Clarence Thomas should be body hugging Sameul Alito. Alito's enough of a scandal to make the country forget about Crooked Clarence for at least a day.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says he will not recuse himself from a major tax case. His statement, attached to a Supreme Court orders list on Friday, came after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to the chief justice in August, urging that steps be taken to assure that Alito not take part in the tax case.
Durbin's letter said that Alito should be recused because the justice had recently done two interviews with David Rivkin, a lawyer and opinion columnist with the Wall Street Journal, who is one of the lawyers in the tax case that is to be argued before the court, likely in December.
Conflict of interest? I think Alito believes that's a pre-requisite for any judicial trial. Mark Sherman (AP) notes:
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been highly critical of Alito and the rest of the court for failing to adopt an ethics code, following reports of undisclosed paid trips taken by Justice Clarence Thomas and, on one occasion, by Alito. The committee approved an ethics code for the court on a party-line vote, though it is unlikely to become law.
Last month, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and other Democrats on the committee sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts calling on Alito to not participate in a tax case that will be argued in the late fall.
The Democrats complained that Alito himself had cast doubt on his ability to judge the case fairly because he sat for four hours of Wall Street Journal opinion page interviews with an editor at the newspaper and David Rivkin, one of the lawyers for the couple suing over a tax bill. Rivkin also represents Leonard Leo, the onetime leader of the conservative legal group The Federalist Society, in his dealings with the Senate Democrats, who want details of Leo’s involvement with the justices. Leo helped arrange a private trip Alito took to Alaska in 2008.
And BLOOMBERG NEWS points out, "The statement was the latest sign of brewing discord over the court’s ethics controversies, limited transparency and far-reaching rulings. Alito, who wrote last year’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion, has been at flashpoint, in part because of his pointed rebuttals to outside criticism."
Clarence and Alito are crooks and jerks. There's a song I'm hearing but I can't think of the title. Let me go downstairs and see if anyone's up.
C.I. is up. Getting ready to workout. The song is "Little Plastic Castles" by Ani DiFranco.
Clarence and Samuel are in a competition "to see who can be the rudest." And most crooked.
By the way, "Blog Betty." I added that to the title. I think Mike was the first one to call this site that back during this site's first year.
Why did I add it a month or so ago? I'm so tired of people who are new to the site thinking I'm a Thomas Friedman fan. I'm not. I never was. This started as an online comic novel. Bettina was the main character. She was 'saved' by Nicholas Kristof and Thomas Friedman. Actually, she was kidnapped. It was a story of imperialism and colonialism. I miss Bettina. She was like a real person to me. But most people don't know that story these days and they seem to think I'm here praising Thomas Friedman. So I added "Blog Betty" in front of it hoping that would take some of the emphasis of Thomas Friedman.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Starting in Iraq with another Quran burning -- or alleged Quran burning. RUDAW notes they haven't seen the video but that 2 people in Kirkuk were arrested and are supposed to be of a group that burned a Quran, recorded the burning and then posted it on social media:
“Those who disrespected the Iraqi flag in Shorja were not Kurds from Shorja,” Arshad Salihi, a prominent nationalist parliamentarian of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in a statement on Thursday, claiming that those responsible for the reported incident were outsiders from different countries.
Article 202 of the Iraqi penal code states that anyone who publicly insults the Iraqi flag "is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or by detention."
The reported flag desecration incident comes in the backdrop of increased tension and as series of demonstrations by both Arab and Kurdish residents.
Dozens of protesters, mainly members of the Iran-backed Asaib Ahl
al-Haq militia and their supporters staged a sit-in last week, blocking
the highway, protesting the reported decision by Iraqi Prime Minister
Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani to return the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
to its former offices.
Kurdish residents of Kirkuk on Saturday afternoon amassed in protest against the blockade on the highway. They expressed support for a KDP return to the city and accused Arabs of silencing them. The protesters lit fires in several streets and blocked traffic.
Altercations between Arab and Turkmen protesters and enraged Kurdish residents of Kirkuk on Saturday left at least four Kurdish demonstrators killed and 15 others wounded after Iraqi forces fired live ammunition to disperse them.
A Curious Quran Burning in Sweden
A wave of anger from the Middle East is the result of an organized disinformation campaign.
It seemed spontaneous but turned out to be an organized campaign fueled by disinformation.
When Salwan Momika burned the Quran, it seemed like a misguided action by someone who detested his home country. It later emerged that Mr. Momika was a former leader of an Iran-linked Christian militia. His Quran burning was amplified by extraordinary amounts of disinformation about Sweden on Arabic- and Russian-language channels.
The falsehoods being reported, including statements that Swedish authorities specifically authorize Quran burnings, triggered international anger with Sweden, and when Mr. Momika announced he would stage a second desecration, people in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon staged violent protests.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis engaged in a heated argument Thursday with an audience member at a news conference who blamed him for the recent racist mass shooting that killed three Black people in Jacksonville [Angela Carr, Jerrald Gallion and AJ Laguerre Jr.].
The news conference, which was in Jacksonville, had been scheduled to highlight Florida's protections against Covid-related mandates. But it took a pugilistic turn when DeSantis called on an attendee to ask a question.
Speaking calmly from the back of the room, the man told DeSantis that while he was a veteran and appreciated DeSantis' military service, he felt DeSantis' policies allowed "immature people" to access weapons that ultimately "caused the deaths of the people who were murdered a couple weeks ago."
DeSantis interrupted: "I’m not going to let you accuse me of committing criminal activity. I am not going to take that."
"You have allowed people to hunt people like me," the man, who is Black, continued after some cross-talk between the two.
"Oh, that is nonsense. That is such nonsense," DeSantis replied over disapproving murmurs from the rest of the audience.
The man was escorted out of the room shortly afterward. DeSantis continued with his response as the man walked out, telling the assembled crowd that Americans had flocked to Florida in part because of his administration's commitment to public safety.
Well, you know, DeSantis, though he’s trained and educated even at Yale and got a law degree, he’s rooted in racism and meanness. He has decided that this is his way to office: distraction, division, deflection, focusing on culture wars so that he cannot be labeled as a failed governor. That’s what he really is — not a presidential candidate, he’s a failed governor. Anytime you have this many poor and low-wealth people and low-wage workers and you haven’t addressed those issues, you’re a failed governor.
The president was right to call out the racism and call out the rhetoric and say that, either private or publicly, if you’re quiet, then you’re complicit. I would also encourage the president to go one step further, though. And that is to say it’s not just the racist rhetoric. The racist rhetoric and the culture wars and the hatred toward women, the hatred toward immigrants, the hatred toward the trans community is a form of deflection. And then the president run the record and show how the same person who’s spewing all of this division, guess what? He’s not addressing the issue of poverty in your state. He’s not addressing more than 40% of the people working for less than a living wage, even though the people voted for a living wage to happen in Florida. He’s not addressing the more than 2.5 million people that don’t have healthcare. In other words, connect the rhetoric not just to the deaths that are caused by someone like the young man who did what he did and creating the ethos of death, but actually show how they are failing in their roles as governors and legislators, and that’s why they want the division and the deflection and the deception, so that we don’t see how they’re also engaging in forms of policy violence and policy murder, which is hurting the lives of people. And it doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine if this same governor was bringing people together, was raising the minimum wage, was ensuring healthcare and those things. Florida would be a very, very different place. He does not want people to look at that, and so he’s posturing himself like the Dixiecrat governors of the old South.
And we need a new South to rise that’s not fooled by that, that brings Black people together, white people together, Brown people, Asians, Latinos, gay, straight — it doesn’t matter who you are — and says, “We’re not having it anymore. We’re taking back the mic. We’re mobilizing.” And we’re going to do it, because the fact of the matter is, Juan, if just 2 to 3% of poor and low-wealth voters in Florida who have not voted chose to vote an agenda, they could send any candidate home, including Ron DeSantis. Poor and low-wealth folk have the power. That’s what Bishop Frank Reid and others are saying. They understand. And why they’re calling for this is that there comes a time, as the Bible says, when the stone that the builders rejected have to rise up and become the cornerstone of a new reality. That’s what we’re going to launch on Thursday and beyond. It must happen, not just in Florida, but across the country. Take back this mic.
These anti-Black, anti-LGBTQ, anti-trans, anti-immigrant actions have a financial price, too. Conventions have begun refusing to come to Florida — at least 10 have canceled in Broward County alone. Disney killed a $1 billion development planned for Central Florida after DeSantis attacked the company’s right to free speech. The NAACP issued a travel advisory in May of this year, urging people of color and LGBTQ individuals to avoid the Sunshine State, a move the governor derided as a “stunt.” That was three months before the Jacksonville shooting.
Other groups have cautioned about coming to Florida. The Florida Immigrant Coalition issued a travel advisory this year. So did Equality Florida, an LGBTQ civil-rights organization. As the group’s senior policy adviser, Carlos Guillermo Smith, told the Editorial Board, Florida has “rolled out the welcome mat for hatred and bigotry.”
There is a term for what DeSantis has been doing as he stokes resentments of immigrants and Black people and trans people. It’s called “othering” — when you turn the person you’re attacking into someone you keep at arm’s length. You don’t know them or understand them or care about them. You can impose all sorts of negatives onto that kind of a blank canvas. It’s the opposite of empathy. And it makes it easier to pass laws that target them. They’re the “other.”
What’s going on in Florida isn’t a left-versus-right thing. It’s a right-versus-wrong thing. Going after various groups of people to push them out of public life isn’t about liberalism or conservatism. It’s about denying them human dignity and human rights.
DeSantis, though, specializes in dread and fear. So far, he has been restricted to one state. Imagine what he would do if he exported his vision to the whole country.
Lake Worth Beach has solidified itself as a safe place for LGBTQ+ people in a move that may be the first of its kind in Florida.
Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to declare the city a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people, along with all other gender identities and sexual orientations.
“The City of Lake Worth Beach shall now and forever be considered a safe place, a sanctuary, a welcoming and supportive city for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families to live in peace and comfort," the resolution states.
Equality Florida reported in 2016 that dozens of Florida cities and townships have included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their local ordinances, creating safe havens for LGBTQ+ people. The list included Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Haverhill, Tequesta and Wellington.
The ACLU is leading the fight to end classroom censorship and protect our right to learn. We filed the first case in the country to challenge a law that censored instruction about systemic sexism and racism in Oklahoma, survived a motion to dismiss in New Hampshire, and obtained an injunction to block the State of Florida from enforcing the higher education provisions of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act.
As a former high school history teacher and a lawyer on the ACLU team litigating these challenges, the threat these laws pose to society is truly terrifying. Conservative politicians pushing these bills are advocating for nothing less than a re-whitewashing of history. If these revisionist efforts are successful, the next generation will be compelled to believe a version of history manufactured to fit the so-called patriotic views of a vocal, discriminatory minority. Students will not be taught, and may never learn, to trace the deliberate impact of historic oppression on institutions today. This will reinforce the salience of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia as unavoidable, and prevent the next generation from achieving justice.
Efforts to silence discussions about race also invalidate the lived experiences of BIPOC students. Instruction about racism and sexism belongs in schools because it equips students to process the world around them and to live in a multicultural society.
Two years into this fight, a few lessons stand out:
1. The Classroom Censorship Movement is Growing.
The push for classroom censorship ignited as backlash to progress towards racial justice following the unprecedented protests in 2020 sparked by the murder of George Floyd. To curtail efforts to expand instruction and materials about racial justice and our discriminatory history, 45 states introduced bills to limit instruction about racism and sexism. These bills, essentially education gag orders, passed in 17 states. By January 2022, 35 percent of all primary and secondary (K-12) students, or 17.7 million students, attended school in districts that experienced some form of a local campaign to end “critical race theory” in classrooms. To date, almost 700 efforts to exclude “critical race theory” have been identified at the local, state, and federal levels. Last year, nearly 40 percent of classroom censorship bills targeted higher education.
2. The Classroom Censorship Campaign is Driven by a Vocal Minority.
Parents overwhelmingly agree that “lessons about the history of racism prepare children to build a better future for everyone” and that students should “learn about the ongoing effects of slavery and racism as part of their education.” In a 2022 study, 87 percent of parents agreed that “lessons about the history of racism prepare children to build a better future for everyone as opposed to feeling that lessons about racism are harmful to children.” Another study from 2021 found that more than 70 percent of Americans agreed that high schools should teach the impacts of slavery (78 percent) and racism (73 percent).
3. Critical Race Theory is Not All That’s Under Attack.
Initially, conservatives called for the exclusion of “critical race theory,” but actually excluded so much more. All forms of race-conscious instruction have been erased from classrooms, despite their documented benefits for students. This includes instruction about racism and discrimination (distinct from critical race theory) and culturally-relevant teaching techniques designed to build upon students’ lived experiences. Additionally, conservatives banned books — like “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and “And Tango Makes Three” — and classroom instruction that highlight the experiences of LGBTQ+ people or the impact of sexism.
Educators report that they have restricted classroom discussions, curriculum, or content as a result of the laws, despite a desire from students to learn about censored topics. They described a culture of fear and intimidation in schools, marked by constant surveillance, scrutiny and second-guessing.
4. Unprecedented Efforts to Control and Ultimately Rewrite History are Underway.
In accordance with Florida’s Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which prohibits instruction on systemic racism and sexism, the Florida State Board of Education introduced outrageous African-American history standards that rewrite and whitewash history. These standards require teachers to instruct students that enslaved people developed skills that could be used for their personal benefit, blame enslaved people for violence during massacres, and misrepresent the role of the Founding Fathers in perpetuating slavery.
Judge Mark Walker, who heard the case in the Northern District of Florida, accurately described the Stop W.O.K.E. Act as “positively dystopian” because it limits instruction to the viewpoints approved by the State, regardless of truth.
5. We Must Continue to Fight.
The conservative activist Christopher Rufo manufactured the frenzy around critical race theory in the government and schools. He reportedly described the fight against critical theory as “the most successful counterattack against B[lack] L[ives] M[atter] as a political movement.’” It was never driven by concerns about the best interests of students.
The fight to regain or protect the status quo has obscured meaningful discussions about what was missing from education all along: the narratives and experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people and women.
Over the past two years, I’ve watched attacks on education morph from demands to exclude critical race theory from classrooms to even more dangerous demands to erase entire concepts from American history. Book bans, so-called transparency laws designed to intimidate educators into compliance and attacks on individual expression have left our education system at the mercy of a hostile and discriminatory minority. Students can’t learn in that type of environment.
Our future depends on educational institutions that value instruction about systemic racism and sexism. We need to expand culturally relevant instruction and increase funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools, not attack it for its role in uplifting the systematically oppressed. We can’t afford to lose our education system as we know it. We must fight back.
When Clean up Alabama says they want to ensure the language “matches the harmful materials we have found in the libraries,” it seems apparent that they mean adding LGBTQ+ content to the definition of “sexual conduct,” thereby changing the meaning of the definition of “harmful to minors” to include LGBTQ+ content.
If Clean Up Alabama were to succeed in these goals, the combination could result in librarians facing up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 just for having a book like “The Pronoun Book” on the shelf.
It bears pointing out that the first prong of the three-prong definition of material harmful to minors seems to rule out books like The Pronoun Book from ever being considered “harmful to minors,” as the word “prurient” is defined as “marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire.” And yet, that seems from Clean Up Alabama’s public comments to be the gameplay, with leaders complaining just yesterday that members of the Prattville City Council did not stand against LGBTQ+ content in the sections of the library intended for minors.
The conservative anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment spreading around the country has forced previously uncontroversial institutions, such as libraries, to close their doors.
A local public library in a small Iowa town was forced to close in July after conservative residents criticized its LGBTQ+ staff and displays regarding LGBTQ-related books, causing employees to quit their jobs. Last August, an initiative to renew tax funds for a Michigan library outside Grand Rapids was rejected by the town’s voters, thus defunding the library.
The local group Clean Up Samuels, which was behind the outrage, takes issue specifically with books by or about LGBTQ+ people, claiming that including them in circulation is akin to giving children porn. Clean Up Samuels petitioned the library director to remove 134 titles the group deemed objectionable, but the director refused. In June, the Board of Supervisors voted to withhold most of the library’s funding to resolve the issue. Then in August, the library’s director resigned after intense criticism from right-wing groups. Without county action, the library’s funds will run out October 1.
The book Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson, which explains the meaning of the rainbow colors in the Pride flag, is among the titles deemed offensive. The picture book And Tango Makes Three, about two male penguins who form a family, is also considered "pornographic" by those who want these titles removed.
At the protest, demonstrators requested a meeting with Law to demand the protection of DEI programs at their university. As the group moved into the lobby of Law’s office, the USF police force violently escalated the situation when trying to remove the protesters from campus.
“The protesters saw a connection between Governor Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on what he calls ‘woke culture’ and political repression in Florida.”nicole froio
In footage that TBSDS posted on Instagram, police campus chief Christopher Daniel talks to students and then grabs Davila by the arm before throwing her to the ground. Davila alleges that once she was on the floor, Daniel groped her for several seconds. From that moment on, protesters allege that police started grabbing students and blocking their exit from the building; the group tried to de-escalate the situation.