The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
●WA-SoS: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who is the Evergreen State’s only Republican statewide elected official, announced Tuesday that she would resign on Nov. 19 to join the Biden administration to oversee election security. (Wyman, depending on whether or not one includes Alaska as part of the West Coast, could also be called the region’s only statewide Republican.)
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee will be charged with appointing her successor, who will be up in November of 2022 for the final two years of Wyman’s term. Inslee has the chance to put a Democrat in the secretary of state’s office for the first time since the 1964 elections, but there’s no guarantee he’ll take advantage of the opportunity. Indeed, when the Associated Press’ Rachel La Corte asked the governor’s office if he might pick a Republican to serve as a placeholder until next year’s election, they responded, “We are not ruling anything out. It is possible.”
Wyman that year faced a serious challenge from Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton, who argued that Wyman hadn’t done enough to oppose voter suppression; Tarleton also hammered the incumbent for testifying against H.R. 1, the landmark measure House Democrats passed in 2019 to expand voting rights and end gerrymandering. Wyman, though, prevailed 54-46 even as Biden was carrying the state 58-39.
P.S. If you’re wondering how Republicans managed to flip this office in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson was winning Washington 62-37 as part of his historic nationwide landslide, it turns out there’s a story behind it. Joel Connelly explained back in 2019 in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Republican Lud Kramer prevailed that year “by tossing out cardboard cutouts to represent the 11 family members that Democratic incumbent Vic Meyers put on the payroll.”
That wasn’t the only scandal that afflicted Meyers, who got into politics after making a name for himself during the Great Depression as a popular bandleader. As Michael Hood wrote in a 2007 piece, the secretary of state received plenty of negative attention the previous year after 83,000 petitions for an anti-gambling initiative were stolen from his office in what was called “The Great Petition Robbery.” The perpetrators, who were identified in the media as “Shorty,” and “Fiddleface,” were never caught.
●OH Redistricting: Republican state House Speaker Bob Cupp, who is a member of Ohio’s GOP-dominated redistricting commission, confirmed that the commission would not meet its Oct. 31 deadline to draw a new congressional map, punting the task back to the legislature. Lawmakers had already missed a Sept. 30 deadline to come up with their own map, a failure that kicked the task to the commission, which has now passed the redistricting hot potato right back where it came from.
Why all the hijinks? Had legislators drawn a map in time, they’d have needed to muster the support of half of the members of each party in order for it to pass. The seven-member commission, which has five Republicans and two Democrats, likewise would have needed bipartisan agreement to adopt a map. But now that the task has reverted to lawmakers once more, they can then pass a map that’s good for a full 10 years with the backing of just one-third of Democrats—or they can approve one without any Democratic support that will last for four years.
There’s a good chance that latter option is exactly where we’re headed, because that would allow Republicans to fine-tune their gerrymanders after just two elections rather than hoping they hold up for five. In fact, that’s precisely what transpired last month during the legislative redistricting process, which is handled exclusively by the commission but operates with similar rules: Republicans needed Democratic buy-in to pass a 10-year map but instead chose to ram through a four-year map without any bipartisan support.
Even if Republicans don’t go it alone on the congressional map, the mere fact that they can gives them leverage over Democrats to pressure them into accepting a slightly more modest but still durable 10-year gerrymander. Skeptical observers warned at the time that the constitutional amendments passed during the last decade that created the redistricting commission were only a sham reform. The GOP’s actions over the last few months have proved those warnings prescient.
●IA-Sen: A survey from the GOP pollster Cygnal for Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative group, finds Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley leading his most prominent Democratic opponent, former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, by a 55-39 margin. That’s similar to a nonpartisan survey released by Selzer & Co. last month that had Grassley ahead 55-37.
●NC-Sen: We’ve got another strange internal poll of a GOP primary that shows the candidate releasing it leading … but doing worse than before. This time the survey is from Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of former Gov. Pat McCrory, which shows McCrory beating Rep. Ted Budd 40-25 while former Rep. Mark Walker is back at 8%. But unmentioned in the memo, of course, is the fact that in an April POS poll, McCrory had a much wider 48-13 lead on Walker, with Budd taking just 9%.
We recently saw something similar from Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel, but the explanation is pretty clear: Without trendlines, which are easily elided, a lead like this looks good to donors. There may be something else at play here, too, since POS’ memo includes a description of negative “messages to use against Budd moving forward”—a likely signal to super PACs regarding the kind of attack ads McCrory’s team would like to see them deploy.
●CT-Gov: A survey from Public Policy Polling for Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter schools group, finds Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont leading former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides 52-32 and businessman Bob Stefanowski 52-36. This is the first poll of Connecticut’s race for governor next year. Both Klarides and Stefanowski, who was the GOP’s 2018 nominee, have talked about running but neither has committed to a campaign yet.
●MI-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to lead the pack in fundraising, reporting a $3.1 million haul from July 21 through Oct. 20 and $12.6 million in the bank. Her best-funded Republican opponent, former Detroit police Chief James Craig, brought in $1.4 million during that timeframe and had $1 million left over. Chiropractor Garrett Soldano, meanwhile, raised $496,000 and had $473,000 to spend, while conservative radio host Tudor Dixon took in $215,000 and had $165,000 on hand.
Whitmer could, however, have to disgorge $3 million from her war chest thanks to a Republican lawsuit challenging her practice of accepting contributions greater than the normal state limits because she faces dozens of recall efforts. The suit argues that Whitmer cannot keep those donations if a recall does not actually go forward, and none appear likely to. However, even if Republicans are successful, Whitmer would be able to donate any excess funds to the state Democratic Party, which could use them to support her re-election bid.
●NH-Gov: Former state Sen. Dan Feltes, who was the Democrats’ nominee for governor last year and hadn’t ruled out a repeat bid, has taken himself out of contention by moving to Iowa.
●NJ-Gov: While the Republican Governors Association had previously only made a limited foray into New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, the group has now spent $2.2 million on behalf of Republican Jack Ciattarelli. That’s similar, though, to the sum the RGA deployed in a losing effort four years ago, and overall, outside spending has heavily favored Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy: Altogether, Murphy allies have spent $18.3 million to date, compared to just $2.7 million on the GOP side.
●VA-Gov: Suffolk University’s first—and presumably last—poll out of Virginia has Democrat Terry McAuliffe edging out Republican Glenn Youngkin 46-45, while Democrat Hala Ayala leads Republican Winsome Sears 46-44 in the race for lieutenant governor and Democrat Mark Herring is ahead of Republican Jason Miyares 48-45 in his bid for a second term as state attorney general.
Virginia Commonwealth University also has one more poll, with T-Mac up 41-38, Ayala ahead 36-35, and Herring on top 39-35. However, as it’s done all year, VCU keeps offering respondents the option to pick “neither of these” candidates, which has lead to an artificially large number of seemingly undecided voters.
New fundraising reports also show that McAuliffe and Youngkin raised similar sums during the first three weeks of October, $12.9 million for the former and $11.9 million for the latter. However, Youngkin supplemented his haul with another $3.5 million in self-funding. McAuliffe, though, had husbanded his resources, allowing him to out-spend his rival $18.8 million to $11 million during this time period, but Youngkin had a $7.9 million to $1.9 million cash edge for the final stretch.
●MD-04: On Tuesday, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and Del. Jazz Lewis became the first two prominent Democrats to announce bids to succeed Rep. Anthony Brown, who is giving up this safely blue seat to run for state attorney general.
Ivey was elected in 2002 to serve as the top prosecutor in Prince George’s County, a suburban D.C. community that makes up the vast majority of the current version of the 4th District, and he retired in 2010. He was far from done with politics, though, as he waged an aborted 2012 Democratic primary bid against Rep. Donna Edwards.
Edwards left the 4th District behind four years later to unsuccessfully run for the Senate, and Ivey outraised the rest of the field in the contest to succeed her. Brown, however, still retained plenty of name recognition and connections from his losing 2014 run for governor, and he beat Ivey 42-34.
The Washington Postwrites that in recent years, the former state’s attorney chaired “the committee examining the Prince George’s police department’s internal policies.” Ivey also retains some notable political ties: His wife, Jolene Ivey, is a member of the County Council, while their son, Julian Ivey, serves in the state House of Delegates.
Lewis, meanwhile, is a former senior advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents a neighboring Maryland seat. Lewis was appointed in 2017 to a seat in the state House, and he currently chairs the chamber’s House Democratic Caucus.
There are plenty of other Democrats who could also run here, and Prince George’s County Councilmember Derrick Leon Davis told Maryland Matters this week that he was thinking about it.
●NY-02: 2020 Democratic nominee Jackie Gordon announced Tuesday that she would seek a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino in a Southern Long Island seat that has yet to be redrawn. Garbarino ended September with $882,000 in the bank to defend himself.
Gordon, who is an Army veteran and former member of the Babylon Town Council, looked like a big longshot in 2019 when she entered the race to take on Republican incumbent Peter King, but national Democrats took a new interest in her after the longtime congressman decided to retire. Gordon ultimately outraised Garbarino, who was an assemblyman at the time, by a lopsided $4.4 million to $1.7 million margin, while outside groups on both sides spent heavily here.
Trump in 2016 carried the 2nd District 53-44, but Democrats hoped that his toxicity in the suburbs would put Gordon over the top in an area long accustomed to electing Republicans down the ballot. That’s not how things turned out, though, as Garbarino fended off Gordon 53-46 as Trump was prevailing 51-47 here.
●OR-05: Attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who’s been considering a primary challenge against Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, indicated she’s ready to kick off a bid with a tweet late on Monday evening that read, “Hey, @RepSchrader, I’m here for #CD5. Are you? Let’s do this.” However, there’s been no accompanying press coverage, and McLeod-Skinner’s own website doesn’t indicate that she’s running.
●TX-34, TX-15: Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who currently represents Texas’ 15th Congressional District, announced on Tuesday that he’d seek re-election in the new 34th District, likely smoothing his path to a fourth term while making it more difficult for his party to retain his old seat. That’s because Republican state lawmakers deliberately made the 15th several points redder in their new congressional map: While the old version voted for Joe Biden 50-49, under the new lines, it would have gone for Donald Trump 51-48, a difference in margin of almost 5 points when accounting for rounding.
Gonzalez had said he might switch districts when an earlier draft of the GOP’s map was making its way through the legislature, but Republicans added a further inducement when they tweaked their plan to ensure that the congressman’s Brownsville home would shift from the 15th to the 34th. The latter district is now solidly blue, at 57-42 Biden—the key reason why Gonzalez prefers it.
The swap is only possible, though, because the current representative in the neighboring 34th District, Democrat Filemon Vela, unexpectedly announced in March that he would retire from Congress. Vela gave his blessing to Gonzalez’s decision on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “There’s no one I trust more to stand up for the Rio Grande Valley and our values in Congress than Vicente.”
But while Gonzalez might have the outgoing congressman’s support, most of the constituents he’s seeking to represent will be new to him. According to a new Daily Kos Elections analysis, only 25% of those living in the new 34th hail from the old 15th; had Gonzalez remained in his old district, 69% of residents would have remained familiar to him, and his incumbency would have given Democrats an advantage that now they’ll have to do without.
As a result, Gonzalez may face a contested primary in his new district. Civil rights attorney Rochelle Garza has been running in the 34th since July, though in a new statement, she said, “I am considering my next steps” in light of Gonzalez’ move. Through the end of September, she’d raised $196,000 and had $144,000 in the bank, while Gonzalez had amassed a considerable $2.1 million war chest. Other ambitious Democrats in the area might also be drawn to the race, though Texas laws would require a runoff if no candidate wins a majority in next year’s primary.
As for the 15th, Gonzalez had been cruising toward a likely rematch with insurance agent Monica De La Cruz, who as the GOP’s nominee last year held the incumbent to a shockingly close 51-48 win despite running a badly underfunded campaign that got little outside attention. This time around has been different: De La Cruz has already earned endorsements from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Ted Cruz, and she’s raised $928,000 to date, more than twice as much as she brought in all of last cycle. She’s spent a lot already, though, banking $422,000—less than half her total haul.
In recent days, De La Cruz has been joined by businessman Mauro Garza, who’s run a couple of very unsuccessful House campaigns over the last few years but has done a little self-funding and has $365,000 on hand. There’s also executive coach Ryan Krause, who lost last year’s primary runoff to De La Cruz 76-24 and raised bupkes. With Gonzalez’ decision so fresh, we haven’t yet heard from any Democrats who might seek to succeed him in the 15th, though despite South Texas’s shift to the right last year, there are still many Democrats who hold office in a region that has long leaned toward the party.
●TX-30: Attorney Abel Mulugheta, a former chief of staff to state Rep. Rafael Anchía, announced on Tuesday that he’s planning to run for Texas’ safely blue 30th Congressional District, and it’s not clear whether he’s waiting to see if veteran Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson retires after 15 terms. The 85-year-old Johnson, who is the second-oldest member of the House, said two years ago that her 2020 campaign would be her last, but she and her staff have rebuffed all efforts to confirm her plans since her win in November. Texas’ filing deadline is in mid-December.
●Atlanta, GA Mayor: City Councilman Andre Dickens has a new commercial up starring his most prominent supporter, former Mayor Shirley Franklin. Franklin tells the audience that Dickens “has the support of unions and community leaders, because he has the best plan to fight crime and to create good jobs.”
●Seattle, WA Mayor: City Council President Lorena González said Monday that she was taking down a TV commercial that accused Bruce Harrell, her predecessor and opponent in next week’s election, of having “repeatedly sided with abusers.” Harrell, who is Black, argued the spot deployed racist stereotypes about him and disputed the facts behind the commercial.
Why ‘Evangelical’ Is Becoming Another Word for ‘Republican’
The data from the Pew Research Center reinforces that — those who became evangelical between 2016 and 2020 had much warmer views of President Trump than those who didn’t feel warmly toward him. The evidence points in one direction: For many Americans, to be a conservative Republican is to be an evangelical Christian, regardless of if they ever attend a Sunday service.
The second factor bolstering evangelicalism on surveys is that more people are embracing the label who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity.
Pediatricians are recommending vaccines, just like seat belts and car seats. Listen to your child’s doctor.
Jury Selection In The “Unite The Right” White Supremacist Trial Involved A Lot Of Arguing Over Antifa
Some of the potential jurors wrote in their questionnaire that they believe antifa to be “terrorists” and “troublemakers,” observations some repeated when being questioned in court. When asked if he thought antifa was responsible for the “Unite the Right” violence, one possible juror said “most likely.”
Defendant and neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell, who is without a lawyer and defending himself in the trial, told Moon that potential jurors describing “antifa” as troublemakers “is hardly an extreme view.” He argued to keep jurors who felt that way.
Another major point of contention during the jury selection revolved around the pandemic, with several jurors saying they were still recovering from lengthy bouts with COVID and had already been out of work for weeks, thus needing to be excused. Some said they weren’t sure they could wear a mask all day, every day for the duration of the trial either because of health conditions or religious beliefs. The plaintiffs kept on about one man in particular whose mask didn’t cover his nose.
Moon said strict pandemic guidelines would be in place during the trial, including regular testing and a mask mandate.
Want to Know More About Critical Race Theory? Look at Virginia’s Schools—For More Than 75 Years
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin was raised on official, state-taught racism. I should know. So was I.
In fact, the entire hue and cry against CRT is not about ending division; it is about preserving it. It is not about racial reconciliation; it is about inspiring racial panic, of the kind that swept the South in the 1830s, the 1890s, and the 1950s. That this phony scare is active in states outside the South is a sign of the success the conservative movement has achieved in exporting the religious, political, and racial values of the South to states in the heartland. It is no longer only in the old Confederacy that questioning of the racial order is seen as next to treason.
Glenn Youngkin is simply the latest in a line of mountebanks willing to stir race hatred and fear to gain power.
He knows how it is done; like me, he learned it in school.
Hooray for Glenn Youngkin in his courageous battle against Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”. Next up: “Catcher in the Rye” by dirty-minded J.D. Salinger. Then ban a book overflowing with sex and violence, the Bible. #VAGov
ACLU Lawsuit Looks to Take Down Oklahoma’s CRT Teaching Ban as Free Speech Violation
Critical race theory is not an ideology, but a lens of thinking that considers how political institutions may perpetuate structural inequities, experts previously explained to The 74.
As a result of the law’s approval, according to the ACLU, school districts in the state have told teachers to avoid using terms such as “diversity” and “white privilege” in their classrooms, and have removed To Kill a Mockingbird, Raisin in the Sun and other seminal books from reading lists.
When schools restrict academic content, it can amount to a First Amendment violation if the court concludes that the censorship was politically motivated, said LoMonte, referencing a 1982 Supreme Court precedent in a case over book banning. The ruling established students’ right to receive information, he explained, but also gives school boards some latitude in choosing to pull books.
How Cities in the American North Can Reckon with Their Monuments
There are no statues honoring the Confederacy to be found in Boston or Cambridge, but there are plenty of historic memorials that obscure the achievements of Black Americans.
Boston’s monuments reveal the complexities of American history and its mutability. But the power of monuments rests in their permanence. The question that remains in Boston, and across this country, is how we can amend the American story through our monuments without tearing them all down.
My apartment in Cambridge is on Brattle Street, named for the family of the First Church of Cambridge minister William Brattle, who was a slaveowner in the eighteenth century. Further down Brattle is the mansion once owned by Henry Vassal, a slaveowner and British loyalist whose wealth came from his family’s slaveholding plantation in Jamaica. Not far from the mansion is Vassal Lane, named for the same family.
In each of these cases and more early action and the right risk benefit judgment call could have saved a lot of lives. This is not retrospective hindsight 20/20. Many advocated for these early. Many countries saw the benefits of early action and the low risks and proceeded.
The field’s future lies in reclaiming parts of its past that it willingly abandoned.
By one telling, public health was a victim of its own success, its value shrouded by the complacency of good health. By a different account, the competing field of medicine actively suppressed public health, which threatened the financial model of treating illness in (insured) individuals. But these underdog narratives don’t capture the full story of how public health’s strength faded. In fact, “public health has actively participated in its own marginalization,” Daniel Goldberg, a historian of medicine at the University of Colorado, told me. As the 20th century progressed, the field moved away from the idea that social reforms were a necessary part of preventing disease and willingly silenced its own political voice. By swimming along with the changing currents of American ideology, it drowned many of the qualities that made it most effective.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is plummeting into “anti-vaxx Crazyville.” The Miami Herald editorial board said there’s now no doubt Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is siding with anti-vaxxers. https://t.co/hRpJ5aMQXl # via @HuffPostPol
And why we’re failing to do the same things in America
At the moment, much of America’s acrimonious debate about COVID centers on the most difficult trade-offs that the country faces as it grapples with the drawn-out and still-deadly twilight of the pandemic. Should children in schools be required to wear masks? Should employees be fired if they refuse to get vaccinated? How do the benefits of vaccinating the young stack up against the risks?
There may not be a way around those important questions. But instead of focusing exclusively on the most contentious restrictions, which have serious drawbacks as well as significant benefits, the country’s political officials and health authorities should adopt four measures that can slow the spread of the virus—and reduce the risk of yet another winter wave—without much of a downside.
Thousands of pages of internal documents offer the clearest picture yet of how Facebook endangers American democracy—and show that the company’s own employees know it.
“This is a dark moment in our nation’s history,” Zuckerberg wrote, “and I know many of you are frightened and concerned about what’s happening in Washington, DC. I’m personally saddened by this mob violence.”
Facebook staffers weren’t sad, though. They were angry, and they were very specifically angry at Facebook. Their message was clear: This is our fault.
To me this is not a story of Facebook intentionally fanning anger for profit. It’s a story of how arbitrary initial decisions, set by humans for business reasons, become reified as the status quo, even as evidence mounts that they’re fueling harms. https://t.co/CdsciNOpQVpic.twitter.com/jqsxgzEdZj
In the news today: Rep. Mo Brooks was a speaker at the Jan. 6 rally in which Donald Trump implored his crowd to “march” on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt recognition of Trump’s November election loss, leading to violence and deaths. Brooks now continues to be extremely squirrelly about just how involved he and his staff were in those events. Another booster of insurrection lies, Facebook, has fared no better in trying to convince its own employees that it is not culpable for the results than it has the general public. Manchin now knows what he stands for, and coincidentally it’s opposing climate solutions that would make his “blind trust” involvement in the coal industry less profitable.
But that’s a pretty deplorable place to make a stand, as we’re learning that the planet may already have crossed a dangerous threshold that will make the next century of warming even more catastrophic than we feared. Here’s some of what you may have missed:
On Tuesday, after being denied bond since his arrest in March, including a second denial from the same judge less than a month ago, U.S. District Judge Amy B. Jackson ordered that the 35-year-old Sibick be released into the custody of his parents, in upstate New York, on conditions. One of those conditions is that Sibick is prohibited from watching any political television shows. But there is more.
When Sibick finally turned himself in to authorities, it came after first lying about his participation in the assault on Officer Fanone, then lying about the badge and radio he took from the fallen law enforcement officer. According to one of the complaints filed by investigators, Sibick first claimed he hadn’t taken anything off of the officer, then claimed he had dropped both the radio and badge immediately after grabbing them from Fanone. Then, he claims, he dropped the items into a trash bin somewhere in Washington, D.C. Sibick later told investigators that he dumped the items in a trash bin somewhere in Buffalo, New York. And finally, the government was able to produce Officer Fanone’s stolen badge after Sibick told them he had buried it in the backyard of his home.
The violent nature of the charges against Sibick had all but guaranteed he would remain in jail until his hearing. His lawyer, Stephen Brennwald, has argued that Sibick is a helpful person, as attested to by jail officials. Sibick’s lawyer has also argued that his client was actually trying to pull Officer Fanone to safety—not attempting to steal his badge. This argument, which was posited earlier in October in hopes of securing a release for Sibick, was denied by Judge Jackson at the time, who said: “He took his own unique, independent, purposeful action. The video clearly shows moving his left hand in and then his right hand in. Not at the same time, moving in with both hands to pull up.”
According to Law & Crime, there are a few reasons Judge Jackson decided to take a chance on releasing Sibick into his parents’ custody: mental health; deteriorating conditions in the jail where the January 6, dunderheads are housed (particularly for someone in a possible mental health crisis); and right-wing propaganda’s heightened rhetoric and misinformation as a trigger for someone with unmanaged mental health considerations.
Telling the court that she did not feel Sibick’s ongoing detention has been a mistake, Judge Jackson explained: “His detention was not a disgrace to our country. Mr. Sibick’s actions were.” But that new evidence was being presented in this case, and that along with the new mental health diagnosis led the judge to make this consideration.
Sibick’s lawyer submitted a letter from prison officials that said Sibick was voluntarily asking to be put “in the hole,” solitary confinement, in order to stay away from other Jan. 6 insurgents and their cult-like rituals. According to Sibick’s lawyer, Sibick’s good behavior toward the jail staff and his reluctance to participate in the “so-called Patriot Wing of the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility’s” bizarre jingoism—like singing the Star-Spangled Banner at attention every night at 9 p.m.—had led to harassment from fellow MAGAs.
“I think the court may know this but every night at 9:00 p.m., the folks there stand up and sing the Star-Spangled Banner,” Brennwald said. “I was on the phone with [Sibick] a month ago and we talked, and in the middle of our talk he said ‘I have to put the phone down, I’ll be right back. They’ll be angry of I don’t go over there.’”
“It was literally this herd mentality,” Brennwald added. “They’re literally singing, most of them off-key, literally singing the song, almost cult-like. It was pretty scary actually.”
According to Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, who has been at the courthouse covering these hearings, Judge Jackson gave the standard warnings about no firearms in the home, and no social media interaction for Sibick. “You must continue your medical or psychiatric treatment. You’re barred from possession on a firearm and you’re on home incarceration except for medical or legal. You’ll submit to location monitoring and pay the cost based on your ability to do so.” She said that if a fixed employment opportunity presented itself, Sibick could appeal to the court for consideration and that he could go once a week with his parents to church.
Brennwald told the court that Sibick’s mother is left-leaning, while his father is right-leaning. “I’ll tell you this, we were finishing up our dinner last night and I asked, ‘How do you get along, one a Republican and a Democrat?’ And my client’s father cited Reagan and Tip O’Neill. He cited Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you ordered them not to watch TV, he would be fine with that. He would like his son home.”
As for the prohibition of “political” media for Sibick, this reportedly came after Judge Jackson inquired about what media or person had helped fuel the fired-up Sibick to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Brennwald told the judge that after consulting with his client, “I thought it might have been OANN or Newsmax, but it wasn’t. It was Fox News… He was literally watching Fox News and in a manic phase that day, over a period of days.”
Eugene Sibick, Thomas’s father and a former Naval officer, told the judge that he no longer watched political news at home and this would not be an issue. A fundraiser set up under the name “Eugene Sibick,” titled “My son is a Political Prisoner,” might contradict this assertion. Whether this account belongs to the Sibick family is not verified.
Here is a video of Sibick taking both the badge and radio off of Fanone during the chaos that left Officer Fanone badly hurt.
As Daily Kos has covered, Republicans are eager to attack trans folks via a handful of approaches at the state level. Banning trans girls from participating in girls’ sports teams, for example, tends to get a lot of national media coverage. In addition to the anti-trans sports bills, however, state lawmakers have tried to stop trans people of all ages from updating their birth certificates as well as pushing legislation that would bar physicians from prescribing gender-affirming, age-appropriate medical care. The latest state to introduce such legislation? Ohio.
The disturbingly titled (and misleading) bill is called the Save Adolescents from Experiment Act (“SAFE”), also known as HB 454. Republican Reps. Diane V. Grendell and Cary Click introduced the bill, which would punish medical professionals for providing potentially lifesaving gender-affirming health care to trans minors—even if the youth has parental consent, as reported by the Ohio Capital Journal.
HB 454 aims to bar trans youth from receiving any kind of puberty blockers, surgeries, and hormonal treatments, even if parents or guardians approve of them. The bill would require public and private school teachers, nurses, and therapists at schools to out trans youth to their parents. In fact, school staff wouldn’t even be able to suggest that the youth in question keep their identity from their parents, which is dangerous for obvious reasons.
In terms of insurance, it would bar private insurance, plus Ohio Medicaid, from covering gender-affirming care for minors. Physicians who provide this care anyway could be charged with “unprofessional conduct,” which could potentially open physicians to being sued for providing such care. It could also lead to physicians getting in trouble with medical licensing agencies.
“My fear is that there are consequences that while the adults in the room are fighting about who gets to say what about what their future is, the children are the most affected and could tragically take some action to end their own lives because they do not feel the support that they need,” Democrat Nickie Antonio, who serves as the assistant minority leader for the Ohio Senate, told Spectrum News in an interview.
Parent Claudia Longo spoke to local outlet WKYC about the legislation and how it would impact her 17-year-old child, who, according to Longo, was around 10 when he started talking about his gender and identity. Since then, Longo says they’ve found him a supportive mental health team and have started doing research and reading more to learn how to be supportive and affirming.
“They’re making it so hard for them as it is,” Longo told the outlet in reference to the anti-trans bill. “It is already hard.” She added that gender-affirming treatments are not decisions “parents are making in a rush.”
The bill suggests that there hasn’t been enough research done on gender-affirming care, but we actually already know gender-affirmation can be legitimately lifesaving. Plus these are not experimental treatments being prescribed on the fly; it’s age-appropriate and safe care on a case-by-case basis. In general, gender-affirming care has massive support from actual health care professionals and experts—you know, the people who actually know what they’re talking about.
“This bill attempts to ban evidence-based medical treatment that is supported by medical professionals, including but not limited to the American Academy of Pediatricians, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association,” Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio, explained according to Cleveland.com.
But we know Republicans don’t really care about trans people one way or another—they just think they’ve found a vulnerable group to scapegoat, and they’re sticking with it.
A leaked internal government report obtained by BuzzFeed News continues to confirm what advocates were long saying when the anti-asylum Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy was in effect: There were particularly vulnerable adults and children who under “guiding principles” should have been exempt from the program, but weren’t.
The internal government report, authored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), said that while asylum-seekers with “known physical/mental health issues” were supposed to be exempt, “this was not well explained to border agents.” But you could also argue that agents knew and ignored guidelines anyway. Take this one example from Oct. 2020.
Invited by Texas Civil Rights Project, then-2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro traveled to the squalid Matamoros border camp to meet a number of the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who the previous administration had forced to wait in Mexico for their U.S. immigration court dates. “I’m here now to meet with refugees, some LGBTQ or disabled, who’ve been held up here despite policies that allow them to enter,” Castro tweeted at the time.
Castro would eventually escort a dozen particularly vulnerable to a U.S. port of entry, arguing that they “should not be included in the remain in Mexico policy.” Castro was successful in his effort—but only for the blink of an eye.
“Hours after we were told LGBT and disabled asylum seekers would have their cases heard, they have been returned to Mexico,” an outraged Castro said. “By law, these migrants are supposed to be exempt from the Remain in Mexico policy—but Customs and Border Protection had decided to ignore their due process. Outrageous.” The Texas Civil Rights Project, in turn, said that “[i]f these people … do not meet the criteria for ‘vulnerable populations,’ then the ‘vulnerable’ exemptions in ‘Remain in Mexico’ are lip service.”
The organization would go on to sue the previous administration later that year, “the first class-action suit challenging MPP’s discriminatory practices on the basis of disability.” But these vulnerable people weren’t alone in being blocked from their U.S. and international right to seek asylum, and in dehumanizing ways.
“In one case, investigators looked into an allegation that a 6-year-old girl from Honduras was returned to Mexico despite having advanced cerebral palsy,” BuzzFeed News reports. “The CBP records the investigators reviewed indicated that she, her parents, and her brother were placed into MPP on May 20, 2019. A DHS form the investigators reviewed indicated ‘CRIPPLED LEG, LEFT’ and ‘CRIPPLED LEG, RIGHT’ under a section reserved for ‘scars, marks, and tattoos.’” Investigators said the note “indicates that CBP was aware that the child had a disability at the time it placed [the girl] into MPP and returned her to Mexico.”
BuzzFeed News also reported that an asylum office had alerted border officials about an 11-year-old boy who’d been placed in MPP despite “severe epilepsy, with convulsions leading to loss of memory and vomiting.” But “CBP indicated that CBP was aware of the child’s condition and that he had gone through two prior medical screenings while remaining in the MPP program,” the report said. These border agents don’t care—and that’s a big reason why Remain in Mexico’s possible return as soon as next month would be disastrous.
“It’s unclear how medical conditions and disabilities would be handled under a new version of MPP, but a court filing this month indicated that Mexican officials had wanted improvements to the program,” BuzzFeed News continued. But just days ago, dozens upon dozens of legal providers and service groups told the Biden administration it could forget about getting any help from them if it reinstates the program, writing that they “refuse to be complicit in a program that facilitates the rape, torture, death, and family separations of people seeking protection by committing to provide legal services.”
The U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to restart the program. If the two nations are unable to come to an agreement, the U.S. may be able to go back to court and say, we tried, but couldn’t. In the meantime, advocacy groups say that the Biden administration should reissue a new, more thorough memo again terminating the policy, “and that resolves any Administrative Procedure Act issues identified by the district court.” While the Biden administration said last month following a Supreme Court decision that it would again try to end the policy, nothing has been issued yet.
At this point in the pandemic, and with the 2022 midterm elections looming, Republicans are quick to use trans folks as a scapegoat for any and all issues. Daily Kos has covered state lawmakers who are fighting to stop trans youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care and barring trans folks of any age from updating their legal documents. Of course, there’s also the ongoing, wildly misleading battle to keep trans girls from competing on girls’ sports teams.
Republicans often fall back on the rhetoric of “protecting” or “honoring” women and feminism, pointedly ignoring that trans girls and women are indeed women. Behind this rallying cry is a thinly veiled and deeply dangerous idea that trans people are inherently dangerous and predatory—just think about the disturbing images and rhetoric that come about whenever trans-inclusive bathrooms come up. All of this Republican fearmongering has now turned a reported sexual assault in a high school bathroom in Loudoun County, Virginia, into a circus, decentering the actual issue at hand: sexual violence.
As some background on the case, Daily Kos recently covered that a teenager had been charged with sexual assault after the survivor, a teenage girl, reported the incident. The assault occurred in a girls’ bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in late May. The suspect, then a 14-year-old boy, was transferred to another high school in the county, Broad Run High School, where he was again accused of sexual assault, that time occurring in an empty classroom in early October.
This case really blew up on the national stage after the father of the survivor (whose name we are not including in order to protect the minor’s privacy) went to a local school board meeting. He’s told outlets he went to the meeting to get answers, but he included some anti-trans remarks in there, too.
Specifically, the parent described the accused as bisexual and said he sometimes wore dresses. The parent suggested the trans-inclusive bathrooms essentially gave access for this attack to happen, but that policy wasn’t even in place at the time of the attack.
Most recently, local outlet 7News I-Team reports that the suspect has been found guilty of all charges. According to The Washington Post, the juvenile court judge is waiting to sentence the teen until the case for the second assault (the one in the empty classroom) goes to trial in November. The youth’s gender identity was not discussed in court and authorities involved in the case have not commented on it either way.
According to local outlet WJLA, students and some teachers in Loudoun County walked out in protest on Tuesday morning to show support for sexual violence survivors and push administrators to address why the suspect was allowed to return to school in the district. According to local outlet WUSA 9, Loudoun County High School Principal Michelle Luttrell has said students will not be punished for participating in the protest, provided it is peaceful.
Whether trans-inclusive policies are in place or not, sexual assault and violence are always wrong. It’s wrong whether the person involved is LGBTQ+ or not. Allowing people to use the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender identity does not give anyone a pass on committing violence against others, and in spite of Republicans spreading this hysteria, literally no one is suggesting that should be the case.
You can catch some video footage of the walkouts below.
The study, which springboards from IREHR’s original 2020 report on what it calls “Ammon’s Army,” presents data showing how the People’s Rights, originally built largely on Facebook, expanded its national membership from 21,851 to 33,431 in the past year, an increase of 53%. The dedicated activists on the list with key on-the-ground roles as “assistants” grew from 153 to 398, a 160% increase.
The report includes detailed interactive maps that enable readers to examine the network’s reach in their own home areas. It also demonstrates how People’s Rights has expanded its reach into Canada, and charts how the organization has expanded its leadership roles for key members.
According to the data, Bundy’s network is primarily expanding its reach in the West, the region with far and away the largest numbers of both members and “assistants” (some 24,000 of them in 2021). Indeed, some 72% of its members reside in the West; the region also has the highest per capita membership, with 12.82 times the members-per-10,000 count of the Northeast and 7.74 and 7.26 times that of the Midwest and South, respectively.
However, the organization also grew by 39.17% in the South.
“The states with the ten largest memberships are Washington (6,908), Oregon (5,544), Idaho (3,133), Utah (2,348), California (1,721), Florida (1,721) Colorado (1,306), Texas (1,142), Montana (952) and Arizona (895),” the report states.
And while the main focus of the network has involved organizing resistance to COVID-19 health restrictions, that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the range of right-wing politics it encompasses. The pandemic, as it is, has primarily served as a recruitment tool for drawing people into its large alternative universe of extremist beliefs and conspiracy theories.
“The People’s Rights network’s COVID denial activism is not just about masks, mandates, or misinformation,” Devin Burghart, IREHR’s executive director, explained to Daily Kos. “Rather, COVID denial is used by the People’s Rights network as an entry point to draw people onto a quickly moving radicalization conveyor belt. While COVID denial activism has been the largest source of new recruits, it is far from the only area that the People’s Rights network is involved. For instance, in the Klamath River Basin, the group used last summer’s drought to threaten an armed standoff over water. During Bundy’s tour through Utah earlier this spring, in addition to COVID denial, presentation themes included food supply and federal land use. Militant on-the-ground activism is the most prominent factor driving the growth in recruits.
“Once involved with the group,” he continued, “though they might have joined to protest pandemic restrictions, recruits are immediately inundated with the far-right ideology, including the ‘constitutionalism’ of figures like KrisAnne Hall and the middle American neighborhood nationalism of Ammon Bundy. At local meetings and online, recruits are exposed to a myriad of conspiracy theories beyond COVID denialism. Attacks on democracy and democratic institutions, political violence, and talk of a second Civil War have become disturbingly common topics inside the People’s Rights network.”
The group’s initial spread on Facebook was temporarily stunted by the platform’s decision to ban COVID denialism, though in fact “People’s Rights maintains a presence on Facebook through posts on members’ personal pages and People’s Rights activists and supporters’ participation in other COVID denial Facebook groups.” Undeterred, the network moved its recruitment and organization efforts to an internal text network, as well as such chat platforms as Telegram, Mewe, and Wimkin.
The Washington State chapter of People’s Rights operates a Telegram channel with 1,359 subscribers and an active chat group of 558 members. In Florida, People’s Rights activist Chris Nelson has 1,377 subscribers to his Telegram channel. Activists also communicate through the network’s website, as well as using Slack and more traditional forms of technology, including telephones, walkie-talkies, and Ham radios.
For his part, Bundy complained afterwards that the report actually undercounted the People’s Rights membership. He told the Associated Press that the network now had over 62,000 members.
“The IREHR report is drastically inaccurate. Not sure where they pulled their info from,” Bundy wrote in an email. “I’m glad they under reported so the FBI does not think we are too much of a threat to ‘democracy,’” Bundy wrote. “If we keep growing the way we are the FBI may get jealous and throw me in jail for no reason again.”
But in fact, IREHR’s researchers admitted as much when they published the study, noting that they took a conservative approach to counting membership. Its methodology information notes: “There are likely individuals in the People’s Rights network overall membership not assigned to a state or area, but that data was not available to IREHR researchers.”
“The data was collected a bit ago, and there are undoubtedly people that don’t have an assigned area,” Burghart told Daily Kos. “Unfortunately, those numbers aren’t available to anyone but Bundy. If he wants to make that info publicly available, we’d be more than happy to revise our figures. Until then, it’s the most accurate estimate of membership data available.”
Burghart also noted that Bundy—who is currently running for Idaho governor—may have admitted to campaign-law violations with his remarks to AP. “The quotes are an admission that Bundy is still running the organization while in the midst of a gubernatorial primary,” he observed. “The admission poses serious questions about the co-mingling of the campaign and the organization that the Idaho secretary of state might want to explore.”
“I think the report underestimates their overall strength, because they’ve also built out alliances with a range of groups, from the tea party to the Proud Boys and anti-vax groups,” Chuck Tanner, IREHR’s research director, told AP. “In certain places they are able to mobilize at levels that make an impact on policy.”
The central fact, as he explained, is that the organization is rapidly expanding its reach in an increasingly radicalized American right. “What People’s Rights does is spread really radical ideas about overturning civil rights in the United States,” Tanner said. “This is a broad-based, antidemocratic and bigoted social movement.”
Last week, Insider published a lengthy article detailing the many missteps Facebook made in its Edge Cable project running under the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon coast. The project was meant to provide high-speed services to Japan and the Philippines and has come at a total cost of less than $500,000 to the company.
Facebook completed the project last month—nearly two years after its original completion date—yet issues persist, including a small sinkhole that was discovered Sept. 28. According to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the sinkhole appeared on the beach “roughly in line with the conduit installed under the ocean shore.”
It was the OPRD that ultimately filled in the sinkhole and surrounded it with safety tape. The department said it’s working with Facebook contractor Edge Cable Holdings to create a response plan to address issues like these, though no further updates have been made available since Oct. 8. The Sept. 28 sinkhole discovery marks at least the second such sinkhole that appeared as a result of the project. The first was discovered on April 1 and filled in by Edge Cable. Sinkholes pale in comparison to the issue of 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid spilled last April, however.
Edge Cable crews smashed into rock while drilling down about 500 feet offshore, resulting in 1,110 feet of broken pipe as well as drilling machinery being abandoned nearly 50 feet under the seabed. Facebook only disclosed the mishap after a resident flagged the problem to the Oregon Department of State Lands (ODSL) nearly two months later. Facebook was ultimately forced to pay $250,000 to ODSL for breach of contract.
Even before Facebook began its ambitious project to lay down 8,500 feet of fiber optic cable, the company faced pushback from concerned Oregonians, including its neighbors in Tierra Del Mar. The small, coastal town played host to Edge Cable’s drilling site located in a residential neighborhood mere steps from the beach. Nonprofits like the Oregon Coast Alliance slammed Facebook’s many missteps. Tierra Del Mar resident Marie Cook, whose house is right next to the drilling site, called Facebook’s plan “unethical.”
“There are 365 miles of coastline in Oregon,” Cook said in an interview with Oregon alternative weekly Willamette Week. “And yet they come here and put this thing that has no benefit for our community right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”
Not everyone opposed Facebook’s plan. The Oregon Fishermen’s Cable Committee worked alongside the social media giant to help move the project forward and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars patrolling the area where Edge Cable was laying down fiber optic lines.
The politicians who OK’d the project also profited from Facebook. Willamette Week reported that as of last year, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has received $12,500 from Facebook and the company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, since 2016. State Treasurer Tobias Read has received $38,900 from Facebook and Sandberg since 2008. Read was the one who suggested that the land board sign off on Facebook’s permit for its Edge Cable project in June 2019; Brown seconded that motion.
It was Brown who first tried to entice tech companies to “come ashore” in Oregon in the first place, according to a letter she sent to attendees of the 2018 Pacific Communications Conference. Since then, local leaders appear to have fallen in line with that welcoming messaging, noted Oregon Coast Alliance Executive Director Cameron La Follette.
“The Facebook cable made it clear that coastal communities are vulnerable to being targeted as the siting location of a cable, as Tierra del Mar was—if the local jurisdiction grants the land use permit, as Tillamook County did in this instance,” La Follette told Daily Kos. “Industrial activity in the midst of a residential area is extremely disruptive and damaging; it should never have been permitted, and should not be again.”
Lawmakers have yet to put the kibosh on projects like Facebook’s Edge Cable, but they have passed legislation tightening restrictions on such endeavors. HB 2603, which was signed into law in July, “requires owners or operators of undersea cables to obtain financial assurances for installation and removal of cable and create plan for removal of cable.”
La Follette praised the law, which she said will “require much more specific planning, as well as requirements for cable removal and funds for restoration and/or cleanup in the case of accidents.”
Facebook, for its part, has continued to invest in Oregon. The company’s Prineville data center, which opened its doors in 2009, is its largest in the U.S. and is in the process of being expanded. Facebook sweetened its latest expansion deal by creating a $60,000 grant for K-12 robotics classes in Crook County public schools, earning it praise from local officials. Extensive tax breaks have kept Facebook interested in Prineville. According to The Oregonian, Facebook saved nearly $130 million thanks to local tax breaks from 2012 to 2020.
All of Team Trump’s screaming about voter fraud recently got a couple of excellent punchlines with Republicans getting caught attempting to commit voter fraud. First, Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was forced to pay out $25,000 to a poll worker in Pennsylvania who caught a Republican man attempting to vote twice—the second time in the name of his Democratic son. Then, a Nevada man was charged with voting in the name of his dead wife after having made a big public fuss about how some evil person had fraudulently voted in the name of his dead wife.
In addition to the Nevada case involving Donald Kirk Hartle voting in the name of his late wife, Rosemarie Hartle, Pennsylvania had a case of a Republican man, Francis Fiore Presto, voting in the name of his dead wife, Judy Presto. Also in Pennsylvania, Bruce Bartman registered and voted for Trump in the name of his dead mother, Elizabeth Bartman. In a final Pennsylvania case, a ballot was cast in the name of Judy Ondick just days after her death, with her family saying that, though a registered Democrat, she had intended to vote for Trump.
Multiple other cases where Republicans claimed dead people had voted turned out to be cases where Republicans failed to consider the possibility that more than one person can have the same name. In another case, the late James Blalock did not vote, but his widow, Mrs. James Blalock, did, in that name. The great boxer Joe Frazier simply did not cast a vote years after his death, as Rudy Giuliani claimed he did in willful disregard of facts. Three other cases touted by Republicans as proof of wrongdoing remain unresolved. Still, even if they all turn out to be cases where Democrats voted for President Biden in the names of their deceased family members, the score is at best tied. And none of it was ever anything approaching evidence of large-scale fraud of the type required to steal an election.
None of this will stop Republicans from repeating a politically useful lie about a stolen election, especially with Donald Trump out there trying to soothe his ego after his big loss. But the real outcomes of the supposed fraud cases touted by Republicans are a corrective to anyone tempted to think that average Republican voters upset about voter fraud are just innocently bought into Trump’s Big Lie. Some of them are, for sure. But we know that some of them are out there trying to build the case for the lie through their own acts of fraud.