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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
November 30, 2022

Charles Pierce: The Ghoulish Hubris of Letting People Die and Calling That Bravery


No paywall

Presumably, they all sat witness at hospitals and bedsides. Presumably, they all made the arrangements and attended the funerals and laughed over the cold cuts and bulky rolls, and the beer and whiskey afterwards. Presumably, they all still mourn. But did any of them learn anything? Did any of them learn anything that they subsequently put into practice? Who were these people anyway, and what kind of monster did you have to be to lead them on? Who lives through a pandemic and makes war on the cures?

In September, the National Bureau of Economic Research attempted to answer all of these questions. And the answers remain, well, baffling even as Florida Gov. Ronald DeSantis (to name only one example) runs for president on the basis of his “highly successful” COVID policies, which held the butcher’s bill in that state to a mere 82,875.

We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available in our study states. Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76%, higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post-vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153% of the Democrat excess death rate). The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available.

Then there was this finding, which was both predictable and utterly bizarre:

Overall, our results suggest that political party affiliation only became a substantial risk factor in Ohio and Florida after vaccines were widely available.

In other words, within this particular demographic slice of our fellow citizens, after the arrival of the vaccines that protected us from the pandemic, the pandemic got…worse, and political affiliation was a contributing factor. I’m not sure I ever want to meet anyone whose mind is not blown by this fact. But I’m damn sure not voting for a guy whose platform is built on pride in his “I was brave enough to do nothing” performance in the face of a once-a-century public health emergency.


November 18, 2022

Gerrymandering Project: Redistricting Report Card


Redistricting Season is Open
Every 10 years, U.S. states redraw their congressional and state legislative maps to account for changes in population. In many states, the politicians who control this process draw district lines in a way that maximizes their party’s partisan advantage and makes it effectively impossible for their opponents to win power.

This practice is called gerrymandering.

Visual tool with powerful analytics
In response to the 2021 redistricting cycle, the Gerrymandering Project developed this report card as a tool to help the public identify gerrymandered maps. The Redistricting Report Card uses a powerful and unique set of analytics to grade each state’s newly-drawn maps during the redistricting process.

Select a map from the dropdown above to view its report card, or select a state to view report cards for maps as they become available.

Holistic and Interpretable Scoring System
In addition to scoring maps on competitiveness and geographic features, the Redistricting Report Card uses a cutting-edge algorithm to provide unprecedented analysis of a map's partisan fairness. Along with grading maps in these categories, the tool takes a holistic look at the partisan and minority composition of proposed districting plans.

Powered by A Million Maps
Our algorithm generates around one million potential districting plans for each state, providing us with a baseline of what’s possible to draw in a state given its political landscape and redistricting rules. We have also enlisted a collection of 75 advanced mappers with intricate knowledge of specific states and communities to incorporate local geographic expertise in our final grades.


November 17, 2022

Mar-a-Lago Model Prosecution Memo (Just Security)

Tweet text:

Laurence Tribe

DOJ should study this comprehensive Mar-a-Lago prosecution memo prepared by a superbly qualified team of experts. Despite its deliberate modesty, the memo leaves no doubt that Trump should now be charged and put on trial for grave crimes against the U.S.

Mar-a-Lago Model Prosecution Memo
The authors have decades of experience as federal prosecutors and defense lawyers. They conclude there is a strong basis to charge Trump.
7:41 AM · Nov 17, 2022


This model prosecution memorandum (or “pros memo”) assesses the potential charges against former President Donald Trump emanating from his handling of classified documents and other government records since leaving office on January 20, 2021. It includes crimes related to the removal and retention of national security information and obstruction of the investigation into his handling of these documents. The authors have decades of experience as federal prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as other legal expertise. Based upon this experience and the analysis that follows, we conclude that there is a strong basis to charge Trump.

Before indicting a case, prosecutors prepare a pros memo that lays out admissible evidence, possible charges, and legal issues. This document provides a basis for prosecutors and their supervisors to assess whether the case meets the standard set forth in the Federal Principles of Prosecution, which permit prosecution only when there is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a prosecution. Before a decision is made about this matter, prosecutors will prepare such a memo.

But such a DOJ memo will be confidential, in part because it will contain information derived through the grand jury and attorney work product. Since that document will not be publicly available, we offer this analysis. Ours is likely more detailed than what DOJ may prepare internally. But, given the gravity of the issues here, our memo provides a sense of how prosecutors will assemble and evaluate the considerations that they must assess before making a prosecution decision.

Our memo analyzes six federal crimes:

Mishandling of Government Documents
1. Retention of National Defense Information (18 U.S.C. § 793(e))
2. Concealing Government Records (18 U.S.C. § 2071)
3. Conversion of Government Property (18 U.S.C. § 641)

Obstruction, False Information, Contempt
1. Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. § 1519)
2. Criminal Contempt (18 U.S.C. § 402)
3. False Statements to Federal Investigators (18 U.S.C. § 1001)

Based on the publicly available information to date, a powerful case exists for charging Trump under several of these federal criminal statutes.


October 27, 2022

Extremists' Plot to Nationalize Voter Suppression: 2023 and Beyond (Common Cause)



The January 6th Select Committee has done critical work exposing the conspiracy to foment the insurrection and overturn the 2020 presidential election. The Committee’s work has laid bare that the insurrection’s violent rejection of democracy did not randomly occur in a vacuum. It was rooted in the Big Lie, and its legacy lives on in a wave of voter suppression legislation nationwide. Although significant attention has focused on the more than 400 anti-voter bills that have been introduced (several dozen of which have become law) in state legislatures since the insurrection, some federal bills making it harder to vote also portend a dangerous trend. Since the insurrection, congressional Republicans have introduced more than 30 anti-voter bills that have largely gone unnoticed. These anti-voter bills telegraph what some Republicans in Congress would like to do: make it harder for certain Americans to vote.

While none of these federal anti-voter bills will become law this year, if control of Congress switches after this November’s election, a Congress with different leadership may try to advance some of these proposals and do at the federal level what self-interested, power-hungry legislators in certain states are trying to do: make it harder to vote, and in ways that are disportionately targeted at Black and Brown voters. Instead of silencing voters on a state-by-state basis, certain members of Congress who introduced these anti-voter bills may try to disenfran- chise some voters in one fell swoop. This short report highlights the categories of different types of anti-voter bills that have been introduced in the 117th Congress.


“A bill to repeal the National Voter Registration Act” (H.R. 36), Rep. Andy Biggs, R-AZ: This bill would elimi- nate the National Voter Registration Act, aka “motor voter” law (this bipartisan law has helped tens of millions of Americans register to vote when getting their drivers’ licenses over the past 30 years)

“Ensuring American Voters Act” (H.R. 873), Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-OH: This bill would prohibit states from register- ing an individual to vote in federal elections unless the individual provides documentary proof of U.S. citizenship (this bill is a solution in search of a problem; there is no evidence of non-citizens trying to register to vote in any concerted effort in federal elections; this bill would likely make it harder for millions of Americans, including many elderly citizens, to vote)

October 19, 2022

John Durham fails bigtime but confirms Donald Trump lied about Russiagate



John Durham, the federal prosecutor handpicked by then-Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, flamed out this week, when he soundly lost another case in court, establishing an embarrassing 0-2 record in cases tried before juries. This verdict further discredited Durham’s crusade—much cheered on by Donald Trump and his cult following—to confirm Trump’s outlandish claim that the entire Russia scandal was a “hoax” mounted by the Deep State to sabotage him. After years of digging, Durham has failed to prove this baseless conspiracy theory advanced by Trump and his defenders to smother the narrative of Trump’s own treachery. Even worse for Trump, during this trial, Durham— intentionally or not—produced a bombshell confirming that Trump is a liar and that the proponents of the Russia hoax theory are hoaxers themselves. Few noticed.

Durham, who Barr secretly named as a special prosecutor weeks before the 2020 election, had been prosecuting Igor Danchenko—a US-based researcher who in 2016 supplied information to Christopher Steele that ended up in the so-called Steele dossier that assembled unconfirmed allegations related to Trump’s ties to Russia—for allegedly lying to FBI agents who had been investigating the dossier. It took the jury a little over a day of deliberation to find Danchenko not guilty on four counts on Tuesday. (The judge had previously tossed out one of the original five counts.)

This was a crushing defeat for Barr’s hitman—and for Trump. Yet after the first day of the trial last week, Trump defenders were enthused. Durham that day had called to the stand a senior FBI analyst named Brian Auten, who testified that the bureau had offered Steele “up to $1 million” to prove the charges in the collection of memos he had written for a research firm that was being paid by a lawyer working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.

Ah-ha! screamed the right-wing media (Fox News, the National Review, the Washington Examiner, and others) at this revelation. But Auten noted that no such sum was ever paid because Steele, as we already knew, did not corroborate the material in his memos. And as was already known (as Michael Isikoff and I reported in Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on American and the Election of Donald Trump), the FBI did offer Steele a $50,000 contract in October 2016—after he had shared his memos with the bureau—if he would work with the bureau. But this contract, like the “up to $1 million” payment, never happened. (Auten testified that the giant reward would only have been paid out if Steele had been able to substantiate the information and if it had led to a successful prosecution.)

October 16, 2022

Republicans are trying to win by spreading three false talking points. Here's the truth

Tweet text:

Robert Reich
Republicans are telling three lies they hope will swing the midterms. They involve crime, inflation, and taxes. Here’s what Republicans are claiming, followed by the facts.

Republicans are trying to win by spreading three false talking points. Here’s the truth | Robert...
Republicans want midterm voters to believe lies about crime, inflation and taxes. This is what they’re claiming – followed by the facts
8:33 AM · Oct 16, 2022


No paywall

Republicans are telling three lies they hope will swing the midterms. They involve crime, inflation, and taxes. Here’s what Republicans are claiming, followed by the facts.

1. They claim that crime is rising because Democrats have been “soft” on crime

This is pure rubbish. Rising crime rates are due to the proliferation of guns, which Republicans refuse to control.

Here are the facts:

While violent crime rose 28% from 2019 to 2020, gun homicides rose 35%. States that have weakened gun laws have seen gun crime surge. Clearly, a major driver of the national increase in violence is the easy availability of guns.

The violence can’t be explained by any of the Republican talking points about “soft-on-crime” Democrats.

Lack of police funding? Baloney. Democratic-run major cities spend 38% more on policing per person than Republican-run cities, and 80% of the largest cities increased police funding from 2019 to 2022.

Criminal justice reforms? Wrong. Data shows that wherever bail reforms have been implemented, re-arrest rates remain stable. Data from major cities shows no connection between the policies of progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.


October 14, 2022

Cat litter boxes are suddenly a culture war flashpoint. Here's how that happened.


Unrolled thread

My @NBCNews colleagues and I spent the last month finding the root of America's hottest, dumbest urban legend:

Schools are leaving out litterboxes for kids who identify as furries.

Despite what Joe Rogan says, it's not true.

But its origins are grimmer than you'd ever imagine.

You have probably heard dozens of variations on the "litter boxes are in schools" lie.

You might have heard it from Joe Rogan, talking to Tulsi Gabbard, from his "friend's wife who works at a school."

Or maybe Lauren Boebert. Or maybe Marjorie Taylor Greene. It's everywhere.

If you didn't hear about the "litter boxes in school" rumor from a GOP politician, you probably heard it about your OWN town.

Facebook is filled with these lies, relocalizing the rumor to your town. There are examples on Facebook posts from almost every state in the the country.

So how did this happen? What's the first real instance of people talking about cat litter in schools?

Here's where it gets dark.

NBC News found one example of a school district keeping cat litter on campus.

The Jefferson County School District has had classrooms with cat litter since 2017, in case students are locked in a classroom during a shooting.

Jefferson County is where Columbine is located.

Cat litter was handed out in Columbine's school district for active shooter situations five years ago.

Since then, the "litter boxes in schools" rumor has evolved into a way to mock LGBTQ youth.

It's now being used as a culture war ammo by over 20 GOP politicians nationwide.

The data shows how the "litter boxes in schools" rumor that cannot die, mostly due to the incredulity of adults.

According to @graphika's Cristina Lopez G, kids on TikTok are creating videos mocking adults who believe in it wind up providing fodder for the oblivious on Facebook.

Here's the reality: We reached out to every school rumored to have a litter box.

We found one: in a "go bucket" for a possible mass shooting.

The rumor is a way to marginalize LGBTQ youth.

Here's our full story. It was a lot of work. I hope you read it:

Cat litter boxes are suddenly a culture war flashpoint. Here's how that happened.

At least 20 Republican politicians have claimed that schools are making accommodations for students who identify as cats. The school districts say these claims are untrue.

• • •

How an urban myth about litter boxes in schools became a GOP talking point


At a luncheon for Republican women in Mesa County, Colorado, last week, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., warned that educators “are putting litter boxes in schools for people who identify as cats.”

To a person not steeped in the culture war battles over gender identity that have engulfed school districts nationwide, it’s the kind of claim that would sound bizarre and confusing — and, from high-profile GOP members, authoritative.

The week before, on Sept. 29, Minnesota GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Jensen asked during a campaign stop, “Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them, because they identify as a furry?”

And during a legislative hearing last month in Tennessee, two Republican state lawmakers discussed the “growing crisis” of public schools providing litter boxes for children who identify as cats, and claimed it’s happening across the state.

At least 20 conservative candidates and elected officials have claimed this year that K-12 schools are placing litter boxes on campus or making other accommodations for students who identify as cats, according to an NBC News review of public statements.


October 13, 2022

Proof the insurrectionists were armed and ready (Mother Jones video)

Tweet text:

Mother Jones
Trump and his entourage want you to think that the people who showed up at the Capitol on January 6 were unarmed, and just harmless "protesters." That's a damn lie. While some may have been merely protesting, others were armed and ready. Here's the proof:

Watch on Twitter
11:56 AM · Oct 13, 2022
October 7, 2022

The MAGA right talks about Black Lives Matter as if it's some sort of equivalency for 1/6.


Unrolled thread

The MAGA right talks about Black Lives Matter as if it’s some sort of equivalency for 1/6.

These talking points have a way of spreading. Let’s correct them every single time.

📚Researchers at Harvard gathered statistics from 7,305 BLM events.

Here’s what they found:
👉🏼The overall levels of violence and property destruction were low.

👉🏼Most of the violence that did take place was, in fact, directed against the BLM protesters.

👉🏼Police made arrests in 5% of the protest events, with over 8,500 reported arrests (or possibly more).

👉🏼 Police used tear gas or related chemical substances in 2.5% of these events.

👉🏼Protesters or bystanders were reported injured in 1.6 percent of the protests.

👉🏼 In total, at least three Black Lives Matter protesters and one other person were killed while protesting in Omaha, Austin and Kenosha, Wis.

👉🏼1 antifa protester killed 1 far-right group member in Portland, Ore.; law enforcement killed the alleged assailant several days later.

👉🏼 Police were reported injured in 1% of the protests. A law enforcement officer killed in California was allegedly shot by supporters of the far-right “boogaloo” movement, not anti-racism protesters.

👉🏼According to the data, 96.3% of events involved no property damage or police injuries, and in 97.7% of events, no injuries were reported among participants, bystanders or police.

Anyone who describes the BLM protests as riots wasn’t there, and they are making a false claim.
The reasons they do this:

A. To obfuscate and make themselves feel better about backing violent, anti-American, insurrectionists.

B. To diminish the human empathy and we feel when we see a fellow citizen, someone’s family, killed by police who are sworn to protect us.

C. To make themselves feel better about supporting a corrupt system that perpetuates white supremacy.


Black Lives Matter protesters were overwhelmingly peaceful, our research finds
Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman. 2020. “Black Lives Matter protesters were overwhelmingly peaceful, our research finds.” The Spokesman Review.

• • •

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