Dark Brandon Returns, with Softer Lighting - The Thursday AM Quickie 11/3/22

OK, I got my ballot filled out but I can't send it off yet because the cat broke my tablet (again). Long story, to be continued. – Corey

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Biden Casts Election Stakes as Democracy vs. Autocracy

Picking up some of the themes from his (weirdly) controversial Dark Brandon speech in Philadelphia in September, President Joe Biden last night delivered another prime-time speech, this time from Washington, D.C., on the urgent threats to democracy and basic rights. He opened with a straightforward account of the attempted murder of "my friend Paul Pelosi," noting that the right-wing conspiracy theorist who attacked him in his home eerily used the same words as members of the mob who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021: "Where's Nancy?" As for the Republican response: "silence is complicity," Biden said.

"From the very beginning, nothing has been guaranteed about democracy in America," Biden said. "American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refused to accept the results of the last election. ... We are all called to defend it now. Now." He claimed that the "extreme MAGA Republicans" were a minority of that party (debatable) and portrayed Trump as an aspiring autocrat (clear as day). "Disunion and chaos are not inevitable," Biden said, denouncing political violence and voter intimidation, and expressing faith that Americans will defend their democracy today as they have in the past. Here's hoping.

In related developments, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, currently on trial for seditious conspiracy for his role in Donald Trump's Jan. 6 coup attempt, wrote messages intended for Trump in the following days, urging him to "do as Lincoln did" and arrest opposition lawmakers, or else "you and your family will be imprisoned and killed." The message never made it to Trump because Rhodes' intermediary, Jason Alpers, a "former special operations operator" and current government witness, decided to inform the Federal Bureau of Investigation instead. Alpers also secretly recorded Rhodes saying his "only regret" about Jan. 6 was that the insurrectionists didn't shoot people. "We should have brought rifles," Rhodes said. "We could have fixed it right then and there. I'd hang f---in' Pelosi from the lamppost."

Speaking of which: Bay Area politicians gathered yesterday and expressed concerns over their personal safety following the attempted kidnapping of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the attempted murder of her husband, Paul, at their San Francisco home. California Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, himself the recipient of a recent death threat, correctly called the attack a "direct result" of incitement by right-wing politicians and media. It's hard to deny as much, at this point, and if someone does deny it, you really have to wonder where they're coming from.

Midterms Madness: Five Days to Go

  • Restraining Order for Arizona Ballot Box Vigilantes A federal judge in Phoenix barred Clean Elections USA from "openly" carrying weapons, recording, following, or yelling at voters near ballot drop boxes. via NBC News.
  • GOP Election Deniers Underperforming in Polls Secretary of state candidates who promote Trumpian conspiracy theories about the 2020 election are polling worse than other Republican candidates on the same ticket. via the Washington Post.
  • Millions of Dollars Pour in to State Supreme Court Races "The contest now is over democracy," one constitutional scholar explains, with plutocrats bankrolling election deniers who could decide how things go in 2024. via the New York Times.
  • Far-Right House Freedom Caucus Hopes to Add 22 Members Even if the well-funded extremist group doesn't win every race, its influence is likely to grow in the next Congress. via the Washington Post.

Abortion Rights Protest Disrupts Supreme Court Proceedings

Three people were arrested following a rare protest inside the Supreme Court chambers during oral arguments yesterday, CBS News reports. A press release identified them as Emily Paterson and Nikki Enfield of Virginia, and Ronalde Baker of Arizona. Their voices can be heard in audio of the proceedings declaring that women's freedom to choose will be restored. Also yesterday, a federal judge ordered the release of Trump administration emails showing that Trump's lawyers saw Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife Ginni helped organize the Jan. 6 coup plot, as "key" to the scheme. "We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay ... saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt," Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote, per Politico.


  • Ethiopia Strikes Peace Deal with Tigray Rebels The two-year civil war has left a half-million people dead. via the New York Times.
  • Canadian Convoy Protesters Relied on 'Sympathetic' Cops A "Freedom Convoy" lawyer testified yesterday that when the far-right group shut down Ottawa in January they were getting a "steady stream of information" from police and state security agents, including about upcoming raids. via the Vancouver Sun and the CBC.
  • Fed Hikes Interest Rates Again The AFL-CIO responds, "increasing interest rates signals to working people that the government thinks we have too much money and we should have less money to spend." via the Associated Press and HuffPost.
  • White House Advisers Debating Russian Nuke Intel U.S. intelligence captured top Russian generals discussing whether, when, and under what circumstances they would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but there are questions about the quality of the sourcing. via CNN and the New York Times.
  • Biden Administration Takes Aim at Worker Surveillance A new memo from National Labor Relations Board general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo calls for a tougher regulatory line on unlawful electronic surveillance of workers by their employers. via Vice News.


$5 billion

That's roughly how much CVS an Walgreens could each pay under tentative settlement agreements to end thousands of lawsuits over their role in the opioid crisis. The plaintiffs include state, local and tribal governments whose budgets were strained by the epidemic. Per the New York Times, a jury found the companies "turned a blind eye to the diversion of prescription opioids they were dispensing, ignoring red flags that warned of egregious quantities of the pills exiting their doors into communities." The settlement would not require the companies to admit wrongdoing.


11/3: Emma hosts Victoria Bassetti, fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, to discuss the upcoming races for Secretary of State across the country


Stunning Display of Racism by SCOTUS Justice Alito

The frat boy theocracy is real.

"I've Never Been Assaulted at a Drag Show But I Have Been at Church...Twice!"

It's important for voices like this, and not only the wingnuts, to be heard at public meetings. This was about library censorship in Columbia, Tennessee.


"If there was an authenticity problem, I would look at them. ... I had a lot of other stuff going on."

-- James F. Moran, Bob Jones University graduate and director of the 2019 Holocaust-themed action-adventure film "Operation Resist," starring Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, blaming its inaccurate depiction of Judaism on his teenage Jewish lead actress and her mother. Historians and experts consulted by the Washington Post call the film an offensive exploitation and misrepresentation of the Holocaust to promote Christian conservative talking points on gun control and abortion.

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