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babylonsister's Journal
babylonsister's Journal
October 6, 2021

"Illegal...Inhumane" Immigration Policy Prompts Another Big Resignation at the State Department

October 4, 2021
“Illegal…Inhumane” Immigration Policy Prompts Another Big Resignation at the State Department
Veteran human rights lawyer and scholar Harold Koh steps down because of Title 42.
Isabela Dias

Less than two weeks after the US special envoy for Haiti resigned in response to the “inhumane” deportation of Haitians arriving at the Southern border, a senior State Department official has also quit, decrying the Biden administration’s continued use of a Trump-era policy known as Title 42. In an internal memo from October 2 obtained by Politico, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh described Title 42 as a “badly flawed policy,” which relies on a public health authority to summarily expel migrants save for a few exceptions. Its existence, he argued, “continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (‘refouler’) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,” a country he describes as a “humanitarian nightmare.”

The “illegal and inhumane” Title 42 expulsions, Koh continued, are “not worthy of this Administration I so strongly support.” He urged the administration “to do everything in your power to revise this policy, especially as it affects Haitians, into one that this worthy of this Nation we love.”

In March 2020, then President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 to purportedly control the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the obscure public health order has faced fierce criticism and legal challenges. Public health experts and some officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have repeatedly argued its implementation lacks any epidemiological justification for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, pro-immigrant advocates say it violates the right to seek asylum under the law and places migrants in harm’s way. In addition to returning them to dangerous places in Mexico, where many have experienced extortion, kidnapping, and rape, the policy also forces migrants to cross through more remote and perilous parts of the border.


Koh, the son of a South Korean diplomat who won asylum in the United States after a military coup overthrew the government in 1961, served as a State Department legal adviser under President Barack Obama and prior to that as US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. In the early 1990s, he led a group of Yale law students in arguing a case at the Supreme Court for the release of 300 Haitian migrants who had been detained at the Guantanamo Naval base. In his resignation memo, Koh wrote that the implementation of Title 42 cannot “be squared with the Biden Administration’s own publicly stated policy objectives and values” and degrades US credibility abroad.


October 5, 2021

Why Republicans Are Still Recounting Votes

October 11, 2021 Issue
Why Republicans Are Still Recounting Votes
The point of the so-called audits is not so much to delegitimize the past election as it is to normalize unnecessary reviews of future ones—including, perhaps, a 2024 race in which Trump’s name may be on the ballot.
By Jelani Cobb
October 3, 2021


A more subtle mind than Trump’s would see the futility of having a questionable firm undertake an unnecessary recount only to offer findings that are counter to his immediate interests. But the point of the exercise, and of others like it taking place across the country, is not so much to delegitimize the past election as it is to normalize specious reviews of future ones—including, perhaps, a 2024 race in which Trump’s name is on the ballot. We have seen too much of this form of mainstreaming of the absurd in recent years to note every example, but its origins likely lie in Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate. In that case, once the birther myths were finally dispelled, Trump pivoted to congratulating himself for forcing people to get to the bottom of the issue. In effect, he recast a conspiracy theory as a legitimate inquiry resolved by legitimate means. The danger is the probability that some illegitimate future inquiry will be used to achieve illegitimate ends. The groundwork for this is more advanced than we care to contemplate.

Trump’s defeat, by more than seven million votes, was taken to be a sign that the most anti-democratic forces he represented would also be vanquished. The failed January 6th insurrection, which he encouraged and which sent his own Vice-President scrambling to escape a mob threatening to lynch him, seemed a fitting epitaph for his Presidency, and for the malice and the chaos that it engendered. His own incompetence had proved a great asset to American democracy. Since his loss, however, more efficient actors have stepped up to do his bidding.

After Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, refused to throw the Georgia vote in Trump’s favor, the G.O.P.-controlled state legislature passed a bill diminishing the authority of his office, and giving itself greater control over the way elections are administered. The legislature now has the power to, among other things, challenge election officials. Bills that restrict voting access have been passed in at least seventeen other states this year. Meanwhile, Republicans in Wisconsin and in Pennsylvania have initiated investigations along the lines of the Arizona recount—representatives from both states paid visits to Maricopa County. (Similar efforts in Georgia and in Michigan resulted in no changes to the election outcomes.) Most bizarrely, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced that it will conduct a review of the 2020 results in Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Collin counties, even though Trump carried the state by more than six hundred thousand votes. Last week, county recounts in Idaho conducted after Mike Lindell, the MyPillow C.E.O., alleged fraud, found slightly fewer votes for Trump than were initially reported.

The 2000 Presidential election came down to disputed results in Florida, and was resolved by a Supreme Court ruling, in Bush v. Gore, whose partisan implications were regarded by many people as a judicial coup, but whose prescriptions were nonetheless adhered to by the Democrat who had won the popular vote but lost the Presidency. Now consider a scenario in which a Democrat wins the election, and Republican-controlled legislatures dispute the results in their states. The dangers are obvious and, given the precedent of January 6th, include the potential for violence. It’s not encouraging that one of the lessons of the Republican-led opposition to vaccine mandates and other public-health measures is that, in moments of crisis, not even the logic of self-preservation can be relied on. (Early in the pandemic, the lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, said, in defiance of shutdowns, “There are more important things than living.”)



October 5, 2021

Jan 6 Committee Vs. Team Trump: Committee Is Loaded For Bear

10/04/21 4:04pm
Jan 6 Committee Vs. Team Trump: Committee Is Loaded For Bear
The investigatory committee is not messing around.
By Laura Clawson

This week will bring two big deadlines in the face-off between the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Team Trump. The committee appears to be coming loaded for bear.

If Trump is going to officially ask President Joe Biden to assert executive privilege over Trump-era White House records, that’s going to happen this week. But the “officially ask President Joe Biden” part is important in two ways. For one thing, Trump will have to ask the guy who beat him for a favor, rather than just sending out fundraising messages to his supporters claiming that executive privilege applies. That is not going to be easy for Mr. Ego. For another thing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said it won’t happen; “The president has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege.”

Trump can try to fight this one, but he will no longer have the Justice Department acting as his personal law firm, so he’ll have to hire lawyers (who would be well advised to demand payment upfront). Whatever precedent would say about a president trying to claim executive privilege under these circumstances, the big thing here is that Donald Trump is not the president of the United States of America. Joe Biden is, and he gets a lot of leeway to decide.

So that’s one big development slated for this week. The other is the Thursday deadline for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump aide Dan Scavino, former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon, and Trump diehard and former administration staffer Kash Patel to comply with the committee’s subpoenas and turn over documents. It’s hard to imagine any of them complying, and rather than get into lengthy civil court proceedings, committee Chair Bennie Thompson said Friday, “for those who don’t agree to come in voluntarily, we’ll do criminal referrals and let that process work out.”

A criminal referral calls on the Justice Department to investigate the possible crime. Hopefully, the Justice Department, which is engaged in hundreds of prosecutions of January 6 insurrectionists, would move quickly on that. However, it would be even nicer if Thompson was ready to have the sergeant-at-arms detain any subpoena-defiers right off the bat.


October 5, 2021

Racist 'Landlord From Hell' Tortured Tenants During Pandemic, Lawsuit Says

Racist ‘Landlord From Hell’ Tortured Tenants During Pandemic, Lawsuit Says
Renters hope that David Merryman will finally get his due now that the Virginia attorney general has slapped the landlord with an $8 million housing discrimination suit.

Andrew Boryga
Justice Reporter
Updated Oct. 05, 2021 5:38AM ET / Published Oct. 05, 2021 5:13AM ET

His Black tenants say he allegedly referrers to them as “n----s” who should “go back to Africa.” At least one white tenant says the man called her a “n----r lover” and warned her to “pay your bills like other white people.”

David Merryman, the 56-year-old owner of dozens of rental properties in Southeastern Virginia worth over $5 million, has had over a dozen arrests in the past two decades for threats and assaults, been cited hundreds of times by local city governments for code violations, and was suspended repeatedly from a local housing authority for dilapidated Section 8 rentals, according to city records obtained by The Daily Beast and court filings.

“He most definitely was a landlord from hell,” one tenant told The Daily Beast.

Recently, complaints from mostly Black, female tenants about Merryman’s behavior and subpar housing in Newport News, Virginia, made it to the desk of Attorney General Mark Herring.

On Thursday, Herring filed an $8 million housing discrimination lawsuit against Merryman for his alleged “horrific” treatment of tenants and a pattern of abusive, racist, and sexist behavior. The lawsuit is the first of its kind in Virginia, Herring told The Daily Beast. Housing advocates in the told The Daily Beast the state is thin on protections for renters and they hope the lawsuit will set a new tone for slumlords.


October 5, 2021

Inside the Right's Plan to Rebrand Sex Ed as 'Child Porn'


Inside the Right’s Plan to Rebrand Sex Ed as ‘Child Porn’
Their new tactics include harassing school boards and calling the cops on librarians.

Will Sommer
Politics Reporter
Published Oct. 05, 2021 5:13AM ET


Caldwell-Stone pointed out that the books in question in each case don’t meet any legal definition of obscenity or child pornography and are all available through Amazon and major bookstores.

“We’re just deeply concerned about this effort to prosecute librarians and educators for providing constitutionally protected mainstream materials,” Caldwell-Stone said.

The possible prosecutions come amid a new focus on the right in book challenges. A growing right-wing movement to root out the often-imagined teaching of “critical race theory” in schools has driven new challenges for books that cover racial issues, according to Caldwell-Stone.


“What’s changed is the going-viral moment,” Friedman said.

In Hudson, Ohio, the mayor’s ultimatum prompted a backlash in support of the school board. At a Sept. 27 school board meeting, hundreds of attendees gave the embattled school board members a standing ovation to show their support in the face of the threats.

“This idea that a library should function only to cater to the preferences of one contingent in society is of course anathema to the whole notion of a public library,” Friedman said.
October 5, 2021

GOP Megadonor Won't Back Trump In 2024


GOP Megadonor Won’t Back Trump In 2024
October 4, 2021 at 4:58 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, a major donor to Republicans, ruled out supporting Donald Trump for another run for president,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Griffin: “I think it’s time for America to move on.”

“In the last election cycle, Griffin spent big on politics, giving $46 million to Republicans, making him the fourth-biggest individual GOP donor for the period.”
October 4, 2021

Court Allows Defamation Suit Against Trump to Proceed


Court Allows Defamation Suit Against Trump to Proceed
October 4, 2021 at 2:30 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

“A divided New York appeals panel has rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to dismiss or stall a lawsuit brought by a former Apprentice contestant who claims Trump sexually assaulted her a decade ago,” Politico reports.

“The appellate panel voted 3-2 to deny Trump’s bid to head off the suit from Summer Zervos, who says Trump kissed her, groped her breast and pressed his genitals against her in a Los Angeles hotel in 2007.”
October 4, 2021

'There Have To Be Consequences': Judge Worries Capitol Rioters Get 'Slap On The Wrist'

POLITICS 10/04/2021 12:25 pm ET
‘There Have To Be Consequences’: Judge Worries Capitol Rioters Get ‘Slap On The Wrist’
Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former public defender, sentenced Matthew Mazzocco to 45 days of incarceration. The government sought home detention.
By Ryan J. Reilly

A federal judge said Monday that there “have to be consequences” for the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and raised concerns that members of the mob were getting off light.

Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former public defender, made her comments while sentencing Jan. 6 defendant Matthew Mazzocco to 45 days of incarceration. Federal prosecutors had requested that Mazzocco be sentenced to three months’ home confinement, which Chutkan said wouldn’t provide adequate deterrence.

“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government beyond sitting at home,” Chutkan said Monday.

“The country is watching to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in the history of this country before,” Chutkan said. While Mazzocco was far less culpable of many others who participated in the riot, he was proud of what he did, Chutkan said.

“That mob was trying to overthrow the government,” Chutkan said, and “showed their contempt for the rule of law.” She rejected comparisons between the protests of the summer of 2020 in support of civil rights and the attack on the Capitol, which she said was “no mere protest.”


October 4, 2021

Deliberately Spreading Covid: A Family Shattered


Deliberately Spreading Covid: A Family Shattered
Seamus OCallaghan
Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.)
Sunday October 03, 2021 · 10:35 PM EDT
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I begin with two cousins, sisters, who have long held conservative views that were tempered by acts of love and caring for their family and friends. I grew up with them and their brother, never living far apart and always sharing milestones and holidays. Sleep-overs and pool parties. All the things close extended families do together.

They were still rational, or so it seemed, until the rise of an explicit white nationalist movement and the politician who fomented it. Their conversations and social media comments became more and more explicit in their love for the movement and its leader, and contempt for those they believed stood in the way of its success.


The two took their mother on a weekend in the mountains where one sister has a small cabin. The sister I was staying with came home about an hour after my own mother had stopped in to say hi, but missed her.

Two days later, the sister I was staying with developed typical Covid symptoms. Tests confirmed it. What happened was one sister infected the other plus their mother over the weekend, then returned to their respective homes (their parents live with the other sister) and infected everyone in them.

One infected her mother and father, both in their late 80’s. The other infected me and her 65+ husband who has one functioning kidney. Their parents developed severe Covid symptoms but just barely stayed out of the hospital because they were vaccinated.


700,000 dead in the US alone was irrelevant. 1,800 to 2,000 more per day irrelevant. One story after another of Covid denialists recording messages of contempt then winding up dead, irrelevant.

That was more than enough for me. And my parents. And her brother. We have cut these sick, dangerous people out of out lives at profound emotional cost, mostly I think because we were so suddenly and so graphically exposed to their foul disregard for any human life, including literally the lives of their own parents and mine. I know it will not shock you to hear their parents—the ones who barely stayed out of the hospital—have taken their side with some mumbo jumbo about God’s Will.

I didn’t stick around to find out whether that applied to all diseases spread intentionally or just the ones embarrassing to Donald Trump. If I were their parents I don’t know if I could stand to admit what I had brought up and out into the world. And they are themselves weak and dependent.

My cousins have made it clear they will never be vaccinated. It’s still their “personal choice”. Your health isn’t their job. Their intentions were clear, too: they will continue to spread Covid with the lowest and foulest motivations. They managed to keep their venomous nuttery quiet until after the election, which was of course stolen by any number of domestic and foreign actors who, with the assistance of the Deep State and somebody(?) in China, deprived the rightful winner of his natural place in the Oval Office.

They were even at the January 6th rally, which they hadn’t told anyone. Because of course they were.

Multiply these stinking bags of vomit by millions and we have the huge, un-wiped ass of American society. I wish we had dug deeper and earlier into their views but you don’t normally have to wonder how your cousins feel about not killing members of their own family. The explicit cost of being part of their world is to permit yourself to be infected and pass the infection on.

They have turned a deadly disease into their weapon, touchstone, and rising sun.

The tolerance of this garbage must end. I don’t know the answer, apart from wondering what is permitted to us acting in self-defense. Like my cousins, the entire movement is a gleeful, malicious troll on humanity. They were right about Covid, their president was right about Covid, and they are going to prove it one corpse at a time, even as it kills mostly their own kind.

They have started the Civil War they wanted, or so they seem to think. It’s a crude, low-rent version of biological warfare and they will likely exhaust themselves before they have chance to “win”, but surely their intention to sow chaos and death will play out on us all. How many more will die before they are put in their place?
October 4, 2021

Eric Boehlert: "Chaos," "civil war"! -- the press throws a Dems in Disarray party


“Chaos,” "civil war"! — the press throws a Dems in Disarray party
Calm down
Eric Boehlert
1 hr ago

Clutching their pearls with extra force in recent days, the Beltway media have cranked up the drama, announcing that a missed deadline to vote on the massive infrastructure bill now before Congress represented a defining calamity for the Biden White House. It also marks the ongoing obsession with process journalism, which Beltway reporters love, as they focus on the theatrics of lawmaking at the expense of the substance.

The hyperventilating was widespread. “Chaos” had erupted among “feuding” and “warring factions” of the Democratic Party, and the no-vote last week represented a “humiliating blow to Mr. Biden and Democrats,” the New York Times shrieked. A “civil war” has engulfed the party, the New Yorker announced, which was especially lazy and misguided since there are exactly two Democratic senators standing in the way of Biden, and 48 who support him on infrastructure.


By obsessing over the drama of the negotiations and reporting breathlessly on the jockeying that’s going on, the press all but ignores the contents of the pending legislation; contents which are truly extraordinary, as Biden works to expand what infrastructure means in America. The bill is all about investing in human welfare.

It proposes to spend $350 billion a year for a decade on initiatives like universal pre-K, free community college tuition, extended child tax credit, Medicare expansion, paid leave, and huge investments in reducing carbon emissions.

According to a recent Politico-Harvard poll, when showed a list of provisions that might be included in the infrastructure and social spending packages now before Congress, most voters picked allowing the government to directly negotiate drug prices with manufacturers as being the most important. That was followed by “increased federal spending to prepare for pandemics, more resources for long-term and home-based care and expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing care.”

But most news consumers have no idea those provisions are part of the negotiated legislation, since there’s virtually no coverage of the contents.

And that’s a win for the GOP.

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