the face of the massive challenges that the country has. The use of these terms is not in contradiction with any culture, religion or tradition.

    All evidence tells us that we need more women in decision-making positions, and more protections in law, policy and society against violence against women. The 25 per cent quota for women in the Council of Representatives, Iraq’s legislature, is commendable – and needs to be increased. Attempts to ban the use of universally accepted terms that are crucial for achieving equality and non-discrimination are harmful, as are threats and intimidation against women working on these issues.

    I urge leaders across society to cease the politics of distraction. Human rights must not be instrumentalized to divide us – human rights are what unites us, what brings us together as humanity, in dignity. Do not allow populist rhetoric to create more fractures in a society that has already experienced fragmentation. Disinformation campaigns, hate speech and incitement to violence must not be given free rein.

    As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, its principles are powerfully relevant for a State as richly diverse as Iraq, particularly its guarantee of human rights without distinction of nationality, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, sexual orientation or any other status.

    Twenty years ago this month, 22 of my UN colleagues, including my predecessor Sergio Vieira de Mello, were killed in a suicide bombing at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, and 150 others were injured. These were colleagues who were in Iraq with a sincere desire to support and assist the Iraqi people in their aspirations for a better, more just future. I witnessed how these aspirations live on today.

    There is a yearning for a common vision for a future that is grounded in human rights to be able to deal with the many difficult, long-standing issues it faces, so that the wounds can heal, and the gains that have been so painstakingly achieved can be preserved.

    I leave Iraq with a clear appreciation of the progress, efforts and achievements of the people of this beautiful, diverse country – but also with the concern that the gains remain fragile.

    I call on all those in positions of authority and influence to be guided by the interests and the human rights of the Iraqi people above all else and to tackle the corruption, discrimination, impunity, climate change and the remaining obstacles to lasting stability and peace.

    To be able to address the big challenges of our times, we need to draw on the creativity and innovation that thrives when people are able to discuss the issues and propose solutions together. This means enlarging these freedoms as much as possible.

    Our UN human rights team in Iraq is ready, as always, to assist, advise and support the promotion and protection of human rights for all Iraqis.

    To make it clear to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights just how little the government about anything he had to say -- whether it was about human rights or climate change - the Iraqi government declared on the day his visit was on luding that therm "homosexual" was being outlawed in Iraqi media and the term "sexual deviancy" will instead now be used.

    Amnesty International issued the following in response to that nonsense:

    Responding to the directive issued by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) that media outlets must replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance” in their published and broadcast language, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Aya Majzoub said:

    “The directive from Iraq’s official media regulator is the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression under the guise of respect for “public morals”. The CMC’s ban of the word “homosexuality” and insistence that media use “sexual deviance” instead is a dangerous move that can fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the LGBTI community.”

    “Furthermore, its ban and demonization of the word “gender” demonstrates a callous disregard for combatting gender-based violence at a time when civil society has been reporting an increase in crimes against women and girls, amid widespread impunity.”

    “The Iraqi authorities must immediately overturn this decision and ensure that they respect the right to freedom of expression and non-discrimination for all individuals in the country, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”   


    Political parties in Iraq have increasingly criticized LGBTI rights, frequently burning rainbow flags and making outlandish claims blaming homosexuality for the spread of disease.

    Between January and June of this year, the Ministry of Interior led a campaign to crack down on “indecent content” online, prosecuting at least 20 individuals over the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression using vague public morality laws. On 18 July Amnesty International raised concerns regarding the government’s re-introduction of two draft laws to Parliament which, if passed, would severely curtail the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Iraq.

    Volker Türk, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, has s

    Sunday, Olayemi Olurin's Olurinatti The Show streamed live.

    We posted it Sunday. 19 years online and we've never received as many complaints about anything.

    Some complaining were people who consider themselves allies to the LGBTQ+ community.  To those, I either replied or had Shirley and Martha send out replies pointing out that the LGBTQ+ community is under attack.  When ROE was gutted, we posted a number of videos that led to complaints.  How could ___ say that?  ___ said that (there was more than woman they were complaining about) because she was destroyed, her rights, her very being had just been destroyed.  When people are going through that and speaking through their pain, it's not always going to be pretty.  If you're a friend, an ally or someone who just wants to learn, you'd do well to not take it personally as someone works out and processes what they're going through.  We have to be honest before we can come together -- if we're truly going to come together and work together on any issue.  

    I was talking to Marcia about the reaction to the video and she reminded me about 2008 when sexism was used to destroy Hillary Clinton and how outraged that left her and how she felt she had to keep it pretty.  She reminded me that I told her to speak what she was going through and to get it out and that she wouldn't lose my support.  That's what she did and that's how she processed. 

    Grasp also that when a speaker is saying "you," it doesn't always mean you personally.  Try to hear what's being said.  And don't feel you are personally being slammed because most times you personally or not.  Did any of the guests on the show know you personally?  

    So don't take it personal.

    The LGBTQ+ community is under attack.  If we want to stand with them -- as we should -- that requires listening.

    No, I'm not telling you that you can't disagree.  But listen to what's being said.

    And you can disagree with that and many of you did.

    Many of you disagreed with what you saw as an attack on religion and many of you disagreed with the loud mouth who kept attacking marriage equality.

    "Typical man," Marcia said of one of the guests, "he just wants to stick his dick everywhere."


    You can personally feel that marriage equality is not for you.  But you come off a little bitter  when you start insulting it and insisting it doesn't matter.

    You are an ahistorical idiot.  Marriage equality does matter.  'Well if the work place laws had been focused on instead . . .'

    Wake up, just wake the f**k up.  Any laws to protect workers are a longterm struggle.  Do you know how long it took to get any sort of serious laws on the books regarding workplace harassment and assault?

    Workers have had to fight in this country for rights since the beginning of this country.  And these are long labor struggles.  You will always be able to achieve in the 'personal' sphere before you do in the 'work' sphere because business is power and our government has always protected power.  That's reality.

    So you're an idiot for that reason.

    You're an idiot because you don't grasp what marriage rights entail or the decades of partners being kept out of hospital rooms because they weren't married.  "Are you the spouse?"  "B**ch, we can't get married!"  "Well, you're not the spouse and you're not family so you can't see the dying person."

    You don't get the historical struggle.  As Marcia said, you only care about plugging dick in whenever you can.

    Hey, fine.  Go for it.  Find as many willing partners as you want.

    But grasp that you are not the only person in the world.  And grasp that many same-sex couples wanted to get married and were denied that legal right.  If you want anyone to help you -- and this speaker wanted accomplices not allies -- then stop making it all about your wants.  Selfish doesn't make for a movement.

    You need to be willing to help others when you're in need of help yourself.  That's how it works.  It's not a one way street, it's everyone working together for everyone.

    The fat ass is an idiot for those reasons.

    But the fat ass is also an idiot because he's insulting same-sex marriage and has no idea what's he's talking about.  Maybe all that dick sticking's left him tired?  Or stopped the blood flow to the brain?

    Lorie Smith's life should be a living hell.  Whenever she's seen in public, people should either boo her or point to her and laugh.  No one should do business with her. She lied to the Court in order to secure her 'right' to discriminate against gay men and lesbians -- it was too traumatic for her to design the equivalent of a digital wedding invitation for same sex couples.   No one should befriend her.  She stripped gay men and lesbians of their rights.  She should rot in hell when she dies for what she did.

    And so should the people who helped her -- that's Jonathan Turley and all of them -- rot in hell.

    But fat ass doesn't understand that Court decision.  

    We noted here immediately that this turned a group of citizens into second class-citizens.  They don't have full citizenship.  When you're saying X has all of these rights but Y only has rights as long as it doesn't offend religious crazies, then Y does not have full citizenship.  I grasped that immediately and we repeatedly addressed it here.

    That was weeks ago.  

    If I were writing it today, I'd write the exact same thing.  However . . .

    I would add to it.

    The verdict was about stripping gay men and lesbians of their rights.

    But what I didn't grasp was that the marriage equality decision was so 'offensive' to homophobes not because it granted marriage equality but because it granted citizenship.

    That's why the most extreme are opposed to it.

    I didn't know that.  I didn't find that out until someone dropped a flash drive off at my agent's.  Supposedly, it was Glenn Greenwald's browser history.  I have no idea if that was his or not.  But it's filled with hatred of LGBTQ+ people.  And the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality is ripped apart over and over -- in Tweets and in articles -- because, they insist, for the first time gay men and lesbians have actual citizenship in the eyes of the Court.  They argue that marriage equality must be overturned because that is how you destroy gay men and lesbians and legally get away with it.

    So fat ass might need to shut his damn mouth next time.

    He doesn't care about marriage?  That's his right.  But others do care -- gay men and lesbians.  And the right wing is determined to overturn marriage equality.  So he really needs to shut up because he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

    We get it.  You're a fat man -- maybe you can't keep partner, maybe you don't want to keep one.  Live your life the way you want but stop lying -- and COUNTERPUNCH is really bad about running crap like this too -- and insisting that same-sex marriage does not matter and is not important.

    You don't know the law, you don't know the pushback, you don't know the history, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

    And that is the only flaw in Olay's video.  No one pushed back.  Everyone acted like that was the 100% universal opinion on same-sex marriage.

    That's not a discussion and fat man should have been called out for the reasons I outlined above.

    According to PEW, the US Census Bureau estimates there are 711.129 same-sex married couples in the US.  That would be 1.4 million people. Their lives matter, their rights matter.  The Human Rights Campaign has estimated that there are 20 million LGBTQ+ persons in the United States.  Some of those probably never want to marry which is fine.  That's no different than straight or cis gender people.  But you have no right to spit on what marriage equality means for those who did marry and for those who want to marry.  You should not want to join the hate merchants on the right-wing who spit on marriage equality.  That fat man got to spew his ignorance -- and that his attacks are the same as those voiced by homophobes -- without anyone calling him out or noting that his view was not universal for LGBTQ+ people or even universal for gay men -- or even universal for gay fat men who struggle with getting laid due to anger issues and girth.  I think the panel absolutely failed on that one.

    When that garbage goes up at COUNTERPUNCH?  Oh, you're so radical, you've impressed us all -- is that what we're supposed to think?  All I think is, "You're a f**king idiot, a hateful f**king idiot and you're like the idiot that wrote at COUNTERPUNCH attacking Angelina Jolie for her mastectomy."  Angelina, who I know, lost her mother to cancer.  How she decides to protect herself to be there for her kids is her damn business.  She didn't need to be attacked by a bunch of liars and haters.  But the more-radical-than-though trash attacked Angelina.  (And killed her own career.  She whined later that she had to take on part time work because she couldn't find jobs anymore in the entertainment industry.  Yes, dear, we made sure of that.)  And that's how the fat man looks.  Like he's trying to play more-radical-than-though.  

    Even with him as part of the discourse, I would post the video again (and have above in this snapshot).  And I would recommend the video for other aspects of the discussion.  I think he serves a purpose in the video -- he shows how gay men try to create their own hierarchy -- by which I mean, note how he cuts off women repeatedly.  Note how he bellows and raises his voice and is unable to engage in a laid back conversation.  Again, LGBTQ+ people are under attack.  There's no reason for him to basically manspread across the dialogue silencing others.

    Turning to the state of decline that is Florida currently, Ron DeSantis is destroying the future of children.  Tuesday, Stan noted that the latest school book banning was William Shakespeare.   Jeffrey S. Solochek (TAMPA BAY TIMES) reports, "lans in Hillsborough County schools to reduce the works of William Shakespeare to excerpts were met with derision by state education officials on Tuesday."

    Gabrilla Ferrigine (SALON) quotes Gaither High School reading teacher Joseph Cool declaring, "I think the rest of the nation -- no, the world, is laughing us." These things are not happening by accident.  Naomi Wolf's friends in Moms For Bigotry have been working to destroy the country for some time now.  Ari Odzer (NBC MIAMI) reports:


    Meanwhile, Tuesday the Broward County School Board spent hours on an agenda item that took about five minutes last year and generated zero controversy. The board was considering the approval of 98 resolutions, such as marking Hispanic Heritage Month, autism awareness, breast cancer awareness, and many more. It was the three resolutions supporting the LGBTQ community, which drew a crowd of supporters and opponents to comment.    

    “Many parents are concerned with an overexposure to this agenda,” said Marta Mesa of Weston.

    “No one is trying to force your child to be LGBTQ+,” said board member Sarah Leonardi, who pointed out that the resolutions are not curriculum and they do not violate the law.

    The board voted 6-2 to approve the long list of resolutions after hearing from dozens of speakers.

    “I know firsthand how it feels to be seen and accepted for who you are and to not be, and that’s the feeling we want our students to have, so by standing up for pride and LGBT history, we’re saying hey, you, no matter what, we’ve got your back,” said Elijah Manley of Fort Lauderdale.

    “I oppose the resolutions for pride month, LGBTQ history month and a day of silence, how can anyone guarantee that the discussions about sexuality or gender ideology are not gonna happen in the classroom? You can’t,” said Sabrina Artilles, who was wearing a Moms For Liberty shirt.

    We need to all be clear on this -- especially those of us who are feminists -- there is -- and can be -- no comeback for Naomi Wolf.  We indulged her crazy chem trail talk, we looked the other way on way too much, including that very nasty divorce (nasty and non-feminist).  There's no comeback from this.  She's aligned herself with a bigoted hate group.  They quoted Hitler in their newsletter -- signing of on Hitler -- and that's didn't bother her, in fact, she said, "As a Jew . . ."  Why not as a pill popper?  Or are those days over?  Moms For Bigotry are racists and homophobes and transphobes.  This is the group she has championed.  This is the group that she pretends is grass roots -- it's not.  They bus in to various towns in order to try to take control.  It's not grass roots.  You could -- and should -- call it astroturf.  They are anti-choice -- which also doesn't bother her.  Now Naomi went nuts when she thought the Constitution was over and we all tried to be kind and tolerant of her drug-fueled rants and 'visions.'  Other than warning Michael Ratner against her, I really just looked the other way.  

    That's setting aside THIRD.  Ava and I have a long history of calling Nut Job Naomi out at THIRD.  I am sure during this time we called her out -- as we have many other times.  We called her out for her 'subtle' racism -- FIRE WITH FIRE, read the passage on Virginia Woodhouse and then the one following on Madam CJ Walker and note how the White woman is written of as opposed to how Walker -- someone actually worthy of praise for her accomplishments -- is instead trashed for how she looks and we could talk about how PROMISCUTIES finds chatty Naomi detailing how she stayed over at the frat with her then-boyfriend and a woman was raped there that night and it was discussed -- and one of her bloody shoes was left behind -- and Naomi laughed along so as not to harsh anyone's buzz -- she never called the rapist out as he sat at the table and she never reported it to campus safety -- racism and being pro-rape are only a few on Crazy Wolf's crimes.

    There's no comeback for her now.

    She's chosen to celebrate Moms Of Bigotry despite them being anti-choice, anti-reproductive rights, despite their public attacks on LGBTQ+ people, their attacks on books and the right to read, their attacks on the First Amendment, their embrace of Hitler and so much more.

    There's no comeback.  There's no "Woopsie!" that wipes this away.  She made her decision and has chosen to stand with those hate merchants.  As such, that's what she is now.  Even the quoting and endorsing of Hitler didn't set Naomi Wolf straight.  We can't afford her -- feminism can't afford her, humanity can't afford her.  Sometimes, you just have to write someone off.  She's not worth it.  

    It's not an issue of "She can't change!"  She changes all the times.  She's just inconsistent -- common among those active in drug use -- and can't follow through on the issues that matter to us, the ones that we see as non-negotiable. 

    (And, yes, to those e-mailing about how I've roped off one criticism of her.  Yes, I did call her out on that in real time.  To note it today would risk someone and I'm not prepared to do that.  I called her out loudly and repeatedly on this and it's in the archives.  But bringing it up now actually harms _____ _______ so I'm leaving that alone.)

    Florida is on its way to becoming Iraq as a result of Ron DeSantis.  He is destroying Florida and, sadly, he'll be fine, it's the children right now who are going to suffer.  Their education will be short changed, their life experience will be limited.  Let's wind this down with a humorous Tweet from Paul Rudnick.

    The following sites updated: