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The Filthiest Joke Ever Told: Gilbert Gottfried - The Aristocrats


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People
4 3
Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation

Independence National Historical Park
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(September 1, 2022)

 My fellow Americans, please, if you have a seat, take it.  I speak to you tonight from sacred ground in America: Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
This is where America made its Declaration of Independence to the world more than two centuries ago with an idea, unique among nations, that in America, we’re all created equal.
 
This is where the United States Constitution was written and debated.
 
This is where we set in motion the most extraordinary experiment of self-government the world has ever known with three simple words: “We, the People.”  “We, the People.”
 
These two documents and the ideas they embody — equality and democracy — are the rock upon which this nation is built.  They are how we became the greatest nation on Earth.  They are why, for more than two centuries, America has been a beacon to the world.
 
But as I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault.  We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.
 
So tonight, I have come this place where it all began to speak as plainly as I can to the nation about the threats we face, about the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future that lies in front of us if only we choose it.
 
We must never forget: We, the people, are the true heirs of the American experiment that began more than two centuries ago.
 
We, the people, have burning inside each of us the flame of liberty that was lit here at Independence Hall — a flame that lit our way through abolition, the Civil War, Suffrage, the Great Depression, world wars, Civil Rights.
 
That sacred flame still burns now in our time as we build an America that is more prosperous, free, and just.
 
That is the work of my presidency, a mission I believe in with my whole soul.
 
But first, we must be honest with each other and with ourselves. 
 
Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.
 
Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.
 
Now, I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.  Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.
 
I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.
 
But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.
 
These are hard things. 
 
But I’m an American President — not the President of red America or blue America, but of all America.
 
And I believe it is my duty — my duty to level with you, to tell the truth no matter how difficult, no matter how painful.
 
And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution.  They do not believe in the rule of law.  They do not recognize the will of the people. 
 
They refuse to accept the results of a free election.  And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.
 
MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.
 
They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.
 
They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.
 
And they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
 
They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people.  This time, they’re determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people.
 
That’s why respected conservatives, like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig, has called Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans, quote, a “clear and present danger” to our democracy.
 
But while the threat to American democracy is real, I want to say as clearly as we can: We are not powerless in the face of these threats.  We are not bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy.
 
There are far more Americans — far more Americans from every — from every background and belief who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it. 
 
And, folks, it is within our power, it’s in our hands — yours and mine — to stop the assault on American democracy.
 
I believe America is at an inflection point — one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.
 
And now America must choose: to move forward or to move backwards?  To build the future or obsess about the past?  To be a nation of hope and unity and optimism, or a nation of fear, division, and of darkness?
 
MAGA Republicans have made their choice.  They embrace anger.  They thrive on chaos.  They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.
 
But together — together, we can choose a different path.  We can choose a better path.  Forward, to the future.  A future of possibility.  A future to build and dream and hope.
 
And we’re on that path, moving ahead.
 
I know this nation.  I know you, the American people.  I know your courage.  I know your hearts.  And I know our history.
 
This is a nation that honors our Constitution.  We do not reject it. 
 
This is a nation that believes in the rule of law.  We do not repudiate it. 
 
This is a nation that respects free and fair elections.  We honor the will of the people.  We do not deny it. 
 
And this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool.  We do not encourage violence.
 
We are still an America that believes in honesty and decency and respect for others, patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities. 
 
We are still, at our core, a democracy. 

And yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.
 
For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not.
 
We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it — each and every one of us.

That’s why tonight I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.

We’re all called, by duty and conscience, to confront extremists who will put their own pursuit of power above all else. 
 
Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans: We must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to — to destroying American democracy. 
 
We, the people, will not let anyone or anything tear us apart.  Today, there are dangers around us we cannot allow to prevail.   You’ve heard it — more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country.  It’s not.  It can never be an acceptable tool. 
 
So I want to say this plain and simple: There is no place for political violence in America.  Period.  None.  Ever. 

We saw law enforcement brutally attacked on January the 6th.  We’ve seen election officials, poll workers — many of them volunteers of both parties — subjected to intimidation and death threats.  And — can you believe it? — FBI agents just doing their job as directed, facing threats to their own lives from their own fellow citizens. 
 
On top of that, there are public figures — today, yesterday, and the day before — predicting and all but calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets.

This is inflammatory.  It’s dangerous.  It’s against the rule of law.  And we, the people, must say: This is not who we are. 
 
Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American.  They’re incompatible.

We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country.  It’s wrong.  We each have to reject political violence with — with all the moral clarity and conviction this nation can muster.  Now.
 
We can’t let the integrity of our elections be undermined, for that is a path to chaos. 
 
Look, I know politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America.  I get it.  I believe in the give-and-take of politics, in disagreement and debate and dissent.
 
We’re a big, complicated country.  But democracy endures only if we, the people, respect the guardrails of the republic.  Only if we, the people, accept the results of free and fair elections.   Only if we, the people, see politics not as total war but mediation of our differences. 
 
Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated.  And that’s where MAGA Republicans are today.  
 
They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows: You can’t love your country only when you win.  It’s fundamental. 
 
American democracy only works only if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me, only if we respect our legitimate political differences.  
 
I will not stand by and watch the will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless, evidence-free claims of fraud. 
 
I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost. 
 
I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country — the freedom to vote and have your vote counted be taken from you and the American people.  
 
Look, as your President, I will defend our democracy with every fiber of my being, and I’m asking every American to join me. 
 
(A protestor disruption can be heard.)
 
Throughout our history, America has often made the greatest progress coming out of some of our darkest moments, like you’re hearing in that bullhorn. 
 



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Current events
34 11
Is Biden using the FBI to wisely crush his political enemies before they can become a threat to his Democracy?
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Politics
62 7
A country in the shape of a puddle, on the map.
Any country is an easy target in March,
in June, July, August, September, October,
as long as it rains
and maps litter the street.
Stop, who goes there, General Oaken Knees.
The Red Square of his naked chest shines the way.
And behind him, a half-shadow, half-man,
half-orphan, half-exile, whose mouth is as coarse
as his land —
double-land where every cave is at war.
Do you say there won’t be a war? I say nothing.
A small gray person cancels
this twenty-first century,
adjusts his country’s clocks
for the winter war.


LYUDMYLA KHERSONSKA
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Artistic expressions
175 6
Mods have fielded a couple of complaints tonight requesting action regarding this particular forum post:
############
Best.Korea

06.02.2023 12:12PM
-->
@zedvictor4
No. Bible commands the death of gays.
################################

Regarding VIOLENCE and CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR our CODE of CONDUCT advises:
  • You may not threaten or promote violence against any person or persons, barring hyperbole against public figures (e.g., “all politicians should be shot”). Advocacy in favor of terrorism and/or violent extremism, especially as related to hate groups as generally defined by the SPLC, is likewise prohibited.
  • You may not promote or encourage suicide or self harm.
  • You may not engage in or promote criminal activity.
  • You may not engage in or promote the sexual exploitation of minors.
The complaints assume that BK's logic here runs something like: 

P1: All faithful Christians must obey the Bible
P2: The Bible command the death of gays
C1: Therefore, faithful Christians must murder gay people

Certainly, advocacy for murdering gay people in Christ's name does seem like one legitimate interpretation of BK's comment but its also non-specific and probably hyperbolic.  I don't think any regular readers of this site would mistake BK for a sincere or dedicated Christian.  On the other hand, if BK hauls an AK down to his local pride parade tomorrow, authorities could legitimately fault us for ignoring this warning sign.

I'd like to hear from my fellow DARTers regarding the actionability of comments like this. 

  • How many DARTers think a comment like this is actionable based on present CoC or should be actionable based on an improved Code of Conduct?
  • If actionable, what course of action would you recommend?  Warning?  Ban?  Police notification?  etc.




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DebateArt.com
23 15
In another TOPIC I argued:

  • "but to the the extent that logic is always dangerous to tyrannies, pure logic doesn't enjoy the freedom of expression that only healthy democracies guarantee.  Logic depends on democracy for validation and correction for public policy applications.  Strictly logical decision-making is unsustainable in a democracy because not all logic is reasonable.  Infinity is logical but not reasonable.  The Sermon on the Mount is not logical but it is reasonable."


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Philosophy
52 10
Season1 Chapter 7 The Reckoning

Grogu heals Greef Karga and Karga changes his mind about betrayal.
Kuill tells the tale of IG-11's rehabilitation.

"This one on the other hand,  looks like she was farmed in cytocaves of Nora."  -Nick Nolte
 
The Imperial Client's exit speech

"Can I offer you a libation to celebrate the closing of our shared narrative?"  Werner Herzog
"The Empire improves  every system it touches.  Judge by any metric."  Werner Herzog
"Open the pram."  Werner Herzog

Moff Gideon arrives by Tie Fighter

"You have something I want. "
"who's this guy?"
"You may thiink you have some idea of what you are in possession of but you do not."
Kuill do you copy?
'In a few moments it will be mine'
"Kuill, do you copy?"
"It means more to me than you will ever know"
"Kuill, do you copy?"   -Giancarlo Espisito

The most competant performance by storm troopers in Star Wars History:  they actually manage to kill a major character

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Artistic expressions
8 5
APNEWS:
MONTANA TRANSGENDER LAWMAKER BARRED by GOP from HOUSE FLOOR
By AMY BETH HANSON, SAM METZ and MATTHEW BROWN

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republicans barred transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr from the House floor for the rest of the 2023 session on Wednesday in retaliation for her rebuking colleagues – and then participating in protests – after they voted to ban gender-affirming care for children.

The punishment marks the first time in nearly half a century that Montana lawmakers have sought to censure one of their own. It caps a weeklong standoff between her and House Republican leaders and formalizes their decision to not let Zephyr speak since she said those supportive of such a ban would have blood on their hands.

Zephyr will be able to vote and participate in committees, but not discuss proposals and amendments that are under consideration with the full House. The legislative session is set to end in early May.

The fight over Zephyr’s remarks has brought the nationwide debate over protest’s role in democracy to Montana, where lawmakers punished her for voicing dissent, an increasingly prevalent move in statehouses. In supporting Zephyr’s attempts to regain her voice, protesters interrupted proceedings earlier this week by chanting “Let her Speak” in a boisterous rally that came after they protested outside the Capitol and unfurled a banner that read “Democracy Dies Here.”

After days of rebuffing Zephyr’s request to speak, Republican leaders finally granted her the floor to give a statement before they ultimately voted to censure her Wednesday. She said her initial “blood on your hands” remark and subsequent decision to hoist a microphone into the air toward protesters in the House gallery were an effort to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community and her 11,000 constituents in Missoula.

House Speaker Matt Regier’s decision to turn off her microphone, she said, was an attempt to drive “a nail in the coffin of democracy.”

“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you’re doing is using decorum as a tool of oppression,” Zephyr told her colleagues.
House Republicans who supported barring Zephyr from the floor have accused her of placing lawmakers and staff at risk of harm for disrupting House proceedings and inciting protests in the chamber on Monday.

But lawmakers were on the floor Monday when protesters were in the gallery, and there have been no reports of damage to the building.

“Freedom in this body involves obedience to all the rules of this body, including the rules of decorum,” House Majority Leader Sue Vinton said.

Authorities arrested seven people in the confrontation, who Zephyr said were defending democracy. Her opponents said ensuring government can conduct business on behalf of the people without interruption was a critical precedent to set.

“This is an assault on our representative democracy, spirited debate, and the free expression of ideas cannot flourish in an atmosphere of turmoil and incivility,” Republican David Bedey said on the House floor.

The episode comes weeks after two Black lawmakers, Tennessee state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, were expelled for participating in a protest in favor of gun control after another school shooting. Similarly, Zephyr’s punishment has ignited a firestorm of debate about governance and who has a voice in an elected body during this politically polarizing time.

Post-expulsion, the fate of the two Tennessee lawmakers were sent to their county commissions, which swiftly voted to reinstate them. Zephyr told The Associated Press after the vote that Republican leaders were likely aware that a similar sequence of events could be triggered, had they expelled her.

“My community and the Democratic Party in Missoula would send me back here in a heartbeat because I represent them and I represent their values by standing up for democracy,” she said.

The censure comes two days after protesters later packed into the gallery at the Statehouse and brought House proceedings to a halt chanting “Let her speak” as Zephyr lifted her microphone toward them. Seven subsequent arrests galvanized both her supporters and those saying Zephyr’s actions constitute an unacceptable attack on civil discourse.

“There needs to be some consequences for what he has been doing,” said Rep. Joe Read, who frequently but inconsistently used incorrect pronouns when referring to Zephyr.

He claimed Zephyr gave a signal to her supporters just before Monday’s session was disrupted. He declined to say what that was other than a “strange movement.”
“When she gave the signal for protesters to go into action, I would say that’s when decorum was incredibly broken,” Read added.

Zephyr told the AP that she felt the moment was calling on her to stand up for democracy.

“Every time that one of these votes came; every time the speaker refused to allow me to speak; when the protesters came and demanded, my thought was twofold,” she said. “Pride in those who stood up to defend democracy and a hope that in some small way, I could rise to that moment individually and do the work they sent me to do.”


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Current events
18 8
Hobbit,Hobgoblin, Goblin

INTRO

Thisdungeon is adjustable to any size party of low level (0-2) characterswith opportunities to add some shorty zero-levels at will. This dungeon isdesigned to be used as a one night 2-3 hour adventure that can beattached to any story with a party traveling outdoors. DM's are free toadjust any aspect to suit their storytelling needs.

Theplayers are all traveling together when they decide to stop to eatand rest at the bottom of a hill covered in dense brush. Is someoneon the lookout?

  • Lookoutsare surprised: DC19
  • Lookoutsare surprised to be surrounded by three hobbits which everybody knowsis just a smaller, hairier, more primitive version of halfling.
    • Allthree have their arms outstretched in a universal gesture of begging.
    • The only words they know in Common is “Goblin eat us help us,please.
      • Beyondthis, these hobbits can only speak in an ancient version of halflingwith a basic neutral vocabulary.
        • Speakers of underhill halfling understandthat these halflings are part of band living in the narrow valleyhidden in the brush above.
        • Their names are Odo Deerfoot, Tombo Took,and Dyan Honeytoe.
    • Speakers of either language can advise the restof the party these three are urgently looking for allies against anongoing Goblin incursion. They wish the party to come and meet with“Matoober” immediately.
      • If the party asks what isin it for them, the hobbits promise to be permanent allies and alsohint that “Matoober” may have some blessings to impart.
      • If theparty follows the hobbits they are a led through some thick brush toa nearly invisible steep, craggy valley with a steep, seeminglynatural stone staircase leading up through a lush overgrown woods ofhemlock, cedar and redwood
Thetrees are very fragrant and sweet smelling. A constant whispering ofwind in treetops is extremely relaxing white noise, almost hypnotic. In a small flattish clearing is circle of 10' tall cairns of riverstone. The stone circle is bout 11 ft in diameter with cairns ofbalanced stones spaced about 3 ft apart. A twelve pointed star ismown into the bright green grass in between the stone. Clearly, thisis a holy place to these hobbits. In the center of the circle standsa 12 ft tall plant.

Theplant looks eerily like a large halfling with twisty rootfingersinstead of hands and a 4 foot tall headdress of giant leaves.
  • This is Matoober
    • Anywizard or elf will recognize the plant as a mandrake except thisplant is about 20 times larger and apparently more alive like ananimal than a typical plant.
    • Hobbitsbegin to gather and sit cross-legged outside of the circle. Youcount
      • about twenty hobbits 8 adults and
      • 12 young hobbits
      • Two ladyhobbits, one very old and one very young wear gigantic head dressesexactly like the Matoober;
        • leaves emerging from a peanut-lookingwooden armor fashioned from the hollowed out root of giant mandrakes.
Matooberspeaks in a high inhuman squeak:
Strangersare welcome to Quell. Quell is hurt, many hobbits dead or taken. Taken worse than dead. The goblins found our spring and dug up frombelow. Now each night for 4 nights they attack and kill hobbits,take hobbits Matoober wants to save hobbits but Gods root helps besthere, in Quell. Follow my hobbits to the caves of the spring aboveand make the goblins chase you back to me. Here magic is strongest. Here we can defeat the goblin horde and save the taken. Help upstrangers, if you are friends of peace, if you are friends of Yddgrrlthe world's root than you are friends of Matoober and Hobbits then gowith the hobbits now, bring the goblins here, where Yddgrrl bless us,we shall end this time of sorrow.

  • Ifthe party agrees to help, the hobbits offer a a meal of
    • mashed redavocados with
    • spring green onions and
    • oakleaf crunch.
    • Matoober willsit silently while the village elders Rocky and Bekka Birdsclaw,explain that
      • a stealthy approach to the caves requires about an hourof climbing up the valley sides off the main path
      • The plan is  a short shock attack into the cave, hoping to kill a Hobgoblin or possibly freeing some captives and enrage the whole party and try to make them all come after you.
        • Then run like hell down the steep stairs that run along the stream., drawing the goblin horde after
      • The party should retreat down the main stairway/pathway and try to draw as manygoblins as possible into the Quell and spell range for Matoober. The scouts have counted 5 hobgoblins who rulea tribe of 20 to 30 goblins.
        • They emerged from the underdark fournights ago and have attacked each night just after sunset.
        • Theleaders appear to be a Fat Hobgoblin who swings a fearsome two-handedsword and
        • a Hobgoblin hedge-witch who rides a white owlbear and fires acruel crossbow as well as magic missiles. Six of the adult hobbitswill arm themselves and accompany the party up to the cave of thesprings.
4are zero-level hobbits with per-generated characters sheets. Fromthis point out, players can choose to play any of these 4 0-levelNPCs, temporarily or even permanently if they want, so long as theyremember there are children and godthings counting on the hobbitcommunity continuing.

Common knowledge is that the goblins eat their captives over several days of religiousceremonies but male captives are eaten quickly while females are usuallyblinded, hobbled, and made to bear hobgoblin children for as long asthose women live- a fate worse than death.

  • So far, thehobbits of Quell have lost
    • 12 adults and
    • one child to the goblins.
    • The body of the child and 4 other dead adults have been recovered and buried but
    • 8 hobbitsare unaccounted for and, judging by the screams, might still be alive in the cave.
  • Anymagic-users may choose to stay with Matoober in Quell and preparespells.
    • Matoober has a +10 spellcheck bonus but her spell casting islimited to 
      • 2xheal 1d8 to everybody touching Matoober within the circle.
      • Her best utility may be just to commune with other spell casters to give an extraroll and +5 spellcheck to spell casters from the protection of insidethe circle.

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Gaming
20 3
The newest update ignores sacred MEEPs and undermines democracy on DART.


A noob should only need 2 rated debates to vote and 0 unrated debates to debate rated.

5???? They need to complete 5 unrated debages to even begin to debate rated. Even I would just do low valye trash debates to meet that quota
 Welcome to the new DART, unpleasant and undemocratic.

I am happy I lost that election, I am probably quitting soon, we have no real engagement between noobs and experienced debaters possible anymore.
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DebateArt.com
58 13
DebateArt added a HISTORY category to the Forum on Feb 16th with this announcement

Minor changes
- Removed letter spacing in multiple places, now the "fonts" may look a bit better.
- Added "History" category to the forum, as it's been requested by several people on several occasions.
-Further optimized performance, the website should feel more snappy now.
PS The history category is empty, but I am sure we already have some existing topics that would fit into that category, so the mods please feel free to move some stuff around :)
02.16.2023 12:21AM
Published by@DebateArt.com
While not inaccurate textually, this announcement certainly fails to acknowledge the long journey this category took to inception.

  • Let's recall that DebateArt offered to create a HISTORY category June 14th,  2021 stating that it only took 10 minutes worth of effort and agreeing to deliver in the next few days.
  • After no follow up for the next 13 months, I decided to test Whiteflame's claim that any user could precipitate a functional change on DART with a successful MEEP demonstrating popular support.  For the first two week of August 2022, I conducted an election on the proposition of a HISTORY category and at the end announced a successful campaign, receiving more populat support than the latest presidential election.
  • I submitted a formal request documenting overwhelming popular support and requesting that 10 minute piece of work be completed sometime in the last 20 weeks of the year.
    • DebateArt, WF, and Vader never made any reply or acknowledgement of the MEEP simply ignored the request for the rest of the year.
    • Therefore, to now characterize that popular campaign by the DebateArt community as "requested by several people" without any acknowledgement of the Democratic seems downright petulant if not outright contemptuous.
    • In spite of their roles as moderators, neither Whiteflame or Vader ever made the least acknowledgement of this, the first user initiated MEEP.
      • To the extent that it took more than two and one half years to effect a popular 10 minute change, I think we have give DebateArt a failing grade for effort.
      • To the extent that part of my intention was to test Whiteflame's claim that anybody can effect a change on DART via a MEEP, I think Mods complete dismissal and lack of attention to this democratic effort transformed another very positive community-based project into another humiliating farce.

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History
9 7
For a second year in a row,  the Moderation team has ignored the democratically endorsed and enforced procedures for electing a user to the position of President and instead just did whatever the fuck they wanted when they wanted without explanation or apology.

I'll reprint the rules that we democratically agreed to abide by in October 2021 below.

Let's be sure to note:

  • WyIted was banned for 60 days on April 3rd of last year, disqualifying him from running for this office.
  • The rules clearly state that there is a designated nomination period but Mods never bothered, in spite of repeated admissions that such neglect interferred with the orderly conduct of last year's election.
  • The rules clearly state that a new president will be announced on January 1st of the new year but Mods have never acheived this deadline
  • The rules clearly state that there will be three weeks of campaigning followed by a week of voting but Mods have consistently, anti-democractically truncated this voting allotment that we DARTers decided for ourselves without apology.
  • The rules clearly state that there is a nomination period/general election period/run-off election over the course of at least one month but this year, mods just announced two candidates and gave us two days to vote.
  • seems like there was plenty of violation of rules prohibiting campaigning outside of DART, DMs, etc.

Here are the election rules as voted on by the DART Community.  Why don't we have any explanation about why Mods are consistently failing to ignore these rules?


In order for a user to qualify for the Presidential position:
  • The user’s account must be greater than 6 months old.
  • The user must have been awarded at least one golden medal achievement.
  • The user can not have been banned more frequently than once within the past year.
  • The user can not have been banned for more than 21 days within the past year.
  • The user must have abided by all campaigning rules.
  • The user must agree to their role powers and limitations. 
  • The user can not have served more than 1 previous term as President. 
  • The user can not be currently serving on the moderation team. 

Election

The President shall be elected for a yearly term each December, to be formally instated January 1st of the following year. The first three weeks of December will be dedicated to optional campaigning, and the rest of the month will be dedicated to the election process, all of which will be overseen and managed by moderation.

The election process shall, largely, mimic the Hall of Fame process. First, users who wish to be President will nominate themselves during a designated nomination period. Afterward, the DebateArt user base shall vote for their favoured candidate within a preliminary polling stage. Finally, the top three most popular candidates from the preliminary polling stage will go to a final voting stage. During this period, one of the candidates shall be elected to become President by simple majority vote. Moderation will have the power to delay or extend voting periods as well as conduct tiebreaker rounds as deemed necessary.

Campaigning Rules & Guidelines

During the designated campaigning period, users may advocate election for themselves or others by doing any of the following:
  • Within any three day window, creating at most ONE non-spam campaign-related forum thread or debate.
  • Offering non-spam contributions to the campaign-related forum threads or debates of others.
  • Changing their profile picture or user biography.

ANY forms of campaigning outside of these sanctioned activities are prohibited.

For extra clarity, prohibited campaigning methods include (but are not limited to):
  • Any method involving spam, including mass private messaging.
  • Any campaigning within unrelated threads or debates.
  • Any campaigning within mediums other than DebateArt.com.

Moderation shall monitor and enforce the campaigning rules as necessary.
  • Furthermore, I told you so

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DebateArt.com
40 14
THBT: DEMOCRATS should NOMINATE LIZ CHENEY for SPEAKER of the HOUSE TOMORROW

  • The rules do not require the Speaker to be a current member of Congress.
  • If all Democrats voted for Cheney, only 6 Republicans would be needed and I'm pretty sure there's more than 6 Republicans who would support Cheney.
  • She was recently third ranking member in the Republican Caucus so she is familiar with the position and its responsibilities.
  • Cheney would be a complete end-run around BOTH feckless McCarthyites and dangerous insurrectionists but pleasing to Conservatives.
    • Cheney would absolutely know how to manage and support the Conservative Republican agenda but she would have no truck with the insurrectionists or MAGA and she would likely block any frivolous investigations into the Jan 6th committee or its findings.
    • As a non House Member, Cheney would not have a vote but she would represent true Republicanism and be a serious, patriotic stand-in if both the President and VP were unexpectedly unable to lead.
    • Nobody would be really happy with Cheney, which suggests a good compromise for a split parliament.

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Wylted is trying to bury to the lead story of this campaign!  Fucking censorship!

READ here the scandalous fact Wylted is shitting his pants over!

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DebateArt.com
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President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine spoke before a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday night, delivering in halting but forceful English an impassioned speech that thanked the United States for its support in his nation’s war against Russia and vowed victory as he pleaded for further aid. The following is a transcript of his remarks, as recorded by The New York Times.

Thank you so much. Thank you so much for that. Thank you. It’s too much for me. All this for our great people. Thank you so much.

Dear Americans, in all states, cities and communities, all those who value freedom and justice, who cherish it as strongly as we Ukrainians in our cities, in each and every family, I hope my words of respect and gratitude resonate in each American heart.

Madam Vice President, I thank you for your efforts in helping Ukraine. Madam Speaker, you bravely visited Ukraine during the full-fledged war. Thank you very much. Great honor. Thank you.

I am very privileged to be here. Dear members of the Congress, representatives of both parties who also visited Kyiv, esteemed congressmen and senators from both parties who will visit Ukraine, I am sure, in the future; dear representatives of diaspora, present in this chamber, and spread across the country; dear journalists, it’s a great honor for me to be at the U.S. Congress and speak to you and all Americans.

Against all odds and doom-and-gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking. Thank you. And it gives me good reason to share with you our first, first joint victory: We defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world. We have no fear, nor should anyone in the world have it. Ukrainians gained this victory, and it gives us courage which inspires the entire world.

Americans gained this victory, and that’s why you have succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom and international law. Europeans gained this victory, and that’s why Europe is now stronger and more independent than ever. The Russian tyranny has lost control over us. And it will never influence our minds again.

Yet, we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that countries of the Global South also gain such victory. I know one more, I think very important, thing: The Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds. Yet, the battle continues, and we have to defeat the Kremlin on the battlefield, yes.

This battle is not only for the territory, for this or another part of Europe. The battle is not only for life, freedom and security of Ukrainians or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer. This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren.

It will define whether it will be a democracy of Ukrainians and for Americans — for all. This battle cannot be frozen or postponed. It cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide a protection. From the United States to China, from Europe to Latin America, and from Africa to Australia, the world is too interconnected and interdependent to allow someone to stay aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues.

Our two nations are allies in this battle. And next year will be a turning point, I know it, the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom, the freedom of people who stand for their values.

Ladies and gentlemen — ladies and gentlemen, Americans, yesterday before coming here to Washington, D.C., I was at the front line in our Bakhmut. In our stronghold in the east of Ukraine, in the Donbas. The Russian military and mercenaries have been taking Bakhmut nonstop since May. They have been taking it day and night, but Bakhmut stands.

Last year — last year, 70,000 people lived here in Bakhmut, in this city, and now only few civilians stay. Every inch of that land is soaked in blood; roaring guns sound every hour. Trenches in the Donbas change hands several times a day in fierce combat, and even hand fighting. But the Ukrainian Donbas stands.

Russians — Russians use everything, everything they have against Bakhmut and other our beautiful cities. The occupiers have a significant advantage in artillery. They have an advantage in ammunition. They have much more missiles and planes than we ever had. It’s true, but our defense forces stand. And — and we all are proud of them.

The Russians’ tactic is primitive. They burn down and destroy everything they see. They sent thugs to the front lines. They sent convicts to the war. They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny, which is in the Battle of the Bulge. Threw everything it had against the free world, just like the brave American soldiers which held their lines and fought back Hitler’s forces during the Christmas of 1944. Brave Ukrainian soldiers are doing the same to Putin’s forces this Christmas.

Ukraine — Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender. So, so, here the front line, the tyranny which has no lack of cruelty against the lives of free people — and your support is crucial, not just to stand in such fight but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield.

We have artillery, yes. Thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really. To ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian Army, but for the Russian Army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed. If so, just like the Battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom.

If your Patriots stop the Russian terror against our cities, it will let Ukrainian patriots work to the full to defend our freedom. When Russia — when Russia cannot reach our cities by its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks. More than that, Russia found an ally in this — in this genocidal policy: Iran. Iranian deadly drones sent to Russia in hundreds — in hundreds became a threat to our critical infrastructure. That is how one terrorist has found the other.

It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies if we do not stop them now. We must do it. I believe there should be no taboos between us in our alliance. Ukraine never asked the American soldiers to fight on our land instead of us. I assure you that Ukrainian soldiers can perfectly operate American tanks and planes themselves.

Financial assistance is also critically important, and I would like to thank you, thank you very much, thank you for both financial packages you have already provided us with and the ones you may be willing to decide on. Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.

Russia, Russia could stop its aggression, really, if it wanted to, but you can speed up our victory. I know it. And it, it will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeed in breaking national borders, no one committing atrocities and reigning over people against their will. It would be naïve to wait for steps towards peace from Russia, which enjoys being a terrorist state. Russians are still poisoned by the Kremlin.

The restoration of international legal order is our joint task. We need peace, yes. Ukraine has already offered proposals, which I just discussed with President Biden, our peace formula, 10 points which should and must be implemented for our joint security, guaranteed for decades ahead and the summit which can be held.

I’m glad to say that President Biden supported our peace initiative today. Each of you, ladies and gentlemen, can assist in the implementation to ensure that America’s leadership remains solid, bicameral and bipartisan. Thank you.

You can strengthen sanctions to make Russia feel how ruinous its aggression truly is. It is in your power, really, to help us bring to justice everyone who started this unprovoked and criminal war. Let’s do it. Let terrorist — let the terrorist state be held responsible for its terror and aggression and compensate all losses done by this war. Let the world see that the United States are here.

Ladies and gentlemen — ladies and gentlemen, Americans, in two days we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will not be, there will be no electricity. Millions won’t have neither heating nor running water. All of these will be the result of Russian missile and drone attacks on our energy infrastructure.

But we do not complain. We do not judge and compare whose life is easier. Your well-being is the product of your national security; the result of your struggle for independence and your many victories. We, Ukrainians, will also go through our war of independence and freedom with dignity and success.

We’ll celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Christmas and, even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out. If Russian — if Russian missiles attack us, we’ll do our best to protect ourselves. If they attack us with Iranian drones and our people will have to go to bomb shelters on Christmas Eve, Ukrainians will still sit down at the holiday table and cheer up each other. And we don’t, don’t have to know everyone’s wish, as we know that all of us, millions of Ukrainians, wish the same: Victory. Only victory.

We already built strong Ukraine, with strong people, strong army, strong institutions together with you. We developed strong security guarantees for our country and for entire Europe and the world, together with you. And also together with you, we’ll put in place everyone who will defy freedom. Put-in.

This will be the basis to protect democracy in Europe and the world over. Now, on this special Christmastime, I want to thank you, all of you. I thank every American family which cherishes the warmth of its home and wishes the same warmth to other people. I thank President Biden and both parties, at the Senate and the House, for your invaluable assistance. I thank your cities and your citizens who supported Ukraine this year, who hosted our Ukrainians, our people, who waved our national flags, who acted to help us. Thank you all, from everyone who is now at the front line, from everyone who is awaiting victory.

Standing here today, I recall the wars of the president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which are I think so good for this moment. The American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory. The Ukrainian people will win, too, absolutely.

I know that everything depends on us, on Ukrainian armed forces, yet so much depends on the world. So much in the world depends on you. When I was in Bakhmut yesterday, our heroes gave me the flag, the battle flag, the flag of those who defend Ukraine, Europe and the world at the cost of their lives. They asked me to bring this flag to you, to the U.S. Congress, to members of the House of Representatives and senators whose decisions can save millions of people.

So, let these decisions be taken. Let this flag stay with you, ladies and gentlemen. This flag is a symbol of our victory in this war. We stand, we fight and we will win because we are united — Ukraine, America and the entire free world.

Just one thing, if I can, the last thing — thank you so much, may God protect our brave troops and citizens, may God forever bless the United States of America. Merry Christmas and a happy, victorious New Year. Slava Ukraini!



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Current events
16 6
FELLOW DARTers-

I hope everyone will participate by VOTING on the following two modest propositions:

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DebateArt.com
53 35
George Anthony Devolder Santos (born July 22, 1988) is an American politician and businessman from the state of New York. A member of the Republican Party, Santos was elected to represent New York's 3rd congressional district in 2022, a district covering part of northern Long Island and northeast Queens. Both Santos and his 2022 opponent, Robert Zimmerman, are openly gay, a first for a U.S. congressional election. He is the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican and the first Brazilian-American elected to Congress.  Santos is a pro-Trump right-wing extremist who has appeared with MTG speaking to neo-Nazi political parties like Freedom Party of Austria and Alternative for Germany.  Santos attended Trump's Jan 6th rally and claims to have bailed out some Jan 6th arrestees although that has not been verified.

After Santos was elected to Congress, and before he took office, reporting by The New York Times and later other news outlets revealed significant issues with Santos' biographical claims.

  • Santos claims to have been living as openly gay and married to a man for the last decade
    • but according to public records, Santos was a married to a woman until they divorced in 2019.
  • Santos moved out of his Queens address in August but never changed his address and was still falsely registered at that address at the time of the election.  New York mailed Santos' certificate of electoral victory to this old address, where the landlord was throwing out his mail.
  • Santos claimed to have graduated from Baruch College in 2010, earning a bachelor's degree in finance and economics.  Santos also claimed to have received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from New York University, but NYU has no record of his attendance.
    • After, obtaining a high school equivalency at the age of 21, Santos moved with his nurse mother to Rio de Janiero until he was caught stealing from his mother's  patients and fled back to America before his court date.
    • There's no indication Santos actually attended any higher education.
  • Santos claimed to be of Jewish descent, his family fleeing Ukraine ahead of the Nazis. 
    • In fact, his family immigrated from Belgium in 1863.  No evidence of Jewish or Ukrainian ancestry can be found.
  • Santos claimed that his mother was the first female executive at a major financial institute in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Santos claimed his mother barely survived 9/11.
    • Actually, his mother was a nurse with no known connection to the 9/11 attacks beyond living in Queens at the time.
  • Santos claimed to have made his money as a Wall St. financier and investor at CitiGroup, Goldmans Sachs, MetGlobal, and LinkBridge.
    • None of these companies ever employed Santos in any capacity.
    • Santos clearly has access to million of dollar, he spent much of it on his campaign, but there's now no indication of how Santos actually made his millions. 
    • Not honestly, apparently.
  • Santos ran a charity from 2013 to 2018, claiming to raise money for rescue animals.
    • No application for tax-exempt status was ever filed.
    • All indications now are that Santos simply kept the money.
  • According to his financial disclosures, Santos was sole owner and managing member of the Devolder Organization, which he said was a family-owned company that managed $80 million in assets.  On financial disclosure forms, Santos called Devolder a "capital introduction consulting" firm. Although based in New York, the company was registered in Florida (Santos claimed to be a Fla resident), where it was dissolved in 2022 for failing to file annual reports. During his 2022 campaign for Congress, Santos lent his campaign more than $700,000, and reported receiving a salary of $750,000 and dividends of between $1 million and $5 million from Devolder, even though he also listed the company's estimated value as in the same range.   Despite the claims about the company's size, Santos's financial disclosure forms did not list any clients using the company's services.
  • Santos claimed that one of his companies lost four employees in the Pulse Nightclub Shooting.
    • But this claim, too, appears to be entirely untrue.
  • Santos has made no public appearance since the NYTimes broke this story three days ago and his whereabouts are unknown.
    • It is not known whether Brazil will ask for extradition.
    • It is not known whether police will investigate the source of Santos' wealth.
    • The Republican Party majority is slim and McCarthy is counting on Santos' support for his election to Speaker.  No Republicans are calling for Santos to step down although some are calling for further fact-finding.
    • It is not known how many other Republican candidates won seats without any apparent vetting or background check.



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Politics
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US scientists set to announce fusion energy breakthrough
By MICHAEL PHILLIS, JENNIFER McDERMOTT, MADDIE BURAKOFF and MATTHEW DALY@APNEWS
48 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was set to announce a “major scientific breakthrough” Tuesday in the decades-long quest to harness fusion, the energy that powers the sun and stars.

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it, something called net energy gain, according to one government official and one scientist familiar with the research. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the breakthrough ahead of the announcement.

Granholm was scheduled to appear alongside Livermore researchers at a morning event in Washington. The Department of Energy declined to give details ahead of time. The news was first reported by the Financial Times.

Proponents of fusion hope that it could one day produce nearly limitless, carbon-free energy, displacing fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources. Producing energy that powers homes and businesses from fusion is still decades away. But researchers said it was a significant step nonetheless.

“It’s almost like it’s a starting gun going off,” said Professor Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leader in fusion research. “We should be pushing towards making fusion energy systems available to tackle climate change and energy security.”

Net energy gain has been an elusive goal because fusion happens at such high temperatures and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to control.
Fusion works by pressing hydrogen atoms into each other with such force that they combine into helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy and heat. Unlike other nuclear reactions, it doesn’t create radioactive waste.

Billions of dollars and decades of work have gone into fusion research that has produced exhilarating results — for fractions of a second. Previously, researchers at the National Ignition Facility, the division of Lawrence Livermore where the success took place, used 192 lasers and temperatures multiple times hotter than the center of the sun to create an extremely brief fusion reaction.

The lasers focus an enormous amount of heat on a small metal can. The result is a superheated plasma environment where fusion may occur.

Riccardo Betti, a professor at the University of Rochester and expert in laser fusion, said an announcement that net energy had been gained in a fusion reaction would be significant. But he said there’s a long road ahead before the result generates sustainable electricity.

He likened the breakthrough to when humans first learned that refining oil into gasoline and igniting it could produce an explosion.

“You still don’t have the engine and you still don’t have the tires,” Betti said. “You can’t say that you have a car.”

The net energy gain achievement applied to the fusion reaction itself, not the total amount of power it took to operate the lasers and run the project. For fusion to be viable, it will need to produce significantly more power and for longer.

It is incredibly difficult to control the physics of stars. Whyte said it has been challenging to reach this point because the fuel has to be hotter than the center of the sun. The fuel does not want to stay hot -- it wants to leak out and get cold. Containing it is an incredible challenge, he said.

Net energy gain isn’t a huge surprise from the California lab because of progress it had already made, according to Jeremy Chittenden, a professor at Imperial College in London specializing in plasma physics.

“That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a significant milestone,” he said.

It takes enormous resources and effort to advance fusion research. One approach turns hydrogen into plasma, an electrically charged gas, which is then controlled by humongous magnets. This method is being explored in France in a collaboration among 35 countries called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor as well as by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a private company.

Last year the teams working on those projects in two continents announced significant advancements in the vital magnets needed for their work
___
Mathew Daly reported from Washington. Maddie Burakoff reported from New York, Michael Phillis from St. Louis and Jennifer McDermott from Providence, R.I.
___
Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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Science and Nature
11 7
By Tessa Wong and Nathan Williams
BBC News, Singapore & London
Nov 27

Demonstrators gathered in the capital Beijing and the financial hub Shanghai.

Many held up blank pieces of paper to express their discontent and acknowledge the censorship. Some have, however, gone as far as calling for President Xi Jinping to step down.

Millions have been affected by nearly three years of mass testing, quarantines and snap lockdowns.

It is very unusual for people to publicly vent their anger at Communist Party leaders in China, where any direct government criticism can result in harsh penalties.

The police have largely allowed the rallies to continue, but in Shanghai officers arrested several people and cordoned off streets on Sunday.

Hundreds of people gathered on the banks of a river in the capital Beijing for several hours on Sunday, singing the national anthem and listening to speeches.

Earlier in Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University, dozens held a peaceful protest and sung the national anthem, according to pictures and video posted on social media.

Protests also took place during the day in the south-western city of Chengdu and central cities of Xi'an and also Wuhan - where the Covid outbreak originated nearly three years ago.

Videos posted on social media appear to show hundreds of Wuhan residents taking to the streets, with some protesters pictured knocking down barricades and smashing metal gates.

The latest unrest follows a protest in the north-western city of Urumqi, where lockdown rules were blamed for hampering rescue efforts after a tower block fire in which 10 people died. China's authorities have denied those claims.

'Xi Jinping, step down'

In Shanghai - China's biggest city and a global financial hub - police kept a heavy presence in the area of Wulumuqi Road, where a candlelight vigil the day before turned into protests.

The BBC saw police officers, private security guards and plain-clothed police officers on the streets, confronting protesters who assembled for a second day.

But in the afternoon, hundreds had come back to the same area with blank sheets of paper to hold what appeared to be a silent protest, an eyewitness told the AFP news agency.

During Saturday night's protest in the city people were heard openly shouting slogans such as "Xi Jinping, step down" and "Communist party, step down".
Such demands are highly unusual in China.

But the government appears to have drastically underestimated growing discontent towards the zero-Covid approach, a policy inextricably linked to President Xi who recently pledged there would be no swerving from it.

One protester in Shanghai told the BBC that he felt "shocked and a bit excited" to see people out on the streets, calling it the first time he'd seen such large-scale dissent in China.

He said lockdowns made him feel "sad, angry and hopeless", and had left him unable to see his unwell mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment.

There has been a large security presence around Urumqi Road, where people attempted to lay floral tributes for fire victims in Urumqi

The zero-Covid strategy is the last policy of its kind among the world's major economies, and is partly due to China's relatively low vaccination levels and an effort to protect elderly people.

Snap lockdowns have caused anger across the country - and Covid restrictions more broadly have trigged recent violent protests from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou.

In spite of the stringent measures, China's case numbers this week hit all-time records since the pandemic began.

Taking to the streets in numbers and calling for President Xi to step down was thought to be unthinkable not so long ago.

However, after a recent dramatic protest on a Beijing bridge that stunned many, a bar appears to have been set for the expression of more open and sharper dissent.

Others have also chosen to wave the Chinese flag and sing the national anthem - its lyrics espousing revolutionary ideals and urging the people to "rise up, rise up".

It is a show of patriotism that could also be read as a pointed expression of solidarity with fellow Chinese suffering under the zero-Covid policy - and a call to action.

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Dulce et Decorum Est 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

-by WILFRED OWEN


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Artistic expressions
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Sharp attacks on Trump from Rupert Murdoch’s news outlets
By DAVID BAUDER@APNEWS

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has taken some hits in the aftermath of the midterm elections, but the unkindest cuts may have come from a source that was once among his biggest backers — the media empire of magnate Rupert Murdoch.

The New York Post’s front cover on Thursday put Trump’s face over the drawing of a boy from a well-known nursery rhyme. The headline: “Trumpty Dumpty.”
“Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall — can all of the GOP’s men put the party back together again?” the newspaper wrote.

The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section ran a sharp editorial headlined, “Trump is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.” While Fox News’ biggest stars were relatively quiet, the former president heard enough discouraging words to attack the network on social media.

Trump was blamed for supporting losing or underperforming candidates like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire and Blake Masters in Arizona that cost Republicans a chance to make big gains in the House and Senate, as many had predicted.

The Journal’s editorial mentioned each of those names and more, saying that Trump had “a perfect record of electoral defeat” since his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“Democrats succeeded again in making Trump a central campaign issue, and Mr. Trump helped them do it,” the Journal said.

The newspaper on Thursday also ran a guest column touting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as an alternative to Trump for the 2024 presidential election, and an excerpt from former Vice President Mike Pence’s new book headlined, “My last days with Donald Trump.”

On the Post’s website, veteran columnist John Podhoretz dubbed the former president “Toxic Trump.”

Podhoretz wrote that Trump was “the political equivalent of a can of Raid” and “perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.”

The Post ran an editorial urging DeSantis run for president. A day earlier, the newspaper’s cover featured a triumphant picture of DeSantis with the headline, “DeFuture.”

A spokesman for Murdoch’s News Corp. said he had no comment on the editorial choices. It’s not like the outlets have never criticized Trump, but the tone and timing were noteworthy.

Non-Murdoch affiliated conservative figures and outlets took some shots at Trump. The Washington Examiner wrote that Republicans needed to choose between electoral success or Trump, while American Thinker said Trump is devolving into a permanent liability, according to The Righting newsletter.

Some Fox News stars tread lightly into critical territory. Jesse Watters talked Wednesday of a 2024 presidential election rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

“Does Trump win?” Watters said. “I hope so. I love the guy. A week ago, I would have said slam dunk. But after how last night shook out, I don’t know now. Democrats will walk over hot coals to vote against Trump, but will Republicans do that to vote against Joe Biden?”

Another Fox host, Laura Ingraham, didn’t mention Trump’s name but said the populist movement is about ideas, not one person.

“If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere,” she said.
Trump has all but promised that he would announce a 2024 candidacy as soon as next week. But his former White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said on Fox that no potential candidates should announce before the Dec. 6 runoff election for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Dov Hikind, a “Fox & Friends” guest, said Trump should announce his support for DeSantis.

“Donald Trump, move on,” he said.

That appeared unlikely, given that Trump recently referred to the Florida governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” He also posted Wednesday on Truth Social that he got more votes in Florida in 2020 than DeSantis did this week — even though they were running for different offices and not against each other.

A Trump representative did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The former president posted that Fox News was “really gone,” and he disputed stories that he had backed losers. He was particularly critical of The New York Times for a story that said he was angry at his wife, Melania, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity for pushing him to back Oz’s Senate candidacy in Pennsylvania.

“I was not at all ANGRY,” he wrote. “Fake news!”
____
Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.



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I'm not seeing much conversation about Andor although it has been my favorite show of the fall.  There's definitely not a lot of fan service for people who like that sort of thing but I'm not one of those- I like work that can stand on its own.  Andor is certainly that.  Less than any other prior Star Wars vehicle, there's not no Jedi, no lightsabers, no Force, no alien characters, barely any aliens period (I think I've counted three).  This series is written and directed by the guy who did the Bourne screenplays (with which I have some beef), Michael Clayton, etc and this series is much more like that- a thief running from one desperate circumstance to another, a massive Kafka-esque Bureaucracy trying to track him down.  Nobody's really good or evil, everybody is compromised, terrified, tense, miserable- I love it.  The Empire is the real character here- controlling, expansionist, cold.  We are finally given good reasons why the empire should fall even as the how it will fall unfolds around us.  

The writing and acting are superior to any other Star Wars work- Stellan Skaarsgaard and DIego Luna are great. Terrific character actors come and go with every episode- Andy Serkis is great, Fiona Shaw, Forretst Whitakker, etc.  If you're looking for princesses and sword fights and ewoks this is not your Star Wars.  If you like suspenseful spy thrillers like 3 Days of the Condor or Munich, this series might be for you even if you don't like Star Wars or any other fantasy series.

Highly recommend.
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Thank you, President Eisgruber, for that kind introduction. Members of the faculty; distinguished guests; family members and friends of the graduates; and you, the 2022 graduating class of Princeton University. It is a pleasure and an honor to be your Class Day speaker, and it is exciting for me to share this fun and celebratory day with you.

I have had the privilege of delivering remarks at a number of graduation exercises over the years.  More often than not, I have referred to my own graduation from college many years ago and drawn certain analogies between myself and the students. to illustrate that in the common landmark of college graduation, we likely had shared feelings and common experiences. Clearly, in one respect that does not readily apply to your Class.  

The profound ways COVID-19 has disrupted your student years are unprecedented.  Viewing the situation from my vantage point at the National Institutes of Health and as a member of the White House COVID Response Team, I have a sincere and heartfelt message to each of you.  Years from now, as you recall your experience here at Princeton over the past 2- and one-half years, it will be clear that COVID left an indelible mark on you and your entire generation.  Having said that, I am in awe of you all since each of you deserves enormous credit and respect for your extraordinary adaptability, resilience, and dedication to learning, completing your studies, and graduating despite immense difficulties and uncertainties.

Now truth be told, when I think back on my own graduation from college, I cannot remember a word of what the commencement speaker said. And so, years from now I do not expect you to remember what I say. But in the next few minutes, I hope to kindle in you some thoughts.

First:
Expect the unexpected. This is an enduring issue that continues to confront me to this day.  Planning one’s path in life is something we all do to a greater or lesser degree.  You already have done that to some extent by having chosen Princeton for your undergraduate education.  However, in my own experience, some of the most impactful events and directions in my life have been completely unanticipated and unplanned. You are at a period in your lives of virtually unlimited potential and so please keep a completely open mind and do not shy away from dreaming impossible dreams and seizing unanticipated opportunities.

Let me describe an example of such a completely unanticipated challenge and opportunity that profoundly impacted the direction of my career and my entire life.

After graduating from medical school and following years of residency and fellowship training, I began a journey in 1972 as a young clinical investigator at the National Institutes of Health.  Over the next nine years, I progressed to what many considered a very successful, safe, and comfortable career in investigative medicine. My future seemed settled.  Then, in June 1981 — 41 years ago next month — my life took a turn.  I remember quite clearly sitting in my NIH office reading in a CDC report about a handful of cases of an unusual pneumonia among gay men in Los Angeles. A month later, 26 additional cases among gay men from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, not only with this unusual pneumonia but also other rare infections and cancer, were described in a second CDC report.  We did not realize it at the time, but we were witnessing the evolution of one of the worse public health scourges in recent memory – the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  I became totally engrossed in and fascinated by this mysterious new disease that did not yet have a name or an etiologic agent.   I am still not sure what drove me to do this, but I decided right then and there to make an abrupt turn in the direction of my career, abandon my other research pursuits and investigate the pathogenesis of this mysterious disease. My mentors were horrified and insisted that I was making a career-ending mistake and that this disease would amount to nothing. However, the subsequent emergence of the AIDS pandemic, and my decision to pivot and devote my efforts to this unexpected public health challenge transformed my professional career, if not my entire life, and put me on the path that I am on to this very day.

Now, obviously, not every opportunity or challenge you encounter will influence your careers or your lives or be as dramatic as a mysterious infectious disease outbreak. However, please believe me that you will confront the same types of unpredictable events that I have experienced, regardless of what directions your careers or lives take. And so, expect the unexpected, and stay heads up for an unanticipated opportunity should it present itself. Of course, listen to advice of others who care about you, but at the end of the day, go with your own gut.   It can be rewarding, exciting and potentially career- and life-altering. 

Next -
The Failings in Our Society.    
Our country’s experience with COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on one of the great failings in our society: the lack of health equity. As a physician, I feel that I must highlight this for you today.  COVID-19 has exposed longstanding inequities that have undermined the physical, social, economic, and emotional health of racial and ethnic minorities. Many members of minority groups are at increased risk of COVID-19 simply because the jobs they have as essential workers do not allow them to isolate from social activity. More importantly, when people in minority groups are infected with the coronavirus, they have a much greater likelihood of developing a severe consequence due to elevated rates of underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and chronic lung disease, among others, that lead to an increased risk of hospitalization and death.

Very few of these conditions are racially determined. Almost all relate to social determinants of health experienced since birth, including the limited availability of a healthful diet, substandard housing, the lack of access to health care, and tragically, the restrictions and pressures experienced to this day because of the undeniable racism that persists in our society.

Let us promise ourselves that our “corporate memory” of the tragic reality of the inequities experienced with COVID-19 does not fade after we return to our new normal. It will take a decades-long commitment for society to address these disparities. I strongly urge you to be part of that commitment. Together we must find the strength, wisdom, ingenuity, and empathy to address these entrenched elements of injustice, manifested in so many subtle and overt ways, and work with all our might to remedy the cultural disease of racism, just as we fight the viral disease of COVID-19.

Which brings me to my next point of discussion:

Public service and social responsibility.  I sincerely believe that regardless of our career paths, we cannot look the other way from pressing societal issues.  There are many communities in our own country and globally that are challenged by poverty, drug abuse, violence, inadequate education, discrimination, and despair.  Some of you may devote your future careers and lives to directly addressing these societal issues. Understandably, most of you will not.  In this regard, public service does not necessarily mean a profession or avocation devoted entirely to public service.   One can incorporate elements of public service into your lives regardless of your career choice.  This might require your exercising a quality which is my next point of discussion.

         Leadership.  You are graduating from an extraordinary institution. The very fact that you were chosen to be part of this outstanding Princeton class in my mind puts something of a burden of responsibility upon at least some of you to assume leadership roles in our society.  It does not necessarily have to be designated leadership. Leadership can take many forms, including the quiet and subtle leadership of example.      

         Which brings me to my next issue.

Our Divided Nation.  I have spent my entire professional career in Washington, D.C., as a scientist, a physician, and a public health official.    Although that career path is fundamentally devoid of politics in the classic sense, being in Washington has allowed me to experience first-hand the intensity of the divisiveness in our nation.   

What troubles me is that differences of opinion or ideology have in certain situations been reflected by egregious distortions of reality. Sadly, elements of our society have grown increasingly inured to a cacophony of falsehoods and lies that often stand largely unchallenged, ominously leading to an insidious acceptance of what I call the “normalization of untruths.” 

We see this happen daily, with falsehoods propagated through a range of information platforms by a spectrum of people, including, sad to say, certain elected officials in positions of power.  Yet, the outrage and dissent against this alarming trend has been muted and mild.

If you take away nothing else from what I say today, I appeal to you, please remember this: It is our collective responsibility not to shrug our shoulders and sink to a tacit acceptance of the normalization of untruths. Because if we do, lies become dominant and reality is distorted. And then truth means nothing, integrity means nothing, facts mean nothing.

This is how a society deteriorates into a way of life where veracity becomes subservient to propaganda rather than being upheld as our guiding principle.
Seek and listen to opinions that differ from your own. But apply your abilities to critically analyze and examine, which you have honed here at Princeton, to discern and challenge weak assertions built on untruths.  As future leaders in our society, we are counting on you for that.

         In closing, I have been speaking to you over the past few minutes about the serious issues that we are facing in our current world.   And so, putting this serious business aside for a moment, I want to close with a reminder about the joyousness of life and what a bright future you all have. Allow yourselves to cultivate this joy as much as you do your professional accomplishments.  Find your source of joy and happiness and fully embrace it. And think upon your future as that stated by the American Political Theorist John H. Schaar: “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.  The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination”   

Congratulations to you, to your families, and to your loved ones.  Good luck and God bless you.
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MAR-a-LAGO CLASSIFIED PAPERS HELD US SECRETS about IRAN and CHINA
Iran’s missile program, U.S. intelligence work aimed at China were among the most sensitive material seized by the FBI, people familiar with the matter say
By Devlin Barrett
Published October 21, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. EDT

Some of the classified documents recovered by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran and China, according to people familiar with the matter. If shared with others, the people said, such information could expose intelligence-gathering methods that the United States wants to keep hidden from the world.

At least one of the documents seized by the FBI describes Iran’s missile program, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Other documents described highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China, they said.

Unauthorized disclosures of specific information in the documents would pose multiple risks, experts say. People aiding U.S. intelligence efforts could be endangered, and collection methods could be compromised. In addition, other countries or U.S. adversaries could retaliate against the United States for actions it has taken in secret.

The classified documents about Iran and China are considered among the most sensitive the FBI has recovered to date in its investigation of Trump and his aides for possible mishandling of classified information, obstruction and destruction of government records, the people said. The criminal probe is unfolding even as the Justice Department and a district attorney in Georgia investigate alleged efforts by Trump and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and as a House select committee has subpoenaed the former president seeking documents and testimony related to those allegations.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in having the documents at Mar-a-Lago, claiming in a recent television interview that he declassified any documents in his possession, and that a president can declassify information “even by thinking about it.” National security lawyers have derided those claims.

A spokesman for the former president did not respond to requests for comment Friday morning. But after this article published online, Trump posted on social media, decrying what he called leaks “on the Document Hoax” and suggesting that the FBI and the National Archives and Records Administration were trying to frame him.

“Who could ever trust corrupt, weaponized agencies, and that includes NARA,” Trump wrote. “ … Also who knows what NARA and the FBI plant into documents, or subtract from documents — we will never know, will we?”

Some of the most sensitive materials were recovered in the FBI’s court-approved search of Trump’s home on Aug. 8, in which agents seized about 13,000 documents, 103 of them classified and 18 of them top secret, according to court papers.

Those papers were the third batch of classified documents recovered in the course of the investigation. Boxes voluntarily sent from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year were found to contain 184 classified documents, 25 of which were marked top secret, according to court records. In June, Trump’s representatives responded to a subpoena by giving investigators 38 additional classified documents.

The Washington Post has previously reported that one of the documents seized in the FBI search described a foreign country’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities. The people discussing the case would not say if that intelligence related to Iran, China or some other nation. Iran’s missile program and nuclear capabilities are closely watched by the Western world; U.S. intelligence agencies believe Tehran is close to having enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, but has not demonstrated the mastery of some technologies necessary to deploy such weapons, such as the ability to integrate a nuclear warhead with a long-range delivery system.

The people familiar with the matter said that many of the more sensitive documents Trump or his aides apparently took to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House are top-level analysis papers that do not contain sources’ names. But even without individual identifiers, such documents can provide valuable clues to foreign adversaries about how the United States may be gathering intelligence, and from whom, the people said.

Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are not informed about them, The Post reported in September. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize government officials to know details of these special-access programs, people have said. Investigators conducting the Mar-a-Lago probe did not initially have the authority to review that material.

The new information about the documents obtained by The Post highlight what current and former intelligence officials say was the inherent risk posed by removing highly classified material from strictly guarded government buildings and keeping them in a private club filled with staffers, guests and visitors.

David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official who handled cases involving mishandling of classified information, said the “exceptional sensitivity” of the material found at Mar-a-Lago will count as an aggravating factor as prosecutors weigh whether to file charges in the case.

“The exceptional sensitivity of these documents, and the reckless exposure of invaluable sources and methods of U.S. intelligence capabilities concerning these foreign adversaries, will certainly influence the Justice Department’s determination of whether to charge Mr. Trump or others with willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act,” Laufman said.

The FBI referred questions about the documents to the Justice Department, which declined to comment for this article.

Trump and his most ardent supporters have dismissed the criminal probe as an effort to undermine the former president — who remains the most influential figure in the Republican Party and talks openly about running for the White House again in 2024.

Officials at the National Archives began seeking the return of government records from the Trump administration last year, after officials came to believe that some records — such as letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — were unaccounted for, and perhaps in Trump’s possession.

After months of back and forth, Trump agreed in January to turn over 15 boxes of material. When archivists examined the boxes, they found 184 documents marked classified, including 25 marked top secret, which were scattered throughout the boxes in no particular order, according to court filings.

Archives officials notified the Justice Department, and authorities soon came to believe that Trump had not turned over all the classified material in his possession. Justice officials secured a grand jury subpoena in May, seeking any documents still at Mar-a-Lago that bore classified markings. In response, Trump’s advisers met with government agents and prosecutors at Mar-a-Lago in early June, handing over a sealed envelope containing another 38 classified documents, including 17 marked top secret, according to court papers.

According to government filings, Trump’s representatives claimed at the meeting that a diligent search had been conducted for all classified documents at the club.

That meeting, which included a visit to the storage room where Trump’s advisers said the relevant boxes of documents were kept, did not satisfy investigators, who were not allowed to inspect the boxes they saw in the storage room, according to government court filings.

Five days later, senior Justice Department official Jay Bratt wrote to Trump’s lawyers to remind them that Mar-a-Lago “does not include a secure location authorized for the storage of classified information.” Bratt wrote that based on the visit, it appeared classified documents “have not been handled in an appropriate manner or stored in an appropriate location.”

“Accordingly, we ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice.”

Agents continued to gather evidence that Trump was apparently not complying with either government requests or subpoena demands. According to people familiar with the investigation, security camera footage showed boxes being carried from the storage area after the May subpoena was issued — and a key witness told the FBI that he moved the boxes at Trump’s instruction.

With that evidence in hand, the Justice Department decided to seek a judge’s approval to search the former president’s home.



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Jan. 6 takeaways: Subpoena for Trump, warnings for democracy
By MARY CLARE JALONICK and ERIC TUCKER@APNEWS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee took the extraordinary action of subpoenaing former President Donald Trump on Thursday as it issued a stark warning in its final public hearing before the midterm election: The future of the nation’s democracy is at stake.

The panel’s October hearing, just weeks ahead of the midterm election, focused on Trump’s state of mind on Jan. 6, 2021 as he egged on his supporters with false claims of election fraud, pushed to accompany them to the Capitol while lawmakers were counting the votes, and then did nothing for hours as the mob violently breached the building.

The committee is set to shut down at the beginning of next year, and was making its final public arguments ahead of a report expected in December.

“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion,” said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chairwoman and one of two Republicans on the nine-member committee. “And every American is entitled to those answers. So we can act now to protect our republic.”

A SUBPOENA FOR TRUMP — BUT NOT PENCE

The subpoena for Trump is a major escalation in the probe. After signaling for months that they may leave the former president alone, the unanimous 9-0 vote “for relevant documents and testimony, under oath” was definitive.

The committee had long debated whether to seek testimony from or subpoena Trump or former Vice President Mike Pence. Neither has spoken directly to the committee. While Trump has been hostile to the probe both in court and in public, Pence’s lawyers had engaged with the panel for several months with no clear resolution.

Still, several of Pence’s closest aides have complied with the investigation, with several of them providing great detail about his movements and state of mind as he resisted Trump’s pleas to somehow object to the certification of electoral votes that day and try to overturn their defeat.

In contrast, the committee showed several clips of Trump allies refusing to answer questions before the panel.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, said the committee was “able to nail down every salient detail in pretty much every element of the offense” except for certain details about what Trump was doing and saying as the insurrection unfolded.

‘CONSIDER WHETHER WE CAN SURVIVE’

The lesson of the committee’s investigation is that institutions only hold when people of good faith protect them without regard to political cost, Cheney said during the hearing.

“Why would Americans assume that our Constitution and our institutions in our Republic are invulnerable to another attack? Why would we assume that those institutions will not falter next time?” Cheney asked.

The warnings come as Trump is still refusing to acknowledge that he lost his reelection to Joe Biden and is considering another run in 2024 — and as many Republicans who deny Biden’s win are running in the midterm elections at all levels of government. Many states have replaced election officials who resisted Trump’s pressure campaign.

“Any future president inclined to attempt what Donald Trump did in 2020 has now learned not to install people who could stand in the way,” said Cheney, who lost her own Republican primary this August. “Consider whether we can survive for another 246 years.”

PELOSI AND SCHUMER, IN HIDING

New video aired by the panel showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting emotionally to the news that her colleagues were donning gas masks in the House chamber as rioters neared. She quickly went to work trying to reopen the Capitol.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were seen in unidentified secure locations and talking to security officials. The footage included a conversation between Pelosi and Pence, who was also in a secure location, discussing their return to the session to finish certifying Biden’s victory.

The footage was filmed by Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, according to two people familiar with the video who requested anonymity to discuss it.

The two leaders are seen working to bring the National Guard to the Capitol amid an hours long delay. At one point, Schumer said he was going to “call up the f’n secretary of DOD,” referring to the Defense Department.

“We have some senators who are still in their hideaways,” Schumer said on the phone. “They need massive personnel now.”

SECRET SERVICE REVELATIONS

The committee has obtained more than 1.5 million pages of documents from the Secret Service in recent weeks. They revealed some of that information in the hearing, including an email from within the agency on Dec. 11, 2020, the day the Supreme Court rejected one of Trump’s attempts to undermine the vote.

“Just fyi. POTUS is p—-d — breaking news —- Supreme Court denied his law suit. He is livid now,” one anonymous Secret Service email said.

Other emails showed that the agency had ample warnings of violence in the weeks and days ahead of the insurrection.

An alert received by the agency on Dec. 24 said multiple online users were targeting members of Congress and “instructing others to march into the chambers,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the panel.

CABINET OFFICIALS

The committee showed prerecorded interviews with Cabinet members, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Attorney General William Barr and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who said they believed that once the legal avenues had been exhausted, that should have been the end of Trump’s effort to remain in power.

Pompeo, who was interviewed by the panel since its last hearing in July, said in his videotaped testimony that he believed that once the Electoral College certified the vote, that was the end of the process for contesting the election. “We should all comply with the law at all times, to the best of our ability — every one of us,” Pompeo said.

Chao, who is married to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said she decided to resign after the insurrection because it was “impossible for me to continue given my personal values and my philosophy.”

At the same time, Trump continued to push the false claims of fraud to his millions of supporters.

“President Trump knew the truth. He heard what all his experts and senior staff was telling him,” said Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the committee’s other Republican. “His intent was plain: ignore the rule of law and stay in power.”

CRIMINAL REFERRALS

Cheney addressed one of the committee’s remaining questions at the beginning of the meeting, saying that the panel “may ultimately decide to make a series of criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.”

Members of the panel have long suggested they may suggest charges for Trump or others based on their own evidence. While such a referral would not force any action, it would place political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland as the department has pursued its own investigations surrounding Jan. 6. And the committee has yet to share any transcripts from its more than 1,000 interviews.

Still, “we recognize that our role is not to make decisions regarding prosecution,” Cheney said.
___
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.


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Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories
By DAVID KLEPPER and ALI SWENSON
today

After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is overtly embracing the baseless conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world events linked to it grows.

On Tuesday, using his Truth Social platform, the Republican former president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming.” In QAnon lore, the “storm” refers to Trump’s final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.

As Trump contemplates another run for the presidency and has become increasingly assertive in the Republican primary process during the midterm elections, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he is welcoming it.

He’s published dozens of recent Q-related posts, in contrast to 2020, when he claimed that while he didn’t know much about QAnon, he couldn’t disprove its conspiracy theory.

Pressed on QAnon theories that Trump allegedly is saving the nation from a satanic cult of child sex traffickers, he claimed ignorance but asked, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”

“If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it,” Trump said.

Trump’s recent postings have included images referring to himself as a martyr fighting criminals, psychopaths and the so-called deep state. In one now-deleted post from late August, he reposted a “q drop,” one of the cryptic message board postings that QAnon supporters claim come from an anonymous government worker with top secret clearance.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Even when his posts haven’t referred to the conspiracy theory directly, Trump has amplified users who do. An Associated Press analysis found that of nearly 75 accounts Trump has reposted on his Truth Social profile in the past month, more than a third of them have promoted QAnon by sharing the movement’s slogans, videos or imagery. About 1 in 10 include QAnon language or links in their profile bios.

Earlier this month, Trump chose a QAnon song to close out a rally in Pennsylvania. The same song appears in one of his recent campaign videos and is titled “WWG1WGA,” an acronym used as a rallying cry for Q adherents that stands for “Where we go one, we go all.”

Online, Q adherents basked in Trump’s attention.

“Yup, haters!” wrote one commenter on an anonymous QAnon message board. “Trump re-truthed Q memes. And he’ll do it again, more and more of them, over and OVER, until (asterisk)everyone(asterisk) finally gets it. Make fun of us all you want, whatever! Soon Q will be everywhere!”

“Trump Sending a Clear Message Patriots,” a QAnon-linked account on Truth Social wrote. “He Re-Truthed This for a Reason.”

The former president may be seeking solidarity with his most loyal supporters at a time when he faces escalating investigations and potential challengers within his own party, according to Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University who has studied QAnon and recently wrote a book about the group.

“These are people who have elevated Trump to messiah-like status, where only he can stop this cabal,” Bloom told the AP on Thursday. “That’s why you see so many images (in online QAnon spaces) of Trump as Jesus.”

On Truth Social, QAnon-affiliated accounts hail Trump as a hero and savior and vilify President Joe Biden by comparing him to Adolf Hitler or the devil. When Trump shares the content, they congratulate each other. Some accounts proudly display how many times Trump has “re-truthed” them in their bios.

By using their own language to directly address QAnon supporters, Trump is telling them that they’ve been right all along and that he shares their secret mission, according to Janet McIntosh, an anthropologist at Brandeis University who has studied QAnon’s use of language and symbols.

It also allows Trump to endorse their beliefs and their hope for a violent uprising without expressly saying so, she said, citing his recent post about “the storm” as a particularly frightening example.

“The ‘storm is coming’ is shorthand for something really dark that he’s not saying out loud,” McIntosh said. “This is a way for him to point to violence without explicitly calling for it. He is the prince of plausible deniability.”

Bloom predicted that Trump may later attempt to market Q-related merchandise or perhaps ask QAnon followers to donate to his legal defense.

Regardless of motive, Bloom said, it’s a reckless move that feeds a dangerous movement.

A growing list of criminal episodes has been linked to people who had expressed support for the conspiracy theory, which U.S. intelligence officials have warned could trigger more violence.

QAnon supporters were among those who violently stormed the Capitol during the failed Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

In November 2020, two men drove to a vote-counting site in Philadelphia in a Hummer adorned with QAnon stickers and loaded with a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition and other weapons. Prosecutors alleged they were trying to interfere with the election.

Last year, a California man who told authorities he had been enlightened by QAnon was accused of killing his two children because he believed they had serpent DNA.

Last month, a Colorado woman was found guilty of attempting to kidnap her son from foster care after her daughter said she began associating with QAnon supporters. Other adherents have been accused of environmental vandalism, firing paintballs at military reservists, abducting a child in France and even killing a New York City mob boss.

On Sunday, police fatally shot a Michigan man who they say had killed his wife and severely injured his daughter. A surviving daughter told The Detroit News that she believes her father was motivated by QAnon.

“I think that he was always prone to (mental issues), but it really brought him down when he was reading all those weird things on the internet,” she told the newspaper.

The same weekend a Pennsylvania man who had reposted QAnon content on Facebook was arrested after he allegedly charged into a Dairy Queen with a gun, saying he wanted to kill all Democrats and restore Trump to power.

Major social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have banned content associated with QAnon and have suspended or blocked accounts that seek to spread it. That’s forced much of the group’s activities onto platforms that have less moderation, including Telegram, Gab and Trump’s struggling platform, Truth Social.

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I was reading about Obama's new presidential portrait and started thinking again about my favorite Presidential portrait. Not surprisingly, most are sober paintings of stiff men. Sargent's portrait of Teddy Roosevelt has an interesting sparse, sepia, common-man quality. Kennedy's posthumous portrait is grim, nearly a political cartoon. But Norman Rockwell's Nixon is terrific. Nixon looks likes he's leaning forward to listen. He looks relaxed and confident and focused on the the viewer. No jingoistic claptrap or luxury in the background.  No red white and blue.  Just a man in front of you, listening. All presidential portraits should feel so democratic.



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PELTOLA BEATS PALIN
By BECKY BOHRER
September 1, 2022

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat on Wednesday, besting a field that included Republican Sarah Palin, who was seeking a political comeback in the state where she was once governor.

Peltola, who is Yup’ik and turned 49 on Wednesday, will become the first Alaska Native to serve in the House and the first woman to hold the seat. She will serve the remaining months of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term. Young held the seat for 49 years before his death in March.

“I don’t think there will be another birthday like today,” Peltola said.

“Really I’m just so grateful to Alaskans and all the Alaskans who put their faith in me to fill out the remainder of Congressman Young’s term,” she said in an interview. “My desire is to follow in Congressman Young’s legacy of representing all Alaskans, and I’m just looking forward to getting to work.”

Peltola’s victory, in Alaska’s first statewide ranked choice voting election, is a boon for Democrats, particularly coming off better-than-expected performances in special elections around the country this year following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She will be the first Democrat to hold the seat since the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, who was seeking reelection in 1972 when his plane disappeared. Begich was later declared dead and Young in 1973 was elected to the seat.

Peltola ran as a coalition builder while her two Republican opponents — Palin and Begich’s grandson, also named Nick Begich — at times went after each other. Palin also railed against the ranked voting system, which was instituted by Alaska voters.
All three - Peltola, Palin and Begich - are candidates in the November general election, seeking a two-year term that would start in January.
The results came 15 days after the Aug. 16 election, in line with the deadline for state elections officials to receive absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S. Ranked choice tabulations took place Wednesday after no candidate won more than 50% of the first choice votes, with state elections officials livestreaming the event. Peltola was in the lead heading into the tabulations, followed by Palin and then Begich.



State elections officials plan to certify the election by Friday.
Alaska Democratic Party leaders cheered Peltola’s win.

“Alaskans have made clear they want a rational, steadfast, honest and caring voice speaking for them in Washington D.C., not opportunists and extremists associated with the Alaska Republican Party,” state Democratic party chair Michael Wenstrup said in a statement.

Wednesday’s results were a disappointment for Palin, who was looking to make a political comeback 14 years after she was vaulted onto the national stage when John McCain selected her to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. In her run for the House seat, she had widespread name recognition and won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

After Peltola’s victory was announced, Palin called the ranked voting system “crazy, convoluted, confusing.”

“Though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat,” Palin said in a statement.

Begich in a statement congratulated Peltola while looking forward to the November election.

During the campaign, critics questioned Palin’s commitment to Alaska, citing her decision to resign as governor in July 2009, partway through her term. Palin went on to become a conservative commentator on TV and appeared in reality television programs, among other pursuits.

Palin has insisted her commitment to Alaska never wavered and said ahead of the special election that she had “signed up for the long haul.”

Peltola, a former state lawmaker who most recently worked for a commission whose goal is to rebuild salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River, cast herself as a “regular” Alaskan. “I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she said.

Peltola has said she was hopeful that the new system would allow more moderate candidates to be elected.

During the campaign, she emphasized her support of abortion rights and said she wanted to elevate issues of ocean productivity and food security. Peltola said she got a boost after the June special primary when she won endorsements from Democrats and independents who had been in the race. She said she believed her positive messaging also resonated with voters.

“It’s been very attractive to a lot of people to have a message of working together and positivity and holding each other up and unity and as Americans none of us are each other’s enemy,” she said. “That is just a message that people really need to hear right now.”

Alaska voters in 2020 approved an elections process that replaced party primaries with open primaries. Under the new system, ranked voting is used in general elections.

Under ranked voting, ballots are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the vote in the first round. If no one hits that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose that candidate as their top pick have their votes count for their next choice. Rounds continue until two candidates remain, and whoever has the most votes wins.

In Alaska, voters last backed a Democrat for president in 1964. The number of registered voters who are unaffiliated with a party is greater than the number of registered Republicans or Democrats combined, according to statistics from the Division of Elections.

The last Democratic member of Alaska’s congressional delegation was Mark Begich, Nick Begich’s uncle, who served one term in the U.S. Senate and lost his 2014 reelection bid.

Alaska’s U.S. senators, Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, congratulated Peltola.

Murkowski said Peltola “has a long track record of public service to our great state.” Murkowski and Peltola were in the state Legislature together.


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Politics
115 11
TRUMP ORGANIZATION CFO PLEADS GUILTY in TAX EVASION CASE
By MICHAEL R. SISAK@AP NEWS

NEW YORK (AP) — A top executive at former President Donald Trump’s family business pleaded guilty Thursday to evading taxes in a deal with prosecutors that could potentially make him a star witness against the company at a trial this fall.

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to all 15 of the charges he faced in the case.

In a low, somewhat hoarse voice, he admitted taking in over $1.7 million worth of untaxed perks -- including school tuition for his grandchildren, free rent for a Manhattan apartment and lease payments for a luxury car -- and explicitly keeping some of the plums off the books.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to sentence Weisselberg to five months in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, although he will be eligible for release much earlier if he behaves well behind bars. The judge said Weisselberg will have to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest and complete five years of probation.

The plea bargain also requires Weisselberg to testify truthfully as a prosecution witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related charges.

The company is accused of helping Weisselberg and other executives avoid income taxes by failing to report their full compensation accurately to the government. Trump himself is not charged in the case.

Trump CFO’s plea deal could make him a prosecution witness

Weisselberg said nothing as he left court, offering no reply when a journalist asked whether he had any message for Trump.

Weisselberg’s lawyer Nicholas Gravante Jr.(*) said his client pleaded guilty “to put an end to this case and the years-long legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family.”

“We are glad to have this behind him,” the lawyer added.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Weisselberg’s plea “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity and requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial against the corporation.”

“We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization,” he added.

Testimony by Weisselberg could potentially weaken the Trump Organization’s defense. If convicted, the company could face fines or potentially be placed on probation and be forced to change certain business practices.

The company praised Weisselberg on Thursday as a trusted, honorable veteran employee who has been “persecuted and threatened by law enforcement, particularly the Manhattan district attorney, in their never-ending, politically motivated quest to get President Trump.”

In a statement, the company accused prosecutors of trying to pressure Weisselberg to cast aspersions on Trump, and of stretching to make a criminal case out of familiar executive perks such as a company car.

The company said it has done nothing wrong, won’t plead guilty and looks forward “to having our day in court.”

Weisselberg, 75, is the only person to face criminal charges so far in the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running investigation of the company’s business practices.

Seen as one of Trump’s most loyal business associates, Weisselberg was arrested in July 2021. His lawyers have argued the Democrat-led district attorney’s office was punishing him because he wouldn’t offer information that would damage Trump.

The district attorney has also been investigating whether Trump or his company lied to banks or the government about the value of its properties to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.

Then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who started the investigation, last year directed his deputies to present evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment of Trump, according to former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who previously led the probe.

But after Vance left office, his successor, Bragg, allowed the grand jury to disband without charges. Both prosecutors are Democrats. Bragg has said the investigation is continuing.

The Trump Organization is not involved in Weisselberg’s guilty plea Thursday and is scheduled to be tried in the alleged compensation scheme in October.
Prosecutors alleged that the company gave untaxed fringe benefits to senior executives, including Weisselberg, for 15 years. Weisselberg alone was accused of defrauding the federal government, state and city out of more than $900,000 in unpaid taxes and undeserved tax refunds.

Under state law, punishment for the most serious charge against Weisselberg, grand larceny, could carry a penalty as high as 15 years in prison. But the charge carries no mandatory minimum, and most first-time offenders in tax-related cases never end up behind bars.

His sentencing won’t happen until after the trial of the Trump Organization, which is facing tax fraud charges punishable by a fine of double the amount of unpaid taxes, or $250,000, whichever is larger.

Trump has decried the New York investigations as a “political witch hunt” and has said his company’s actions were standard practice in the real estate business and in no way a crime.

Last week, Trump sat for a deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ parallel civil investigation into allegations that Trump’s company misled lenders and tax authorities about asset values. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than 400 times.

*son of Gambino Crime Family lawyer, Nicholas Gravante, Sr.


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Current events
20 7
A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO I RECEIVED A NOTE FROM A GOLD STAR FATHER. HE SAID TO ME, STANDING UP FOR TRUTH HONORS ALL WHO GAVE ALL AND I HAVE THOUGHT OF HIS WORDS EVERY SINGLE DAY SINCE THEN I'VE THOUGHT OF THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE A REMINDER OF HOW WE MUST ALL CONDUCT OURSELVES. WE MUST CONDUCT OURSELVES IN A WAY THAT IS WORTHY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO WEAR THE UNIFORM OF THIS NATION AND IN PARTICULAR OF THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE.

THIS IS NOT A GAME. EVERY ONE OF US MUST BE COMMITTED TO THE ETERNAL DEFENSE OF THIS MIRACULOUS EXPERIMENT CALLED AMERICA AND AT THE HEART OF OUR DEMOCRATIC PROCESS, OUR ELECTIONS. THEY ARE THE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE OF OUR CONSTITUTION. 

TWO YEARS AGO, I WON THIS PRIMARY WITH 73% OF THE VOTE. I COULD EASILY HAVE DONE THE SAME AGAIN. THE PATH WAS CLEAR BUT IT WOULD HAVE REQUIRED THAT I GO ALONG WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LIE ABOUT THE 2020 ELECTION. IT WOULD HAVE REQUIRED THAT I ENABLE HIS ONGOING EFFORTS TO UNRAVEL OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM AND ATTACK THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR REPUBLIC. THAT WAS A PATH I COULD NOT AND WOULD NOT TAKE. 

NO HOUSE SEAT. NO OFFICE IN THIS LAND IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRINCIPLES THAT WE ARE ALL SWORN TO PROTECT AND I WELL UNDERSTOOD THE POTENTIAL POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF ABIDING BY MY DUTY. OUR REPUBLIC RELIES UPON THE GOODWILL OF ALL CANDIDATES FOR OFFICE TO ACCEPT HONORABLY THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.   THIS PRIMARY ELECTION IS OVER BUT NOW THE REAL WORK BEGINS.

THE GREAT AND ORIGINAL CHAMPION OF OUR PARTY, ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS DEFEATED IN ELECTIONS FOR THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE BEFORE HE WON THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF ALL. LINCOLN ULTIMATELY PREVAILED. HE SAVED OUR UNION AND HE DEFINED OUR OBLIGATION AS AMERICANS FOR ALL OF HISTORY. SPEAKING AT GETTYSBURG, OF THE GREAT TASK REMAINING BEFORE US, LINCOLN SAID THAT WE HERE HIGHLY RESOLVE THAT THESE DEAD SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN. THAT THIS NATION UNDER GOD SHALL HAVE A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM AND THAT GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THIS EARTH . AS WE MEET HERE TONIGHT, THAT REMAINS OUR GREATEST AND MOST IMPORTANT TASK.

MOST OF WORLD HISTORY IS A STORY OF VIOLENT CONFLICT[ OF SERVITUDE AND SUFFERING. MOST PEOPLE IN MOST PLACES HAVE NOT LIVED IN FREEDOM.  OUR AMERICAN FREEDOM IS A PROVIDENTIAL DEPARTURE FROM HISTORY. WE ARE THE EXCEPTION, WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE GIFT OF FREEDOM BY GOD AND OUR FOUNDING FATHERS. 

IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT THE LONG ARC OF HISTORY BENDS TOWARDS JUSTICE AND FREEDOM. THAT'S TRUE, BUT ONLY IF WE MAKE IT BEND. TODAY OUR HIGHEST DUTY IS TO BEND THE ARC OF HISTORY, TO PRESERVE OUR NATION AND ITS BLESSINGS TO ENSURE THAT FREEDOM WILL NOT PERISH, TO PROTECT THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF THIS CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. 

NEVER IN OUR NATION'S 246 YEARS HAVE WE SEEN WHAT WE SAW ON JANUARY 6. LIKE SO MANY AMERICANS, I ASSUMED THAT THE VIOLENCE AND THE CHAOS OF THAT DAY WOULD HAVE PROMPTED A UNITED RESPONSE, A RECOGNITION THAT THIS WAS A LINE THAT MUST NEVER BE CROSSED, A TRAGIC CHAPTER IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY TO BE STUDIED BY HISTORIANS TO ENSURE THAT IT CAN NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.   BUT INSTEAD, MAJOR ELEMENTS OF MY PARTY STILL VEHEMENTLY DEFENDS THOSE WHO CAUSED IT.

AT THE HEART OF THE ATTACK ON JANUARY 6, IS A WILLINGNESS TO EMBRACE DANGEROUS CONSPIRACIES THAT ATTACK THE VERY CORE PREMISE OF OUR NATION. THAT LAWFUL ELECTIONS REVIEWED BY THE COURTS WHEN NECESSARY AND CERTIFIED BY THE STATES AND ELECTORAL COLLEGE DETERMINE WHO SERVES AS PRESIDENT. IF WE DO NOT CONDEMN THE CONSPIRACIES AND THE LIES, IF WE DO NOT HOLD THOSE RESPONSIBLE TO ACCOUNT, WE WILL BE EXCUSING THIS CONDUCT AND IT WILL BECOME A FEATURE OF ALL ELECTIONS.

 AMERICA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME . 

TODAY AS WE MEET HERE, THERE ARE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR WHO DENY THE OUTCOME OF THE 2020 ELECTION AND WHO MAY REFUSE TO CERTIFY FUTURE ELECTIONS IF THEY OPPOSE THE RESULTS. 

WE HAVE CANDIDATES FOR SECRETARY OF STATE WHO MAY REFUSE TO REPORT THE ACTUAL RESULTS OF THE POPULAR VOTE IN FUTURE ELECTIONS. 

AND WE HAVE CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS INCLUDING HERE IN WYOMING, WHO REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT JOE BIDEN WON THE 2020 ELECTION AND SUGGESTED STATES DECERTIFY THEIR RESULTS. 

OUR NATION IS BARRELING ONCE AGAIN TOWARDS CRISIS, LAWLESSNESS, AND VIOLENCE! NO AMERICAN SHOULD SUPPORT ELECTION DENIERS FOR ANY POSITION OF GENUINE RESPONSIBILITY WHERE THEIR REFUSAL TO FOLLOW THE RULE OF LAW WILL CORRUPT OUR FUTURE!

OUR NATION IS YOUNG IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND AND YET WE'RE THE OLDEST DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD. OUR SURVIVAL IS NOT GUARANTEED. HISTORY HAS SHOWN US OVER AND OVER AGAIN HOW POISONOUS LIES DESTROY FREE NATIONS. 

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, IN THE JANUARY SIX HEARINGS, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE WATCHED DOZENS OF REPUBLICANS, INCLUDING THE MOST SENIOR OFFICIALS WORKING FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND ON HIS CAMPAIGN. PEOPLE WHO SERVED PRESIDENT TRUMP LOYALLY TESTIFY THAT THEY TOLD HIM THE ELECTION WAS NOT STOLEN OR  RIGGED AND THAT THERE WAS NO MASSIVE FRAUD. THAT'S  WHY PRESIDENT TRUMP AND OTHERS INVENT EXCUSES AND PRETEXTS FOR PEOPLE NOT TO WATCH THE HEARINGS AT ALL,

BUT NO CITIZEN OF THIS REPUBLIC IS A BYSTANDER.

ALL OF US HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO UNDERSTAND WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. WE CANNOT ABANDON THE TRUTH AND REMAIN A FREE NATION. 

TO BELIEVE DONALD TRUMP'S ELECTION LIES, YOU MUST BELIEVE THAT DOZENS OF FEDERAL AND STATE COURTS WHO RULED AGAINST HIM, INCLUDING MANY JUDGES HE APPOINTED, WERE ALL CORRUPTED AND BIASED. THAT ALL MANNER OF CRAZY CONSPIRACY THEORIES STOLE OUR ELECTION FROM US AND THAT DONALD TRUMP ACTUALLY REMAINS PRESIDENT TODAY. 

AS OF LAST WEEK, YOU MUST ALSO BELIEVE THAT 30 CAREER FBI AGENTS WHO HAVE SPENT THEIR LIVES WORKING TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY, ABANDONED THEIR HONOR AND THEIR OATHS AND WENT TO MAR A LAGO NOT TO PERFORM A LAWFUL SEARCH OR ADDRESS A NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT, BUT INSTEAD WITH A SECRET PLAN TO PLANT FAKE INCRIMINATING DOCUMENTS IN THE BOXES THEY SEIZED. THIS IS YET ANOTHER INSIDIOUS LIE.

DONALD TRUMP KNOWS THAT VOICING THESE CONSPIRACIES WILL PROVOKE VIOLENCE AND THREATS OF VIOLENCE. THIS HAPPENED ON JANUARY 6 AND IS NOW HAPPENING AGAIN. IT IS ENTIRELY FORESEEABLE THAT THE VIOLENCE WILL ESCALATE FURTHER. YET HE AND OTHERS CONTINUE PURPOSELY TO FEED THE DANGER . 


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People
26 11
In this video Bill Maher explains some of the issues of the lgbt movement. 


More surprising is his criticisms are better than what most conservatives are able to come up with, other than pointing to the obvious manchausen by proxy mother's shifting their focus from pretending their kids are sick to pretending they are the opposite gender and harming their children in that way. 


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Society
7 5
Congratulations to Intelligence_06 for going ahead of Barney to the number 2 slot on the LEADERBOARD with an impressive 73 Wins.  Proof that Intelligence is more than just his username.

What an excellent performance!  I wonder if he will be up for Hall of Fame this Year?

Well done!  We'll have to find a subject to debate about in the near future.
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People
5 3
Takeaways from the unsealed Mar-a-Lago search affidavit
By JILL COLVIN and NOMAAN MERCHANT@AP NEWS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Friday unsealed the FBI affidavit justifying the unprecedented search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. While the document released is highly redacted, with many of its 32 pages crossed out in black blocks, it includes new details about the sheer volume of sensitive and highly classified information that was stored at the former president’s Florida beachfront home, underscoring the government’s concerns about its safety.

Here are top takeaways of what the document revealed:

  • TRUMP HAD ‘A LOT’ OF CLASSIFIED MATERIAL STORED AT HIS CLUB
While the affidavit doesn’t provide new details about the 11 sets of classified records that were recovered during the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Trump’s winter home, it does help to explain why the Justice Department believed that retrieving the outstanding documents was necessary.

Federal investigators knew months before the search that Trump had been storing top secret government records at Mar-a-Lago, a private club accessible not only to Trump, his staff and his family, but paying members and their guests, along with a revolving door of attendees at various functions, including weddings, paid political fundraisers and charity galas.

The affidavit notes that Mar-a-Lago storage areas, Trump’s office, his residential suite and other areas at the club where documents were suspected to still be kept were not authorized locations for the storage of classified information. Indeed, it notes that no space at Mar-a-Lago had been authorized for the storage of classified information at least since the end of Trump’s term in office.

Yet the affidavit reveals that, of the batch of 15 boxes that the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved from Trump’s home in January, 14 contained documents with classification markings. Inside, they found 184 documents bearing classification markings, including 67 marked confidential, 92 secret and 25 top secret.

The Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department on Feb. 9 after a preliminary review of the boxes found what they described as “a lot of classified records."

  • THE RECORDS INCLUDED TOP INTELLIGENCE SECRETS
Agents who inspected the boxes found special markings suggesting they included information from highly sensitive human sources or the collection of electronic “signals” authorized by a court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The affidavit lists several markings, including ORCON, or “Originator Controlled.” That means officials at the intelligence agency responsible for the report did not want it distributed to other agencies without their permission.

There may also be other types of records with classified names or codewords still redacted.

“When things are at that level of classification, it’s because there’s a real danger to the people who are collecting the information or the capability,” said Douglas London, a former senior CIA officer who wrote a book about the agency, “The Recruiter.” “

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not responded to calls from Congress for a damage assessment. Sen. Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement in which he once again called for a briefing.

“It appears, based on the affidavit unsealed this morning, that among the improperly handled documents at Mar-a-Lago were some of our most sensitive intelligence,” Warner said.

  • CLASSIFIED RECORDS WERE MIXED WITH OTHER PAPERS
Some of those classified records were mixed with other documents, the affidavit says, citing a letter from the Archives.

According to Archives’ White House liaison division director, the boxes contained “newspapers, magazines, printed news articles, photos, miscellaneous print-
outs, notes, presidential correspondence, personal and post-presidential records, and ‘a lot of classified records.’” Several contained what appeared to be Trump’s handwritten notes.

Of most significant concern: “highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly (sic) identified.

A president might be given raw intelligence reporting to supplement his briefings or to cover a breaking or critically important matter, said David Priess, a former CIA officer and White House briefer who wrote “The President’s Book of Secrets,” a history of the President’s Daily Brief.

But it would be “unusual, if not unprecedented, for a president to keep it and to intermingle it with other papers,” he said.

“Even though I was prepared for this because I knew the judge would not approve a search based on something minor, the breadth and depth of the careless handling of classified information is truly shocking,” Priess said.

  • TRUMP HAD REPEATED OPPORTUNITIES TO RETURN THE DOCUMENTS
The affidavit makes clear yet again that Trump had numerous opportunities to return the documents to the government, but simply chose not to.

A lengthy process to retrieve the documents had been underway essentially since Trump left the White House. The document states that, on or about May 6, 2021, the Archives made a request for the missing records “and continued to make requests until approximately late December 2021” when it was informed 12 boxes were found and ready for retrieval from the club.

The affidavit makes clear that the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation concerns not just the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces and the potentially unlawful concealment or removal of government records, but says investigators had “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction” would be found in their search.

Trump’s lawyer, in a letter that was included in the release, had argued to DOJ that presidents have “absolute” authority to declassify documents, claiming that his “constitutionally-based authority regarding the classification and declassification of documents is unfettered.” Trump has not provided evidence the documents at Mar-a-Lago were declassified before he left Washington.

  • TRUMP SAYS HE DID ‘NOTHING WRONG’
Trump has long insisted, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that he fully cooperated with government officials and had every right to have the documents on site. On his social media site, he responded to the unsealing by continuing to vilify law enforcement.

He called it a “total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ” and said “WE GAVE THEM MUCH.” In another post, he offered just two words: “WITCH HUNT!!!”
In an interview on Lou Dobbs’ “The Great America Show” on Thursday, he said he’d done nothing wrong.

“This is a political attack on our country and it’s a disgrace,” he added. “It’s a disgrace.”


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Current events
20 6
After 15 days of voting and with fairly good participation,  DARTers expressed clear support for the proposition that we add a new category entitled HISTORY.

Regarding the PROPOSITION:

Shall we request the creation of a new FORUM CATEGORY titled HISTORY ?

23 VOTERS voted YES
8   VOTERS voted NO

This topic is created to provide that result to DebateArt.com and Mods requesting this change .







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DebateArt.com
12 5
WHISTLEBLOWER ACCUSES TWITTER of CYBERSECURITY NEGLIGENCE
By MATT O'BRIEN, ALAN SUDERMAN and FRANK BAJAK @AP NEWS
yesterday


Twitter’s former head of security alleged that the company misled regulators about its poor cybersecurity defenses and its negligence in attempting to root out fake accounts that spread disinformation, according to a whistleblower complaint filed with U.S. officials.

The revelation could create serious legal and financial problems for the social media platform, which is currently attempting to force Tesla CEO Elon Musk to consummate his $44 billion offer to buy the company. Several members of Congress on Tuesday called on regulators to investigate the claims.

Peiter Zatko, who served as Twitter’s security chief until he was fired early this year, filed the complaints last month with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. The legal nonprofit Whistleblower Aid, which is working with Zatko, confirmed the authenticity of a redacted copy of the complaint posted online by the Washington Post.

“This was a last resort for him,” said John Tye, the group’s co-founder and chief disclosure officer, in an interview Tuesday. He said Zatko exhausted all attempts to get his concerns resolved inside the company before his firing in January.

Among Zatko’s most serious accusations is that Twitter violated the terms of a 2011 FTC settlement by falsely claiming that it had put stronger measures in place to protect the security and privacy of its users. Zatko also accuses the company of deceptions involving its handling of “spam” or fake accounts, an allegation that is at the core of Musk’s attempt to back out of the Twitter takeover.

Shares of Twitter Inc. closed down more than 7% Tuesday.

Better known by his hacker handle “Mudge,” Zatko is a highly respected cybersecurity expert who first gained prominence in the 1990s and later worked in senior positions at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Agency and Google.

He joined Twitter at the urging of then-CEO Jack Dorsey in late 2020, the same year the company suffered an embarrassing security breach involving hackers who broke into the Twitter accounts of world leaders, celebrities and tech moguls, including Musk, in an attempt to scam their followers out of bitcoin.

Twitter said in a prepared statement Tuesday that Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance” and said the “allegations and opportunistic timing appear designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.” The company called his complaint “a false narrative” that is “riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context.”

Zatko’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Alexis Ronickher, said Twitter’s claim about his poor performance is false and that he repeatedly raised concerns about “grossly inadequate information security systems” with top executives and Twitter’s board of directors. The lawyers said that in late 2021, after the board was given “whitewashed” information about those security problems, Zatko escalated his concerns, “clashed” with CEO Parag Agrawal and board member Omid Kordestani and was fired two weeks later.

The 84-page complaint describes a broken corporate culture at Twitter that lacked effective leadership and where Zatko said top executives practiced “deliberate ignorance” of pressing problems. His description of Dorsey’s leadership style is particularly scathing; he described the Twitter founder as “extremely disengaged” during the last months of his tenure as CEO to the point where he would not even speak during meetings on complex issues facing the company.

Zatko said he heard from colleagues that Dorsey would remain silent for “days or weeks.” Dorsey announced he was stepping down as Twitter CEO in November 2021.

The disclosure says Twitter offered no monetary incentives for improving security and platform integrity, although the company did offer $10 million bonuses last year for top executives who could generate short-term user growth.

Among Zatko’s accusations of cybersecurity malpractice: Software and security updates were disabled on more than a third of employees’ computers -- unduly exposing them to malware -- and it was common for people to install “whatever software they wanted on their work systems.” Such lapses are typically considered cardinal sins in cybersecurity.

Whistleblower Aid said it is legally precluded from sharing Zatko’s statement. The same group worked with former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who testified to Congress last year after leaking internal documents and accusing the social media giant of choosing profit over safety.

“I wouldn’t say he’s happy about having to become a whistleblower, but he’s resolute in his decision,” Tye said. “And committed to getting to the bottom of this.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Senate’s intelligence committee, Rachel Cohen, said the committee has received Zatko’s complaint and is working to set up a meeting “to discuss the allegations in further detail. We take this matter seriously.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said in a prepared statement that if the claims are accurate, “they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world.”

Among the most alarming complaints is Zatko’s allegation that Twitter knowingly allowed the Indian government to place its agents on the company payroll where they had “direct unsupervised access to the company’s systems and user data.”

A 2011 FTC complaint noted that Twitter’s systems were full of highly sensitive data that could allow a hostile government to find precise location data for specific users and target them for violence or arrest. Earlier this month, a former Twitter employee was found guilty after a trial in California of passing along sensitive Twitter user data to royal family members in Saudi Arabia in exchange for bribes.

The complaint said Twitter was also heavily reliant on funding by Chinese entities and that there were concerns within Twitter that the company was providing information to those entities that would enable them to learn the identify and sensitive information of Chinese users who secretly use Twitter, which is officially banned in China.

Zatko also describes willful ignorance by Twitter executives on counting the millions of accounts that are automated “spam bots” or otherwise have no value to advertisers because there is no person behind them. Zatko cited a “damning” 2021 outside report that found Twitter’s tools for tackling bots were neither sufficiently automated or sophisticated and instead relied on humans “not adequately staffed or resourced, to address the misinformation and disinformation problem.”

Alex Spiro, an attorney representing Musk in his effort to back out of his Twitter acquisition deal, said lawyers have issued a subpoena for Zatko. “We found his exit and that of other key employees curious in light of what we have been finding,” Spiro wrote in an email Tuesday. Spiro said Zatko and Musk have not been in contact at any time this year.

Tye said “he’s never met Elon Musk. Doesn’t know Elon Musk. They know people in common.” Asked if mutual friends could have shared information about Twitter’s bot problems with Musk, Tye said Zatko “has not communicated with any other party about his disclosures” since filing the complaints in July.
——
AP writers Tom Krisher and Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.




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Is there popular support for a new forum category CONSPIRACY THEORIES?

If this idea seems popular I propose we have a vote on it from Aug 1st to Aug 15th

I will also be separately proposing a new forum category HISTORY to be voted on during the same period if such an idea seems popular.

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DebateArt.com
50 15
GIULIANI is TARGET of ELECTION PROBE
by KATE BRUMBACK and JILL COLVIN
@APNEWS

ATLANTA (AP) — Prosecutors in Atlanta on Monday told lawyers for Rudy Giuliani that he’s a target of their criminal investigation into possible illegal attempts by then-President Donald Trump and others to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia, one of Giuliani’s lawyers said Monday.

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade alerted Giuliani’s local attorney in Atlanta that the former New York City mayor could face criminal charges, another Giuliani attorney, Bob Costello said. News of the disclosure was first reported by The New York Times.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation last year, and a special grand jury was seated in May at her request. County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, has instructed Giuliani to appear before the panel to testify on Wednesday.

Willis’s investigation was spurred by a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During that January 2021 conversation, Trump suggested that Raffensperger could “find” the votes needed to overturn his narrow loss in the state.

It has also become clear that the district attorney is interested in Georgia legislative committee hearings that were held in December 2020 where Giuliani appeared and spread false claims of election fraud in Atlanta’s Fulton County.

Willis last month filed petitions seeking to compel testimony from seven Trump associates and advisers. Because they don’t live in Georgia, she had to use a process that involves asking a judge in the states where they live to order them to appear.

In a petition seeking Giuliani’s testimony, Willis identified him as both a personal attorney for Trump and a lead attorney for his campaign. She wrote that he and others appeared at a state Senate committee meeting and presented a video that Giuliani said showed election workers producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers.

Within 24 hours of that Dec. 3, 2020, hearing, Raffensperger’s office had debunked the video. But Giuliani continued to make statements to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings claiming widespread voter fraud using the debunked video, Willis wrote.

Evidence shows that Giuliani’s hearing appearance and testimony “was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” the petition says.

Also Monday, a federal judge said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta that is investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke any laws while trying to overturn his narrow 2020 general election loss in the state.

Attorneys for Graham, R-S.C., had argued that his position as a U.S. senator provided him immunity from having to appear before the investigative panel and asked the judge to quash his subpoena. But U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May wrote in an order Monday that immunities related to his role as a senator do not protect him from having to testify. Graham’s subpoena instructs him to appear before the special grand jury on Aug. 23, but his office said Monday he plans to appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prosecutors have indicated they want to ask Graham about phone calls they say he made to Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following Trump’s election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Graham had argued that a provision of the Constitution provides absolute protection against a senator being questioned about legislative acts. But the judge found there are “considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry” that fall outside that provision’s scope. The judge also rejected Graham’s argument that the principle of “sovereign immunity” protects a senator from being summoned by a state prosecutor.

Graham also argued that Willis, a Democrat, had not demonstrated extraordinary circumstances necessary to compel testimony from a high-ranking official. But the judge disagreed, finding that Willis had shown “extraordinary circumstances and a special need” for Graham’s testimony on issues related to an alleged attempt to influence or disrupt the election in Georgia.

May, the judge, last month rejected a similar attempt by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., to avoid testifying before the special grand jury. Former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had argued he couldn’t travel to Atlanta to testify because of health issues, but Fulton County Judge McBurney instructed him to appear on Wednesday.

Graham’s office said in a statement Monday that the senator disagrees with the judge’s interpretation of the provision of the Constitution he believes protects him from being questioned by a state official. His lawyers have said that he was making inquiries that were clearly part of his legislative duties, related to certification of the vote and to the proposal of election-related legislation.

But the judge wrote that that ignores “the fact that individuals on the calls have publicly suggested that Senator Graham was not simply engaged in legislative factfinding but was instead suggesting or implying that Georgia election officials change their processes or otherwise potentially alter the state’s results.”

In calls made shortly after the 2020 general election, Graham “questioned Raffensperger and his staff about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump,” Willis wrote in a petition.

Graham also “made reference to allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia, consistent with public statements made by known affiliates of the Trump Campaign,” she wrote.

Republican and Democratic state election officials across the country, courts and even Trump’s attorney general found there was no evidence of any voter fraud sufficient to affect the outcome of his 2020 presidential election loss.

Trump-allied lawmakers were planning to challenge the tallies from several battleground states when Congress convened on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the results under the Electoral Count Act, but after the Capitol attack that day Georgia’s tally was never contested.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has described his call to Raffensperger as “perfect.”





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12 4
DEMOCRATS CLOSE the GAP in TWO POST-ROE v. WADE SPECIAL ELECTIONS
Aaron Blake@WashPo

Two months ago, Republicans hailed the takeover of a Democratic seat in a South Texas special election as proof of their 2022 momentum. Ten days later, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and since then there have been more and more signs that this momentum might not be all it was cracked up to be.

That culminated Tuesday in Democrats over-performing in the second straight special election since Roe was overturned, in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. Similar to Nebraska’s 1st District just days after the court’s action, Republicans still held the conservative-leaning seat but by a smaller margin than they’d like and by a smaller margin than in 2020.

In Nebraska, the GOP won by six points in a district that Trump had carried by 15 in 2020. In Minnesota, the margin is currently four points in a district Trump won by 10.

These are hardly massive shifts, and these are merely two out of 435 districts. We shouldn’t oversell the results in one, two or even five districts as predictive. But those results don’t seem commensurate with an impending red wave in the 2022 midterms, which not along ago seemed like it was indeed building.

History suggests such special elections held so close to the next election can be revealing of what may come the next November — though not always.

Democrats held on to a GOP-leaning district in Arizona in June 2012 after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and went on to hold the presidency that November. In June 2014, a late special election in Florida showed Republicans significantly over-performing the 2012 presidential election results, shortly before they flipped the Senate. The story was similar in an Ohio special election in June 2016, shortly before Trump won the presidency. In 2018, the Democrats’ takeover of the House was preceded by another Ohio special election — in August — in which they very nearly picked off a district that had favored Trump by double-digits.

(These are single special elections, but this late in an election cycle, we generally don’t have many to compare. And when we do, there are sometimes factors that make them very difficult to read, including when they feature two candidates of the same party.)

Other late special elections have been less telling. In 2010, Democrats hailed their ability to hold a conservative-leaning district in western Pennsylvania in May, but they still got drubbed that November. And 2020 featured both a surprising GOP pickup in California in May and a big Democratic overperformance in Upstate New York the next month — the GOP won by just five points in a district Trump had carried by 25 — before Democrats reclaimed both the Senate and the presidency in November.

If there’s one encouraging thing for Democrats about these two post-Roe special elections — and whether they might tell us some larger dynamic — its in how closely they mirrored one another.

As The Washington Post’s Lenny Bronner noted, the data on both races show the Democrats over-performing in Democratic-leaning and generally more populous areas, suggesting their base was more mobilized, relative to Republicans.

Here’s how that looks:

The Republican congressman-elect in Minnesota, Brad Finstad, effectively matched Trump’s performance in rural, red counties. But he did significantly worse than Trump in more competitive and bluer areas. Democrat Jeff Ettinger was able to improve upon President Biden’s margins by enough in those areas to bring this district from a 10-point Republican one to a four-point Republican one.

There was some question after the Nebraska special election about precisely why Democrats had done better there. The seat was vacant after GOP congressman Jeff Fortenberry, was convicted on three felony counts and resigned. And history shows scandals can create some funky results in the ensuing special election (including perhaps in that California district in 2020). Maybe this wasn’t really about Roe; maybe it was for very local reasons.

But the outcomes in Minnesota and Nebraska — combined with their party’s generic ballot numbers improving of late — give Democrats some license to believe the fundamentals are getting better for them, because the results in both races were so similar despite all the different variables involved.

That doesn’t mean they’re gong to hold both the House and Senate come November; that’ll be very difficult, given how narrow their majorities are. And history suggests Democrats need to do better than merely drawing even on the generic ballot, which is about where they are now. Things also can and will change.
But over-performing in races three to four months before the general election is surely better than the alternative. And we’ll have a couple more special elections to examine in the coming weeks — both in Upstate New York on Aug. 23 — to help us evaluate the trends.




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4 3
(But it's totally fine because he only did it for the money)

Paul Manafort told Insider he gave Trump data to Russians to lay the groundwork for future business deals
Camila DeChalus 

  • Paul Manafort denies that he shared polling data with Russians to help Trump win in 2016.
  • Manafort says that he shared the information to lay the groundwork for future business deals.
  • Manafort has previously failed to recall certain details about him sharing data with his associate.
Donald Trump's 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort told Insider in an exclusive interview that he shared campaign polling data with a suspected Russian intelligence officer to lay out the groundwork for future business dealings for himself and not to help Trump get elected.

"It was meant to show how Clinton was vulnerable," he told Insider.

He was trying to leverage his connections with Trump to get more money from "pro-Russia oligarchs," Manafort added.

Manafort acknowledged he was aware that he shared confidential polling data from the Trump campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence. In 2021, the Treasury Department found that Kilimnik then shared data deemed as "sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy" with Russian spies. The Department then sanctioned Kilimnik for this transaction. 

Manafort pushed back on the claim that the information was sensitive and told Insider that the data he shared with the business associate "was a combination of public information." 

Manafort previously denied that he shared information with Kilimnik during Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. He told Insider that he failed to recall sharing data with Kilimnik during Mueller's investigation because his memory began to deteriorate due to the conditions of his detainment.

Manafort's interview with Insider comes after he spent nearly two years in prison on various charges, including tax fraud and witness tampering, a result of Mueller's investigation.

Trump pardoned Manafort in 2020. 


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52 6
In late June,  Republicans in Texas published two resolutions emerging from their 2022 party convention. 

1. 2020 Election:

We believe that the 2020 election violated Article 1 and 2 of the US Constitution, that various secretaries of state illegally circumvented their state legislatures in conducting their elections in multiple ways, including by allowing ballots to be received after November 3, 2020.  We believe that substantial election fraud in key metropolitan areas significantly affected the results in five key states in favor of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.   We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.

No evidence supports this claim. Most of Trump's closest advisors have now testified under oath that Trump deliberately manufactured  and propagandized this false claim entirely aware of the absence of evidence and entirely aware of the illegal, unconstitutional, unpatriotic and anti-American nature of manufacturing such a claim.  That Texas Republicans choose to promote the Big Lie in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary demonstrates that Texas Republicans remain supplicant  to Trump's will and are therefore disqualified from any position of political leadership.

2. Resolution against the Gang of 20 Gun Control bill:

Whereas those under 21 are most likely to be victims of violent crime and thus most likely to need to defend themselves.  Whereas “red flag laws” violate one’s right to due process and are a pre-crime punishment of people not adjudicated guilty.   Whereas waiting periods on gun purchases harm those who need to acquire the means of self defense in emergencies such as riots.  Whereas all gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment and our God given rights.  We reject the so called “bipartisan gun agreement”, and we rebuke Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

According to the GOP, Jesus wants us to make sure we are putting machine guns in the hands of those under 21 years of age, especially in the middle of a riot.

Both of these strike me as signaling loyalty to powers entirely unaffiliated with the truth, common sense, or American prosperity.




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15 6
ALEX JONES LEARNS on WITNESS STAND THAT LAWYER SENT his TEXT MESSAGES to RIVAL ATTORNEYS
Dylan Stableford@yahoo!news

While being cross-examined at his defamation trial in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, Alex Jones was informed that his attorneys accidentally sent two years of text messages from his cellphone to the lawyer for the Sandy Hook parents suing him — and then failed to note that the messages were protected under attorney-client privilege.

Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, presented a text message about Sandy Hook that Bankston said came from Jones’s cellphone.
“Do you know where I got this?” Bankston asked Jones.

“No,” Jones replied.

Bankston explained: “Twelve days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone with every text message that you’ve sent for the past two years — and when informed, did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected.”

In a pretrial deposition, Jones had testified under oath that he had searched his phone for text messages about Sandy Hook in preparation for the trial and found none.

“That is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have any text messages about Sandy Hook,” Bankston told Jones. “Did you know this?”

Jones said he did not, and that he had given his phone to his attorneys.

"I guess this is your 'Perry Mason' moment," he added.

"You know what perjury is, right?" Bankston asked.

“Yes, I do,” Jones replied. “I mean, I’m not a tech guy.”

The dramatic exchange came during cross-examination of Jones on the second day of his testimony.

Earlier Wednesday, Jones sought to portray himself as a victim who had been “typecast” for claiming that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was staged.

Jones, the only witness called by his defense team, began by complaining about media outlets that refuse to report that he now believes that the massacre, which left 20 children and six educators dead, actually happened.

“It's 100% real,” Jones said under direct questioning from his lawyer F. Andino Reynal.

The concession came a day after Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of Jesse Lewis, a 6-year-old boy killed at Sandy Hook, told the jury that false claims that the attack did not occur have made their lives a “living hell.”

Heslin and Lewis are suing Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems for $150 million for the harassment they've received as a result of the unfounded conspiracy theory spread by Jones and his guests on Infowars, a far-right website that hosts talk shows and other content.

Jones was asked by Reynal to explain what he now thinks about the massacre in Newtown.

“I think Sandy Hook happened. I think it was a terrible event,” he said, before adding: “I think it was a cover-up. The FBI knew it was going to happen.”

Under cross-examination, Bankston peppered Jones with questions about statements that have been made on Infowars during the trial, including the suggestion that Judge Maya Guerra Gamble is rigging the proceedings with an actual script, and that Gamble is somehow involved in a pedophilia ring.

Bankston asked Jones if such statements were evidence that he is taking the trial seriously.

“I think this is serious as cancer,” Jones replied.

Bankston also asked Jones about other mass tragedies that he has claimed were "false flag" events, including the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Parkland, Fla., and Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the Boston Marathon bombings.

As was the case during Jones's testimony on Tuesday, Gamble repeatedly reminded him to answer only the questions he was asked.

“This is not your show,” the judge said.


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Is there popular support for a new forum category HISTORY?

If this idea seems popular I propose we have a vote on it from Aug 1st to Aug 15th

I will also be separately proposing a new forum category CONSPIRACY THEORIES to be voted on during the same period if such an idea seems popular.
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DebateArt.com
8 6
Booker: Thank you very much, judge. After me, only 5 to go. But sit back for a second, ‘cause I don’t have questions right away. I actually have a number of things I just want to say, because this has been not a surprise given the history that we all know – not a surprise, but perhaps a little bit of a disappointment, some of the things that’ve been said in this hearing. The way you have dealt with some of these things, that’s why you are a judge and I am a politician because you have sat with grit and grace and have shown us just extraordinary demeanor during the times where people were saying things to you that are actually out of the norm. I had to go up dais to ask some of my more senior colleagues about what I feel like is a dangerous precedent. People are taking a thousand cases you’ve been over – is that right? I’m sorry I said I wouldn’t ask you questions but just give me …

Jackson: Something like that.

Booker: Something like that. And from what I understand, these cases sometimes take days, weeks, sometimes months, right?

Jackson: To decide in a case? Yes.

Booker: There’s a trial sometimes, and folks are taking any of those cases and just trying to pick pieces out. And so my my colleague Senator Hawley has been doing this all into the lead up, and saying things, tweeting things that I think that a lot of us, when I was just trying to get some advice here, is this is what the new standard’s going to be: that any judge coming before us that has ever chosen outside of the sentencing guidelines, below the sentencing guidelines. We’re creating this environment now where I can make myself the hero of people who have been victims of some horrible crime and suddenly put whatever judge I want on the defensive by trying to drag out little bits when they have no context to the case – none of the facts. They’re seeking to exploit the complexities of a criminal justice system, the reason why we have a third branch of government. I feel bad that there was a judge mentioned by name in this hearing that’s from Senator Hawley’s state. What is that judge going to think next time that they have a complicated sexual abuse case that comes before them? And they know that they could possibly be called out if they go below the sentencing guidelines, which I showed you yesterday in my lack of chart – if you remember, I was uncharted – but that you are deciding completely in the norm. Seventy-plus percent in many states are people doing just like you did. 

But I’m a Democratic senator. I’ve never quoted from this very well-respected conservative periodical – this is the National Review, very well-respected and not something I agree with all the time. But here’s what the National Review – this is the title: “Senator Hawley’s disingenuous attack against Judge Jackson’s record on child pornography.” I’ll just read the first paragraph: 

“I would oppose Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson because of her judicial philosophy for the reasons I outlined last week. I addressed that in a separate post. For now, I wanted to discuss the claim by Senator Josh Hawley that Judge Jackson is appallingly soft on child pornography offenders. The allegations appear meritless to the point of demagoguery.”

I got letters from leaders of victims’ rights groups, survivors of assault. All saying sort of the same thing as the National Review. Feel proud about yourself; you brought together right and left in this calling out of people that will sit up here and try to pull out from cases, and try to put themselves in a position where they’re the defenders of our children to a person who has children, to a person whose family goes out in the streets and defends children. I mean, this is a new low. And what’s especially surprising about this is it didn’t happen last year. You were put on a court that I’m told is considered, like, the second most powerful court in our land, and you were passed with bipartisan support. Nobody brought it up then. Did they not do their homework? Were they lax? Did they make a mistake? I wonder – as they ask you the question, ‘Do you regret?’ – I wonder if they regret that, that they didn’t bring that out. No, why? Because it was an allegation that is ‘meritless to the point of demagoguery.’ 

You are – I don’t mean this in any way, ‘cause if anybody called me average I would be upset – but you are a mainstream judge. Your sentencing, I’ve looked at the data, falls in the mainstream on everything from child sexual assault to all the other issues that people are trying to bring up. Some of these things that are being cast at you, that you called George Bush a war criminal? Come on, that is painful, especially ‘cause as you said, the brief changed. These are names that you have to put in. And we’re talking about a real issue that goes to the core of our values: torture. Barack Obama was named once he, once Bush left office. There is an absurdity to this that is, it is almost comical if it was not so dangerous. Because the next time a judge comes before us on the right or the left that has a body of work like you do, gosh, one of … some performance artists on our side could pull out one of the cases where they were below the sentencing guidelines. Say, for example, it was on something as horrific as rape, that we all agree is horrific, and they could suddenly put themselves at the defend – “How dare we put someone who’s  soft on crime …” Well, are you soft on crime? God Bless America.

I got this great text. I’ve become really good friends with folks at the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] for my negotiations, and this was my favorite text. You all gotta get this. I think my brother Kennedy might get a kick out of this. He goes, “Things that are uncountable: Stars in the sky, grains of sand on the beach, and the number of times Democrats will mention that the FOP endorsed Judge Jackson in this hearing.” [laughter] But let me mention it again, just in case my people say you’re-rough-on-crime folks really want to try to make that stick. You were endorsed by the largest organization of rank-and-file police officers. You were endorsed by the bosses, the largest organization of chiefs of police. And you were endorsed by NOBLE, who I hope people find out more about that organization. You got uncles that are officers. You got a brother, not just an officer, who went to serve after 9/11. Your family’s not soft on terrorism; he went out there to capture and kill and defend this country from terrorists. I’m actually sitting back here and finding this astonishing, but then I do my homework. 


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25 6
Per Politico:


  1. It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event. Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? … The second someone offers you a free dinner you all turn into Joe Rogan.
  2. I’m not doing this just for the attention. All right? I’m a comedian, not Kyrsten Sinema. … By the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Whoever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual, but closeted Republican? That’s progress.
  3. We all saw what happened at the Oscars. I’ve actually been a bit worried about tonight. I’m not going to lie. What if I make a really mean joke about Kellyanne Conway, and her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?
  4. I’ve just got to say, this is so exciting. To be at this swanky party full of Washington’s most powerful people. It’s not as exciting as Madison Cawthorn made it sound, but it’s still very sexy.
  5. Trump said he won the election, but everyone was just able to look at the numbers and see that he was wrong. That’s why Ron DeSantis is one step ahead — first you ban the math textbooks, then nobody knows how to count the votes. Boom. My man!
  6. The great chef José Andrés is here tonight. … Whenever there’s a disaster anywhere in the world, chef José is there, which I guess is why he’s sitting at the CNN table tonight.
  7. The real reason that it’s such an honor to be here tonight is that we all get to be in the same room as the most powerful man in the United States. So let’s give it up for Joe Manchin, everybody.
  8. Even as first lady, Dr. Biden continued her teaching career. The first time a presidential spouse has done so, ever. Congratulations. Now, you might think it’s because she loves teaching so much, but it’s actually because she’s still paying off her student debt. I’m sorry about that, Jill. I guess you should’ve voted for Bernie.
  9. I think everyone will agree that it’s actually nice to once again have a president who’s not afraid to come to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and hear jokes about himself. I’ll be honest, if you didn’t come, I totally would have understood because these people have been so hard on you, which I don’t get. I really don’t. And I think ever since you’ve come into office, things are really looking up. You know, gas is up, rent is up, food is up, everything.
  10. President Biden’s lack of a filter does get him into hot water sometimes. Last month, he caused a huge international incident saying that Vladimir Putin should be removed from power. It was very, very upsetting to Russia until someone explained to them that none of the stuff Biden wants actually gets done.
  11. What about Maggie Haberman? For four years, it was exclusives on the Russia investigation, corruption, the president doesn’t read his daily briefings, on and on. Now look at her. She spends all day fighting with random people on Twitter like a common POLITICO reporter. You’ve ruined her Mr. President.
  12. Jen [Psaki], it’s nice that you’re willing to come over here and risk getting Covid for like, what, the 10th time now? Let me ask, how do you keep getting Covid, Jen? Like your boss hooked us all up with free tests. Does he not have your address? What’s going on there?
  13. I’m really excited because the kings of cable are here. Fox News in the house … I know Fox has a bad reputation — I can even feel you tense up now when I talk about them. They really do crush it. You know, I think they get a bad rap. Because it’s a mixed bag. They actually have really good journalists, it just depends on when you watch. Fox News is sort of like a Waffle House. Yeah, it’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in.
  14. Apparently, Jeff [Zucker] got fired after he tried to keep his workplace relationship secret, which is weird because if he really didn’t want anyone to know about it, he could have just made a show about it on CNN+. … It’s so sad. CNN+, gone but forgotten. You know who I blame? You know who I blame, CNN? John King … your magic wall can predict how every person in the country is going to vote in every county, but it couldn’t give you a heads up that nobody wanted more CNN?
  15. Please be careful leaving tonight, we all know this administration doesn’t handle evacuations well.

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8 8
AP FACT CHECK: NRA speakers distort gun and crime statistics
By AMANDA SEITZ

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn’t exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
A look at some of the claims:

TEXAS SEN. TED CRUZ: “Gun bans do not work. Look at Chicago. If they worked, Chicago wouldn’t be the murder hellhole that it has been for far too long.

THE FACTS: Chicago hasn’t had a ban on handguns for over a decade . And in 2014, a federal judge overturned the city’s ban on gun shops. Big supporters of the NRA, like Cruz, may well know this, given that it was the NRA that sued Chicago over its old handgun ban and argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2010.
___
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “Classroom doors should be hardened to make them lockable from the inside and closed to intruders from the outside.”

THE FACTS: As commonsensical as that might sound, it could backfire in a horrific way, experts warn.  A lock on the classroom door is one of the most basic and widely recommended school safety measures. But in Uvalde, it kept victims in and police out.

Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms school for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open the classroom’s locked door.

And Trump’s proposal doesn’t take into account what would happen if class members were trapped behind a locked door and one of the students was the aggressor in future attacks.
___
CRUZ: “The rate of gun ownership hasn’t changed.

THE FACTS: This is misleading. The percentage of U.S. households with at least one gun in the home hasn’t significantly changed over the past 50 years. But the number of assault-type rifles, like the one used in the Uvalde school shooting and dozens of other school shootings, has skyrocketed since legislators let a 1994 ban on such weapons expire in 2004.

In the years leading up to and following that ban, an estimated 8.5 million AR-platform rifles were in circulation in the United States. Since the ban was lifted, the rifles — called “modern sporting rifles” by the industry — have surged in popularity. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated there were nearly 20 million in circulation in 2020.
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CRUZ: “Had Uvalde gotten a grant to upgrade school security, they might have made changes that would have stopped the shooter and killed him there on the ground, before he hurt any of these innocent kids and teachers.”

THE FACTS: This claim overlooks the fact that Uvalde had doubled its school-security budget and spent years upgrading the protections for schoolchildren. None of that stopped the gunman who killed 19 pupils and two teachers.

Annual district budgets show the school system went from spending $204,000 in 2017 to $435,000 for this year . The district had developed a safety plan back in 2019 that included staffing the schools with four officers and four counselors. It had installed a fence and invested in a program that monitors social media for threats and purchased software to screen school visitors.

The grant that Cruz claims would have been life-saving was from a failed 2013 bill that planned to help schools hire more armed officers and install bulletproof doors. Uvalde’s school did have an officer but the person wasn’t on the campus at the time the shooter entered the building. And, Cruz’s call for bulletproof doors might not have worked in this case, given that police were unable to breech the locked door of the classroom where the shooter murdered children and teachers.
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Opinion: The Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election

Opinion by J. Michael Luttig
Wed April 27, 2022

Editor’s NoteJ. Michael Luttig, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, formerly served on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for 15 years. He advised Vice President Mike Pence on January 6. 

Nearly a year and a half later, surprisingly few understand what January 6 was all about.

Fewer still understand why former President Donald Trump and Republicans persist in their long-disproven claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Much less why they are obsessed about making the 2024 race a referendum on the “stolen” election of 2020, which even they know was not stolen.

January 6 was never about a stolen election or even about actual voting fraud. It was always and only about an election that Trump lost fair and square, under legislatively promulgated election rules in a handful of swing states that he and other Republicans contend were unlawfully changed by state election officials and state courts to expand the right and opportunity to vote, largely in response to the Covid pandemic.

The Republicans’ mystifying claim to this day that Trump did, or would have, received more votes than Joe Biden in 2020 were it not for actual voting fraud, is but the shiny object that Republicans have tauntingly and disingenuously dangled before the American public for almost a year and a half now to distract attention from their far more ambitious objective.

That objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That’s constitutionally impossible. Trump’s and the Republicans’ far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest.

The last presidential election was a dry run for the next.

From long before Election Day 2020, Trump and Republicans planned to overturn the presidential election by exploiting the Electors and Elections Clauses of the Constitution, the Electoral College, the Electoral Count Act of 1877, and the 12th Amendment, if Trump lost the popular and Electoral College vote.

The cornerstone of the plan was to have the Supreme Court embrace the little known “independent state legislature” doctrine, which, in turn, would pave the way for exploitation of the Electoral College process and the Electoral Count Act, and finally for Vice President Mike Pence to reject enough swing state electoral votes to overturn the election using Pence’s ceremonial power under the 12th Amendment and award the presidency to Donald Trump.

The independent state legislature doctrine says that, under the Elections and the Electors Clauses of the Constitution, state legislatures possess plenary and exclusive power over the conduct of federal presidential elections and the selection of state presidential electors. Not even a state supreme court, let alone other state elections officials, can alter the legislatively written election rules or interfere with the appointment of state electors by the legislatures, under this theory.

The Supreme Court has never decided whether to embrace the independent state legislature doctrine. But then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in separate concurring opinions said they would embrace that doctrine in Bush v. Gore, 20 years earlier, and Republicans had every reason to believe there were at least five votes on the Supreme Court for the doctrine in November 2020, with Amy Coney Barrett having just been confirmed in the eleventh hour before the election.

Trump and the Republicans began executing this first stage of their plan months before November 3, by challenging as violative of the independent state legislature doctrine election rules relating to early- and late-voting, extensions of voting days and times, mail-in ballots, and other election law changes that Republicans contended had been unlawfully altered by state officials and state courts in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Michigan.

These cases eventually wound their way to the Supreme Court in the fall of 2020, and by December, the Supreme Court had decided all of these cases, but only by orders, either disallowing federal court intervention to change an election rule that had been promulgated by a state legislature, allowing legislatively promulgated rules to be changed by state officials and state courts, or deadlocking 4-4, because Justice Barrett was not sworn in until after those cases were briefed and ready for decision by the Court. In none of these cases did the Supreme Court decide the all-important independent state legislature doctrine.

Thwarted by the Supreme Court’s indecision on that doctrine, Trump and the Republicans turned their efforts to the second stage of their plan, exploitation of the Electoral College and the Electoral Count Act.

The Electoral College is the process by which Americans choose their presidents, a process that can lead to the election as president of a candidate who does not receive a majority of votes cast by the American voters. Republicans have grown increasingly wary of the Electoral College with the new census and political demographics of the nation’s shifting population.

The Electoral Count Act empowers Congress to decide the presidency in a host of circumstances where Congress determines that state electoral votes were not “regularly given” by electors who were “lawfully certified,” terms that are undefined and ambiguous. In this second stage of the plan, the Republicans needed to generate state-certified alternative slates of electors from swing states where Biden won the popular vote who would cast their electoral votes for Trump instead.

Congress would then count the votes of these alternative electoral slates on January 6, rather than the votes of the certified electoral slates for Biden, and Trump would be declared the reelected president.

The Republicans’ plan failed at this stage when they were unable to secure a single legitimate, alternative slate of electors from any state because the various state officials refused to officially certify these Trump-urged slates.

Thwarted by the Supreme Court in the first stage, foiled by their inability to come up with alternative state electoral slates in the second stage, and with time running out, Trump and the Republicans began executing the final option in their plan, which was to scare up illegitimate alternative electoral slates in various swing states to be transmitted to Congress. Whereupon, on January 6, Vice President Pence would count only the votes of the illegitimate electors from the swing states, and not the votes of the legitimate, certified electors that were cast for Biden, and declare Donald Trump’s reelection as President of the United States.

The entire house of cards collapsed at noon on January 6, when Pence refused to go along with the ill-conceived plan, correctly concluding that under the 12th Amendment he had no power to reject the votes that had been cast by the duly certified electors or to delay the count to give Republicans even more time to whip up alternative electoral slates.

Pence declared Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States at 3:40 a.m. on Thursday, January 7, roughly 14 hours after rioters stormed the US Capitol, disrupting the Joint Session and preventing Congress from counting the Electoral College votes for president until late that night and into the following day, after the statutorily designated day for counting those votes.

Trump and his allies and supporters in Congress and the states began readying their failed 2020 plan to overturn the 2024 presidential election later that very same day and they have been unabashedly readying that plan ever since, in plain view to the American public. Today, they are already a long way toward recapturing the White House in 2024, whether Trump or another Republican candidate wins the election or not.

Trump and Republicans are preparing to return to the Supreme Court, where this time they will likely win the independent state legislature doctrine, now that Amy Coney Barrett is on the Court and ready to vote. Barrett has not addressed the issue, but this turns on an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, and Barrett is firmly aligned on that method of constitutional interpretation with Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, all three of whom have written that they believe the doctrine is correct.

Only last month, in a case from North Carolina the Court declined to hear, Moore v. Harper, four Justices (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) said that the independent state legislature question is of exceptional importance to our national elections, the issue will continue to recur and the Court should decide the issue sooner rather than later before the next presidential election. This case involved congressional redistricting, but the independent state legislature doctrine is as applicable to redistricting as it is to presidential elections.

The Republicans are also in the throes of electing Trump-endorsed candidates to state legislative offices in key swing states, installing into office their favored state election officials who deny that Biden won the 2020 election, such as secretaries of state, electing sympathetic state court judges onto the state benches and grooming their preferred potential electors for ultimate selection by the party, all so they will be positioned to generate and transmit alternative electoral slates to Congress, if need be.

Finally, they are furiously politicking to elect Trump supporters to the Senate and House, so they can overturn the election in Congress, as a last resort.

Forewarned is to be forearmed.

Trump and the Republicans can only be stopped from stealing the 2024 election at this point if the Supreme Court rejects the independent state legislature doctrine (thus allowing state court enforcement of state constitutional limitations on legislatively enacted election rules and elector appointments) and Congress amends the Electoral Count Act to constrain Congress’ own power to reject state electoral votes and decide the presidency.

Although the Vice President will be a Democrat in 2024, both parties also need to enact federal legislation that expressly limits the vice president’s power to be coextensive with the power accorded the vice president in the 12th Amendment and confirm that it is largely ceremonial, as Pence construed it to be on January 6.

Vice President Kamala Harris would preside over the Joint Session in 2024. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any idea who will be presiding after that, however. Thus, both parties have the incentive to clarify the vice president’s ceremonial role now.

As it stands today, Trump, or his anointed successor, and the Republicans are poised, in their word, to “steal” from Democrats the presidential election in 2024 that they falsely claim the Democrats stole from them in 2020. But there is a difference between the falsely claimed “stolen” election of 2020 and what would be the stolen election of 2024. Unlike the Democrats’ theft claimed by Republicans, the Republicans’ theft would be in open defiance of the popular vote and thus the will of the American people: poetic, though tragic, irony for America’s democracy.
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DEBATE-DODGING TAKES off in MIDETERM CAMPAIGNS
The traditional candidate debate might be on its last legs.

A time-honored staple of political campaigns, the traditional candidate debate, appears to be on life support.

Republican candidates this year are increasingly ducking out of primary debates or demanding greater control over the terms than ever before, raising questions about the future of an institution that has long been a central part of American campaigns.

It isn’t just the traditional reluctance of front-runners to share a stage with their challengers that’s to blame. Instead, a confluence of factors is jeopardizing the once universally agreed notion that candidate debates are a valuable practice in elections.

The media — a traditional arbiter of many debates — is so reviled by Republican primary voters that campaigns now recognize there may be more to gain from criticizing the process than participating. There’s also been a surge in self-funding and celebrity candidates in 2022, whose inexperience at debating and fears of campaign-ending missteps may be leading them to dodge debates altogether. Then there’s the shadow of Donald Trump, whose complaints that debates are rigged is now the party line, with the Republican National Committee throwing the prospect of presidential debates in two years into question.

“The media will fight like cats and dogs, because it’s the last thing in a campaign environment they have any control over,” said Dave Carney, the Republican strategist who advises Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, whose campaign is suggesting he may not debate his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, in the fall. “But in 10 years, when debates don’t happen anymore, no one will notice, voters won’t notice or care.”

Debates, Carney said, are “crazy … It’s like having your candidates do pet tricks for the media, and I’m against them.”

So far this year, in more than a half-dozen Senate, House and governor’s races across the electoral map, Republican candidates have skipped primary debates, seemingly with few repercussions.

Former football star Herschel Walker, the front-runner in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary, has refused to debate his primary opponents. So has Jim Pillen, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska, and Mike DeWine, the incumbent governor of Ohio. In North Carolina, Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) ducked a Senate primary debate last month. Mehmet Oz, the TV personality-turned Pennsylvania Senate candidate, says he wants to debate Anthony Fauci — who isn’t running against him — but has skipped debating the Republicans who are. And in Nevada’s race for governor, Joe Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff, was a no-show at a debate among Republicans last month.

In Pennsylvania, four GOP campaigns for governor sent a joint letter to the media recently laying out the conditions under which they would participate. One of them was a no-brainer: No one who has endorsed or donated to one of the candidates on stage can serve as a moderator.

The other criteria, however, were more constraining on the media or any other entity that sought to host a debate. There could be no questions with answers shorter than 30 seconds. Moderators must be registered Republicans who live in the state, and must not have spoken negatively about any of the candidates on stage. Nor can the moderator work “for an organization that has maligned one of the candidates.”

Republicans like Walker have suggested they will debate in their general elections, if they advance. But in a midterm year in which Republicans are favored across the electoral map, many candidates may have little imperative to agree to a debate in the fall. Already, it’s clear they no longer consider it a requirement of a campaign.

“In general, most candidates do not feel they get a fair shake from the mainstream media,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party. “So, I think you put yourself at risk going up … against a Democrat in debates, depending on who the moderators are going to be.”

He said, “Just from a strategic perspective, there’s not a whole lot of reason to give your opponents an opportunity to attack you or make a mistake or set yourself up on an issue that may backfire against you … Why put yourself at risk for anything?”

In Nebraska, Pillen’s campaign said the only thing he was missing by declining a primary debate was “political theater.”

In the past, debate avoidance has come at the cost of bad publicity, and some debate skippers are getting a taste of that this year. Earlier this month, Dan Moulthrop, president of the board of the Ohio Debate Commission, penned an op-ed in The Columbus Dispatch blistering DeWine for his refusal to participate, under the headline, “It’s bad for democracy.”

A spokesperson for one of Walker’s opponents in Georgia, Gary Black, was quoted in the local news saying Walker “isn’t smart enough to debate anybody.” The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined its piece on a recent debate, “What we learned from a Pa. Republican Senate debate that Oz and [David] McCormick skipped,” while in Nebraska, Ryan Horn, a Republican media strategist, said Pillen was only hurting himself.

“He’s not sharing the stage with Edmund Burke. Winston Churchill’s not going to be up there,” Horn said. “We’re talking about [gubernatorial candidates] Charles Herbster and Theresa Thibodeau.”

In Minnesota, where five GOP candidates did debate, in December, Gregg Peppin, a Republican strategist in the state, said, “I would hope that we don’t get to a position where we can’t have spirited robust debates among candidates on the challenges that face our country. If we get to that point, we’ll have really lost something in our democracy.”

But even Republicans who lament the decline of debates as a tentpole of political campaigns can see the logic in some candidates passing on them — and the prospect that they will increasingly elect not to.

“If you’ve got $50 million in the pipeline to bomb your opponent back to the Stone Age, then why even put yourself out there, other than to have a very crafted message that is essentially manufactured in a PR factory,” said Carl Fogliani, a Republican strategist based in Pittsburgh, who added that voters should question the qualifications of any candidate who lacks “the courage to answer questions.”

Money and courage are only two of the factors working against debates as a lasting institution. There is also the kind of candidate that the GOP is increasingly fielding in the post-Trump era. Following the former president’s outsider example, other politically inexperienced millionaires or high-name-recognition individuals have crowded into races.

“There’s no upside to debate,” said Jason Shepherd, the chair of the Republican Party in Cobb County, Ga., “if you’re someone like Herschel Walker who is already the frontrunner … and has no experience debating.”

With the electorate as polarized as it is, the number of viewers a candidate could hope to persuade in a debate is vanishingly small. Meanwhile, for Republican base voters, skewering the media’s role in the process is a slam dunk, especially after Trump’s effective use of the media as his “fake news” foil. Today, just about 1 in 5 Republicans now say they trust the news media — a lower level of support than government, the scientific community, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Trump’s 2020 attacks on the Commission on Presidential Debates as a partisan outfit bent on undermining him also continue to color discussions surrounding debates. The Republican National Committee is moving forward with its threat to prohibit future presidential nominees from participating in commission-sponsored debates, pleasing Republicans who have long argued moderators are biased against them.

“Campaigns have come to the realization that no one watches debates, so the risk outweighs the reward,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist who works on House campaigns across the country.

In the past, he said, “part of the reason you would debate is you were afraid of being shamed by the voters that public discourse, campaigning and governing requires public debate.” Now, Thomas said, “Voters are totally cool with you going on Facebook Live for 20 minutes and having a conversation with them about your policies and your agenda.”

Thomas added, “I’m just waiting for campaigns to finally come to the realization that lawn signs don’t work.”
Holly Otterbein contributed to this report.

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April 22,  2022
In a keynote address at a Stanford University Cyber Policy Center symposium entitled “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Information Realm,” former President Barack Obama outlined the ways in which technology challenges democracy, and suggested a set of principles to chart a new path forward.

"Hello, Stanford. It is great to be in California and back in beautiful Palo Alto. Coming here always makes me want to go back to college, although an 18-year-old Barack Obama would not have gotten in. I got more serious, later.
I want to thank the Cyber Policy Center here at Stanford for hosting this event. I want to thank Tiana for that outstanding introduction, and for all the work that you are doing. I want to thank a great friend and a remarkable public servant and Ambassador of Russia, during very difficult times, and one of my top advisors, Michael McFaul, for being here.
Michelle and I set up the Obama Foundation to train the next generation of leaders, and I think you saw in Tiana, the example of the kind of remarkable leadership that’s out there, with the talent and vision to lead us forward, as long as old people get out of the way.
During some of the darkest days of World War II, American philosopher, Reinhold Niebuhr, wrote the following, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”
We’re living through another tumultuous, dangerous moment in history. All of us have been horrified by Russia’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine. A nuclear-armed despot’s response to a neighboring state whose only provocation is its desire to be independent and democratic. An invasion of this scale hasn’t been seen in Europe since World War II, and we’ve all witnessed the resulting death and destruction, and the displacement, in real time.
The stakes are enormous, and the courage displayed by ordinary Ukrainians has been extraordinary and demands our support. Unfortunately, a war in the Ukraine isn’t happening in a vacuum. Vladimir Putin’s aggression is part of a larger trend, even if similar levels of oppression and lawlessness and violence and suffering don’t always attract the same levels of attention if they happen outside of Europe,
Autocrats and aspiring strongmen have become emboldened around the globe. They’re actively subverting democracy, they’re undermining hard-won human rights, they’re ignoring international law.
Worse yet, democratic backsliding is not restricted to distant lands. Right here, in the United States of America, we just saw a sitting president deny the clear results of an election and help incite a violent insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. Not only that, but a majority of his party, including many who occupy some of the highest offices in the land, continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the last election, and are using it to justify laws that restrict the vote, making it easier to overturn the will of the people in states where they hold power.
But for those of us who believe in democracy and the rule of law, this should serve as a wake-up call. We have to admit that, at least in the years since the Cold War ended, democracies have grown dangerously complacent.
That too often, we’ve taken freedom for granted. What recent events remind us, is that democracy is neither inevitable nor self-executed. Citizens like us have to nurture it. We have to tend to it and fight for it, and as our circumstances change, we have to be willing to look at ourselves critically, making reforms that can allow democracy, not just to survive, but to thrive.
That won’t be easy. A lot of factors have contributed to the weakening of democratic institutions around the world. One of those factors is globalization which has helped lift hundreds and millions out of poverty, most notably in China and India, but which, along with automation has also upended entire economies, accelerated global inequality, and left millions of others feeling betrayed and angry at existing political institutions.
There is the increased mobility and urbanization of modern life, which further shakes up societies, including existing family structures and gender roles. Here at home, we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of people participating in unions, civic organizations and houses of worship, mediating institutions that once served as a kind of communal glue.
Internationally, the rise of China as well as chronic political dysfunction, here in the U.S. and in Europe, not to mention the near collapse of the global financial system in 2008, has made it easier for leaders in other countries to discount democracy’s appeal. And as once marginalized groups demand a seat at the table, politicians have found a new audience for old-fashioned appeals to racial and ethnic, religious or national solidarity.
In the rush to protect “us” from “them,” virtues like tolerance and respect for democratic processes start to look, not just expendable, but like a threat to our way of life.
So if we’re going to strengthen democracy, we’ll have to address all of these strengths. We’ll have to come up with new models for a more inclusive, equitable capitalism. We’ll have to reform our political institutions in ways that allow people to be heard and give them real agency. We’ll have to tell better stories about ourselves and how we can live together, despite our differences.
And that’s why I’m here today, on Stanford’s campus, in the heart of Silicon Valley, where so much of the digital revolution began, because I’m convinced that right now one of the biggest impediments to doing all of this, indeed, one of the biggest reasons for democracies weakening is the profound change that’s taking place in how we communicate and consume information.
Now let me start off by saying I am not a Luddite, although it is true that sometimes I have to ask my daughters how to work basic functions on my phone. I am amazed by the internet. It’s connected billions of people around the world, put the collected knowledge of centuries at our fingertips. It’s made our economies vastly more efficient, accelerated medical advances, opened up new opportunities, allowed people with shared interests to find each other.
I might never have been elected president if it hadn’t been for websites like, and I’m dating myself, MySpace, MeetUp and Facebook that allowed an army of young volunteers to organize, raise money, spread our message. That’s what elected me.
And since then, we’ve all witnessed the ways that activists use social media platforms to register dissent and shine a light on injustice and mobilize people on issues like climate change and racial justice. So the internet and the accompanying information revolution has been transformative. And there’s no turning back.
But like all advances in technology, this progress has had unintended consequences that sometimes come at a price. And in this case, we see that our new information ecosystem is turbocharging some of humanity’s worst impulses.
Not all of these effects are intentional or even avoidable. They’re simply the consequence of billions of humans suddenly plugged into an instant, 24/7 global information stream. Forty years ago, if you were a conservative in rural Texas, you weren’t necessarily offended by what was going on in San Francisco’s Castro District because you didn’t know what was going on.

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Here's mine.  First, the order of categories is not static but whatever category was posted to last is top and second to last is posted second, etc. so that the most active categories are at the top- creating a sense of dynamic tension, a competition for top spot.

Then, my categories would be:

DebateArt.com
Debating
Original work
Favorite works of others
Current Events- political
Current Events- non-political
Mafia
other Forum Games
History
Conspiracy Theories
The Internet
Users
Feelings
Gods
Liquor and/or Sports
Archive


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GAP in TRUMP CALL LOGS on JAN. 6 'suspiciously tailored,' RASKIN SAYS
By Amy B Wang

The gap in phone logs in the official White House records on Jan. 6, 2021, is of “intense interest” to the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin said Sunday.

In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Raskin (D-Md.) noted that a 7½-hour gap in the phone logs for President Donald Trump’s communications that day covers the period when the Capitol assault was taking place.

Raskin said he and other Jan. 6 committee members have been able to piece together some of Trump’s activities during that time frame based on other people’s interviews and depositions, but holes remain.

“It’s a very unusual thing for us to find that suddenly everything goes dark for a seven-hour period in terms of tracking the movements and the conversations of the president,” Raskin said.

When asked if the gap could possibly be due to incompetence rather than conspiracy, Raskin said the committee was taking that into account. He added, however, that “the gaps are suspiciously tailored to the heart of the events” of Jan. 6, including when several lawmakers later said they were pleading with Trump to intervene.  Raskin noted that the committee was aware that the president took part in calls during that time, “but we have no comprehensive, fine-grained portrait of what was going on during that period, and that’s obviously of intense interest to us.”

The bipartisan Jan. 6 panel is investigating the 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that tried to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The attack led to five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.

Trump has tried to assert executive privilege to withhold documents from the committee, which last year ordered the former president to provide records of all his actions and activities on Jan. 6. President Biden has rejected Trump’s claims of executive privilege.

Earlier this year, the National Archives and Records Administration turned over to the committee 11 pages of White House records from that day, including the president’s official daily diary and the White House switchboard call logs.

As first reported by The Washington Post and CBS News, those records did not include any documentation of calls placed to or by Trump from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021.

Raskin added that the committee’s mission is to get “a complete picture” of everything that took place on Jan. 6, as well as what needs to be done “to fortify democratic institutions and processes against future insurrections and coups and attempts to destabilize and overthrow our elections.”

Raskin said he hoped the committee would be able to begin holding long-delayed public hearings in May and was looking for connections between the violent insurrection at the Capitol and what he called the “attempt at an inside coup” orchestrated by Trump against the Constitution.

“I do feel confident we’re going to be able to tell that story,” Raskin said, adding, “Obviously, we’re up against a lot of obstruction now.”

Last week, the committee voted to hold two more former Trump aides — former trade and manufacturing director Peter Navarro and former communications chief Daniel Scavino Jr. — in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas. Raskin said the House probably would vote this week on whether to refer Navarro and Scavino to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Like Trump and a raft of other former aides, Navarro and Scavino have tried to claim they are protected by executive privilege and that the subpoenas were an overreach by the committee. They are among the latest in high-profile Trump White House officials facing repercussions for refusing to comply with the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas.

Last year, former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon was indicted on charges of contempt of Congress, which prompted warnings from some Republicans of “payback” that they could do the same to Democrats if they retake control of the House majority in November.

Mark Meadows, a former chief of staff in the Trump White House, also refused to cooperate with the committee, leading to the House voting to hold him in contempt of Congress as well in December.

Separately, a federal judge ruled last week that Trump “more likely than not” committed federal crimes in attempting to stop the confirmation of Biden’s electoral college win.

Asked about the judge’s comments Sunday, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who has defended Trump frequently and who voted to acquit Trump during his impeachment trials, was noncommittal.

“Well, federal judges say a lot of things and we’ll see how that comes through the process,” Blunt said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “I think the Justice Department has a job to do and they should do it and people who were involved in the planning or execution of illegal activities on Jan. 6 should be prosecuted.”

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa contributed to this report.


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