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Member since: Fri Jan 14, 2005, 11:36 PM
Number of posts: 48,264

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Jordan Neely Just Needed Some Help


You only get the one life. I keep thinking about that.

A 30-year-old black man named Jordan Neely died on a New York City subway train on Tuesday. He was upset, yelling, possibly in the midst of a mental health crisis, and then a white man came over and put him in a chokehold and held him in that chokehold for 15 minutes, by the end of which Neely was dead. That's pretty straightforwardly murder, by any reasonable moral standard if perhaps not by whichever tortured legalistic one will be offered to defend or exonerate the killer—but that's not really what I'm thinking about today. I'm thinking about how you only get the one life.

Early reporting indicates that Neely was experiencing homelessness at the time of his death. Just before the stranger came over and killed him, witness Juan Alberto Vasquez told the New York Post, Neely had been "screaming in an aggressive manner … he said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn't care if he goes to jail." Maybe Neely was telling the truth. He certainly wouldn't be the first unhoused person to prefer jail to the streets or the broken shelter system. Nobody would be surprised to learn that a person with no place to stay might also be hungry, and thirsty, and tired. Nobody would be surprised to learn that a person with no place to stay, who was hungry and thirsty and tired and could not find relief for any of these conditions, might also be upset about that. It would be remarkable if he were not. You only get the one life.

People have weird ideas about things like vulnerability and safety, sometimes. Imagine this scenario from scratch. Imagine some God's-eye view of it. Not as it actually happened, in the end, but from the beginning. There is a place full of people. Into this place comes a person who has nowhere to live; who is hungry and thirsty and tired and in obvious distress; who very probably, like a huge number of Americans, including many without permanent residences, suffers from mental illness. Go ahead and grant that this person—homeless, hungry, thirsty, tired, stretched just as thin as those conditions might stretch any person—is behaving erratically; that their comportment might disturb others. So: Who is vulnerable here? Who is in the greatest need of help? What is the actual problem? How might this small ad hoc instantiation of community solve it?

I'm struggling to put this into words. I can't tell if it's because what I'm trying to express is ludicrous or because it's so dully obvious that I've never bothered to actually think of how to say it before. Sometimes you have something that somebody else needs more than you do, and you can afford to spare it, and the easiest thing in the world is just to give it to them. In that moment, to have what you can give them is, itself, a gift, a thing to be thankful for. In my lifetime this society has seemed ever more fanatically opposed to that possibility, and ever more committed to the idea that of all the things a vulnerable person might legitimately need, help—simple material help—is never one of them. But, like, how many people were on that train? How come nobody just, like, offered Jordan Neely a swig from their water bottle? Or, hell, tried to pry off the guy literally strangling him to death right there on the floor? Did any of them have anything at all they could give to the person first suffering, and then just straight-up dying, right in front of them?

Thirty years is no time at all. Jordan Neely was a squishy little toddler yesterday, a gangly kid 10 minutes ago. At 30 he had no place to live. He was hungry and thirsty and tired and upset. He was experiencing a whole stack of separate crises piled onto each other. He walked into a crowded subway car carrying those crises; one of the people there decided that the problem, in that situation, wasn't that Jordan Neely was hungry or thirsty or tired, or that he was in obvious distress, but rather that on top of those other things he was also breathing, and killed him. Somebody else took their phone out and recorded it. That was Jordan Neely's whole and only life. It ended when he walked into a room full of people, homeless and hungry and thirsty and tired, and they helped themselves to his silence.

Trump Using Photos From His Own Presidency To Argue Life Is Worse Under Biden


No paywall

Donald Trump started a new ad campaign on Facebook last week that insists the U.S. is doing worse under President Joe Biden. The Facebook ads even include photos trying to suggest the chaos we see in those images is a direct result of Biden’s policies. The only problem? The two most prominent photos in the ad are from Trump’s time at the White House.

The first thing people will probably notice in the ad is a photo of a burning cop car. But that photo was taken in Chicago, Illinois on May 30, 2020. Trump was president from January 20, 2017 until January 20, 2021, which means the image you’re seeing happened on Trump’s watch.

The photo was published by outlets like the Daily Mail and AZ Central on May 31, 2020, not long after footage surfaced of police officers killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020. One of the cops placed his knee on Floyd’s neck while the other cops sat by and didn’t do anything to stop the killing.

Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests that summer, some of which turned violent. But none of that had anything to do with the Biden presidency despite what Trump is trying to convey with his Facebook ad campaign, which declares in bold white type, “Under Joe Biden, America is a nation in decline.”


Fox News digs up an inconvenient fact after Trump rants about 'transgender insanity'


Donald Trump in 2012 allowed a non-binary beauty queen to compete in his Miss Universe competition, a move that comes in stark contrast to the rhetoric he now routinely uses and the current attitude of the Republican party.

Trump in 2012 overturned a decision by the Miss Universe organization disqualifying 23-year-old Jenna Talackova, a Canadian model who the group wanted to ban from the competition, saying she isn’t a “naturally born” female, Fox News reports.

Trump in an announcement that he was allowing Talackova to compete for Miss Canada said the decision brought his group in compliance with Canadian law.

"We let her in," Trump said in an April 4, 2012 video.

"We’ll see what happens. Maybe she’ll do well, maybe she won’t. You have 58 different girls trying to be Miss Canada. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens. If for some reason she should win, well, then she has to win the Miss Universe contest. Everybody wants to be Miss Universe. I don’t think it’s going to be easy."



A timeline of the DeSantis-Disney fight in Florida


No paywall

TALLAHASSEE — The feud between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. started nearly two years ago when the company required its on-site employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Then, when it criticized the governor over Florida’s legislation about restrictions in public schools about teaching and discussing gender identity and other issues, the governor accelerated the feud.

Here’s the timeline:

Spring 2021: The Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that would give Disney special treatment to crack down on social media companies after several conservatives said their accounts had been banned. Republican sponsors added a last-minute amendment exempting companies that own theme parks, particularly to allow programs run by Disney+ for example, that collect viewer reviews, to be exempt from the ban. It turns out that the governor’s own staff helped to create the Disney carveout.

Summer 2021: The governor’s war with Disney starts. The company requires all its on-site employees to be fully vaccinated. By late October, the governor announced he would impose fines against Disney and others with vaccine mandates.

March 11, 2022: Disney employees pressure the company to take a stand against the proposed Parental Rights in Education legislation. CEO Bob Chapek sends a message to all employees “especially our LGBTQ+ community,” and says he’s sorry the company didn’t act sooner and announces that Disney is pausing all political contributions in the state.

March 28, 2022: Disney doubles down in a company statement that the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by opponents as the Don’t Say Gay bill, should be struck down by the courts.

The company’s statement, posted on Twitter the same day that DeSantis signed the bill into law, said the company would support national and state organizations working to achieve those outcomes.

“Florida’s HB 1557 ... should have never passed and should never have been signed into law,” the company’s statement read.


COVID-19 lockdown revisionism


The term “lockdown” has become a powerful and perverted word in the infodemic about democracies’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown, as used in public discourse, has expanded to include any public health measure, even if it places little to no restriction on social mobility or interaction. For example, a working literature review and meta-analysis on the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality misleadingly defined lockdowns as “the imposition of at least 1 compulsory non-pharmaceutical intervention.”1 This working paper therefore conflated mandatory isolation for people with confirmed infections and masking policies with heavy-handed limitations on freedom of movement, and since it gained viral fame, it has helped fuel calls for “no more lockdowns.” This working paper has been highly critiqued and is less convincing than comparative assessments of health measures, like the Oxford Stringency Index.2,3

Here, we discuss the spread of misinformation on lockdowns and other public health measures, which we refer to as “lock-down revisionism,” and how this phenomenon has damaged trust in public health initiatives designed to keep people safer.


Anti-lockdown discourse is common on social media, in political rhetoric and in news articles.4–6 Lockdowns are often framed as a false binary of full lockdown versus no measures. However, democratic governments around the world attempted to strike a complex balance in their implementation of a blend of public health measures to address the threat of COVID-19, which varied as the pandemic and scientific evidence evolved. In some popular discourse, lockdowns have been framed as reckless and unscientific, as junk science, as an excuse to permanently oppress populations, as gaslighting with ever-shifting goalposts and as elements of various outlandish conspiracies.4,7,8 The notion that lockdowns did not work has been internalized by some as a truism. Both paid advertisements about lockdowns and posts on social media have gained widespread engagement.9 In news media, proponents of the Great Barrington Declaration — an open letter from 2020 that has been scientifically discredited — have vocally disputed public health measures.10

Some dissatisfaction with public health measures could relate to communication errors made by governments and others, and to the messy way in which scientific evidence accrued during the pandemic. Not every measure was implemented ideally in terms of its costs versus benefits. Competing priorities, such as child development versus risk of infection in relation to school closures, created spaces for reasonable disagreement, and also generated fertile ground for doubt and misinformation to develop. Careful audit of missteps and successes could usefully inform more targeted public health measures, if and when they are needed in the future. However, other powerful forces bear great responsibility for fostering lockdown revisionism. The capacity for social media to allow misinformation to be disproportionately amplified;11 the creation in popular media of platforms for and consequent legitimization of individuals who spread misinformation or disinformation, through false balance or otherwise;12 and the manner in which some politicians have generated or associated themselves with misleading rhetoric — famously, the convoy that occupied Ottawa in part of 2022 received prominent political support for its anti-lockdown messaging — are examples of such forces.


Breaking down Trump's 'Soros' attack on the Manhattan DA



In the wake of a Manhattan grand jury’s historic decision to indict Donald Trump, the former president and some other prominent Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have invoked liberal billionaire George Soros in their attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump claimed in a statement that Bragg was “hand-picked and funded by George Soros.”

Here are the facts.

Soros, a longtime supporter of Democratic campaigns, various liberal causes and prosecutors who favor criminal justice reform, has been a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories painting the Jewish philanthropist as a puppetmaster behind various US and international events. Soros did not make any direct contributions to Bragg’s 2021 election campaign, and a Soros spokesperson, Michael Vachon, told CNN last week that the two men have never once communicated in any way.

Rather, Soros’s connection to Bragg is indirect: he has been a major donor to a liberal political action committee that supported Bragg’s candidacy. A spokesperson for the PAC denounced the Soros-related attacks on Bragg in an interview with CNN last week, calling them “antisemitic,” “anti-Black” and an overstatement of both Soros’s role in the PAC’s decision-making and the PAC’s role in Bragg’s election victory.

Donations to a PAC that supported Bragg

Bragg is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former federal prosecutor and a former chief deputy attorney general for New York state. He won a competitive Democratic primary for Manhattan district attorney in 2021, against an opponent who had millions more to spend, and then trounced a Republican in the general election.


Transgender Texans and doctors say Republican lawmakers are lying about the science


Several Republican Texas lawmakers are clashing with medical groups over whether puberty blockers and hormone therapies help or hurt transgender kids. Those conflicting positions come as some legislators push bills that would limit — or completely block — queer youth from accessing transition-related treatments that many medical associations support.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, is championing a bill that would bar doctors from providing such treatments — but only if they’re used to help a child gender transition. During a debate last week on her Senate Bill 14, Campbell and opponents of transition-related care portrayed doctors who provide such care as opportunists capitalizing on a “social contagion” with treatments that lack sufficient scientific data that could determine whether the care is safe and effective.

“I got into the Senate, or government, because I wanted government out of our lives,” Campbell said during the Senate State Affairs Committee hearing. “But if there comes a time when a profession, such as the medical profession, cannot regulate itself to protect patients, protect children, then the government needs to step in.”

Yet medical groups, doctors and transgender Texans say the scores of lawmakers backing such bans are either missing the point of how transition-related health care helps trans people — or are deliberately misconstruing information to target an already marginalized group of people.


Trump allies misrepresent crime in NYC


According to reports, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) is close to indicting former President Donald Trump for falsifying business records and violating campaign finance laws in relation to a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, a former adult film star who says that she had an affair with Trump. On Saturday, Trump announced on Truth Social that he was anticipating being arrested Tuesday, although that did not happen.

Trump has responded to the reports by calling Bragg a "Racist in Reverse," and said it was implausible that he had an affair with Daniels because she has a "horse face." These claims have not gained much traction with his Republican supporters.

But at the CPAC Conference earlier this month, Trump claimed that Bragg “is presiding over one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the United States… where killings are taking place at a number like nobody’s ever seen, right in Manhattan.” Trump told the crowd that Bragg should focus on stemming the alleged increase in violent crime instead of the “now ancient” story of Stormy Daniels “where there is no crime anyway.”

Trump’s top allies have coalesced around that narrative, arguing that Bragg should forget about Trump and focus on the “skyrocketing” crime in New York City.

In an interview on ABC News, former Vice President Mike Pence said he was “taken aback” at the reports of a potential indictment. “At a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left,” Pence said.


Jim Jordan is such a dumbfuck. His "whistleblowers" discredited



Three of Jordan’s witnesses have come in for private interviews with committee staff so far. None of them appear to have had their claims validated by government entities that grant federal whistleblower protection, sources familiar with their testimony said. One who alleged there was FBI wrongdoing had their claims rejected. Another is retired and it’s unclear whether he has first-hand knowledge of the violations he alleges. The third has not revealed his direct disclosures or FBI suspension notice to House Democrats, according to transcripts reviewed by CNN.

Separately, several other supposed whistleblowers who have not come in for interviews were suspended from the FBI for being at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work. This is a point Jordan has not shied away from, using the accounts of “several whistleblowers” in a May 2022 letter to accuse the FBI of “retaliating against employees” for engaging in “protected First Amendment activity on January 6.”

For more than a year, Jordan has made whistleblower allegations a central part of his campaign to uncover what he claims is political bias inside the federal government, including drafting a 1,000-page report last year that leans heavily on claims by government employees alleging political interference by both the Justice Department and the FBI.

That report and the groundswell of support among House Republicans helped lead to the creation of an entire subcommittee Jordan now leads, the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government,” which is helming the whistleblower interviews.


Republicans keep forgetting who the U.S. president was in 2020


For much of Joe Biden’s presidency, a variety of Republicans have pointed to fentanyl seizures at the U.S./Mexico border as proof of lax security measures. That’s never made any sense — the claims are inherently self-defeating — but an amazing number of GOP officials have spent the last couple of years pushing the line.

This came up again yesterday during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, when Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene pointed to the Biden administration successfully seizing fentanyl before it reaches American soil as evidence of the Biden administration failing to stop fentanyl before it reaches American soil.

That was, to be sure, quite weird, but it wasn’t the Georgia congresswoman’s only misstep. Greene also published this missive to Twitter:

“Listen to this mother, who lost two children to fentanyl poisoning, tell the truth about both of her son’s murders because of the Biden administrations [sic] refusal to secure our border and stop the Cartel’s [sic] from murdering Americans everyday [sic] by Chinese fentanyl.”
The tweet came with a video of Rebecca Kiessling, a Michigan woman who told lawmakers about losing two sons to accidental fentanyl overdoses.

But while Greene saw Kiessling’s tragic story as proof of the Biden administration’s policies, there was a fairly obvious problem with this attempt at blame: Kiessling’s sons died in 2020, when Biden was a private citizen.

And while I don’t imagine anyone was especially surprised to see that the right-wing Georgian hadn't done her homework, it was part of a curious recent pattern in GOP politics: Republicans keep forgetting who was president in 2020.


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