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© Anita Donhoe
FIONA THE FOX EDUCATES KIT IN CALIFORNIA

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Posted 6.27.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

READING THE MEDIA

I read the Washington Post most mornings at breakfast and watch NPR after dinner. I supplement this with various media sources both right and left, of which there are too many, and I can only take so much of Tucker Carlson's nonsense. The Post, you know that leftist rag, has many stories and opinion pieces that I disagree with and many times the tone of what is supposed to be news I find annoying. I was gratified to see the detail of this morning's Post reporting on January 6th and to ppesent day's lead, page one, top left above the fold, was about what ex-President Trump knew and when.
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READ 'EM AND WEEP
CORONA NUMBERS UPDATED

WORLD: OVER 534 MILLION.
DEATHS - OVER 6.31 MILLION.
U.S.: 85.3 MILLION.
DEATHS 1.01 Million.
CANADA: CASES - OVER 3.91 MILLION.
DEATHS - 41,511.

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HCR LATEST REPORT
Posted 6.28.2022

SURPRISE CONGRESSIONAL HEARING TODAY ON AMERICAN COUP ATTEMPT

Midday Monday, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol announced a hearing "to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony." This is a surprise, and it was not until late tonight that reporters confirmed with their sources that the witness will be Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former president Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson was the person who revealed that congress members had asked for pardons.

Legal analyst Asha Rangappa tweeted that she will be watching to see if Hutchinson can testify that Trump, Meadows, or members of Congress either knew about or planned violence for January 6 to pressure Pence. "If so, it brings them into crosshairs of seditious conspiracy," she wrote.

While we have been focused on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade more news has come out about the attempt of Trump and his allies to overturn the government.

Indeed, scholar of authoritarianism Ruth Ben-Ghiat today noted that there is a relationship between the insurrection and the radical Supreme Court decisions coming out. Justice Clarence Thomas has been writing opinions and footnotes that are to the right even of the rest of the radical court, and today he suggested he would like the court to revisit the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision that provides some protection to media outlets from being sued for defamation by requiring a plaintiff to prove the outlet acted with "actual malice." Thomas wants to make it easier to sue media outlets because, he wrote, the "New York Times and its progeny have allowed media organizations and interest groups 'to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.'"

Ben-Ghiat tweeted that "[s]elf-protection (and protection for corrupt family members) is a huge driver of authoritarian behaviors. He feels threatened and will try and change the legal order to avoid scrutiny. Radicalized people no longer care about 'how it looks' to outsiders."

In this particular case, Thomas's beef is with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for calling out Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc., as a "hate group" because of its opposition to homosexuality and gay rights. The SPLC identifies as hate groups any groups that "have beliefs or practices that malign or attack an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." "SPLC's 'hate group' designation lumped Coral Ridge's Christian ministry with groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis," Thomas complained, and that hurt their ability to raise money.

Recent stories about the attempt to overturn the election include, most notably, Politico's report of last Monday that British filmmaker Alex Holder filmed the Trump family from September 2020 through to mid-January 2021 to record for posterity their actions during the historic election. Apparently, this was a family project, and a number of the people on the campaign did not know.

Last Thursday, the January 6 committee interviewed Holder. It has also subpoenaed the tape and the raw footage.

There are continuing signs that the attempt to overturn the Democratic victory in 2020 and install Trump in office swept in more lawmakers than the committee identified last Thursday. When news broke last Tuesday that Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, had tried to hand off slates of false electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to then–Vice President Mike Pence at the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, Johnson initially passed it off as the work of an unnamed intern and called it a "non-story."

Two days later, Johnson changed his tune, saying that the office of Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) had sent the fake slates of electors and that Johnson, his chief of staff, and Trump-affiliated lawyer Jim Troupis had coordinated through text messages to figure out how to get the fake ballots to Pence. Kelly's office promptly said Kelly "has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election."

Meanwhile in Colorado, Tina Peters, an election official from Mesa County who has been charged with crimes for her role in trying to overturn the results of the election, on Friday told Nick Corasaniti and Alexandra Berzon of the New York Times that Lauren Boebert (R-CO) encouraged her "to go forward" with stealing and sharing voter information. That information, allegedly obtained through identity theft and illegal breach of computers, later turned up on a right-wing website and at a symposium organized by Mike Lindell, the owner of the MyPillow Company and a leading Trump supporter, alleging voter fraud. A press secretary for Boebert calls the claims false.

Today we also learned that the Department of Justice last week seized the phones of John Eastman, the man who wrote the infamous memo outlining plans for Pence to steal the election. In a lawsuit trying to get the phones released and all that was on them deleted, Eastman's lawyers explained that federal prosecutors had stopped Eastman outside a restaurant in New Mexico on June 22. This was the same day federal agents executed a search warrant on Jeffrey Clark. Trump wanted to make Clark acting attorney general in the days before January 6 so he would work to overturn the election.

Right-wing insistence Friday night that the weekend would be characterized by "rage" as pro-choice supporters turned violent seemed designed to draw false equivalence between those who stormed the Capitol to overturn the election and those angry at the Supreme Court's refusal to recognize a constitutional right that the American people have enjoyed for half a century -- and, perhaps, to justify brutality to silence those protests. In fact, aside from sporadic violence against the protesters rather than from them, the protests were peaceful.

There is another link between the recent Supreme Court decisions and the January 6 attempt to destroy our democracy that creates an unprecedented situation. If Trump is prosecuted as the leader of an attempted coup, a coup that may have included some of those who voted for Trump's three Supreme Court nominees, what does that do to their positions on the court?

Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American



Posted 6.13.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

GASOLINE HYSTERIA

Today is Sunday and Kathy and I spent a good deal of the morning enjoying a nice breakfast and the Sunday papers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. This morning both papers added to the hysteria about high gas prices that we have been hearing about all week on radio (yes, I still listen to radio), the internet and TV.

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SEAT BELTS FASTENED?
Posted 5.15.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | With Covid fading from our alarm systems -- it's no longer the topic of most conversation -- and with the protesters having left Ottawa, we have one more distraction: the war in the Ukraine. What we know we do have to face ultimately, what's waiting outside, is huge: the climate crash. It's too big to compare to even war and pandemic.

The conspiracy-brains among us are preparing again to "pivot", and they will read conspiracy into even talk about our collapsing climate. These modern-day Contras are already gearing up, sharpening and polishing their push-back -- and, of course, collecting money. Big money, for such a big topic. There will be plenty flowing from all the interests who would rather ignore or deny the climate threats and get back to business-as-usual. Go ahead, list all the possible sources of support for questioning the reality or severity or time-frame of climate disintegration. Start with the tar-sands and fossil fuels.

This coming contest is just shaping up its battle lines now, and the forces already on board with questioning climate change will easily multiply their efforts. They have buckets of money to "convince" professional politicians, the media and celebrities in general. Elon Musk's capture of Twitter is one example.

But equally the environmentalists and the youth are mobilizing. They'll be blamed for focussing only on the ill-effects of what we claim is our civilization. Watch the movement grow to cancel the radioactive dump on the Ottawa River, just upstream from most of us, as one example. The Friday protests of school kids will multiply; but so too will youth-attractive celebrities selling anything except climate collapse.

Big money, yes, of course. So many of the largest corporations and banks are inter-twined with fossil fuel industries, we can't expect an easy struggle to contain and even remake our changing world. We've already heard plenty from the corporations. Musk has already characterized any modification of society to avoid the worst as an assault on "personal freedom". Freedom, to this bright light, is more valuable than mere existence.

And include something else here: the cry, "we need to earn a living!" Because someone can earn their living here, we are immoral to shut down or even restrict oil and gas, mining, clear-cutting forests, and, I suppose, chemical agriculture. These employ millions around the world, and those millions all have families to feed, mortgages to pay, and debts to cover. Again, being debt-free or being able to buy a new car, an ATV, buy groceries, go on a trip, even to space, is more important than to continue existing. Pretty strange logic!

Sure, none of this is amusing. We, on the sole planet in the universe which supports any form of consciousness (that we know of), will be asked to give even that up if it threatens the corporate fortunes of the already-wealthy.

Will money flow to those think-tanks arguing that our existence is just an evolutionary accident, anyway, so why limit the happiness of many just so the majority can survive?

Will money flow to organizations, to organizers and leaders of back-to-the-1950s movements?

Will money flow to social media, the famous stuff that makes people suicidal -- but free! -- and which will confuse the issues and smoke-screen the possibilities of improving and innovating ourselves out of this future?

Must the four or five percent who own most of the world's resources keep control of those assets, even if it means a surprisingly quick end to humanity?

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Posted 4.16.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

I SUPPORT THE UKRAINE ~ WHAT TO DO?

I sat down the other day and said to myself: "I support the Ukrainian people and the Ukraine government in their battle to remain a sovereign nation. Why we even have a vase of sunflowers, the Ukrainian national flower, on the table. But wait, that is moral support, what about actual support that can make a difference?"

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CANADA'S NDP TO SUPPORT RADIOACTIVE DUMP?
Posted 4.10.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | The three-week old alliance of the federal Liberals and NDP has generated plenty of comment by the media's talking heads. It's not difficult to predict that the NDP will get some clear wins out of this agreement -- pharmacare is a big one, but others cover health, climate change and affordability legislation. These should all aid the population as a whole, although paying for these new programs seems to be the second big question. But, after Covid's expenses, what are billions more?


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IN CANADA: OUR NEIGHBOURS SUPPORTING PUTIN?
Posted 3.10.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | But wouldn't Putin also be smiling (if he ever does smile) over last weekend's big rally in Orlando, Florida. The America First Political Action Committee (of the Republican Party) hosted this event which concluded with ten minutes of chanting, "Putin! ...Putin! ..." . "Even America supports me," Mr Putin must have told himself.

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Posted 3.9.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

ROTH IRA???

This short piece is targeted at my grandchildren and others in the younger set. It is the result of a conversation over lunch with my friend, who is an economist, investment advisor, former banker, and currently international consultant. The piece recommends saving money because as Tennessee Williams said: "You can be young without money, but you can't be old without it."

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PSST! LOOKING FOR A QUICKIE?
5.6.21
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Posted 5.3.21

THIS SUCKS
Posted 5.3.21
I WISH I'D SAIDTHAT
Posted 5.3.21

I WISH I'D SAID THIS TOO
Posted 5.3.21

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This is one of 30 short poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can download the book for free at Bookfellows.