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This Is Just Nuts (From the “Freedumb” State of Floriduh)

From The Washington Post:

Students arrived in some Florida public school classrooms this month to find their teachers’ bookshelves wrapped in paper — or entirely barren of books — after district officials launched a review of the texts’ appropriateness under a new state law.

House Bill 1467, which took effect as law in July, mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography and “suited to student needs.” Books must be approved by a qualified school media specialist, who must undergo a state retraining on book collection. The Education Department did not publish that training until January, leaving school librarians across Florida unable to order books for more than a year.

Breaking the law is a third-degree felony, meaning that a teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying or giving students a disallowed book.

Manatee County’s January directive, obtained by The Post, says teachers who maintain elementary and secondary classroom libraries must “remove or cover all materials that have not been vetted” in accordance with state law. Going forward, any classroom library books must be “reviewed by a media specialist using the FDOE guidelines” before they are “presented and approved” at a special school meeting and finally “signed off by the principal.”

When one teacher emailed Manatee Superintendent Cynthia Saunders with questions and concerns about the directive, Saunders replied that violating the state law on book collection amounts to “a felony of the third degree,” according to a copy of the superintendent’s email obtained by The Post.

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‘A f–king idiot’: Man who breached Pelosi suite says he’s guilty of bluster, not crime

From Politico:

A Jan. 6 defendant who famously propped his feet on a desk in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol suite urged jurors Friday to consider his behavior the actions of a “fucking idiot” — not a criminal.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who took the stand in his own defense, grew heated with prosecutor Michael Gordon after Gordon spent hours picking apart Barnett’s story. Gordon pressed Barnett whether he believed he would get away with his actions because of his hubris. A frustrated Barnett shot back: “I think the jury’s going to do what they want to do.”

“I’m going to suffer the consequences,” Barnett added, “but I hope they see I didn’t break the law and acted like a fucking idiot.”

It was a climactic moment as a milestone Jan. 6 prosecution neared its conclusion. Barnett’s image at the desk in Pelosi’s office became a symbol of the brazenness of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the vulnerability of a key institution attempting to fulfill its responsibility to certify the 2020 election. The case was poised to head to the jury Friday afternoon, with a verdict likely early next week.

In lengthy, tense cross-examination, Gordon raised sharp doubts about key aspects of Barnett’s Jan. 6 story. Barnett contended that he climbed the center steps of the Capitol to gain a vantage point to find two friends who he lost in the chaos. He then claimed that he was “pushed” into the Capitol after getting stuck in a densely packed crowd near the rotunda doors. He said he roamed around the building merely looking for a bathroom, and found himself in Pelosi’s office suite.

Then, he claimed he got caught up in the moment and acted foolishly by posing for a photo at the desk of Pelosi aide Emily Berret. He claimed he took an envelope off Berret’s desk — meant for then-Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) – and left a quarter as compensation. He didn’t consider it theft, he said, because he paid for the envelope and removed it because he had bled all over it and wanted to remove the “biohazard.”

Gordon suggested in questioning that Barnett had ample opportunities to turn around and leave the Capitol before he entered the building and that he never once asked an officer for help finding a bathroom. And despite his purported concerns about the tainted envelope, he held onto it for days before throwing it, unsealed, onto the table in his interview with the FBI. The truth is, Gordon said, Barnett took the envelope as a “trophy.”

“You don’t know the truth, sir,” Barnett shot back.

Video evidence played during the trial showed Barnett waving the bloodstained envelope outside the Capitol, boasting about his jaunt inside Pelosi’s office suite and the note he left on her desk: “Nancy, Bigo was here, bi-otch.” Prosecutors noted that Barnett tried — while in jail for his alleged Jan. 6 crimes — to have his partner copyright the phrase.

Throughout his cross-examination, Barnett repeatedly spoke over Gordon’s questioning, often going on tangents or digressions that prompted admonishments from the judge and from Gordon. As Gordon’s questioning drew to a close, Barnett at times grew agitated with the pointed inquiries, saying he was “getting quite tired of it.”

“I ain’t breaking down,” Barnett said after a particularly tense exchange. “I’ve made mistakes. I went through hell up there. The officers went through hell up there. … I’m struggling with this.”

Gordon homed in on Barnett’s interaction with two police officers who sought to usher him from Pelosi’s suite. He yelled about “communism” during the first interaction, and during the second, he told the officer “We’re in a war. Pick a side. Don’t be on the wrong side or you’re going to get hurt.”

Barnett said he was just “blustering” and that he never meant he would be the one to hurt the officer.

Barnett’s defense attorneys emphasized that he is prone to hyperbole and had no criminal history, that he never committed violence inside the Capitol and turned himself in to law enforcement after driving home to Arkansas. In addition to Barnett’s testimony, his wife Tammy Newburn and his cousin Eileen Halpin testified on his behalf, describing him as a quirky, gregarious but well-liked member of his community.

Barnett began his testimony by indicating he regretted his actions toward Pelosi and for going to D.C. at all.

But prosecutors emphasized that Barnett repeatedly agitated against people who supported certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, that he viewed “patriots” as people who opposed Biden’s election and repeatedly suggested he would do anything to prevent Biden from taking office.

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Chuckle of the Day

Rick Wilson @TheRickWilson

George Santos (R-Juvederm) is definitely not the person in the photos of a Brazilian drag queen in 2005.

As we know, George was leading a covert JSOC unit hunting HVTs in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. Thank you for your service, George.

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Under oath, Trump is confronted with his ‘hoax’ hyperbole

From The Washington Post, by Philip Bump:

Over the past decade, Donald Trump has alleged or amplified the idea that the following things are “hoaxes”: Barack Obama’s presidencyglobal warminga CNN story about the Secret Serviceaccusations of sexual assault against him in 2016allegations that his 2016 campaign colluded with Russiathe hacking of the Democratic National Committee by RussiaRussian interference in the 2016 electionthe dossier of reports compiled by Christopher Steeleallegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, the Ukraine impeachment probeRussia’s support for his candidacyRussians offering a bounty on killing U.S. troopsa story about NASCAR driver Bubba Wallacea funding gap at the Postal Serviceclaims he disparaged military deadmail ballotsthe electiona former staffer’s description of his administrationclaims about his tax payments and Democratic responses to the pandemic.

These charges have often been rebutted either in immediate response to Trump’s comments or, as in the case of his claims about the investigation into Russian interference, repeatedly and in a multitude of contexts. But Trump nonetheless continues to both present many of these situations as “hoaxes” and to classify various other things using the same word — to the point that it’s impossible to take such claims seriously.

In the abstract, Trump’s general lack of credibility on what may or may not be a hoax is not terribly important. But in the context of a lawsuit centered on allegations that he sexually assaulted author E. Jean Carroll several decades ago, Carroll’s lawyers found it useful to point out that Trump simply says everything is a hoax, even when he obviously doesn’t think it is.

As when he said that about Carroll’s accusations.

A portion of Trump’s sworn deposition was published on Wednesday, offering insight into the questions being presented to the former president as he seeks to defend himself against the charge that he defamed Carroll in denying her assault allegations. The transcript also depicts an obviously angry and frustrated Trump lashing out at the questioners and disparaging various other perceived enemies, like New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).

At one point, Trump was presented with a social media post he published about the situation in which he declared that “it is a hoax and a lie just like all of the other hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years.”

“I take it what you’re saying there is Ms. Carroll fabricated her claim that you sexually assaulted her; correct?” Robbie Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, asked.

“Yes. Totally,” Trump replied. “100 percent.”

“Fair to say — you’d agree with me, would you not, that you use the term ‘hoax’ quite a lot?” Kaplan continued.

“Yes, I do,” Trump replied, later adding that “I’ve had a lot of hoaxes played on me. This is one of them.”

“How would you define the word ‘hoax’?” the lawyer asked.

“A fake story,” Trump replied — “a false story, a made-up story.”

This is fairly accurate, really. Trump obviously uses “hoax” not in the sense that most people do but, instead, to describe something that he would like to argue is overstated or inaccurate. That those things are generally not inaccurate or overstated but often at most included contested elements has certainly never prompted Trump to moderate his disparagement.

For Carroll’s lawyers, though, this is useful. Trump calls Carroll’s claim “a hoax” — just as he did other things that are obviously not hoaxes. Things that he was simply trying to dismiss or disparage because they were correct or accurate.

“Sitting here today, can you recall what else you have referred to as a hoax?” the lawyers asked Trump.

He could, in fact, recall some things.

“The Russia Russia Russia hoax,” he said. “It’s been proven to be a hoax. Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine hoax. The Mueller situation for two-and-a-half years hoax ended in no collusion. It was a whole big hoax. The lying to the FISA Court hoax, the lying-to-Congress-many-times hoax by all these people, the scum that we have in our country, lying to Congress hoax, the spying on my campaign hoax. They spied on my campaign, and now they admit it.”

So, quickly: The investigation into Russian interference was not in any credible sense a hoax, however useful it might have been for Trump’s opponents to highlight it. The investigation into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to aid his 2020 election demonstrated quite clearly that he did precisely that. The claim that Trump’s 2016 campaign was “spied” upon depends either on treating an FBI investigation into possible connections between people on his campaign with Russian actors as “spying” or on a debunked claim that there was targeted digital surveillance of Trump Tower. In other words, these examples of “hoaxes” do not themselves hold up.

But Carroll’s lawyers wanted something more concrete to demonstrate his flippancy on such allegations. So they walked him through some.

“Isn’t it true,” an attorney asked, “that you also referred to the use of mail-in ballots as a hoax?”

“Yeah, I do. Sure,” Trump replied. “I think they’re very dishonest. Mail-in ballots, very dishonest.”

Then the lawyer struck: “Isn’t it true that you yourself have voted by mail?”

“I do. I do,” Trump admitted. Then, a bit of moderation: “Sometimes I do. But I don’t know what happens to it once you give it. I have no idea.”

You get the point. Oh, mail-in voting is a hoax — but you vote by mail. Ergo, if the Carroll allegations are a hoax …

A bit later, the attorney tried to bolster the point with another example.

“Isn’t it true, sir,” the attorney asked, “that you also have referred to global warming as a hoax?”

“Yeah,” Trump said. “I think it’s largely a hoax, yes.”

“When you say ‘largely a hoax,’” the lawyer followed up, “what do you mean?”

“Well, I think the whole environmental thing is destroying our country in so many different ways,” Trump claimed. “I think they’ve weaponized the environment, yeah. A lot of what they do is a hoax, yes. Absolutely.”

“But just so the record is clear,” the attorney pressed, “do you think the scientific consensus that the temperatures on planet Earth have been getting warmer and are continuing to get warmer is a hoax?”

This question is fascinating because it suggests that the attorneys believe that Trump’s position on the subject is rooted not in rejection of the science but, instead, in political opportunism. What the record shows, though, is that Trump has never shown a robust grasp of the nuances of climate science — and that his dismissal of climate change may, in fact, be largely sincere.

Which is what his answer suggested.

“I think they go both ways,” he replied, presumably meaning temperatures. A bit later he again claimed that climate change activists had stopped using the term “global warming” because “it wasn’t working” rhetorically. In reality, Republican consultant Frank Luntz recommended that conservatives adopt the term “climate change” to blunt the implications of “global warming.”

After his “both ways” response to the initial question, Trump quickly pivoted.

“I think it has nothing do with this case,” he complained. “I mean, why are you asking — other than you’re a political person, why are you asking this question? What does that have to do with this case?”

The answer is obvious. Trump’s statement rejecting Carroll’s allegations included what, coming from another person, would be a strong rejection: that the whole thing was a hoax. What Carroll’s lawyers showed, under oath, was something that was otherwise obvious to any outside observer over the past eight years: A claim from Trump that something is a hoax often means it isn’t — even if it doesn’t always effectively serve as an indicator that the thing is, in fact, quite legitimate.