Monday, July 4, 2022

Spiritual Warfare in America - a Case Study

He's on a mission from God: Pennsylvania GOP candidate Doug Mastriano's war with the world

Exclusive: Pa. GOP candidate closely linked to Christian extremists who want "spiritual warfare" against America


An animating element of politics in the age of Trump is that some people are increasingly living out religious metaphors. These metaphors are derived from contemporary understandings of the Old Testament by new elements within Christianity. This has been central to the campaign of Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who recently won the Republican nomination for governor. (He will face Democrat Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's current attorney general, in November.) These metaphors are also integral to a movement of the post-insurrection religious and political right that is still in its formative stages.

As reporting by the New Yorker, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Word & Way and Paul Rosenberg at Salon has shown, there is something going on in Pennsylvania that is transforming politics in the state, and maybe on a larger scale as well.

Mastriano, a retired Army strategist and intelligence officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, appears to have a disturbing understanding of the relationship between metaphor and reality when it comes to biblical narratives. He suggested to an interviewer that today's Christians should emulate the warriors of Old Testament Israel.

God can intervene in history," he said, adding that such interventions are carried out by "a man or a woman," such as the biblical Queen Esther (who got authorization from the King of Persia for the Jews to kill all their enemies); and the prophet Gideon (who led 300 soldiers against a far greater force). 

Mainstream media generally describe Mastriano as an "election denialist" and a "Christian nationalist." He unconvincingly denies the latter, but he and his supporters are also more complicated than the label usually suggests. He is well known for having spoken at the Jericho March in December 2020 that unsuccessfully called for the Electoral College to switch its votes to Donald Trump. He was also slated to speak at the "wild protest" on Jan. 6, 2021, organized by "Stop the Steal" activist Ali Alexander, along with the likes of Roger Stone, theocratic activist Lance Wallnau and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. And of course, promoting the Big Lie has been central to his politics since Trump's election defeat.

But there's more.

Mastriano's core support is a fusion of QAnon, the far-right Patriot movement and the revivalist New Apostolic Reformation — which views him as a military and political leader in advancing the biblically prophesied end times. We see this in his role in the Jericho March during the run-up to Jan. 6, and more recently when he joined members of the "Shofar Army'' in a ceremony of "spiritual warfare" on the Gettysburg battlefield, and as the headliner at a conference, Patriots Arise.

May the metaphors be with you

The Jericho March was derived from the biblical story of the battle of Jericho, which took place during the journey of the Israelites, led by Joshua, to the Promised Land. God had instructed them to march seven times around the city blowing shofars. The walls of the city collapsed, and the army rushed in, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, and killing everyone in the city. The Ark of the Covenant, as fans of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" film (among others) will recall, is a chest containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. 

Religious extremists who back Mastriano's campaign say they have direct messages from God, and see him as a general in God's army of conquest.

The story of the 2020 Jericho March purportedly began with God giving two different individuals the same vision, calling them to set up a march in Washington as well as in the capitals of the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the days before the presidential electors were to cast their votes. (They were ultimately held in other states and Canada as well.)

Supposedly God wanted the marchers to oppose alleged corruption and restore election integrity — as well as Donald Trump's presidency. In Washington, crowds marched around the Capitol, the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court. 

"God commanded this to happen like he did to Joshua," Apostle Abby Abildness explained on a religious talk show. "We believe God is gonna move'' and "that there will be that victory," she continued. There was "great hope" that Pennsylvania's electoral votes, which Joe Biden had won convincingly, would "go to the president." Of course that did not happen. 

In instances like this, believers see a difference between a foretelling of events and a prophecy that reveals God's intentions. If an event doesn't turn out as expected, they believe, it is necessary to keep on trying, to ensure that somehow, someday, God's will will be done.

Her immanence

Apostle Abby Abildness is a quietly powerful national and international religious leader, as well as a legislative lobbyist at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. She says she meets with legislators at least once a week, praying and "bringing forth a religious freedom agenda." She also led Jericho marches in Harrisburg.

Her manner is more that of a soft-spoken college professor (which she used to be) than a political preacher. She is nevertheless an important leader in the contemporary religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a dynamic theological and organizational revamping of much of pentecostal and charismatic Christianity. For decades, NAR has led the abandonment of traditional mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations in favor of prayer networks.

These prayer networks are led by what is known as the "fivefold ministry" as mentioned in the biblical book of Ephesians: Apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist. The networks comprise both physical churches and prayer groups of various sizes.

Abildness is a leader in several such networks, which aim to take control of what they call the "Seven Mountains" of society in order to achieve Christian dominion. These metaphorical mountains are religion, family, government, business, education, arts & entertainment and media. Abildness, whose chosen mountain is government, is working with her allies to increase electoral engagement in apostolic networks, and to involve them in pushing for legislation. She heads the Pennsylvania Apostolic Prayer Network and plays leading roles in other important international networks, including the Oklahoma-based Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network headed by Apostle John Benefiel and the Texas-headquartered Reformation Prayer Network, led by Apostle Cindy Jacobs.

The NAR has generally abandoned written doctrines along with denominations, in favor of its own notions of Old Testament biblical law. Its movement is further informed by revelations from those understood to be apostles and prophets revealing what God wants. They believe God wants Doug Mastriano.

Last year, Mastriano denied to Eliza Griswold of the New Yorker that he was a Christian nationalist. "Is this a term you fabricated?" he asked. "What does it mean and where have I indicated that I am a Christian Nationalist?" Of course Griswold did not invent the term, which has been used by scholars and journalists for decades.

Mastriano doth protest too much. He has sponsored several bills based on models found in the Christian nationalist legislative playbook formerly called "Project Blitz." These bills would have mandated teaching the Bible in public schools and made it legal for adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. In the face of organized opposition and intensive media coverage by the New York Times, the Guardian and Salon, among others, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which published the Project Blitz legislative playbook, scrubbed all mention of Project Blitz from its website in 2019. But the affiliated Pennsylvania State Legislative Prayer Caucus remains. Its state director, then as now, is Abby Abildness.

Mastriano has denied that he works directly with NAR, but has clearly had a close relationship with Abildness and the wider NAR movement. She has, for example, interviewed him on her podcast and worked with him in the legislature. She calls him "a military strategist" who leads a group of about 30 conservative state legislators (although he's only been in the legislature since 2019). She also introduced him at a regional NAR conference of several hundred people in October 2020, in Gettysburg, which is in Mastriano's senatorial district.

There, Abildness told the story about walking the Gettysburg battlefield with Mastriano, his wife and a "prayer team" on the previous Fourth of July. The senator and the apostle went to "pray to preserve the monuments" from antifa, which she believed might be coming to destroy them. She had trepidations, she said, but explained, "When the people pray, God is with us. We're not to fear, we have God. We need to stand up. Speak out. And move forward in this battle. Amen!" (Hundreds of armed militia members, bikers and others who had also heard the rumors showed up to defend the monuments and prevent the burning of the American flag. It turned out the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by a troll on social media and then hyped by right-wing media.)

The conference's headline speaker, Apostle Chuck Pierce from Texas, was preceded by the sounding of the shofar by the Shofar Army, which then led the crowd in shouting, "Arise, oh God, and let your enemies be scattered!" This refrain is from Psalm 68, one of many Old Testament imprecatory prayers in which the faithful ask God to smite his enemies.

A new Joshua

Reported here for the first time are two videos featuring Mastriano before his run for governor. Filmed on the Gettysburg battlefield on July 18, 2020, just days after his prayers against antifa with Abildness, the videos reveal his involvement with a group called the Shofar Army. In the videos, Mastriano performs a ritual act of spiritual warfare — blowing shofars with the Shofar Army and Prophet Bill Yount of Blowing the Shofar Ministries. But as later became clear, they understood the warfare as physical, not just spiritual.

Some of these Christians wore a Jewish prayer shawl called a tikkit, and wielded the three-foot-long hollowed-out ram's horn called a shofar, which was used by ancient Israelite armies to sound battle commands and community alerts, and is used today in religious services for the Jewish High Holidays. 

In one video, the leader, Earl Hixon, prays, "Thank you, Father. We tread upon the enemy." Pointing to Mastriano, he continues, "Father God, I am looking to our new general here, that you have appointed, this Joshua. In Jesus' name!" Mastriano raises his outstretched arm in apparent acknowledgment. A year later, Warren Baker, a member of the group, sounded the shofar at the launch event for Mastriano's campaign for governor. (Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis also attended the launch.)

In the second video, Hixon follows the Army's shofar blasts by declaring he wants to "mark this day in the history of eternity." He then leads the Army in shouts of the imprecation, "Arise, oh God, and let your enemies be scattered!"

Salon asked André Gagné, professor of theological studies at Concordia University in Montreal, and author of a study of Trump's evangelical followers, to help interpret the videos.

Hixon recognizes "the 'angelic hosts, the warring hosts that have gathered here on this journey,'" Gagné explained. "This is a reference to the assistance of angelic beings in the battle to be waged. Hixon thanks God for this 'Joshua,' pointing to Mastriano, believing that from this moment there will be new 'anointing' on him."

Joshua, of course, led the Jews to the Promised Land, fighting the Canaanites along the way, including the genocide at Jericho.

Gagné continued, "Hixon also says that Mastriano now has 'got new eyes, the new eyes of a seer' and connects it to the idea that we're on the physical ground, yes, there's the grassroots, but there is a double-edged sword as well in Jesus' name."

This, Gagné says, refers to the "opening of Mastriano's 'spiritual eyes' and the presence of the 'angelic and warring hosts.'" It may also refer to the need to wage war on two fronts, both the physical and the spiritual.

"This entire ritual," Gagné continued, "potentially builds a bridge between the language of 'spiritual warfare' and the physical realm, where possible physical violence could eventually be enacted to push back against the forces of darkness and establish the Kingdom of God."

"Now, the blowing of trumpets," he concluded, "is found in different contexts in the biblical record, and the ritual means different things for Christians. But in this specific 'spiritual warfare' ceremony, the most likely meaning is associated with the expectation and possible eruption of physical warfare."

Rising and shining

Mastriano was the star of a two-day Patriots Arise conference at a hotel near the Gettysburg battlefield the following year, in April 2021. The small stage was festooned with flag bunting and "Mastriano for Governor" signs. The event announcement declared,

It is TIME (sic) for the Patriots to Arise for God & Country! Just as they did in the first American Revolution during 1776.

The conference opened with a sounding of the shofar by 10 members of the Shofar Army. The call, blown three times, was what leader Don Kretzer called "an alarm sound that has been around for almost 4,000 years."

"Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sound the alarm on holy mountain! The day of the Lord is here!" Kretzer declared. Paraphrasing (and embellishing) God speaking to Moses in the Old Testament book of Numbers, he continued:

When you go into a land against an enemy who appears to be stronger than you, that tries to oppress you; when I hear the sound of alarm, I will remember the covenant I've made with you, and I am coming to rescue you, America!

The Shofar Army and NAR leaders envision themselves as waging "spiritual warfare" against a host of enemies, whom they understand to be possessed or controlled by demons. So when they repeatedly ask God to smite his enemies in this way, some people, as Gagné suggests, may feel compelled to act out the metaphors in more literal fashion. (It's probably fair to wonder whether that informed what happened on Jan. 6.)

The conference hosts, "apostolic and prophetic" leaders Allen and Francine Fosdick, auctioned items as a fundraiser for Mastriano ("our dear brother in Christ warrior") but not for any of the other far-right Christian GOP primary candidates from Pennsylvania and Maryland who were also present. 

Prophet Julia Green of Iowa preceded Mastriano at the podium. She said Mastriano had heard about a prophecy God had given her, and that was why he had invited her to appear at his events. She read the prophecy from her laptop while Mastriano waited to speak at a nearby banquet table:

Doug Mastriano, I have you here for such a time as this, saith the Lord. It is now time to move forward with the plan that you have been given. Yes, Doug, I am here for you and I have not forsaken you. The time has come for their great fall; for the great steal to be overturned. So keep your faith in me.

Green further prophesied that current Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, would be "removed by my hand" in the wake of a scandal, and that "Treason will be written on him for all eternity." The crowd cheered. Wolf's allegedly treasonous acts were not identified (and have not surfaced to this point). Mastriano said nothing. 

The conference began with a dramatic QAnon video comparing conspiracy-theory adherents to American soldiers. It was followed by anti-vax, anti-mask and anti-tax speakers, as well as Bobby Summers, an advocate for the idea of "sovereign citizenship."

Making the demons tremble

The event was similar (albeit much smaller) in terms of theme, tone and content to the ReAwaken America tour, led by Michael Flynn. There have been 15 such conferences since April of last year, drawing thousands of people to each event.

These events are headlined by such figures as Roger Stone, Jenna Ellis and Eric Trump, along with anti-vax and anti-mask presentations and, of course, endless propaganda about alleged election fraud. There is also a strong revivalist Christian component, including opening the event with the blowing of shofars, and speeches by pastoral provocateurs such as noted book-burner Greg Locke.

At a ReAwaken event last year, Prophet Amanda Grace explained the meaning of blowing the shofar, saying it had driven some of God's greatest biblical victories: 

When the shofar was blown the walls of Jericho fell. When the shofar was blown, Gideon and an army of 300 men defeated over 147,000 Midianities. It's an announcement to the enemy that his stronghold is about to fall. Demons tremble at the sound of the shofar.

She calls the shofar "a weapon of our warfare. And when we blow it, the power of God comes full force into that situation."

One aspect of the tour is the evident cross-fertilization of the factions of the religious and political right that is reshaping American conservative politics and public life, from the MAGA movement to Jan. 6 to the Mastriano campaign.

Controversial right-wing activist and publisher Floyd G. Brown explained a bit about how this works in his introduction of tour regular Pastor Dave Scarlett at an April 2022 ReAwaken event in Salem, Oregon. Many people who watch Scarlett's "His Glory" show are Christians, Brown said, "but many of them aren't."

"They are Patriots," he continued. "And I've heard him say many, many times, if you watch 'His Glory' and you're a Patriot, you often become a Christian. And if you watch 'His Glory' and you're a Christian, and if you don't know what's going on, you slowly become a Patriot."

Brown announced that "His Glory" would air on his new commercial streaming service, Liftable TV, which seeks to promote a "biblical worldview" and "truth-centric news." It's like a Reader's Digest of Christian-right streaming, rebroadcasting shows from the likes of anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, 7 Mountains Dominionist Lance Walnau and, of course, Dave Scarlett, who often hosts Julie Green as a guest.

Green's May 25, 2022, interview with Scarlett illuminates much about the Mastriano campaign and the wider movement. Green says that Mastriano campaign functions "are not a normal, everyday political event. … They are all focused on the Lord. They are powerful! They are anointed!" She calls Mastriano "a very powerful man of God."

Scarlett replies that he has talked with a "certain general" (without naming him) who said, about candidates he supports, "that these rallies in the 2024 cycle will start out with [evangelical Christian] praise music, then the candidate, who is a Patriot Christian, will come forward, give whatever their message is, then it will end with revival. It's going to end with altar calls."

Green replied that this was "already happening" at Mastriano's events.

Throughout Mastriano's rise, those around him have been open about their intentions. In a December 2020 broadcast of "The Damascus Road," host Earl Hixon explains their common purpose, to murmurs of agreement from his panelists: Abby Abildness, shofarists Don Kretzer and Bill Yount, and Pastor Brett McKoy, whose Maryland church hosts the broadcast. 

Mastriano was supposed to be present, but was under COVID quarantine at the time. Hixon says that in light of that, they wanted the group to serve as Mastriano's "surrogate": 

What we have here is the introduction of an army. This is what our King is endeavoring to do — especially on this battlefield we call the United States. This is what we are here for. ... We are all on the front lines. We are aware of what's happening in this country ... that's why we're here, talking about the Mountains of Dominion. 

A time to "break the bonds"

Those around Mastriano and his campaign — from Abildness to the Patriots Arise conferees, the Shofar Army and Prophet Julie Green — see themselves as entering a future where the temporal meets the supernatural.

When God is ready, they believe, the heavens will open and angelic forces allied with Christians of the right sort will battle the demonic forces of Satan to the end. This apocalyptic vision drives their support for Mastriano.

Those around Mastriano believe that when God is ready, angelic forces allied with Christians of the right sort will battle demonic forces to the end.

There is always some tension, in this domain of Christianity, between what people believe may be imminent and what may turn out to be a long way off. Regardless of the timing, they have no doubt about God's intentions, and about their commitment to carry them out.

Abildness made this clear in her keynote on the second day of Patriots Arise, when she revealed an experience she had on the Gettysburg battlefield. God had called her there, she said, because he was ready to answer a general's 150-year-old prayer. She and members of her apostolic network found themselves "in a portal where the general had prayed."

"We realized heaven is watching," she said, and that "we are joining heaven. We are joining the people of the ages in this prayer." The time was coming, she said, to "break the bonds" with "a government that is not leading the way they should."

"We realized that heaven is with us."

Mastriano himself declared, later that day, "We will win in November, and my God will make it so."

Friday, June 24, 2022

Frank McCourt, Teacher Man

I sometimes take a look at the stats at my old blog, the original Hootsbuddy's Place. I notice someone linked this 2007 post, fifteen years ago. 

Frank McCourt, Teacher Man

Coming to the end of McCourt's Teacher Man, a running narrative of three decades teaching English in the New York City public schools, I came across these three paragraphs that brought me close to tears. McCourt has to be one of the best story-tellers working today. I can't say enough about him.

The kids are opening up in their writing and classroom discussions and I'm getting a written tour of American family life from East Side town homes to Chinatown tenements. It's a pageant of the settled and the new and everywhere there are dragons and demons.

Phyllis wrote an account of how her family gathered the night Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, how they shuttled between the living room television and the bedroom where her father lay dying. Back and forth. Concerned with the father, not wanting to miss the moon landing. Phyllis said she was with her father when her mother called to come and see Armstrong set foot on the moon. She ran to the living room, everyone cheering and hugging till she felt this urgency, the old urgency, and ran to the bedroom to find her father dead. She didn't scream, she didn't cry, and her problem was how to return to the happy people in the living room to tell them Dad was gone.

She cried now, standing in front of the classroom. She could have stepped back to her seat in the front row and I hoped she would because I didn't know what to do. I went to her. I put my left arm around her. But that wasn't enough. I pulled her to me, embraced her with both arms, let her sob into my shoulder. Faces around the room were wet with tears till someone called, Right on, Phyllis, and one or two clapped and the whole class clapped and cheered and Phyllis turned to smile at them with her wet face and when I led her to her seat she turned and touched my cheek and I thought, This isn't earthshaking, this touch on the cheek, but I'll never forget it. Phyllis, her dead father, Armstrong on the moon.

If that doesn't make you want to read Frank McCourt nothing will. I was lucky enough to find a new copy at Goodwill for a dollar. Having already read Angela's Ashes and heard McCourt in a couple of interviews I was primed. That may have been the best dollar I spent last year.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Personal Remembrance of Ladislas Segy

This Saturday morning BBC World Service brought me a welcome escape from the stresses of the day with a delightful conversation about the management and ownership of cultural artifacts produced by indigenous people around the world, specifically those in Africa. 

The program is nearly an hour long and I will listen when I finish these notes. But the last quarter hour triggered personal memories which are the reason for this blog post.

The Real Story - The repatriation of precious artefacts

The King of Belgium this month handed back a Congolese mask, one of about 84,000 artefacts taken during the colonial-era which the country has agreed to return. In 2018 a report commissioned by the French government recommended the return of thousands of African artworks taken from the continent during colonial rule. This week the director of the V&A museum in London, Tristram Hunt, told The Real Story that he’d like to see a review of decades-old UK laws which prohibit historical pieces being returned to their countries of origin. The clamour for the return of objects which may have been taken, stolen or bought during the colonial era is growing louder. The people and communities who want them back say it's about preserving their cultural identities. So, is it time for some of the planet’s biggest and most visited museums to repatriate many more of the items they’ve acquired from around the world? And how can the educational value of so-called ‘encyclopaedic museums’ continue to educate millions if the number of artefacts they have on display is diminished?

Before being conscripted into the Army I had the good fortune to meet Ladislas Segy, a prominent African Art expert whose collection was displayed at the Columbus Museum. The event was arranged at the last minute when someone realized that no one at the museum had officially arranged to invite Mr. Segy to dinner by way of thanking him for his time and the loan of his collection. The Ansley family was among the museum benefactors and someone with little attention to protocol decided that Mr. Ansley's Country Club membership could be used for that purpose. It was my good fortune to join his two high-school age sons for that meal during which Mr. Segy, a delightful man exchanged endless little barbs with a provincial local man with cosmopolitan grace. 

Thanks to a web search I just discovered another link archived from 1944 which I will now also take time to hear.

The NYPR Archive Collections - Ladislas Segy

A talk with Ladilas Segy about his collection of African sculpture, driftwood, and his paintings.
Although a fairly recent immigrant, he feels he is an American painter because the American public is keenly interested in art and he can be part of the growing development of American art. Segy says he has been very welcome in this country. They talk about mixed drinks in America and the parallels in art.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

POLITICO Post Regarding Jan 6 Insurrection hearing

Pence-world’s final takedown of Trump’s Jan. 6 bid to remain in power revealed in his lawyer's memo

Top adviser told the then-vice president that the courts would likely not support him if he gave in to Trump's pressure to delay certifying electoral votes.

06/11/2022 04:41 PM EDT

A day before a mob of Donald Trump supporters smashed their way into the Capitol to disrupt the transfer of presidential power, then-Vice President Mike Pence’s top lawyer dashed off a fateful memo.

In the three-page document, attorney Greg Jacob concluded that if Pence were to embrace Trump’s demand that he single-handedly block or delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, he would be breaking multiple provisions of the Electoral Count Act, the law that has governed the transfer of power since 1887.

Such a move, Jacob concluded, would assuredly fail in court. Or worse, he said, the courts would refuse to get involved and leave America in an unprecedented political crisis.

In that case, he said in the memo obtained by POLITICO and published for the first time, “the Vice President would likely find himself in an isolated standoff against both houses of Congress … with no neutral arbiter available to break the impasse.”

Jacob is scheduled to testify publicly Thursday to the Jan. 6 select committee about Pence’s decision to resist Trump’s pressure campaign. The panel declined to comment on Jacob’s memo.

The memo informed Pence’s ultimate decision to rebuff pressure from Trump to reverse the outcome of the election. Pence announced his decision the next day, when he traveled to the Capitol to preside over the Jan. 6 meeting of the House and Senate. His decision, in a letter that closely tracked Jacob’s memo, inflamed a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters that the president had called to Washington to protest his defeat.

Within an hour of Pence’s announcement, hundreds of members of that mob would bludgeon their way past police lines and into the Capitol itself, sending the vice president and members of Congress fleeing for safety. Some members of that mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.”

The Jan. 6 select committee has had Jacob’s memo for months. It’s an important element of the panel’s view that Trump criminally conspired to overturn the election, when his legal challenges had all failed. Pence’s team firmly believed that embracing Trump’s push to block Joe Biden’s presidency would require numerous violations of the Electoral Count Act, a position they had relayed to both Trump and attorney John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who developed Trump’s fringe legal strategy to remain in power.

Jacob’s memo, titled “Analysis of Professor Eastman’s Proposals,” is dated Jan. 5. But Jacob told the select committee in February he drafted most of it a day earlier in response to an intense first-time meeting with Eastman.

A federal judge has agreed that Eastman’s strategy likely veered into criminal territory. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter ruled in March that Eastman’s legal theories were outcome-driven and unsupported — he dubbed it “a coup in search of a legal theory” — and that effort to obstruct the counting of electoral votes likely amounted to a criminal conspiracy with Trump.

In his memo, Jacob said Eastman acknowledged his proposal would require Pence to violate the Electoral Count Act in four ways. They included rejecting the law’s requirements that 1) Pence count all electoral votes from states in alphabetical order, resolving any disputes before moving on to the next state; 2) Pence call for any objections from lawmakers after introducing each state’s slate of electors; 3) lawmakers be permitted to consider competing slates of electors; and 4) the session of Congress cannot be adjourned once it starts and must conclude within five days.

“Eastman’s proposal, by contrast, contemplate[s] an extended recess of the joint session to allow State legislatures to investigate the election and to vote on which slate of electors to certify,” Jacob noted.

Eastman spent the final weeks before Jan. 6 agitating for Republican-controlled legislatures in a handful of states won by Biden to appoint their own competing slate of electors. In that scenario, Eastman posited, Pence would be required to consider these “dueling” slates. But no state legislature agreed to follow Eastman’s advice. Instead, pro-Trump activists met and sent their own uncertified slates of electors to Congress, but without the blessing or backing of any legislature or governor.

Without that certification, Eastman began pushing Pence to adopt a different tactic: delay. He urged Pence to declare the results in a handful of states to be in dispute and to recess the joint session of Congress until those legislatures could resolve the controversy.

Jacob’s Jan. 5 memo could be seen as the bookend of his month-long legal cramming session on the Electoral Count Act. Jacob drafted an opening memo for Pence on Dec. 8, previously obtained and published by POLITICO, that informed Pence’s initial thinking on the question but drew no firm conclusions. By Jan. 5, Pence’s team had clearly decided there was no viable path to pursue Trump and Eastman’s strategy.

Notably, Jacob indicated that if any state legislatures had, in fact, certified a pro-Trump slate, the vice president might have taken a different path.

“A reasonable argument might further be made that when resolving a dispute between competing electoral slates, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution places a firm thumb on the scale on the side of the State legislature,” Jacob wrote

“Here, however, no State legislature has appointed or certified any alternate slate of electors,” Jacob noted, “and Professor Eastman acknowledges that most Republican legislative majorities in the States have signaled they have no intention of doing so.”

In justifying his conclusions, Jacob cited former Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley, who helped resolve the disputed election of 1876. In breaking a political logjam — the very dispute that led to the passage of the Electoral Count Act – Bradley determined that the vice president had no role deciding the validity of electoral votes. Federal courts in Washington D.C., Jacob added, were very likely to agree with that.

Instead, Eastman had been banking on something that could create even more chaos: the courts refusing to step in. Under the so-called “political question doctrine,” courts often avoid weighing in on murky disputes between the legislative and executive branches of government. But Jacob said even that scenario would not work out in Trump and Eastman’s favor.

“[I]t is unclear that any favorable political solution could follow,” he wrote.

Jacob’s judgment also influenced two changes Pence made to the vice presidential script when he presided over the Jan. 6 session — before and after the mob ransacked the Capitol. In one, Pence made clear that he was only introducing presidential electors that had been certified by a state government — and refusing to introduce the uncertified slates sent by pro-Trump activists. In the other, he explicitly asked whether there were objections by House and Senate lawmakers after each state’s electors were introduced.

On Jan. 6, just as rioters were bearing down on the Capitol, Eastman made a last-ditch plea with Jacob to convince Pence to reconsider. In an email, he showed Pence a letter suggesting that Republican legislators in Pennsylvania appeared likely to reconvene and appoint pro-Trump electors if they had more time. When Jacob said any effort to send the matter back to the states would still violate the law, Eastman called his response “small minded.”

“You’re sticking with minor procedural statutes while the Constitution is being shredded,” Eastman wrote.

“I respect your heart here,” replied Jacob. “I share your concerns about what Democrats will do once in power. I want election integrity fixed. But I have run down every legal trail placed before me to its conclusion, and I respectfully conclude that as a legal framework, it is a results oriented position that you would never support if attempted by the opposition, and essentially entirely made up.”

“And thanks to your bullshit,” he continued, “we are now under siege.”

~~➤ H/T Kyle Cheney Twitter Thread!

Monday, June 6, 2022

Growing up Poor -- Twitter post and replies...

 Growing up poor - Twitter thread and replies.

I have no idea who Brandon is but he has over two thousand followers. I did not explore the backstories of the various replies but they appear to be serious responses from an array of Twitter users.
I think my biggest financial problem is I grew up poor asf so now that I make my own money I don’t know how to budget. I’m always gonna spend the extra penny for quality cause I can and I hate the feeling of being limited on what I can do bc of a price tag
I had to mute this cause sheeeesh. Imma just say pls pay attention and take care of your mental health! Take some time when you need too, do things that make you happy, spend time with friends and family. We’re usually our own biggest enemy 🫡

My family is not poor, but my parents teach me to make money even i still am student right now, i do it by doing online surveys that pay me dollars for my needs. Than i think that's enough money for me

The key to financial stability is to invest in an asset that gives you constant income like buying a house/appartment to rent out, then you can use your salary from your day job to cover daily costs, and use the income from your rented property for buying nice things and savings.

Ok, let's not forget, mortgage payments increase over time. Our payment started at $700 and is not almost $900 because of taxes n will be tough for some.

Um. What? Your mortgage stays the same for the entire term of the loan unless you have an adjustable loan.

Your interest rate will stay the same. It will increase if you have property taxes escrowed into your payment and taxes increase. Mine went up over $100 in the past year.

I relate to this so much for similar reasons. Ppl don’t understand that when nothing is available to you growing up, u overspend to compensate for that insecurity

Absolutely right. Terry Pratchett put it perfectly, here:

I grew up in a working class council estate in the UK I learnt how to manage my money from my parents when they wanted to buy something they would save up for it if they couldn't afford it they wouldn't buy it I also saved up before I moved out of my parents house

I have the same issue. It’s a mixture of being afraid of not having the money for what you want & lack of self control.

Take it from me, set a budget, build an emergency fund and invest. The sooner the better! Live below your means and in 20-30 years you’ll be so glad you did!

Growing up poor is constant trauma—and that trauma often impairs cognitive function. You often don’t think rationally in fight or flight mode—you just think fast. In law school, there was a workshop called a “poverty simulator” and I found it so offensive for this reason.

It’s really easy to give a person born with money a hypothetical list of expenses and a budget and tell them to manage fake poverty. They’ve had a lifetime of wealth to pay for things while not in a state of panic. It was designed to offer perspective but I think it made it worse

Tru asf. Sometimes I be living paycheck to paycheck & uk what? I still buy clothes n shi that make me happy when I got the extra money bc of jus that. It makes me happy.

It's curious how I went from "this single bar of chocolate is my luxury and has to last a month" to "I can buy all the chocolate I want, but my bigger luxuries (like driving) will suffer".
Ive worked damn hard for my luxury items like great headphones or washing machine.

I’m always treating myself to nice things cause I never had nice things growing up. The financial freedom is liberating but the guilt is paramount cause there is constant anxiety I’m gonna go down a poverty path.

This is a bit like how I feel too. Though I wouldn't say we never had nice things, we were always careful about spending money. So when I bought a Switch for €300, I kinda felt guilty for spending so much money and worried that something's going to happen.

I don’t have money issues because I’m frugal AF. My parents taught me from a younge age to work hard for every dollar I make. I don’t see the point of wasting money for the sake of having nice things. I live debt-free and have a nice stack of savings for a rainy day.

My fam of 3 survived on child support grant (5 years). Then my NSFAS allowance below R800(4 years).R5k from a 1yr internship. Then R0 when it ended. R5k again in another 1yr. My relationship with money is inconsistent. I spend and save out of fear.

I’m fortunate and it had the opposite affect. I don’t budget everything but I’m super tight because it doesn’t feel right to splurge on stuff and I always triple guess every purchase like “so do I NEED this?”. Not the same for all but the trauma just worked different for me

I can relate to this. Hence when I got my first job, I was on a roll! I did everything I always wanted to do without a second thought. I was advised to save but never did. Now that I am running a business, I am seeing flames. I have def learnt many important lessons!

You want to spend some money, spend it on Super projects that helps the live of this planet. Spend it on UNITSKY STRING TECHNOLOGIES INCORPORATED Project and you'll have more in few years. I too was extremely poor and still coming from it but I don't spend all I got to prove sth.

for those that dont really understand how it didnt make op and some other better at money management, its kinda like how some people who experienced food deprivation show signs of overeating and food hoarding. like ‘it rarely came your way so you gotta make it count while it

lasts’ kinda thing. even when the person has it in (relative) abundance now, the mindset has already been so ingrained in their head they barely even register it happening

I too grew up poor. Graduated from high school, received my 1st position in accounting. Saved my hard earned money. I was on my own at 18. Renting an apartment. Budgeting. Met my best friend who I married. We have joint accounts. Happily Married for 27 years. 1 daughter who's 15

We shy away from the fact that being poor and under privileged comes with its own traumas
I think the most important thing Is facing those memories. 
Then actively/consciously try budget.
Reward system still works for me. If I don't buy 1,2,3 now, I can do something next month

This. It’s been very hard for me to break with the generational concept of money and, for a while, budgeting was the answer but now my budget is more of a natural practice than a balance sheet, made easier by automated deposits and payments. Good luck.

You sound like one of my sons. While we weren’t that poor- middle class, he likes nice, quality things. He got himself in big debt at first. He’s gotten himself out of it & starting over. Put aside something in retirement first, even a little. Plan for what you want. Enjoy life.