Who Says Mondays Are No Fun?

Gun Rights

Monday evening The Former Guy released a statement which
began, “These are dark times for our nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago
in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a
large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President
of the United States before.”

This unexpected signal that the Justice Department may eventually
bring the law to bear on the individual in question sent a tidal wave of schadenfreude
across Blue America.

Coming, as it did, amid what had been an apparent drought of
consequences, the wounded, self-pitying tone of the statement—“They even broke
into my safe!”—made it all the more exquisite.

So much for conventional wisdom, which generally assumes that the
first workday of the week will invariably be tedious.

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Textual analysis suggests that The Former Guy [TFG] composed the
message himself. No one runs on a sentence like he does: “It is prosecutorial
misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical
Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024,
especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop
Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections.”

The person who approved the search warrant was far from being
some “Radical Left Democrat.” Christopher Wray is a lifelong Republican. When TFG
made him the Director of the FBI, he boasted of his nominee’s “impeccable
credentials.”

According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action,
there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It’s a shame that doesn’t apply to
politics. In post-Gingrich America, for every lawful action by law enforcement
against a Republican, there is an asymmetrical over-reaction which can best be measured
using the Richter earthquake scale.

Given the extent of this entire sprawling enterprise—the Trump
Organization, the Trump administration, the co-opted Republican Party, the
sold-out, signed-on think tanks, the random loose-cannon political grifters—it
would be easy to get lost sifting through details.

One notable reaction, though, is that Fox News, which had been
subtly distancing itself from TFG, suddenly reverted to full-on Trumpism. Harris
Faulkner gave a particularly fine simulacrum of affronted dignity as she expressed
her indignation at the mere thought that the Justice Department would actually have
the nerve to enforce the law.

–=≈=–

The Covid virus’s stubborn refusal to accommodate the whims of anti-maskers and just fade away has only served to exacerbate our Wandering Photographer’s inherent misanthropy. So if you see him lurking on some dark street, like an escapee from a forgotten film noir, don’t be surprised. Speaking of surprises, who’d have thought that Gilley’s would be closed at 8:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening?

–=≈=–

‘Lock and Load’: Trump-Loving Extremists React to FBI Search of Mar-a-Lago

by Kenny Stancil

The far-right in the United States responded ominously to the
FBI’s Monday search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida mansion, with
Republican lawmakers and television personalities baselessly accusing the Biden
administration of weaponizing the Justice Department and popular as well as
anonymous social media users beating the drums of a civil war.

“Lock and load,” says the top comment related to the Mar-a-Lago
search on patriots.win—a pro-Trump
comment forum that emerged after Reddit banned the r/The_Donald group of nearly 800,000 for repeatedly posting racist
and misogynistic content in violation of its rules against harassment and
targeting.

When one user asks, “Are we not in a cold civil war at this
point?” another suggests that violence is imminent, with “authentic pain”
coming soon.

According to NBC News reporter Ben Collins, the content shared on
pro-Trump forums Monday night was arguably even more violent than what was
posted in the lead-up to the deadly January 6, 2021 attack.

As he did before last year’s insurrection at the Capitol, Trump
only has “to ask us,” notes one commenter. Another writes: “None of this
demonstrating in the snow shit. Summertime was made for killing fields.”

It wasn’t just anonymous posters threatening to mow down their
perceived political enemies. For instance, highly influential reactionary
Steven Crowder tweeted, “Tomorrow is war,” followed less than 12 hours later
by, “Today is war.” The NRA also leapt at the opportunity to boost gun sales.

Fox News hosts and guests, meanwhile, quickly disparaged the
Mar-a-Lago search as a “partisan witch hunt,” “dark day for our republic,”
“preemptive coup,” “Third World bullshit,” and the work of the “Gestapo” and
“Stasi,” as documented by Media Matters for America.

The right-wing outrage machine was adopting talking points that
Trump laid out in a statement portraying himself as the victim of
“prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the justice system, and an
attack by radical left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for president.”

“Such an assault could only take place in broken, third world
countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt at a
level not seen before,” said Trump. “The lawlessness, political persecution,
and witch hunt must be exposed and stopped.”

As the Washington Post reported
Tuesday:

“We don’t yet know much about what was in the search warrant used
to raid Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago on Monday. We do know that the
raid concerned the removal of classified documents from the White House and
that, according to Trump, agents raided his safe.

“But we also quickly found out that a lot of influential people
are rather uninterested in any of that, reflexively shouting “witch hunt” and
baselessly blaming President [Joe] Biden for the raid in a way that bodes very
poorly for whatever comes next in this process. Trump has marshaled his army of
supporters to declare, in knee-jerk fashion, any legal scrutiny of him a
deep-state operation.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) endorsed Trump’s unsubstantiated claim
that the Biden White House is “using government power to persecute political
opponents,” calling it “something we have seen many times” from authoritarian
regimes in impoverished nations “but never before in America.” The House Judiciary
Committee’s Republicans, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), echoed that message.

During an appearance on Fox News, Jordan demanded that Attorney
General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray—a Trump
appointee—answer the GOP’s questions about Monday night’s search at Mar-a-Lago.

As Media Matters senior fellow Matthew Gertz explained, the
Justice Department is not yet able to provide details given the ongoing nature
of investigations into Trump’s attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and
other possible crimes, so the ex-president and his allies are “filling that
vacuum” with baseless allegations of political malfeasance.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a
statement that “when Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate
oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned,”
telling Garland: “Preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

Despite the fact that Garland hasn’t yet publicly responded to
the GOP’s planned inquiry, McCarthy concluded that “the Department of Justice
has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization” while Republican
National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel declared that “Democrats continually
weaponize the bureaucracy against Republicans.”

As the Post noted:
“That’s a lot of firm conclusions based on not much at all. But it’s the fruit
of years of Trump claiming persecution.”

The newspaper continued:

“This investigation hardly comes out of nowhere: Trump’s handling
of government documents has long been a focal point. The Washington Post reported as far back as February on Trump’s ‘relentless
document destruction habits.’ A couple of days later, the National Archives
confirmed that it had retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago—including
records marked as ‘classified’ and even ‘top secret’—that should have been
turned over, and then asked the Justice Department to investigate, which it
clearly has.

“The question from there is whether this is a matter that merits
a search warrant. That the Justice Department would go this route would seem to
suggest it sees something potentially incriminating beyond merely shoddy
record-keeping and document retention. The department knows this decision will
be harshly scrutinized; going down this path only for its destination to be a
minor finding, ending in a slap on the wrist, isn’t worth the blowback it’ll
get from 40 to 45 percent of the country.”

Ironically, the Post added,
Trump’s supporters were “once quite consumed with the import of document
security by would-be presidential candidates—and quite happy to promote the
idea that their preferred candidate ought to ‘lock’ such an opponent ‘up.’”

Trump also tried to use his power as president to harm his
political rivals, repeatedly asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Hunter
Biden. And although Clinton’s home wasn’t searched, the FBI did conduct a
public probe of her use of a private email server in 2016—possibly contributing
to her failure to win the White House that year.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

–=≈=–

A hot tip from a plain-clothes officer resulted in the dispatch of a flying squad in an unmarked vehicle to the [redacted] block of Ocean Boulevard in Rye. Upon arrival they found the grandiose banner shown here, in clear violation of Flag Code Chapter 1, §7, (i): “When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.” Due its blatant nature, i.e., the dimensions of the flag in question, the unofficial policy of leniency towards non-commercial violations was lifted in this case: the perpetrator is busted. The Flag Police motto stands: “Eternal vigilance is the price of upholding the fetishization of material objects which symbolize the values of a purported republic in the absence of any perceptible functionality.”

–=≈=–

Pandemic a “Lucrative Smash-and-Grab”

by Brett Wilkins

As Moderna reported higher-than-expected revenue driven entirely
by sales of its publicly funded Covid-19 vaccine, health equity campaigners on
Wednesday renewed calls for pharmaceutical companies to waive patent
protections in order to share their lifesaving technology with developing
countries.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna reported $4.7 billion in
second-quarter sales—a nine percent increase over the same period last
year—despite taking a nearly half-billion-dollar hit for write-downs on expired
or soon-to-expire vaccine doses. Nearly all of the company’s revenue came from
sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, its only product on the market—and one whose
development was funded entirely by U.S. taxpayers and contributions from
private donors.

CNBC reports Moderna is also sitting atop an $18 billion cash
pile, and intends to buy back $3 billion worth of its own stock. Furthermore,
the company last week announced a $1.74 billion agreement with the U.S.
government to supply up to 300 million doses of an updated Covid-19 vaccine for
use against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

“Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine was developed totally by public
funding. Yet the company has been allowed to make huge profits while doing next
to nothing to ensure equitable access for people in lower-income countries,”
Mohga Kamal-Yanni, policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said
Wednesday. “For the company’s newly created billionaires, this pandemic has
been a lucrative smash-and-grab operation.”

Among the at least nine new billionaires created by
pandemic-related capitalism are Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Moderna co-founder
Noubar Afeyan, and immunologist and Moderna founding investor Timothy Springer.

Moderna has been widely criticized for selling its vaccines
mostly to wealthier countries, even as billions of people in the Global South
lack access to the lifesaving inoculations over two and a half years into the
pandemic. The company has also come under fire for massively overcharging for
its vaccine doses.

Like other pharmaceutical companies and almost all wealthy
nations, Moderna long opposed a waiver for parts of the Agreement on Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), a proposal by India and South
Africa—supported by more than 100 nations—that would lift some patent
protections to allow developing countries to produce and distribute vaccines. A
narrowly crafted World Trade Organization deal ostensibly meant to address
vaccine inequities was condemned as a “sham” by activists earlier this year.

Moderna’s pledge last year to build a Covid-19 manufacturing
facility in Africa was dismissed by activists as largely a public relations
stunt meant to thwart patent waiver efforts and marginalize a World Health
Organization (WHO) messenger RNA (mRNA) technology transfer initiative in South
Africa.

“Now Moderna is threatening the world’s response to future
pandemics,” Kamal-Yanni said. “Broad patents filed by the company in South
Africa could derail a WHO and African Union project aimed at responding to
global health crises by rolling out mRNA vaccines made in low- and
middle-income countries.”

On Wednesday, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign
noted that more than 100 manufacturers in low- to middle-income countries “have
been identified with potential to produce mRNA vaccines,” while urging Moderna
to share its vaccine technology “for Covid and for the future.”

Alain Alsalhani, vaccines pharmacist at MSF’s Access Campaign,
tweeted that “mRNA technology has important potential to beat back not just
Covid but other epidemics. We should refuse to allow half of the world to get
served first while the rest of the world looks on empty-handed.”

Messenger RNA vaccines—which work by instructing cells to produce
recognizable copies of viral protein against which the immune system can
develop antibodies—are simpler and faster to make than alternatives, and can be
adapted to combat not only new Covid-19 variants but also other diseases
including HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Moderna and others are also exploring
potential mRNA monkeypox vaccines.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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