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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
November 17, 2021

No, the Nazis are not coming

We are not all persecuted. What we are is a nation where some of us have lost their minds, to say nothing of their capacity to give reverence and respect.

The Nazis are coming.

That, to a distressing extent, is the crux of the argument being mounted by some of those who refuse to obey vaccine mandates. On Sunday, a group of them even showed up at the Bronx office of New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz with yellow Stars of David affixed to their clothes.

For those who don’t know: Beginning in 1939, the Nazis required Jews to wear such stars with the word “Jew” written inside on their clothing for easy identification. Any Jew who didn’t comply risked imprisonment or execution.

So it is jarring to see Stars of David sprouting up as a symbol of vaccine-mandate resistance. But it seems to be happening everywhere, from Dinowitz’s office to a hat shop in Nashville to Oklahoma Republican state headquarters in Tulsa to a hearing room in Topeka to a church gym near Tacoma, Wash. There, state lawmaker Jim Walsh explained his decision to wear the star thusly: “It’s an echo from history. In the current context, we’re all Jews.”

No, we most assuredly are not. What we are is a nation where some of us have lost their damn minds, to say nothing of their capacity to give reverence and respect. There are 6 million quite obvious reasons why this use of the Star of David is repugnant — indeed, an act of astonishing moral idiocy. It’s hard to even imagine the suffocating narcissism it takes to resist taking a shot by evoking an epoch that saw a population the size of greater Atlanta murdered.

November 16, 2021

What La Nina Means for California's Drought

The climate pattern could bring very different fortunes for northern and southern parts of the state.

For California, the arrival of winter means the beginning of our rainy season, at least relatively speaking.

However much precipitation California is going to receive in a year, the bulk of it typically falls between December and March. And given the severity of our state’s ongoing drought, the amount of rain we get this winter couldn’t be of more importance.

A recent outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that the northern and southern halves of the state may experience diverging water fortunes this winter because of something you may already be familiar with: La Niña.

Like its climatological cousin El Niño, La Niña is a weather phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean but can affect the whole world. La Niña generally means drier, warmer conditions in the southern half of the United States and wetter weather in the northern half.

November 16, 2021

U.S. Allies Drive Much of World's Democratic Decline, Data Shows

Washington-aligned countries backslid at nearly double the rate of non-allies, data shows, complicating long-held assumptions about American influence.

The United States and its allies accounted for a significantly outsize share of global democratic backsliding in the last decade, according to a new analysis.

American allies remain, on average, more democratic than the rest of the world. But nearly all have suffered a degree of democratic erosion since 2010, meaning that core elements like election fairness or judicial independence have weakened, and at rates far outpacing average declines among other countries.

With few exceptions, U.S.-aligned countries saw almost no democratic growth in that period, even as many beyond Washington’s orbit did.

The findings are reflected in data recorded by V-Dem, a Sweden-based nonprofit that tracks countries’ level of democracy across a host of indicators, and analyzed by The New York Times.

November 16, 2021

Audit: Governor improperly used COVID funds for salaries

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state audit report on government spending released Monday accused Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of using nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay salaries for 21 staff members for three months last year and concealing the spending by passing it through the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

State Auditor Rob Sand said a review of the state's payroll system shows the money was used to pay the Republican governor's office staff, but it's unclear why she had to take federal money to pay the salaries.

“What is not clear, is why these salaries were not included in the governor’s budget set prior to the fiscal year and prior to the pandemic,” he said in the audit report. “Based on this information, we conclude that the budget shortfall was not a result of the pandemic.”

Sand said he had asked Reynolds' office twice for documentation to support the spending and was told the governor's staff members during March, April, May and June of 2020 were fully focused on responding to COVID-19 and protecting Iowa but never provided proof of the expenditure on the COVID response.


November 16, 2021

Republicans will defend anything -- even Steve Bannon

Stephen K. Bannon turned himself in to federal law enforcement authorities Monday, after being indicted for refusing to obey a subpoena from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. As repugnant a character as Bannon is, the fight over whether he’ll have to tell what he knows is much bigger than him.

But most disturbing of all is the fact that Bannon — one of the most toxic and discredited figures in recent American political history — is being given an outpouring of support from the Republican Party. One has to ask: They’re going to bat for this guy?

Indeed they are. To catch you up: Though Bannon has moved in and out of Donald Trump’s graces since Trump fired him from his White House job in 2017, in the days leading to Jan. 6, he used his podcast to encourage people to mobilize. Trump’s “second term is going to start with a bang,” he said two days before, because on Jan. 6, Trump’s supporters would “impose our will” on Congress.

On the day of the insurrection, Bannon and other Trump figures, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a blueprint for Vice President Mike Pence to steal the election, manned a “command center” at the Willard hotel in Washington, coordinating efforts to overturn the results.


November 16, 2021

Florida lawmakers move forward on vaccine mandate bills

Democrats said this week is just “theater” for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers advanced multiple bills limiting mask and vaccine mandates during the first day of a contentious special session of the state Legislature requested by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Committees in the Republican-controlled House and Senate voted for bills that would require private employers to accommodate employees who do not want to be vaccinated and, eventually, swap federal oversight of workplace safety for state oversight.

“I firmly believe we’re on the right side of history and of science,” said Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills.

Although state lawmakers were not supposed to return to Tallahassee to pass bills until January, DeSantis called them back early to resist a proposed federal rule by President Joe Biden’s administration that would require companies with more than 100 employees to require their employees be vaccinated. The special legislative session is expected to end on Wednesday or Thursday.

November 16, 2021

Patrick Leahy Announces He Won't Seek Reelection To Make Room For Next Generation Of 70-Year-Olds

WASHINGTON—Stressing that he already had his turn in the seat of power, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Monday that he would not be seeking re-election in order to make room for the next generation of 70-year-olds entering politics.

“It’s time we let some fresh, septuagenarian blood into this place,” said Leahy in a press conference, explaining how this new wave of politicians is better equipped to deal with the pressing issues facing the nation, such as the Vietnam War and stagflation.

“Although it fills me with sadness to leave a post I’ve held for nearly 50 years, these fresh-faced go-getters can more effectively address the needs of their constituents given that their hearing isn’t totally shot. The future is now in the hands of those who can still climb the stairs of the capitol without assistance and remember what bills they’re voting on that day.”

At press time, critics were questioning whether a politician born in the 1940s has enough experience to deal with the contingencies of the job.

November 16, 2021

Energized Chris Christie Ready For Next Chapter Of Humiliation

MENDHAM, NJ—Saying he was fired up and excited for the chance to debase himself on a bigger stage than ever, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie told reporters Monday that he was ready for the next chapter of his humiliation.

“Look, I’ve been out of the limelight for a few months, but I promise you that I’m in a place where I can finally turn the page and disgrace myself anew,” said Christie, explaining that despite his many ups and downs, he had no doubt that the greatest embarrassments still lay before him.

“Really, I just want to do as much as possible to bring shame upon myself and my family. That’s what my time in office has always been about. So, yeah, I’m revitalized and can’t wait to embark on what just might be the biggest indignity of my life.”

The former presidential candidate added that if his political trajectory had revealed anything, it was that you should never count out Chris Christie’s ability to disgrace himself and everyone affiliated with him.

November 15, 2021

A newly disclosed memo reveals Trump's plot to turn the military into his personal goon squad

I want to apologize to Mark T. Esper, former president Donald Trump’s fourth and second-to-last defense secretary. I may have been too harsh on the man who became known as “Yesper” for accommodating Trump. As I noted in March: “He did not vocally protest pardons for war criminals, the use of the defense budget to build a border wall or the withdrawal of troops from Germany.” But now that we have seen fresh evidence of how much Trump and his henchmen loathed Esper, he is rising in my estimation.

That evidence comes courtesy of ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, who has unearthed a memorandum from Johnny McEntee, Trump’s director of presidential personnel, listing 14 reasons for ousting Esper. That document was dated Oct. 19, 2020. Three weeks later Esper was fired by a Trump tweet.

The very premise of McEntee’s memo was both sinister and ludicrous — a 30-year-old of no professional or intellectual distinction, whose path to power was carrying Trump’s bags, was making the case for getting rid of a senior Cabinet officer for insufficient loyalty to the president. This revealing and chilling document deserves to be read not as a historical curiosity but as a terrible portent of what could be in store if Trump wins another term. He appears determined to turn the military into his personal goon squad.

One of McEntee’s first complaints was that Esper had “approved the promotion of Lt. Col. [Alexander] Vindman, the start [sic] witness in the sham impeachment inquiry, who told Congress that the President’s call with Ukraine ‘undermined U.S. national security.’” No one has challenged the veracity of Vindman’s testimony, which was delivered under oath. Yet Trump, acting through McEntee, seemed intent on carrying out what Vindman described in a Post op-ed as “a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation” for daring to tell the truth.


November 15, 2021

Bannon Arrested for Contempt of Soap

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In what congressional Republicans are calling an act of flagrant overreach by the Department of Justice, the former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been arrested for contempt of soap.

The basis for the arrest is a rarely enforced 1858 statute requiring White House employees to conform to minimal standards of hygiene during their tenure with the executive branch.

A defiant Bannon said that he would fight the federal government’s “outrageous” attempt to make him come into contact with soap and water, and declared that his avoidance of both was a life-style choice.

“You can lock me up but you can’t hose me down,” he thundered.


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