What the hell did we just watch?
Ooh, boy, so the usual gang of idiots are promoting a conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 vaccine contains microchips or other metals that the government uses to track Americans. It's like a 25-year-old plot from the "X-Files," and Agent Scully was clued into the government's diabolical scheme after the metal detector at the FBI picked up the chip in her neck. Yes, because the shadowy government conspiracy never imagined that a person might someday walk through a goddamn metal detector.
The current anti-vaccine conspiracy has the same goofy plot hole. Videos have turned up on social media that appear to show vaccinated individuals who can now stick coins and refrigerator magnets to their arms. If true, that would've at least made them more employable. Why complain? Either the government never bothered with rigorous user experience testing for their evil Bill Gates vaccine, or the government never imagined people would get so bored they'd slap refrigerator magnets on their arms. Either way, it's a half-assed conspiracy.
Important to remember that most anti-vaxxers are not too smart https://t.co/ptAKbwQuzn— Molly Jong-Fast (@Molly Jong-Fast)1623237466.0
Anti-vaccine “Doctor" Sherri Tenpenny, who's not an associate of James Bond, testified Tuesday about the magnetic conspiracy at an Ohio House Health Committee meeting. It's probably unfair to put “doctor" in quotes. She's an actual osteopathic physician, so I'm just gonna stop using the word “doctor."
During her spooky campfire tale, Tenpenny said:
I'm sure you've seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they're magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there's a metal piece to that.
There's been people who have long suspected that there's been some sort of an interface, 'yet to be defined' interface, between what's being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers.
Tenpenny even slapped her forehead to demonstrate how metallic items can stick there. She's an animated storyteller who believes in the scientific method as presented in X-Men comics. Republican Ohio state House members invited Tenpenny to testify as their expert witness on behalf of House Bill 248, which would prevent businesses or the government from requiring vaccination.
An anti-vaccine nurse also spoke out against the imaginary conspiracy. She was my favorite.
WACKJOB: By the way, I just found out something when I was on lunch, and I want to show it to you. You were talking about about Dr. Tenpenny's testimony about magnetic vaccine crystals, so this is what I found out. So I have a key and bobby pin here.
Nurse MacGyver pressed the key to her chest and demanded, “Explain to me how the key sticks to me!" The committee wasn't prepared to answer these philosophical conundrums, but it was rhetorical anyway. She quickly positioned the key against her neck. “It sticks to my neck, too!" she boasted before gravity starting fucking with her. “I got this!" she insisted. Maybe it worked in dress rehearsal. “Yeah, so if somebody could explain this, that would be great."
Unfortunately, this wasn't a psychotherapist convention with specialists from Vienna, so no one was able to explain what they'd just seen. A woman was seated to the nurse's left who wore a “Yes on HB 248" T-shirt. During the nurse's rant, she looks as if she's slowly realizing to her horror, “Oh my God, this is all bullshit! And I bought this T-shirt! I can't back out now. I'm in too deep!"
The Miami Herald actually fact-checked all this because that's where we are now as nation.
"No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm," because they are all free of "metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys, as well as any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, and nanowire semiconductors" that can create an electromagnetic field, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an update last week.
"In addition, the typical dose for a COVID-19 vaccine is less than a milliliter," the agency said, "which is not enough to allow magnets to be attracted to your vaccination site even if the vaccine was filled with a magnetic metal."
Actual doctors, who probably had better things to do, watched the videos and concluded that the magnets and metal objects only appear to stick to people's arms because there's "tape attached behind them or they are secured with some water or spit." Making Tik-Tok videos where you spit on keys and stick them to your skin might seem a little childish and stupid, but then so is this whole anti-vaccine movement.
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Maybe with these steel-toed Texas cowboy boots?
Louie Gohmert is working hard to reclaim the title of Dumbest Republican Congressman from Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and the WHAR BOXES guy.
Which, look. He should never be worried. One of them says a thing, he can always say a thing about caribou sex. Or how you can cure the coronavirus by getting misted in a tent with Magic German Sprinkle Powder. Or that gays in the military are a bad idea because of all the gay massages gay soldiers gonna give each other.
He's fine. He'll always be the stupidest. Always.
Gohmert was worried about climate change in a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee yesterday, sort of. At least he knows federal agencies are worried about it. He's not himself concerned about such dangerous myths. But he has an idea that might make everybody happy and solve this question once and for all. Could the federal agencies just bang on the moon a little bit, or maybe change the entire Earth's orbit, to get it away from the solar flares? Maybe if they just grunted real hard and tipped the Earth off its axis? He does not know, he is just askin' science questions, tryin' to solve the problems. He might even lend the government his steel-toed Texas cowboy boots if those are good for kickin' planets off their axises!
ORBITS: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asks whether the Forest Service or the BLM can alter the orbit of the moon or the… https://t.co/d2GusM3KGf— Forbes (@Forbes)1623190333.0
"I understand, from what's been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change," Gohmert says in a clip shared by Forbes. "I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they found that the moon's orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth's orbit around the sun. We know there's been significant solar flare activities, and so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon's orbit or the Earth's orbit around the sun? Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate."
Couple things here. First of all, when he says the "Forest Service and the BLM," you might think Gohmert is saying maybe Black Lives Matter should make itself useful by dropkicking the moon somewhere else, or kicking our actual planet off its actual orbit. He means the Bureau of Land Management. He means he is wondering if the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management could make themselves useful by reaching up into the sky and rearranging where the moon is or possibly change the orbit of our planet, potentially hurtling us into outer space and away from the dangerous solar flares Louie Gohmert apparently thinks are why climate change is happening.
Man, that would be dumb if he wanted Black Lives Matter to do that. It makes so much more sense that he's talking about the Bureau of Land Management, which is the appropriate government agency for removing the moon and the earth from their current places in the sky and putting them somewhere different.
The woman to whom he was addressing the question, God bless her entire heart, waited a few before saying, "I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert!" He replied that "If you figure out a way that you and the Forest Service can make that change" — in the orbits of the moon and our planet — then please let him know.
And with that, Gohmert officially re-snatched the "world's stupidest congressman" hat off the head of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had just finished explaining to Steve Bannon that she knows coronavirus is a bioweapon because "I don't believe in evolution. I believe in God."
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Also, the security preparation was shit.
A bipartisan Senate investigation into the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol found that federal law enforcement, including the "intelligence components" of the Capitol Police, had information on threats of violence at the Capitol but failed to increase security or get that information to the officers actually assigned to defend the Capitol. The 127-page report, the joint work of the the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, details a regular fuck-tussle of security failures. But because the investigation was limited only to security issues surrounding the Capitol attacks, it doesn't discuss many of the questions that could be answered by a larger investigation, like the role of Donald Trump in inciting it. Heck, it doesn't even say Trump's insistence that the 2020 election had been stolen was factually incorrect.
Senate Republicans killed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the insurrection because they figured that would hurt the GOP in next year's midterm elections. We bet that's an item that will probably be significant in the eventual historical assessment of the end of American democracy, which will have to be written elsewhere, after Supreme Leader Donald Trump Jr. bans the writing of unapproved works of history in 2031.
Still, even with its limited scope, the report is, like histories of the attacks on Pearl Harbor or 9/11, a fairly detailed look at how a series of "oh shit" failures led to tragedy. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security never issued a "threat assessment" for January 6, and shrugged off online discussions of plans for violence aimed at preventing Congress from certifying the electoral vote as not credible, and besides, people have a First Amendment right to fantasize about liberating America from tyranny.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, put it pretty simply: "The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight."
The US Capitol Police's own internal intelligence outfit, the "Intelligence and Interagency Coordination Division" (IICD), was also aware of, and compiled information on, online threats, but that information never made it up the chain of command to US Capitol Police (USCP) leadership, so it wasn't briefed to the officers on duty January 6 either. The "decentralized nature of [the Capitol Police's] intelligence components" also led to lousy communication and confusion, oops:
On January 5, an employee in a separate USCP intelligence-related component received information from the FBI's Norfolk Field Office regarding online discussions of violence directed at Congress, including that protestors were coming to Congress "prepared for war." This report, similar to other information received by IICD, was never distributed to IICD or USCP leadership before January 6.
The details on what the Capitol Police's intelligence division knew are pretty damned chilling. A December 21 report from IICD noted that users of the far-Right blog "TheDonald.win" were openly discussing getting into the Capitol, and that one post had said, "There are tunnels connected to the Capitol Building! Legislators use them to avoid press, among other things! Take note." In all, the report flagged about 30 screenshots with comments like
• "Exactly, forget the tunnels. Get into Capitol Building, stand outside congress. Be in the room next to them. They wont have time [to] run if they play dumb."
• "Deploy Capitol Police to restrict movement. Anyone going armed needs to be mentally prepared to draw down on LEOs. Let them shoot first, but make sure they know what happens if they do."
• "If they don't show up, we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors."
• "Bring guns. It's now or never."
• "If a million patriots who up bristling with AR's, just how brave do you think they'll be when it comes to enforcing their unconstitutional laws? Don't cuck out. This is do or die. Bring your guns."
• "Surround every building with a tunnel entrance/exit. They better dig a tunnel all the way to China if they want to escape."
While "command staff" in the Capitol Police got that report, the threats of violence never made it into an IICD assessment of security that went out just two days later, on December 23, nor in a January 3 assessment. Instead, those later reports simply anticipated that the January 6 rallies would be similar to previous "Million MAGA marches" in DC, no big deal.
In addition to the botched intelligence, the report also details problems with preparations for the Capitol Police who were supposed to respond in case violence did break out. Many officers hadn't been trained in riot control, but were on squads meant to do it. One group's equipment, including plastic body armor, helmets, shields, and non-lethal munitions, was locked inside a bus where the cops couldn't get to it. Supervisors who should have been coordinating the response were instead outside the Capitol getting swarmed by the mob.
And Capitol Police leaders, including then-chief Steven Sund, were confused about how to call in the DC National Guard, and stymied by the requirement that any call for the Guard would depend on an emergency declaration by the board that oversees the Capitol Police. In fact, the Defense Department "confirmed with USCP on two separate occasions before January 6 that USCP was not requesting assistance" from the DC Guard. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, by contrast, had requested National Guard help — with directing traffic and crowd management — well in advance, at the end of December.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said the security failures were "obvious," and that
To me, it was all summed up by one of the officers who was heard on the radio that day asking a tragically simple question: "Does anybody have a plan?" Sadly, no one did.
It's really not a pretty picture, and while it's detailed in its timeline of specific security lapses, the report misses a lot of things that an independent commission would presumably not whitewash or downplay. The New York Times is pretty blunt in pointing out some significant shortcomings of the Senate report:
Though the report states flatly that Mr. Trump "continued to assert that the election was stolen from him" and promoted the "Stop the Steal" gathering in Washington before the riot, it does not chart his actions or motivations, state that his election claims were false or explore the implications of a president and leading politicians in his party stoking outrage among millions of supporters.
The inquiry does not describe the events of Jan. 6 as an "insurrection," a term many Republicans had joined Democrats in embracing immediately after the attack. Aides involved in its drafting said they had refrained from trying to summarize or contextualize Mr. Trump's false claims just before the riot took place. They opted instead to include the full text of his speech in an appendix.
Well isn't that bipartisan of them!
We need a real investigation, please.
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He compared AR-15s to Swiss Army knives.
Last Friday, US District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California overturned the state's 32-year-ban on assault weapons. He declared the ban unconstitutional and a “failed experiment," much like gladiator sandals and, increasingly, American democracy.
Benitez's 94-page ruling is a doozy. There's not even a warm up. He launches straight into the crazy.
BENITEZ: Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and United States v Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). Yet, the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR-15 type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.
Yes, he compares the AR-15 to a goddamn Swiss Amy knife, which you can use to file your nails and open cans. The AR-15 is not recommended for either purpose. Also, Swiss Amy knives aren't used nearly as often in mass shootings.
Benitez frequently references the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling in District of Columba v. Heller as justification for overturning California's assault weapons ban, but Justice Antonin Scalia, who's still dead, wrote in the majority opinion that "... the right secured by the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.... [It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." He probably also never confused an AR-15 with a Swiss Army knife.
BENITEZ: This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned "assault weapons" are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes. Instead, the firearms deemed "assault weapons" are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes.
Yeah, so, this is an AR-15:
It's mildly comforting that the victims of AR-15-related mass shootings weren't blown to bits by bazookas, but this is a very low bar. The AR-15 isn't an “average gun" used in “average ways" unless your objective is to kill a lot of people quickly.
Benitez notes that in California, "murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle." That's an interesting statistic and somewhat meaningless considering that assault rifles were banned so that's kind of what you'd expect. However, in the United States, handguns specifically and firearms in general are the most commonly used weapons in homicides. Knives are a distant third and they also serve a non-murderous purpose. You can't carve a turkey with an AR-15, although I'm sure someone in Texas has tried.
Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face t… https://t.co/ycQWeITJr0— Gavin Newsom (@Gavin Newsom)1622868760.0
Gun rights groups adore this ruling because Benitez makes all their favorite Soldier of Fortune-style arguments. The George W. Bush appointee pointed to Fidel Castro's toppling of the Cuban government in the late 1950s as evidence that “civilian militias are not irrelevant." This is a disturbing argument to make when armed goons stormed the US Capitol just five months ago. Civilian militias don't answer to any legal authority, which makes them next of kin to the Klan. We've already seen that rightwing loons will believe any conspiracy theory, no matter how absurd, and consider that justification for violence.
Benitez has also bought into some Q-related nonsense. He wrote in his decision that “the evidence described so far proves that the 'harm' of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event. More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California."
There have been 18 mass shootings so far in 2021. The supposed death toll from the COVID-19 vaccine is some Tucker Carlson bullshit. I know someone who died after seeing The Matrix Revolutions, but while that movie is immensely disappointing, there was no direct connection. Yes, some people have died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but there is no evidence that the reported deaths were caused by the vaccine.
The state of California has in the last month released data on what are known as "breakthrough" coronavirus infections in those who received vaccinations. As of May 19, there were 4,771 breakthrough cases, with 37 people dying. But these aren't people who died of the vaccine; they're people who died after contracting the coronavirus, despite receiving the vaccine. Such cases are, to borrow Benitez's phrasing, infinitesimally rare given California has vaccinated more than 20 million people.
Dear God, this is a federal judge who's a complete gun nut, militia advocate, and conspiracy theorist. I'm not sure I'd trust him with a Swiss Army knife.
Gun control advocates and Democrats, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, have condemned Benitez's ruling, but conservatives and the gun lobby are optimistic that the case will soon advance to the Supreme Court, where Amy Coney Barrett waits.
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