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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
November 29, 2021

Boris Johnson Unsure How U.K. One Country But Also Four

LONDON—In a meeting to discuss possible adjustments to steel import tariffs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confided to his cabinet Monday that he was unsure how the United Kingdom was one country but also four.

“Just to digress for a moment, I’m still not entirely wrapping my head around how our country is also four countries—that doesn’t really seem to make sense, does it?” said the prime minister, informing the entirely silent room of chancellors and secretaries that he would appreciate some clarification on a few follow-up questions, such as whether the Queen ruled all of it or that was only England.

“It just doesn’t seem reasonable to have a country inside a country. What does the word ‘country’ even mean if you can do that? Also, Canada is part of British Commonwealth, right? So does that mean I’m in charge of Canada? Or did that change after the Brexit thing? Did we even do that?”

At press time, Johnson had broken down completely after remembering about Wales and deciding none of this was worth understanding in the first place.

November 29, 2021

New covid variant. Same Republican denialism.

As the omicron coronavirus variant spreads around the world, it’s worth remembering that its existence is a reminder of the importance of high vaccination rates. The omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa, which has been woefully under-vaccinated thanks to the failure of wealthier nations to deliver sufficient supplies of vaccines. If only Republican lawmakers, after more than 777,000 deaths in the United States and the overwhelming success of vaccines for millions of Americans, would finally stop undercutting mandates and other policies to boost vaccination rates here at home. That would be a foolish hope.

On Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Features,” for example, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) pointed to recent declines in covid-19 cases and deaths in Florida as a victory for “natural” immunity. “In some studies that I have read,” she said, “natural immunity gives you 27 times more protection against future covid infection than a vaccination. And so we need to take all of the science into account and not selectively choosing what science to follow when we are making policy decisions.”

Mace is likely referring to one Israeli study (not “studies”), which did indeed find what she claimed. But speaking of “selectively choosing what science to follow,” Mace didn’t mention that other studies have found the opposite. More broadly, pitting natural immunity against vaccination is itself misleading Americans. As The Post recently reported, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of more than 90 studies and papers found that “for people who have been infected … vaccination provides a boost in the immune response and further reduces the risk of a repeat infection.” To imply that people should become infected rather than getting a shot is dangerous — especially when the former comes with a massive death toll.

Over on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) similarly played with the gray area of natural immunity. “We have 1.6 million Mississippians that have been vaccinated. That’s not enough,” he admitted. “But in talking to our state health officers, we believe that somewhere between 80 to 85 percent of Mississippians have some level of immunity, either natural immunity or immunity from having taken the shots.”

So why not support vaccine mandates to boost that natural immunity and help those who don’t have it? Reeves argued that the president’s effort has backfired, “hardening those individuals who were not interested in getting vaccinated.” It’s true that one’s vaccination status heavily correlates with their political views. But by his own logic, a united, bipartisan front in favor of mandates would go a long way toward softening that resistance. Instead, Reeves is silent.


November 29, 2021

The hypocrisy argument on the filibuster is itself phony

With the Senate facing a do-or-die moment on whether it will protect the right to vote and honest counts in elections, opponents of much-needed reforms want to shift the topic to whether liberals are hypocrites about filibuster rules.

Their desire to change the subject is understandable. Opponents of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act prefer not to explain why a Republican Party that once embraced voting rights bills now echoes segregationist Democrats of old in defending “states’ rights” over federal voting guarantees.

And they would rather not be pressed on why they want to roll back the advances that made voting easier in 2020. More mail and early voting, drop boxes, less cumbersome registration and a slew of other changes led to record-breaking turnout.

The Freedom to Vote Act is all about such access. No political consultant would advise a client to explain opposition to it with a “Let’s Make Voting Harder Again” speech.


November 29, 2021

The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation

Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., the Eisenhower appointee who became the liberal lion of the Warren Court, had a tradition for introducing every new batch of law clerks to the realities of the institution.

“Brennan liked to greet his new clerks each fall by asking them what they thought was the most important thing they needed to know as they began their work in his chambers,” Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel write in “Liberal Champion,” their Brennan biography. “The … stumped novices would watch quizzically as Brennan held up five fingers. Brennan then explained that with five votes, you could accomplish anything.”

Brennan, master vote-counter and vote-cajoler, was right — but there is an important corollary to his famous Rule of Five, one powerfully at work in the current Supreme Court. That is the Rule of Six. A five-justice majority is inherently fragile. It necessitates compromise and discourages overreach. Five justices tend to proceed with baby steps.

A six-justice majority is a different animal. A six-justice majority, such as the one now firmly in control, is the judicial equivalent of the monarchy’s “heir and a spare.” The pathways to victory are enlarged. The overall impact is far greater than the single-digit difference suggests.


November 29, 2021

Sarasota man says MAGA hat got him kicked out of Bahi Hut Lounge

A Sarasota man says he was denied service, told to leave the popular Bahi Hut Lounge and had the police called on him Friday evening because he was wearing a red Make America Great Again hat in support of President Donald Trump.

The bar's owner, after some initial confusion over why the customer had been asked to leave, said it was because an employee enforced the business' no-hats policy, although the man who was kicked out said at least one other person in the Bahi Hut was wearing a hat that night and was not asked to leave, and an Instagram search for the bar turns up multiple photos that appear to show people wearing hats inside.

The dispute became public after the customer contacted state Sen. Joe Gruters, head of the local and state GOP, who shared the issue on social media.

Mark Marlow, 51, said it was his first time at the Bahi Hut, which is one of the region’s most beloved bars and has been open since 1954.


MAGA-hat wearing snowflake runs to politicians and the media because he can't wear his MAGA hat at a local bar...

November 25, 2021

On 'Hannity,' Trump reveals the truth about right-wing lionization of Rittenhouse

Donald Trump ventured into the safe confines of Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday night, where he disclosed that Kyle Rittenhouse had visited him at Mar-a-Lago. “Really a nice young man,” the former president declared.

This led some outraged observers to decry the “sickness” at the core of the Trumpified GOP. But what came next is more troubling — and more revealing about the Trump movement’s darker impulses.

“He should not have had to suffer through a trial,” Trump said, suggesting Rittenhouse had almost been killed by one of his victims and had rightly killed first. “He should never have been put through that.”

In the days after Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted of homicide in killing two and wounding a third amid unrest in Kenosha, Wis., two strains of Rittenhouse lionization developed on the right. One was sanitized, mainly treating his acquittal as heroic in that he evaded a would-be injustice at the hands of out-of-control leftism.

The other was darker and more explicit, treating Rittenhouse as a hero for what he did: cross state lines to deliberately place himself in a combustible situation, armed to kill, in a manner likely to provoke the fighting — and lead to the killing — that did indeed take place.


November 25, 2021

CIA director warns Russian spies of 'consequences' if they are behind 'Havana Syndrome' incidents

CIA Director William J. Burns delivered a confidential warning to Russia’s top intelligence services that they will face “consequences” if they are behind the string of mysterious health incidents known as “Havana Syndrome” afflicting U.S. diplomats and spies around the world, according to U.S. officials familiar with the exchange.

During a visit to Moscow earlier this month, Burns raised the issue with the leadership of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, and the country’s Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR. He told them that causing U.S. personnel and their family members to suffer severe brain damage and other debilitating ailments would go beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior for a “professional intelligence service,” said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive conversations.

The warning did not assign blame for what U.S. officials are calling “anomalous health incidents,” or AHIs. The fact that Burns formulated the warning by saying “if” suggests that after four years of investigations across multiple administrations, the U.S. government remains unable to determine a cause of the unusual incidents. Nevertheless, the director’s decision to raise the possibility of Russian involvement directly to his counterparts in Moscow underscored the deep suspicion the CIA has of Kremlin culpability.

The CIA declined to comment on Burns’s warning to the Russians, which has not been previously reported. The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.


November 25, 2021

Ex-prosecutor charged in Ahmaud Arbery case booked at jail

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The former prosecutor charged with misconduct for her handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case was booked at a Georgia jail on Wednesday and released.

Former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson turned herself in Wednesday morning at the Glynn County jail, county Undersheriff Ron Corbett said. Jail records show she was released on her own recognizance, meaning she did not have to pay a cash bond.

A grand jury indicted Johnson, 49, last week on a felony charge of violating her oath of office and a misdemeanor count of obstructing police. Johnson was the area’s top prosecutor when three white men chased and fatally shot Arbery last year. The indictment alleges she used her position to discourage police from making arrests in the 25-year-old Black man’s killing.

Johnson did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday. Officials at the jail and the Glynn County Superior Court clerk’s office said their records did not list an attorney for her.


November 25, 2021

Ruling damages case alleging 'woke' climate at Academy of the Holy Names

A judge cited First Amendment concerns in dismissing the lawsuit’s 14 counts.

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County circuit judge has dismissed all counts in a lawsuit that accused Academy of the Holy Names of abandoning Catholic principles and being too “woke.”

Judge Paul Huey, according to both parties in the suit, issued a verbal ruling citing concerns that the First Amendment prevented the court from delving into church teachings.

While the prominent Tampa school on Bayshore Boulevard was encouraged by the ruling, plaintiffs Anthony and Barbara Scarpo said the case is not over. The judge told them they could reword two of the 14 counts tossed out, Anthony Scarpo said in an interview.

“This is not a spiking of the football in the end zone,” he said. “The judge dismissed it because he’s not allowed to decide what is and isn’t Catholic.”


This was quite a stupid lawsuit. The parental couple pledged over $1M to the school their daughters attended, and were suing to get their money back because they were upset that the school was teaching about social justice and other "woke" themed subjects.
November 25, 2021

Lutz man accused of killing and dismembering woman, dumping body into Tampa Bay

Robert Kessler, 69, faces both a charge of second-degree murder and abuse of a dead human body.

TAMPA — A Lutz man already in custody on drug charges now faces a murder charge in the killing of a woman whose dismembered body was dumped in Tampa’s McKay Bay.

Robert Kessler, 69, was arrested on drug charges this week while police were investigating him in connection with the killing. He will now face additional charges of second-degree murder and abuse of a dead human body, Interim Police Chief Ruben Delgado said at a press conference Wednesday night.

The woman killed had been identified as Stephanie Crone-Overholts, 47, of Erie, Pa. Her age was not released by police.

Body parts were first spotted in McKay Bay on Nov. 11 by fishermen near the 22nd Street Causeway Bridge, police said. More body parts including a human leg with a tattoo were discovered the following day in McKay Bay, at the northeastern edge of Tampa Bay.


This was a particularly heinous crime, even for Florida. I'm glad they've got the suspect in custody.

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