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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 8, 2020

He Pretended to Be Trump's Family. Then Trump Fell for It.

For months, a 21-year-old Trump supporter impersonated Trump family members on Twitter, spreading conspiracy theories, asking for money and eventually drawing the attention of the president.

Last month, between tweets disputing his election loss, President Trump posted an article from a conservative website that said his sister Elizabeth Trump Grau had just joined Twitter to publicly back her brother’s fight to overturn the vote.

“Thank you Elizabeth,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “LOVE!”

But the Twitter account that prompted the article was not his sister’s. It was a fake profile run by Josh Hall, a 21-year-old food-delivery driver in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. He actually thinks it’s his sister,’” Mr. Hall, a fervent Trump supporter, said in an interview last week.

It was a surreal coda to nearly a year of deception for Mr. Hall. Since February, he had posed as political figures and their families on Twitter, including five of the president’s relatives. He had pretended to be Robert Trump, the president’s brother; Barron Trump, the president’s 14-year-old son; and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. The accounts collectively amassed more than 160,000 followers.

December 8, 2020

Get with the program. Legalize weed.

Opinion by John Fetterman
John Fetterman, a Democrat, is the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.

Decades ago, our country outlawed a plant. This plant, then as now, has never resulted in a single overdose death. Since the plant is an outlaw, you’ll be branded one if you’re unlucky enough to get arrested for casually consuming it.

What a profoundly odd and destructive national fixation — one that seems more like superstition than rational argument.

So how do you convince a nation that something that could easily and benignly grow next to your prized tomatoes is a weed from hell coming for your children?

That was the work of “Reefer Madness,” the 1930s anti-weed propaganda paid for by a church group that wanted to scare anyone who ever thought of smoking a joint. I highly recommend giving it a fresh watch. Look at the imagery. Take in the propaganda. Realize that there was an orchestrated effort to criminalize it in a way that would be hilarious if not so sinister and destructive.


December 8, 2020

Prominent evangelicals are directing Trump's sinking ship. That feeds doubts about religion.

Opinion by Michael Gerson

President Trump’s naked attempt to overturn a fair election — with key elements of Joe Biden’s victory vouchsafed by Republican state officials, Republican-appointed judges and even the Justice Department — has driven some Trump evangelicals to the edge of blasphemous lunacy.

“I’d be happy to die in this fight,” radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas assured Trump during a recent interview. “This is a fight for everything. God is with us. Jesus is with us in this fight for liberty.”

Elsewhere Metaxas predicted, “Trump will be inaugurated. For the high crimes of trying to throw a U.S. presidential election, many will go to jail. The swamp will be drained. And Lincoln’s prophetic words of ‘a new birth of freedom’ will be fulfilled. Pray.”

Just to be clear, Metaxas has publicly committed his life to Donald Trump, claimed that at least two members of the Trinity favor a coup against the constitutional order, endorsed the widespread jailing of Trump’s political enemies for imaginary crimes, claimed Abraham Lincoln’s blessing for the advance of authoritarianism and urged Christians to pray to God for the effective death of American democracy. This is seditious and sacrilegious in equal measure.


December 8, 2020

No One Expects Civility From Republicans

What’s worse: making Sarah Sanders leave a restaurant, or terrorizing election officials?

By Michelle Goldberg

Perhaps you remember the terrible ordeal suffered by the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Red Hen in 2018. She was awaiting her entree at the Virginia farm-to-table restaurant when the co-owner, appalled by Sanders’s defense of Donald Trump’s administration, asked her to leave. This happened three days after the homeland security secretary at the time, Kirstjen Nielsen, was yelled at for the administration’s family separation policy as she tried to dine at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.

These two insults launched a thousand thumb-suckers about civility. More than one conservative writer warned liberals that the refusal to let Trump officials eat in peace could lead to Trump’s re-election. “The political question of the moment,” opined Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal, is this: ‘Can the Democratic Party control its left?’”

Somehow, though, few are asking the same question of Republicans as Trump devotees terrorize election workers and state officials over the president’s relentless lies about voter fraud. Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, described her family’s experience this past weekend: “As my 4-year-old son and I were finishing up decorating the house for Christmas on Saturday night, and he was about to sit down and to watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ dozens of armed individuals stood outside my home shouting obscenities and chanting into bullhorns in the dark of night.”

So far, what happened to Benson doesn’t appear to be turning into a big cultural moment. There’s no frisson of the new about it; it’s pretty routine for Trumpists to threaten and intimidate people who work in both public health and election administration.

December 7, 2020

Kelly Loeffler disqualified herself at Sunday night's debate

Opinion by Greg Sargent

Of all the vile ways that Republicans have sought to justify President Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss, one of the worst is the ubiquitous claim that Trump is merely pursuing his legal right to contest the results.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is campaigning in one of the two Georgia runoffs, repeated this assertion at a debate on Sunday night. But the circumstances under which Loeffler said this reveal what’s really at the core of this notion in all its corrupt and anti-democratic glory.

What Loeffler really demonstrated is that many elected Republicans are absolutely fine with Trump’s ongoing effort to steal the election through extralegal means.

Republicans aren’t merely refusing to bow to reality, or humoring Trump’s refusal to come to terms with a loss, or any number of euphemisms we keep hearing. Let’s not sugarcoat this: Republicans such as Loeffler tacitly support Trump’s efforts to steal the election outright.


December 7, 2020

Virginia Military Institute removes Confederate statue

The Virginia Military Institute has removed a prominent statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

The Virginia Military Institute removed a prominent statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on Monday, an effort initiated this fall after allegations of systemic racism roiled the school.

Around 9:45 a.m., a crane plucked the statue, which some cadets were required to salute until several years ago, off its base and slowly hoisted it away at the public military college in Lexington. A small crowd gathered amid snow flurries to look on.

VMI’s board voted to remove the statue in late October after The Washington Post published a story that described an “atmosphere of hostility and cultural insensitivity” at VMI. The piece detailed incidents such as lynching threats and a white professor reminiscing in class about her father’s Ku Klux Klan membership.

Founded in 1839, VMI says it is the oldest state-supported military college in the U.S.

December 7, 2020

In a first, California considers allowing housing project on San Diego ecological reserve

A developer says the unprecedented land deal would benefit the environment. Conservation groups say it’s illegal.

Normally, sitting on the California Wildlife Conservation Board is a feel-good job, mostly consisting of unanimously approving millions in state dollars to protect natural habitats, from mountain meadows in Lassen County to lagoons in Newport Beach.

That’s why it was so jarring when the seven-member board was asked a few months ago to allow the construction of an opulent housing development on 219 acres of ecologically prized San Diego County land — pristine coastal sage scrub that’s home to the federally endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly.

In exchange, the developer, GDCI Proctor Valley L.P., would trade the state roughly 339 acres of nearby undeveloped land and place another 191 acres under a conservation easement.

Stunned board members, still digging through hundreds of pages of technical and legal documents, listened as their traditional allies, independent biologists and conservation groups, blasted the proposal as “illegal.”

Adding to the tension, Chuck Bonham — the board’s chairman and head of the agency it oversees, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — had personally orchestrated the deal with the developer and San Diego County officials. He went so far as to recuse himself from voting on the issue.

December 7, 2020

Chick-fil-A Accuses Poultry Suppliers of Price Fixing

Source: New York Times

The fast-food chain has named Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and other producers in a lawsuit, which carries the latest allegations of price fixing in the industry.

Chick-fil-A, the company that says it invented the chicken sandwich, has accused more than a dozen poultry suppliers in a federal lawsuit of inflating prices on billions of dollars of chicken that it bought.

The company filed the lawsuit on Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accusing 16 chicken producers of colluding with one another to manipulate prices after the fast-food chain announced plans in 2014 to serve broiler chicken meat without antibiotics within five years.

Chick-fil-A, which is based in Atlanta, said the suppliers violated federal antitrust laws when they shared confidential bidding and pricing information with one another by phone and text messages.

In the lawsuit, Chick-fil-A said that the suppliers “possessed significant market power in the market for broilers” and that “their conduct had actual anticompetitive effects with no or insufficient offsetting pro-competitive justifications.” The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and lawyers’ fees incurred by Chick-fil-A, which said that its losses from price fixing would be established during a requested jury trial.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/06/business/chickfila-poultry-prices-lawsuit.html

December 6, 2020

A miserable end to a miserable presidency

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

President-elect Joe Biden, merely by speaking about two national crises of historic magnitude (the economy and the pandemic), reminded us that even in his final weeks in office, President Trump prefers to focus on insane conspiracies meant to overturn a democratic election rather than on imminent threats to Americans’ lives and livelihoods.

At a Friday news conference, the relaxed and calm incoming president spoke to the country. “Earlier today, the November jobs report was released,” he said. “It’s a grim report. It shows an economy that is stalling.” The current president did not bother to address it. Biden recognized that “it’s deeply troubling that last month’s drop in overall unemployment [to 6.7 percent] was driven by people who were dropping out of the labor market altogether. … Over the last three months, 2.3 million more people are in long-term unemployment — by far the largest increase on record.” The economy fell about 224,000 jobs short of expectations.

Biden encouraged lawmakers to pass a compromise stimulus bill and promised that more help is on the way. (“Americans need help, and they need it now, and they’ll need more come early next year.”) The current president was nowhere to be seen. While clinging to office and to his delusions, Trump has abdicated responsibility and declined to keep up the pretense he is governing.

As for the covid-19 vaccine, Biden let on that the Trump administration has no plan to get Americans vaccinated. “There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm,” Biden told the media. “It’s going to be very difficult for that to be done, and it’s a very expensive proposition. … There’s a lot more that has to be done.”


December 3, 2020

What we know about David Perdue's stock trades

For much of the general election in Georgia’s Senate races, it was Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) on the receiving end of attacks about her stock trades. The Justice Department looked into whether she and her husband illegally traded stock based on briefings she got as a senator on the coronavirus outbreak. Investigators dropped the case, as they did with other senators who made a flurry of stock trades right around the time they were getting briefed about the coming outbreak.

But as these two races in Georgia go to runoffs in January that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, we’re learning more about the stock trades of the other Republican senator in the race, David Perdue.

There has been new reporting that he, too, was in the Justice Department’s crosshairs for stock trades that paid off handsomely at the start of the pandemic, and there has been a steady drip of other news about his stock trades.

There are a lot of trades to review. A New York Times analysis of thousands of Perdue’s trades found that since coming to Congress six years ago, he’s become the most prolific stock trader in the Senate by far. He frequently traded to make money off companies that stood to benefit from legislation on committees he served on.


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