The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Surprise Mystery J6 Hearing Today! 1 pm EST!

Also, today there are primaries in Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah. See Steve Benen for analysis. Getting Illinois over with will be a particular relief for me, I must say. The television ads for the Republican candidates have been disturbing.

Politico is reporting that the mystery witness is Cassidy Hutchinson, a onetime top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She knows a lot about what was going on in the White House before, during, and after January 6. This could be juicy.

Politico also says that “Hutchinson replaced her attorney earlier this month as the select committee’s hearings began; her former attorney was the Trump White House’s chief ethics lawyer, and her new attorney is a longtime ally of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

As ever, this is an open thread for commenting before, during and after the hearing.

See Trump reporters react to January 6 hearings. Your brain will hurt.

Update: Well, that was fun. But I want to know if we can make Trump pay for all the White House dishes he smashed while throwing temper tantrums.

We learned that Trump supporters attending the January 6 rally at the Ellipse came heavily armed. “Trump supporters gathering at the Ellipse for the president’s speech had been seen by law enforcement and Secret Service agents carrying guns, including AR-15s and Glocks,” it says here.

But Trump was upset because he wanted more people crammed into the Ellipse — better optics! — and apparently people were hesitating to go through the metal detectors. Understandably.

Trump was described by Hutchinson as similarly unworried about his supporters carrying firearms; he was mostly angry that magnetometers used to screen rallygoers were blocking some of his armed supporters from getting inside the rally grounds. And that would hurt Trump’s larger aim: creating a photo op of a very large crowd gathered to hear him speak.

So, it says here, Hutchinson testified that Trump said something to the effect of, “‘I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking [magnometers] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”

So he was okay with armed people marching on the Capitol. They weren’t going to hurt him, after all.

Trump also apparently did intend to go to the Capitol and presumably show up in the room where the Electoral College votes were being tallied. He was advised this would break several laws, but he didn’t care. He ordered the presidential limo to be driven to the Capitol, and when he was refused he started to tussle with the driver and with a Secret Service agent.

I personally am sorry they didn’t let him go. Imagine how much trouble he would have gotten himself into.

 

 

One More Atrocity from the Supreme Court

Today the SCOTUS issued a decision that will allow public school coaches and teachers to bully and intimidate students into participating in prayers against their will. This is what passes for “freedom of religion” in the imperium per iudices of the United States.

I wrote about Kennedy v. Bremerton School District in April, when the Court heard the case. See SCOTUS, Culture Warriors, and School Prayer for background.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Gorsuch, and Ian Millhiser writes at Vox that Gorsuch misrepresented the facts of the case. (This is the pattern with this Court; if the facts don’t support how you want to rule, then change the facts.)

Moreover, because Gorsuch’s opinion relies so heavily on false facts, the Court does not actually decide what the Constitution has to say about a coach who ostentatiously prays in the presence of students and the public. Instead, it decides a fabricated case about a coach who merely engaged in “private” and “quiet” prayer. …

… In the real case that was actually before the Supreme Court, Coach Kennedy incorporated “motivational” prayers into his coaching. Eventually, these prayers matured into public, after-game sessions, where both Kennedy’s players and players on the other team would kneel around Kennedy as he held up helmets from both teams and led students in prayer.

After games, Kennedy would also walk out to the 50-yard line, where he would kneel and pray in front of students and spectators. Initially, he did so alone, but after a few games students started to join him — eventually, a majority of his players did so. One parent complained to the school district that his son “felt compelled to participate,” despite being an atheist, because the student feared “he wouldn’t get to play as much if he didn’t participate.”

See A coach coerced students to pray, and the Supreme Court just said it was OK by Paul Peterson, father of four former Bremerton High School students.

It’s not the job of coaches or teachers to lead schoolchildren in prayer or coerce them, whether explicitly or implicitly, to join in religious activities. Students and their families, not public school employees, get to decide their religious practices and beliefs. Religious indoctrination is not the instruction that I or the parents I know want the public school involved in.

Well, yes. The issue was never that the coach was seen saying prayers on the 50 yard line; it was that team members were coerced into joining the prayers. And some of the players felt uncomfortable with this, because the prayers didn’t reflect their religious views.

“There is no indication in the record,” Gorsuch wrote, “that anyone expressed any coercion concerns to the District about the quiet, postgame prayers that Mr. Kennedy asked to continue and that led to his suspension.” Perhaps the Justice overlooked the amicus brief joined by parents like Paul Peterson, who felt that Kennedy’s prayers were coercive and out of bounds. Mark Joseph Stern reported,

The plaintiff’s lawyers insist that he was fired from his job as a football coach for engaging in “quiet, private prayer” at the 50-yard line after games. The extensive record developed in the district court tells a different story. It demonstrates that Kennedy formed prayer circles with team members after each game, leading the students in audible Christian prayer while in the midst of his formal duties. When the school district asked him to pray privately instead, he claimed he had been persecuted for his religious exercise.

Kennedy hired far-right lawyers who threatened legal action against the school district, transforming the postgame ritual into a media spectacle. Eventually, students began racing onto the field to join the prayer circle, creating a 500-person stampede that injured multiple people. Put simply, there was nothing “quiet” or “private” about Kennedy’s proselytization. (Also, he wasn’t fired; he was placed on paid leave.)

Not every member of the football team shared their coach’s Christian faith. But virtually all of them felt compelled to participate. Team members later explained that praying with Kennedy was “expected.” The coach even encouraged his own players to recruit their opponents and their coaches into the prayer circle. Some students joined in only because they feared they “wouldn’t get to play as much” if they declined, or because “they did not wish to separate themselves from the team.”

One member of the football team during Kennedy’s tenure, who came forward under a pseudonym for fear of retaliation, attested that he refused to bow his head because Kennedy’s prayers did not align with his own beliefs. He was then “persecuted” for failing to conform, treated poorly by the coaches and permitted to play only because of his talent on the field. The experience still haunts him, as well as others who felt queasy about the indoctrination they faced at school. These players, the student said, “would rather forget about that time of their life.”

Kennedy hired far-right lawyers who threatened legal action against the school district, transforming the postgame ritual into a media spectacle. Eventually, students began racing onto the field to join the prayer circle, creating a 500-person stampede that injured multiple people. Put simply, there was nothing “quiet” or “private” about Kennedy’s proselytization. (Also, he wasn’t fired; he was placed on paid leave.)

Not every member of the football team shared their coach’s Christian faith. But virtually all of them felt compelled to participate. Team members later explained that praying with Kennedy was “expected.” The coach even encouraged his own players to recruit their opponents and their coaches into the prayer circle. Some students joined in only because they feared they “wouldn’t get to play as much” if they declined, or because “they did not wish to separate themselves from the team.”

Christian nationalism, here we come.

More Atrocities from the Supreme court

I am just now learning that on Thursday the Supreme Court issued a ruling that limits Miranda rights. Thursday was the same day they struck down New York’s concealed carry law, which of course got all the headlines. In a normal world, however, a change to Miranda would have been huge news.

The Miranda case was Vega v. Tekoh. The decision did not eliminate the Miranda rule outright, but it seems to me that it does eliminate it in effect. As Justice Kagan explained in her dissent, defendants now have no way to seek remedy if an un-Mirandized statement is used against them in court. Law enforcement cannot be sued for failing to respect Miranda. A court still is not supposed to use a statement obtained by abuse of the defendant without a lawyer present, but if it does, well, tough.

Kagan wrote,

“Today, the Court strips individuals of the ability to seek a remedy for violations of the right recognized in Miranda. The majority observes that defendants may still seek ‘the suppression at trial of statements obtained’ in violation of Miranda’s procedures. But sometimes, such a statement will not be suppressed. And sometimes, as a result, a defendant will be wrongly convicted and spend years in prison. He may succeed, on appeal or in habeas, in getting the conviction reversed. But then, what remedy does he have for all the harm he has suffered? The point of § 1983 is to provide such redress—because a remedy ‘is a vital component of any scheme for vindicating cherished constitutional guarantees.’ The majority here, as elsewhere, injures the right by denying the remedy.”

I’m guessing that stripping Miranda of teeth is something from the Federalist Society’s wish list.

Still to come: In a decision that could be issued this coming week, SCOTUS is expected to put limits on the ability of the EPA to limit carbon emissions at power plants. And that’s possibly not all.

Legal experts are waiting to see if the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA begins to chip away at the ability of federal agencies — all of them, not just EPA — to write and enforce regulations. It would foreshadow a power shift with profound consequences, not just for climate policy but virtually everything the executive branch does, from directing air traffic to protecting investors.

Imagine. The SCOTUS would be weakening government from doing much of anything that protects citizens. It’s as if we are not supposed to be able to govern ourselves. We’re living in an imperium per iudices, I tell you.

So at a time when gun violence is a huge national concern, SCOTUS limits the government’s powers to regulate firearms. When climate change threatens to destroy the planet, SCOTUS is expected to limit the government’s powers to reduce greenhouse gases. Let’s hope they don’t do that, but we’ll see. It seems we’re not allowed to use our government to address 21st century problems

Back in 2010 I wrote a post titled Constitutional Trial and Error that argued for a living Constitution, not a dead one. The Founding Fathers gave us an outline of government that succeeding generations could apply to their own circumstances to govern themselves, I said. And making the Constitution work in the real world involved a lot of trial and error even in the early years of our republic, when the guys who wrote it were still alive. The Constitution didn’t explicitly give government power to do a lot of things it does now, like build highways and print paper money. It didn’t even explicitly say the Supreme Court was the final arbiter of what the Constitution meant; that came about through the Marbury case in 1803, and the notion didn’t completely take hold until much later in the 19th century, Eventually people figured out what worked and what didn’t, and precedents developed.

When the Constitution was written there were no railroads, no airlines, no energy grid, no Internet, no such thing as outsourced jobs, and people didn’t know what germs were. Yet the “originalists” on the Court insist we are limited to addressing only conditions that existed in the 18th century? See my 2020 post on Originalism, A Tyranny of the Dead.

In fact, the Originalists are crappy historians. Do see The Supreme Court’s Faux ‘Originalism’ by Joshua Zeitz at Politico; it’s excellent. The Court’s decisions on firearm rights from Heller (2006) on are based on historical ignorance. The right to bear arms was very much tied to service in the militia, which from the Colonial period and through the time of the Articles of Confederation and in the early constitutional republic was the main defense from invasion and insurrection.

At the time the Constitution was written the entire U.S. regular military consisted of a standing army of maybe 600 officers and men and a naval fleet of six wooden frigates. And it had a huge territory to defend. Were it not for the buffer created by the Atlantic Ocean just about any European power could have crushed us. The militia was created by Congress under the authority given it in the Constitution (Aticle I, Section 8, clauses 15 and 16) to provide defense. And it really was well regulated. It wasn’t just any collection of meatballs wearing camo and waving assault weapons around. Per the Militia Acts passed in 1792 all white men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to enroll in the militia, and they were also required to obtain and maintain their own regulation arms so they would be ready to fight. If you know this, the militia clause in the 2nd Amendment makes some sense. Obviously, if someone could stop citizens from being armed, this would weaken the millitia.

And since the militia eventually became the National Guard, which is not self-armed, one could argue that the 2nd Amendment no longer serves its original purpose. But the current “originalist” justices ignore the militia clause and the history behind it and just go right to “shall not be infringed.”

Likewise, per English common law of the time, abortions were legal in the American Colonies until the time of quickening, which is when the fetus can be felt moving. This is roughly at 12 to 15 weeks gestation, although it could be much later. But Justice Alito completely ignores this bit of history and instead takes his legal precedence from some 17th century guy who sentenced witches to be burned at the stake to argue that abortion was never part of U.S. history or tradition, so it can’t possibly be a protected right.

We’re living in an imperium per iudices, and the iudices are wackjobs.

An 18th century trial.

 

Why Right Wingers Are Weenies

GOP politicians, Fox News, and law enforcement were more than prepared for any violence at protests of yesterday’s SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe.

For example, Fox News reports that police were forced to use tear gas on crowds of protesters surrounding the Arizona state house, and that legislators were “held hostage” inside. But a careful reading of the news story doesn’t reveal that protesters were violent, just that the legislators were afraid of them.

“Protesters threatened to break the AZ Senate entryway glass,” Republican Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers tweeted, as members were in the middle of voting on a series of bills.

The situation escalated into a “hostage” situation as lawmakers were instructed not to exit the building, Republican Arizona State Senator Kelly Townsend said.

The Republican Caucus of the State Senate later called the protest an attempted “insurrection.”

But they didn’t actually break the entryway glass, I take it. Nor did they break into the building. It was a “sizable” crowd, the news story said. If they had intended to break the glass and enter the building, I suspect they would have.

“We are currently there being held hostage inside the Senate building due to members of the public trying to breach our security,” Townsend tweeted Friday night. “We smell tear gas and the children of one of the members are in the office sobbing with fear.”

It wasn’t the protesters throwing the tear gas, but law enforcement.

“While working inside we were interrupted by the sound of bangs and smell of tear gas,” Rep. Sarah Liguori tweeted Friday evening. “Protestors cleared from the Capitol.”

Heavily-armed officers were seen in and around the legislative building.

Granted, I wasn’t there, but one does suspect a gross overreaction. In America we are still allowed to protest outside statehouses, last I heard. But I guess not in Arizona.

There was some violence in Iowa.

A truck driver careened into a group of demonstrators in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday as they crossed the street during an otherwise peaceful protest of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The unidentified male driver of a Ford truck rammed into several protesters — all of them women — at the tail end of a procession, rolling over one woman’s ankle and sending her to the hospital, witnesses said.

Charming fellow. Was this covered by Fox News? One suspects not. The article goes on to say that police had interviewed the driver but … did not arrest him? Seriously?

Here’s another guy who may have some issues:

A Republican consultant called for people to “shoot to kill” abortion-rights protesters who he alleged would resort to violence after the Supreme Court‘s overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to a post circulating Friday on social media.

The Twitter page for PatriotTakes, self-described as a group of researchers “monitoring and exposing right-wing extremism,” shared a screenshot of the post from Colton Duncan. In the post, which appears to have been deleted from Duncan’s social media, Duncan wrote that when Roe gets reversed, “nasty, ugly gender-confused animals will torch American cities and do everything they can to tear down the fabric of America.”

The post goes on, “They should either be shot, or god-willing, apprehended before that has to happen. These depraved animals are our enemy. Let me repeat that. They are our enemy. Do not feel one iota of pity for them.” Later in the post, Duncan instructs readers who live in big cities to “arm yourselves” and “shoot to kill” if they find themselves in a situation where their safety or livelihood is threatened.

The safety and livelihood of all women of childbearing age is potentially being threatened, mind you.

There was violence at the Rhode Island state house. A man identified as Josh Mello waded into a pro-abortion rights rally and began yelling at the crowd. I take it he was a counter-protester. It appears there was some shoving and scuffling.

One of the demonstration’s organizers, Jennifer Rourke — a board member of The Womxn Project and candidate for a State Senate District 29 seat in Warwick — rushed over to try to defuse the situation. “This (conflict) is not what this is about,” Rourke, who is also a co-founder of the R.I. Political Cooperative, told the Globe on Saturday.

Video from the demonstration shows Rourke holding her hands up and repeatedly asking people, in English and Spanish, to move away. She asked Mello to leave, and she said he agreed.

As Mello climbed state house stairs, however, another man began punching him. Police moved in. But then they arrested another man, neither Mello nor his assailant, for unspecified reasons.

And then it got even more freaky, when Jennifer Rourke’s political opponent for the Rhode Island Senate seat,  off-duty Providence police officer Jeann Lugo (a man, I finally figured out) rushed into the crowd and began punching Rourke in the face. Lugo is now on administrative leave and has dropped out of the race for Senate. He has also deleted his Twitter account. Rourke is planning to press charges.

Lugo told the Boston Globe:

In response to questions from the Globe, Lugo on Saturday did not deny punching Rourke.

“As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in,” Lugo said in an email to the Globe. “I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking.”

The thing is, there are a number of videos in circulation of this incident. They are jumbled and hard to follow, but none indicate that Rourke was threatening anybody.

What strikes me, though, is the double standard. Police were out in force to stop violence at the pro-abortion rights protests. They expected violence. They pro-actively cleared out the Arizona protest that hadn’t yet become violent. But somehow no one ever prepares for violence when it’s the Right gathering to express political views. Even though they are a lot more likely to really be violent. Why is that?

Well, They Dropped the Bomb

Well, they did it. Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The justices added a second decision day this week, which is unusual. Tell me that this timing wasn’t partly to take attention away from the J6 hearing.

My phrase for the day is “imperium per iudices” which is Latin for “rule by judges.” We don’t have a democracy any more. We are no longer in a great experiment of self-government. The Supreme Court is governing us now.

States have the right to force women to give birth against their wills, but not the right to regulate the carrying of firearms as a matter of public safety. Work that one out.

It won’t stop with the states, though. The criminalizers will not rest until there is a national ban on abortion.

The imperium per iudices no longer permits self-governing by the people but is determined to govern us themselves. This is a usurpation of democracy by six extremist hacks on the Supreme Court. This Court cannot be allowed to continue. The simplest way to reform the Court would be for Congress to add several new justices, which the Constitution says it can do without a Constitutional Amendment. There should be enough justices that no one president can nominate a majority of extremist hacks. But of course, this cannot be done in the current Congress with the fillibuster rule in places.

So, Step One is that neither Manchin nor Sinema should be allowed to so much as breathe from now on without somebody in their faces telling them to end the filibuster.

Sorry; I need to fume a bit for a while now.

J6 Hearing 5: Trump Pressures the Justice Department

This afternoon’s episode will look at how Trump pressured the Justice Department to help him overturn the election. This is the episode that was postponed from an earlier date, it says here.

Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.

At its fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday, the panel plans to hear testimony from three former top Justice Department officials who are expected to lay out the ways in which Mr. Trump tried to misuse the attorney general’s office to overturn his defeat, an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.

Do pass the popcorn. I understand the remaining episodes are postponed until July, because the committee has been swamped with tons of new evidence they need to review.

Also, too, in a big reversal from his previous position, Mo Brooks wants to testify. Publicly. Chair Bennie Thompson says a subpoena is in the works.

In related news, since Tuesday’s hearing the Justice Department is showing more interest in the fake electors scheme.

Federal agents investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday dropped subpoenas on people in multiple locations, widening the probe of how political activists supporting President Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Agents conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at different locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Among those who received a subpoena Wednesday was David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who served as a Trump elector in that state, people familiar with the investigation said. Shafer’s lawyer declined to comment.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan received subpoenas, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But it was not immediately clear whether that activity was related to a federal probe or a state-level criminal inquiry.

See also the next post, Oh, Bleep, SCOTUS sides with the NRA. This is seriously bad news.

 

Today’s News Roundup: God and Guns

There’s a lot going on that I want to write about, and I’ll never get to it all. This post is about stuff going on not related to the J6 hearings. Tomorrow’s hearing will begin at 3 pm EST, last I heard.

Yesterday the Supreme Court put a big crack in the wall between church and state. In Carson v. Makin, the Court ruled that a Maine school voucher program could not refuse to fund vouchers that pay for religious education. Ian Millhiser explains at Vox,

About 5,000 students in Maine’s most rural areas, where it is not cost-efficient for the state to operate a public school, receive tuition vouchers that can be used to pay for private education. Maine law provides that these vouchers may only be used at “nonsectarian” schools, not religious ones.

Carson struck down this law excluding religious schools from the Maine voucher program, and that decision could have broad implications far beyond the few thousand students in Maine who benefit from these tuition subsidies.

Not that long ago, the Court required the government to remain neutral on questions of religion — a requirement that flowed from the First Amendment’s command that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” In practice, that meant that the government could neither impose burdens on religious institutions that it didn’t impose on others, nor could it actively subsidize religion.

Carson turns this neutrality rule on its head, holding that government benefit programs that exclude religious institutions engage in “discrimination against religion” that violates the Constitution.

It used to be that no public money was ever supposed to go to parochial schools, for any reason. Then (as I remember) a few decades ago the Court decided that it would be okay if the state provided money that benefited parochial students, as long as it didn’t pay for religious instruction. The state could help pay for school buses or for a school nurse, for example, but could not subsidize anything going on in the classrooms that might include religious instruction. But now states can’t disciriminate against religious schools if subsidies are going to non-religious private schools, it appears.

Millhiser goes on to explain that Chief Justice Roberts included language in the decision that says its okay if schools don’t provide religious instruction. In other words, this decision is not supposed to open the door to somebody claiming discrimination if the local public school isn’t teaching children that Jesus is their Savior.

But the Court’s logic seems to be saying that neutrality toward religion is the same thing as discrimination against religion. So they do seem to be inching closer to a decision that religious instruction might be introduced into public schools, or that parochial schools might be in a position to demand more comprehensive government subsidy.

The part the Christianistas don’t seem to grasp is that constitutionally this couldn’t be limited to Christian instruction. If the Right went crazy when some nice Sufi Muslims wanted to open a community center near Ground Zero, wait until they find their tax dollars are paying to indoctrinate kids into Wahabi Sunni Islam. You know, the folks who really were behind September 11. There would be no way around that without completely ignoring the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Of course, our originalist justices could come up with some reason why they can ignore the establishment clause. They are a creative crew.

At the extreme end of this argument, government might be put in a position to decide which belief system calling itself “religion” really is religion and not just some nonsense thrown together to bilk the state out of money. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. It’s really better if government just stays the hell out of religion, and lets it do its own thing on its own dime, which is supposed to have been the general rule all this time.

Yesterday several Trump-endorsed candidates lost runoff primary elections in Georgia, and by very large margins. This is not to say that Georgia voters have necessarily come to their senses, since the winning candidates are still wingnuts who align with Trumpism if not Trump. But it does tell us that Georgia Republican voters may have moved past Trump the man. So they are still hard-right wackjobs, but they aren’t going to follow Trump off a cliff. I guess that’s something.

You may have heard some Stephen Colbert staffers were escorted out of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill after they’d finished doing some interviews with Congress critters featuring Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. They were lingering in the hallway when security came to detain them.

The Colbert people had not broken into the building but had gone through security and were invited into congressional offices. The problem, according to security staff, was that they were still in the building after public visiting hours were over, and they’d been asked to leave earlier and did not. I believe they have to face unlawful entry charges.

Then Tucker Carlson went crazy and claimed the Colbert people were committing insurrection just like on J6. There is no indication Carlson was joking. You can read about this, and how Colbert took down Carlson, here and here.

Details have been worked out in the lame Senate gun bill, so now we get to see if the Republicans who worked on the bill will vote for it. Here’s what’s in the final bill. I understand the bill was hung up for a few days over closing the “boyfriend loophole.” The mostly male bipartisan group working on the bill struggled to agree on who qualifies as a “boyfriend.”

In related news, you might remember that Texas Sen. John Cornyn was booed at the Texas GOP state convention when he tried to speak about the gun bill. Now the MAGA heads have started a rumor that Cornyn is pushing a bipartisan bill that would provide amnesty to illegal immigrants. No, he isn’t. Cornyn has supported some immigration reform in the past, but not that. But it goes to show that once the MAGA people decide you’re the enemy, they’ll go into overdrive making up reasons to hate you.

Ghastly details about the Uvalde school shooting are still trickling out. See After Uvalde, an emerging narrative of police incompetence by Zeeshan Aleem at MSNBC.

On Tuesday, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, revealed an astonishing assessment of how poorly he believed local police handled the response to the mass shooting in Uvalde during a Texas Senate committee hearing: He said he believed there were enough properly equipped police officers to stop the shooting just three minutes after it began — instead of the roughly hour and 14 minutes it ended up taking.

McCraw also said a door to the classroom where the shooter was wreaking havoc was unlocked, contradicting initial claims from law enforcement officials who said that part of the reason that it took so long to neutralize the shooter was that the door was locked.

See also Officer Husband of Slain Uvalde Teacher Tried to Save Her But Was Detained, Removed from Scene, Says Official. Let the litigation begin. Some people involved in that disaster might consider living somewhere else, under an assumed name. Maybe growing a beard, too.

Today’s Fourth J6 Hearing

The hearing begins at 1 pm EST. It’s supposed to focus on the pressure put on states to flip the election to Trump. We should expect to hear also about the fake electors, I understand.

See also Greg Sargent, Trump’s open confession will loom large at today’s Jan. 6 hearing.  (No firewall.)

There are headlines today saying that Trump and his ever shrinking circle are setting up John Eastman to take the fall for any criminal acts committed by them regarding January 6. See What’s That Grease Stain Under the Bus? by Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Update: I spent most of the afternoon fighting with my PC, which kept me from writing much, but it’s working now.

So how about that Rusty Bowers? I understand the guy is something of an SOB, but he was a great witness. And there seems to be widespread agreement that Trump is now directly tied to the fake electors scheme. We learned that Ron Johnson tried to hand fake elector information to Mike Pence on January 6. Oopsie, Ron Johnson!

Rolling Stone is reporting that Trump and his team have been “blindsided” by some documentary footage the January 6 committee has acquired.

The Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed documentary filmmaker Alex Holder in regard to footage and interviews Holder and his team shot while following former President Donald Trump and his inner circle throughout the 2020 presidential campaign. Holder’s company, AJH Films, confirmed to Rolling Stone on Tuesday that he has been subpoenaed, will sit for an interview with the panel on Thursday, and has “fully complied with all of the committee’s requests.”

Trump’s team was blindsided by the development, which was initially reported by Politico.

In some of the highest ranks of the Trumpworld diaspora — including among several who testified before the Jan. 6 committee — news of the documentarian cooperating with the congressional panel (and also potentially having reams of behind-the-scenes footage of Trump’s crusade to nullify the 2020 election) came as a bizarre surprise. “What the fuck is this?” a former top Trump 2020 official messaged Rolling Stone on Tuesday after seeing the Politico item. …

…Holder released a statement later on Tuesday noting that he had “unparalleled access” to Trump and others over the final six weeks of his presidency and that he has “never-before-seen footage” of the Capitol attack. “When we began this project in September 2020, we could have never predicted that our work would one day be subpoenaed by Congress,” he wrote, adding that he had “no agenda coming into this” and only “wanted to better understand who the Trumps were and what motivated them to hold onto power so desperately.”

A source familiar with the production of Holder’s documentary, titled Unprecedented, told Rolling Stone that the film was conceptualized and coordinated directly with the Trump family, and that senior campaign staff was not involved in approving participants or in decisions regarding what subject matter would be included in the film. The source, who is knowledgeable about the project and its scope, detailed that Holder had extensive access to Trump campaign activities, including filming behind the scenes at campaign events and traveling with documentary subjects.

The committee announced today they are adding one more hearing.

No End to the Crazy in Texas

Get a load of this headline —

They keep promising they’ll go, but they never do it, the jerks. How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

This happened at the recent Texas Republican state convention, which sounds like it was an even bigger clown show than the seemngly multiannual CPAC conference.

Among other things, a bunch of MAGA-head Proud Boy types got into the conference and heckled Rep. Dan Crenshaw as a “globalist RINO” and “eyepatch McCain.” I understad the latter taunt originated with Tucker Carlson after Crenshaw  visited Ukraine.

Crenshaw always seemed a typical hard-right wackjob to me. The “globalist RINO” charge came from an allegation that Crenshaw had something to do with the World Economic Forum, although I don’t know exactly what. He also was accused of supporting red flag laws, although he says that is not his position now. But somehow he is suddenly persona non grata among the insurrectionist set.

Back to the Texas GOP conference — along with calling for a secession referendum of some sort to appear on ballots in 2023, the conference appears to have approved the following:

  • A resolution rejecting the result of the 2020 presidential election and calling Joe Biden an “illegitimate president.”
  • A resolution calling for the complete repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
  • A party platform calling homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” Also the Log Cabin Republicans, which represents gay Republicans, was blocked from having a booth at the conference.
  • Another part of the platform called for teaching schoolchildren about “the humanity of the preborn child,”
  • Delegates adopted a formal “rebuke” of Sen. John Cornyn for engaging in bipartisan gun control talks. Cornyn was booed when he tried to give a speech explaining the talks.

This is all reminding me of a particularly creepy Twilight Zone episode. No one is allowed to disagree with the demon child. Except now there are a lot of demon children.

Going back to the Newsweek article and the secession resolution —

Under a section titled “State Sovereignty,” the platform states: “Pursuant to Article 1, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, the federal government has impaired our right of local self-government. Therefore, federally mandated legislation that infringes upon the 10th Amendment rights of Texas should be ignored, opposed, refused, and nullified.

I hope they all understand that if Texas secedes, Texas citizens will forfeit all connection to Social Security and Medicare.

“Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.”

So Texans just want to declare they have a right so secede (they don’t), not that they’re actually going to secede. Do stop being such a tease, Texas.

In related news: Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens, currently the Republican front runner for Roy Blunt’s Senate seat, has released an ad so irresponsible and offensive that it was banned from Facebook. So let’s see it!

Yeah, he’s telling his followers to go RINO hunting. I assume he’s referring to his GOP political opposition, none of whom strike me as all that RINO-ish. They’re all verious degrees of MAGA. Unfortunately. Maybe former Navy SEAL Greitens will go hunting for former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw.

Seriously, this is not sustainable. At some point the only way left for them to up the ante will be to really start shooting each other.