History Facts

Don't Know What We Did To Deserve It, But Bush V. Gore Is Back

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.

Sometimes I like to imagine what things might be like in the alternate universe where Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election. Maybe there was no Iraq War, because Gore's Cabinet wouldn't have been full of neocons. Following 9/11, the US still probably would have gone to war in Afghanistan, but without the shiny object of invading Iraq distracting everyone, the US might have caught up with Osama bin Laden in 2003 or 2004, not 2011. [Some of us who are editing this post think there would have been no 9/11, but Dok is being obstinate about it even though he is wrong.] [And others of us who wrote the post think there's at best a better chance that 9/11 would have been avoided] And just think of how much farther the US would be toward addressing global warming if Gore had had even a single term to put us on that track? Haha, we know from science fiction that the actual outcome would somehow involve brain-eating worms from Neptune, because those "better" timelines always go wrong.

In any case, we at least know a little more today about how we ended up with George W. in the White House, because on Tuesday, the Library of Congress made available files from the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, which CNN reports include a bunch of memos from the Supreme Court's wrangling over the Bush v. Gore decision, which handed the election to George W. Bush. If you have a spare 15 minutes today, go ahead and read the CNN piece, which looks at how Justice Sandra Day O'Connor joined up with Justice Anthony Kennedy to shape the unsigned opinion that was eventually released by the five Republican-appointed justices in the majority. The alliance between Kennedy and O'Connor shut out a far more radical opinion pushed by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Spoiler warning: The Kennedy/O'Connor option was bad enough, laying the groundwork for the openly partisan Court we have today. But the Rehnquist option, which he published as a concurring opinion, endorsed the fuckbonkers "Independent State Legislature Doctrine" that became the basis for Donald Trump and his cronies' attempt to overturn the 2020 election, was far far worse. Had Rehnquist's view prevailed in 2000, we can only assume the brain eating worms from Neptune would have been close behind.

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Zooey Zephyr's Taking The Bastards To Court

Nevertheless, she persists.

Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state's first transgender lawmaker, isn't going to let Republicans in the Montana House of Representatives silence her. At least, not without a fight. Last week, you'll recall, the GOP supermajority voted to censure Zephyr for speaking up too transly against bills banning gender-affirming care and writing trans people out of Montana law. Rather than expelling her like the jerks in Tennessee did to their meddlesome Democrats, the Montana House barred Zephyr from the floor and hearing rooms of the Capitol until the legislative session ends later this week, preventing her from participating in debate while allowing her to vote, remotely and silently, and to watch the same public stream of House proceedings as anyone else can on the internet. So generous!


Montana Silences Zooey Zephyr

Montana Republicans Want In On That 'Expel Democrats' Thing That Worked So Well For Tennessee

Montana House Republicans Officially Punish Zooey Zephyr For Legislating While Trans

Monday, Zephyr, with help from the Montana ACLU, filed a lawsuit in state court asking for an emergency injunction returning her to the House floor for whatever days remain in the session, arguing that her First Amendment rights had been stomped on. The suit also names several of her constituents as plaintiffs, arguing that the House's action effectively denied them and the rest of Zephyr's 11,000 constituents representation.

The AP interviewed one of those plaintiffs, Anna Wong, who has a transgender child and said she'd voted for Zephyr in 2022 because she knew Zephyr would "speak out against the onslaught of bills targeting transgender youth."

“Suicide amongst transgender youth is not imaginary,” Wong said. “It is not a game and it is not a political foil. It is real. It is heartbreaking. And it is the responsibility of my representative to speak out against bills promoting it.”

That's exactly what Zephyr was getting at when she spoke against Senate Bill 99, which bans gender-affirming care for trans youth. Zephyr accurately said forcing trans kids to undergo puberty as the sex they don't identify is "tantamount to torture" and said she hoped that those voting for the bill would "see the blood on your hands" the next time they pray during a House invocation. (Technically, the censure resolution only cited Zephyr's refusal to leave the floor last week during a demonstration by her supporters. But c'mon, we know why she was silenced.)

While there are only a few days left in the session, the Legislature still hasn't passed a budget, and Zephyr's lawsuit seeks her immediate reinstatement so she can represent her constituents in debate on that and other last minute bills.

Emily Flower, a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R), whose office will manage the defense in the lawsuit, dismissed it as "performance litigation — political activism masquerading as a lawsuit," and said that the courts have no power to intervene, because separation of powers.

As Hayes Brown notes at MSNBC, that argument may win out, unfortunately, because the US Constitution gives the US House and Senate the power to "determine the Rules of its Proceedings," and that generally applies to state legislatures too, because 14th Amendment. Montana's constitution does indeed allow the Legislature to expel or punish legislators for "good cause," with a two-thirds vote of the appropriate house.

Zephyr's lawsuit acknowledges that, but also argues that the House GOP leaders applied the rules unfairly and capriciously, so they were

acting within the “color of the law” — technically allowed but acting against the spirit of the law and beyond the scope of its reach.

Brown notes that the argument that the House is depriving Zephyr's constituents of representation may be more compelling than the First Amendment claim, since that's "the most immediate harm that a court could rule on given the closing window for participation."

But hey better a long shot than no shot at all. Zephyr has, since last week's vote, been dutifully showing up and sitting on a bench near the entrance to the House chamber to work on her laptop, although yesterday when she arrived, she found the bench had been taken already. So she worked at a table instead, standing up for her community.

Some folks showed up early this morning and sat on the public benches near the entrance to the House, so Seat 31 has moved.

I'm up and ready to work. Plus, I hear stand desks are all the rage these days.

But who were those ladies who made a point of arriving early to occupy the bench where Zephyr had been sitting? Ha ha it was a very funny trick by the wives of several prominent Republicans in the state Lege, including Jolene Regier, the mother of Speaker Matt Regier and wife of Senator Keith Regier. Wasn't that clever of them? It's inspiring to see how every aspect of governing in Republican-run states is now given over to trolling the libs!

That is very humorous! Their husbands and sons kept Zephyr off the floor, and then the clever lady tricksters kept her off the bench, haha! Today, supporters of Zephyr made sure to be on the benches as soon as the Capitol doors opened, to save her a spot.

But also this morning, some unidentified opponent of trans rights took a less harmless approach to trying to silence Zephyr, calling the police in an attempt to send a SWAT team to the home of Zephyr's partner, journalist Erin Reed. Such SWATting attempts have resulted in at least two deaths — one from a police shooting, one from a heart attack — and many incidents in which police arrived at someone's door ready to use deadly force against a nonexistent threat.

Reed tweeted that the SWATting attempt against her failed, largely because "I've worked closely with the police in my community anticipating this," so there's one more tip for the journalist toolbox: If you write about issues that make the far-Right insane, let the police know they may get false reports of a hostage situation or other nonexistent crime at your home.

Update/clarification: The SWATting attempt may very well have come from outside Montana, because as indy reporter Alejandra Caraballo said on the Twitters, the dangerous hate troll site Kiwi Farms, which targets trans people and reporters for harassment in hopes that they'll kill themselves or die in a SWATting, added Reed to its page shortly before the attempted SWATting. They're pure evil.

This shit can't be tolerated. Zooey Zephyr isn't about to let herself be silenced, and neither should any of us who care about equality and freedom. Let your electeds, especially your Republican electeds, know that trans rights matter to you, and that if they think beating up on trans people will win them votes, it'll also get them very loud opposition, to say nothing of how they may end up in the history books on the same page as the Bull Connors and the George Wallaces.

And if you have some spare Ameros for Zooey Zephyr's 2024 reelection campaign, keep that in mind too. Montana needs her voice — and hey, she could use some company in the Montana House too.

[AP / MSNBC / Zephyr et al v. Montana]

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Trump Is On Trial For Sexual Assault Today, And We Just Feel Tired

Trigger warning, for real.

Writer E. Jean Carroll, who's suing Donald Trump in federal court in New York for defamation and battery, began her testimony today with a straightforward declaration of what the trial is about: "I’m here because Trump raped me. He lied and shattered my reputation and I’m trying to get my life back."

Carroll sued Trump because after she wrote a book mentioning the alleged 1996 rape in a Bergdorf Goodman changing room, Trump called her claims a hoax, said that he'd never met her (of course, she'd been photographed with him), and, disgustingly, that he never would rape her since she wasn't his "type." Carroll also filed a second case against Trump after he was no longer "president," when he again claimed on social media that the entire case was false; that case includes a sexual battery claim against Trump under New York's Adult Survivors Act. More background on the lawsuits here:

In Case You Missed It!

E Jean Carroll Is Not F*cking Around

Trump's Lawyers Continue Pattern Of Bad Faith F*ckery In E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case

Trump Is A Filthy A-Hole. His Lawyers Hope Jurors In Carroll Defamation Case Never Find Out About It.

During her testimony today, Carroll, who acknowledges she's not certain of the exact date, said she was fairly certain it happened in the spring of 1996, because a friend, Lisa Birnbach, whom she told about the rape contemporaneously, had published an article about visiting Trump's Florida trash palace, Mar-a-Lago, in February of 1996.

Carroll testified, "I believe that Lisa never would have gone down to Mar-a-Lago if she knew what [Trump] had done to me." That drew an objection from Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, but Judge Lewis Kaplan overruled it. Law Crime News editor Adam Klasfeld is live-tweeting the testimony, which he notes "mirrors her deposition" covering the events of that day.

Carroll said that the encounter began when she was leaving the store and Trump raised his hand up, imitating what she called the "universal" signal.

After Trump recognized her as the "advice lady," she replied: "Hey, you're that real estate tycoon," she says.

"You are so old," Carroll quoted him saying, calling his inflection "humorous."

After they went into the store to help Trump find a gift for a woman, Carroll says, Trump picked up a see-through, gray, body suit.

"It looks like a swimsuit, but this was see-through," she says. "It used to be called teddies."

She says Trump said: "Go put this on."

As she said in the deposition, Carroll said Trump's tone was joking, and she told him, "You put it on. It's your color." She considered the encounter at that point to be silly, something out of a Saturday Night Live sketch, and she agreed that she was flirting a bit with Trump, since it felt like a comedy.

Then once Trump got her into the dressing room, things suddenly changed immediately, as Trump "shoved" her up against the wall and she tried to push back. We won't go into the details of the assault here, because they'll be all over the news anyway and you don't want to read it every bit as much as I don't want to write it, even copy pasting. Carroll presented an unsparing, detailed account, testifying that "As I'm sitting here today, I still feel it."

Carroll said that afterward, she told Birnbach about it, thinking her friend might find it funny:

Asked pointedly why she ever would have thought that, Carroll replies: "I had not processed it. I had not processed what was going on."

Asked if she thinks any part of it was funny today, Carroll replies: “No, it was tragic.”

Carroll said that Birnbach, who is an anticipated witness, told her:

“He raped you. He raped you, E. Jean. You should go to the police."

"I said ‘No way.’"

"She said, ‘I’ll go with you.'"

Another friend, Carol Martin, who's also expected to testify, told her to "keep it to yourself" because Trump "has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.”

Carroll also said that she decided to stay silent, in part, because women who've been assaulted are treated as "soiled goods":

"People say, 'You're so brave. You're so brave,'" but also: "I don't know," questioning whether the woman should have been smarter, should have screamed, or shouldn't have flirted so much.

And of course Trump's defense will be that none of this ever happened and that Carroll is just making it all up for the fame and notoriety, although we'd note that most women who accuse famous powerful men of rape tend not to end up rich and famous so much as judged and publicly mocked. Honestly can't recall any rich famous rape victims who didn't get dragged for coming forward, honestly.

Also in court today, Judge Kaplan warned Tacopina that his idiot client should stop posting on social media about the trial, because of course Trump is exactly that stupid. On his pretend Twitter replacement site, Trump this morning mocked the very idea that he would have raped Carroll, who was then "almost 60," and tried to cast doubt on details of her account, insisting that he was so very famous that if anyone had seen him with a woman, it would have made "BIG PRESS."

He also accused Carroll's attorney of being a "political operative," and said that the lawsuit was being funded by a "big political donor that they tried to hide." Returning to a point that was already ruled out of evidence, Trump also pretended that there was something very fishy about Carroll's attorneys not being willing to do a DNA test on the dress she'd worn that day. In reality, Trump refused to supply a DNA sample for years, and then Tacopina only offered to have Trump provide one shortly before the trial started, which would have required a delay of the trial.

NBC News reports that

Judge Kaplan suggested to Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina that the former president could risk being sued or having sanctions imposed for the Truth Social posts he issued Wednesday morning.

“We are getting into an area in which your client could face a new liability and I think you know what I mean,” Kaplan said.

Judge Kaplan also pointed out to Tacopina that Trump "refused to get DNA sample and now he wants it in the case?” Tacopina said he would have a word with the shithead he represents, and would ask him not to discuss the case on social media. That should go really well, we bet. Get ready for the "Inside the Carroll Trial" reports in six months, in which we'll learn Trump threatened to fire Tacopina, threw ketchup at him, and finally pouted and shut up for a few days.

[NBC News / Adam Klasfeld on Twitter]

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Who's Buying Justice Neil Gorsuch's Real Estate? Nobody He'd Care To Tell You About!

Fam, we are shook.

You guys. Maybe you should sit down.

You know how there's been all that stuff in the news lately about garbage Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his trash fire loon wife Ginny taking millions of dollars in "hospitality" from rightwing gazillionaire Harlan Crow? Turns out, he's not the only one who forgot to disclose one or two little things on his ethics disclosure. Politico went digging through Justice Neil Gorsuch's financial disclosures and, hey, wouldn't ya know, he managed to bury the lede on a land deal which came together approximately five minutes after he was confirmed to the nation's highest court.

See, Gorsuch was a partner in an LLC called The Walden Group which had been trying to sell a 3,000-square-foot vacation house on 40 acres in rural Colorado since 2015. And right after he got confirmed in 2017, a buyer appeared with a sack of cash to take the property off their hands.

And who was the buyer?

Oh, just Brian Duffy, the head of law firm Greenberg Traurig's 600-lawyer litigation division which argues cases at the Supreme Court on the regular. NBD.

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