Freedom News

Notes from the US

Freedom’s long-running US correspondent Louis Further does his monthly roundup of some of the lesser-known stories that have emerged over the last few weeks.


Many processes in public life in a society as complex as that of the United States rely on ‘good behaviour’ rather than rules and regulations to operate. As the élite pushes harder than ever to get its way, it’s becoming clearer by the week that fewer and fewer procedures which originally worked (more or less) through consensus and cooperation any longer do so. For instance, there is no actual written or even legal protocol for when appointments to the Supreme Court must be made.

So it was that in 2016 Republicans exploited this by denying Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, his rightful place on the United States Supreme Court after the death of conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. That left a vacancy. Yet, when it suited them, Republicans rushed to appoint Amy Coney Barrett in 2020, who was nominated by Trump. Similarly, it suited the right to support the FBI for their actions against Hillary Clinton because of her misappropriation of government property when the scandal around her misuse of a private email server arose in 2016. Most on the right scoffed at criticism of the police because of their racism where Black Lives Matter and their supporters was concerned.

Now Republicans and fascist news outlets are taking the opposite view following the search on 8 August by the FBI of Trump’s premises at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. This appears to have been pursuant to investigations of Trump for potential violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and unlawful removal of government records. Even so, a 42-year-old Trump addict called Ricky Shiffer, who is believed to have been present at the attempted coup in Washington DC on January 6 2021 and who appears to have posted death threats to FBI agents on Trump’s own social media platform, carried out an armed revenge attack on an FBI office in Ohio last week. To the tight the FBI and Department of Justice are now ‘the enemy’ because it looks as though they are investigating certain of Trump’s crimes.

Petty revenge is commonplace, of course. Here is one of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, in response to the raid last week: “If Trump gets elected, the first thing he’ll do is raid every one of Biden’s houses.” Rumours that the former New York mayor has since taken out theft insurance on his toys and pram could not be confirmed by the time this month’s ‘Notes from the US’ was published.

Rusty Bowers is a lifelong Republican and the speaker (chairperson but with more active power) of the Arizona state legislature. In a recent testimony to the committee investigating the events of January 6 – and in particular Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election – Bowers explained how he was pressured by the then president to break the law. So last month, Bowers was punished by the Arizona Republican Party executive committee by formally censuring him. Party chairperson, Kelli Ward, stated… “[Bowers] is no longer a Republican in good standing… [and] we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary. And so they did.

Such behaviour appears to be neither isolated nor atypical of the élite’s stance. Last month the Supreme Court in Wisconsin ruled that a member of the Natural Resources Board (NRB) who refused to leave his seat when his term expired in May 2022 can remain in the position indefinitely – provided that a replacement is not confirmed by the state Senate. That is unlikely because it’s been ‘packed’ by gerrymandered voting changes to ensure an almost irreversible Republican majority.

Dentist, cranberry farm owner and gun shop owner Frederick Prehn was appointed to the NRB in 2015 by the notorious Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. When Prehn’s term ended, now Democratic governor Tony Evers named educator Sandra Dee Naas to replace him. That should have been a simple procedural matter.

But No, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court took a decision based on a loophole which exploits an oversight: the absence of any actual written official or legal ‘rule’ which obliges office holders to vacate their offices when their time is up. In the past, it’s just been… etiquette, established practice, unspoken common sense that such officials leave at the end of their term. In reality, the state’s right-wing legislators in the state are now preventing members or affiliates of any other clique but their own from operating.

Time to enter the usual caveats: as anarchists, we cannot and do not set the same store by elections as most electors do. In the big picture, anarchists are unlikely to perceive differences between Democrats and Republicans as significant. Nor are they when it comes to the kind of society we believe in. But how potentially severe is the damage, the destruction, the wrecking and the suffering that the right is now bent on in the United States has to be acknowledged. It’s thus disturbing to see the right slowly and methodically taking steps to skew the results of elections so decisively in order for them to increase their power – hence their ability to do such harm.

Election Lies

While we’re in Wisconsin, we should note that the speaker of the assembly there, Robin Vos, reported recently that former President Donald Trump called him in June to ask him to overturn the state’s election results from 2020.

After the 2020 election, Trump and his gang tried a broad range of illegal tactics to overturn the results. These included either specifically appointing – or otherwise persuading supporters to pretend to be – electors. Yes, you read that right: in a variety of states, fake representatives were appointed to attend the electoral college in the weeks after the November election to cast entirely false votes in Trump’s favour – in direct contradiction to how voters had actually cast their votes.

Fani Willis is the District Attorney for Fulton County, the most populous in the state of Georgia. It includes Atlanta, the state’s capital. As part of her job, Willis has been investigating 16 of these illegal activities by allies of Trump. At the end of July, however, Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Robert McBurney, issued a ruling to prevent Willis from investigating one of the criminals in this case, one Burt Jones, who is a Republican state senator.

‘Notes from the US’ reported last time on the growing number of successful Republican candidates in this season’s primary elections who will now go on to run (and in many cases be elected) in November’s midterms. Typical is Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania. Even members of and factions in his own party are critical of his ties to the far-right social media platform, Gab, and its founder, Andrew Torba. Gab is responsible for publishing constant antisemitic and other objectionable commentary… ‘We’re just saying maybe we should outlaw homosexuality punishable by death for 2 weeks’; ‘…illegal Mexican invaders friends …’ and so on.

Mastriano, who – to make it plain again – could well be governor of Pennsylvania in three months’ time, still avidly pushes the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump.

Then towards the end of last month, a far-right state legislator who is endorsed by Trump, Dan Cox, won the Republican primary for the governorship of Maryland. Cox has an appalling record: he helped to organise buses to take part in the attempted Putsch in Washington on January 6 2021; he called then Vice President Mike Pence a traitor because he would not be a party to overturning the election results. And so on.

Cox, in other words, is one of many election deniers who could be elected in November’s primaries. He has said that, if elected, he would conduct a ‘forensic audit’ of the 2020 election. He wants to ban abortion in Maryland and to end work in schools with students to increase tolerance and information on matters of sexual identity and health. Furthermore, if elected governor in November, Cox would be in a very good position to rig future votes in line with what he and his party want regardless of how they are actually cast.

It’s worth remembering that – in addition to the physical attempt to overturn the election on January 6 2021 – nearly 150 Republican lawmakers still voted to achieve the same ends by refusing to certify the obviously accurate voter returns in the Electoral College, which officially appoints the next US president. Even after the riot outside!

These have become known as the ‘Sedition Caucus‘; and include the leader of the minority Republican party in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy. Since that January, it is estimated that this group has received a total in excess of US$21 (£17.9) million in donations from prominent multinational corporations. These include the equivalent of £1,000 an hour around the clock in June this year alone from Fortune 500 companies.

The first ‘season’ of open (televised, public) sessions by the congressional committee looking into the efforts by Trump and his gang to overturn the last elections has ended. To thoughtful people the exercise have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the perpetrators broke the law, caused deaths, major injuries and destruction. Their actions really were everything they appeared to be with the full connivance of many more Trump addicts than those who turned up on 6th January 2021 at the Capitol in Washington DC. But the first of two opinion polls which are referenced in this month’s ‘Notes from the US’ suggests that the hearings have done little to sharpen – let alone change – the minds of the addicts themselves.

Almost a third of those asked seem to feel that the attempted coup does not represent a major problem for American democracy. Although that’s a drop of a couple of percentage points from opinions gathered before the hearings, there has been one significant change: in partisan opinion. The number of likely Democrat voters who indicate to pollsters that ‘democracy’ is under attack has increased by about a quarter. But the number of likely Republican voters who implicitly approve of the attempt to fix elections in their favour has increased by more than that. In all cases a majority of those asked doubted that the committee’s work would materially affect things.

In 2021 the US Department of Justice set up a task force to monitor and investigate threats against election workers and officials by members of the public who (by implication) would have been happier had the election gone the way they wanted. They are largely Trump cultists and addicts. In the past year the number of threats, acts of harassment or other forms of intimidation has grown to three a day, over 10% of which are considered worthy of a serious criminal investigation. Nearly one in three were in states where Trump and his gang had tried to whip up allegations (for which there is no proof) of election fraud.


Violence to preserve (rather than improve) the way things are now, on the other hand, is indicated by the authors of another recent survey as even more likely. ‘Views of American Democracy and Society and Support for Political Violence’ polled nearly 9,000 adults in May and June of 2022 and concluded that… ‘The prospect of large-scale violence in the near future is entirely plausible’. This reflects the answers of 50% of those asked who saw civil war itself as likely or very likely. Extrapolating from this presumably statistically reliable sample, nearly seven million people in the United States appear to think that political violence to keep things the way they are is justifiable, a good thing. While 60 million would support violence in what they see as ‘preserv[ing] an American way of life based on western European traditions’.

Perhaps there is also the kind of violence apparently so widely approved of in order to get your own way: “These doctors that [sic] are going along with mutilating these children and prescribing hormone blockers to these kids, in my opinion, they should be hanging from the nearest tree”. And “‘social engineering projects’ and ‘ideologies…’ do not belong in the school platform” [sic]. These are the views of one Alisabeth Janai Lancaster, who last month offered them in support of her candidacy for a school board (the equivalent of school governors in England and Wales) in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Moreover, doctors who help and support children by providing gender-affirming care should be lynched, she said. Her audience burst into applause. Although it’s well to remember that these are the views of a probably scared, certainly ignorant and bigoted individual who is ‘playing to the crowd’, that such things are now being said with ever greater frequency and vehemency is itself alarming.

The Republican senator from Florida and presidential hopeful in 2016, Marco Rubio, for example, recently called a vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage after members of the Supreme Court publicly advocated a ‘review’ of the ruling “a stupid waste of time.”

Then there was the incident in June where Panda Dulce (a prominent LGBTQ activist and drag queen) was reading to children in the San Lorenzo Library in California – part of a project to nurture literacy and compassion for others. Members of the fascist Proud Boys militia invaded the premises to interrupt and disrupt the Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) session. They insulted those present. One of the gang’s T-shirts read, ‘Kill Your Local Pedophile’.

A couple of weeks ago, residents of Jamestown Township in Michigan acted equally disturbingly. Because their library contains a book with LGBTQ+ themes, they voted by a majority of 2:1 (62% to 37%) to deprive the library of funding. Public funding provides the vast majority (84%) of its budget. The proposed increase in local taxes would have cost families in the township US$24 a year (or just 38p a week). Now the Patmos Library is likely to run out of money by this time next year and will thus probably have to close. Before the vote, placards appeared in the area with such sentiments as: ‘ No increase to GROOM our kids! Vote NO on Library!

In fact, Republicans in at least 36 states (72% of the country) are advancing (or have already passed) legislation that severely and effectively restricts state schools’ ability to teach their pupils about racism and the advantages of diversity.

These are not isolated incidents: a few weeks later, a 24-year-old man was arrested for criminal damage and hate crimes at the UpRising Bakery and Café in Chicago because it was about to hold a ‘drag brunch’ event. The nature of the slogans left at the venue made it plain that the man responsible holds homophobic and hate-based ideas. The movement, inspired by the Christian right, seems out to disrupt family-friendly events promoting tolerance as espoused by LGBTQ communities.


Trump addict and possible presidential candidate Ron DeSantis (who could be the next President if Trump is disqualified from running) rarely rests from vindictiveness and the advancement of petty far right doctrinaire malice. At the start of this month, he suspended the prosecutor elected for the city of Tampa, Florida, Andrew Warren, because he pledged not to use his office to investigate anyone who either tries to obtain or performs, abortions; or to go after doctors who care enough to offer gender-affirming care to transgender people. This is because it is not (yet) illegal to provide abortions in Florida. So DeSantis himself has actually removed a twice elected official in his state for acting in accordance with the law.

Last month the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, tried to follow suite. He sued the Biden administration for introducing new federal rules which can help save lives by ordering physicians and hospitals to provide abortions which are appropriate in the case of medical emergencies.

‘Notes from the US’ reported last month on the case of a child who had been raped – at least twice, it turned out – and had to travel from her home state (Ohio), which banned all abortions as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, to Illinois so that she and her family could take what they saw as appropriate action for what would have been an unwanted child. For all the usual reasons, the right and fascist media made it plain that they doubted the veracity of the story. That way they could try to minimise the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision.

It wasn’t long before they would have had to eat their words if they had had any integrity: a 27-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, was arrested; he confessed to what he had done. But such congresspeople as far right Ohio representative Jim Jordan continued to say that he had ‘no regrets’ about having called the case a ‘lie’. Then, as Republican legislators throughout the country began to work towards making (such) travel between states illegal, the Attorney General in Indiana, Republican Todd Rokita, opened an ‘inquiry’ into the physician who treated the pregnant child. Rokita also promoted the publication by the right-wing media of the doctor’s name and identity. Pressure and threats against the doctor and her family began soon afterwards; her daughter received kidnap threats, for instance. One of the anti-abortion websites which targeted the doctor has been linked to existing Supreme Court judge, Amy Coney Barrett.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz is under various investigations for crimes – including sex-trafficking. He is a rabid Trump addict and he has a solution to the abortion debate: “Just be ugly”… then no one will rape you. In a speech Gaetz gave to college students at a ‘conservative’ conference in Florida at the end of last month he put it quite bluntly: [Unattractive women who] “look like a thumb…” shouldn’t complain about losing abortion rights because “they’re the least likely” to get pregnant.


New reported cases of Covid 19 are thought by many epidemiologists to be around half of all actual instances of infection because of home testing and (consequent) under-reporting. Even verified cases, though, continue to rise to levels equal to, or greater than, those reported at any time during the pandemic so far, except for the period from December 2021 to February of this year when the first Omicron variant drove the trend way up.

Yet denial, selfishness and general ignorance are rife. In Florida, for instance, the misconduct of Governor Ron DeSantis has done a great deal to ensure sickness and death for infants in his state. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain vaccinations for their children younger than five. DeSantis assured residents that they would be ‘free to choose’. Of course this also means that parents ought to be able to choose in favour of vaccination – as well as what DeSantis meant: “Damn you, I’ll do what I like!”

DeSantis was the only governor in the country who refused to pre-order the paediatric vaccines before experts authorised them for the age group in question. He also prevented county health departments from distributing the shots, and – against common sense and medical advice – he encouraged parents not to vaccinate their children. The result is that waiting lists at paediatric clinics in Florida have lengthened to weeks. Families are having to plan trips out of state to seek vaccinations. That is not yet illegal.

In Los Angeles County (the metropolitan area with over 10 million residents), the number of infections from Covid has slowly – and predictably – risen since the Spring… restrictions were relaxed prematurely; deniers refused to follow their implementation anyway. Almost as soon as it was announced that those in the County responsible for ensuring the safety and good health of others were considering the equally predictable – and necessary – step of trying to control the infection rate by re-introducing a mask mandate indoors, the protests began: Lili Bosse, the mayor of the semi-autonomous Beverly Hills city said, “I feel it is our job to lead and I support the power of choice,” ignoring the health, safety and wellbeing of those susceptible to infection. Beverly Hill was ready to defy the mandate. Similarly, Republican Los Angeles County Supervisor (rough equivalent to the UK’s local councillors) Kathryn Barger published an open letter opposing the re-introduction of mask mandates. It may well be for these reasons that no such mandate has been re-introduced in Los Angeles so far.


Republican congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene is no stranger to readers of ‘Notes from the US’. Thoughtful onlookers will rightly conclude that her racist, homophobic, intolerant and offensive conduct is derived in large part from a wish to get media attention for her antics. Fair enough; that’s politics. But her conduct has vicious and ‘serious’ intent. Under the 14th Amendment of the US constitution no-one who has advocated or supported overthrowing the government (which is what the congressperson from Georgia repeatedly does) is then allowed to run for office (in that government). A number of lawsuits in 2022 have sought to enforce that law, and thereby rightfully to disqualify Taylor Greene from (future) office. At the end of last month, however, Judge Christopher Brasher, the Fulton County Superior Court’s chief judge dismissed these attempts after they were advanced yet again again during a landmark disqualification hearing held in April, one month before Taylor Greene won her primary election. So she will proceed unhindered to likely re-election next time. Despite involvement and belief in the legitimacy of a violent insurrection to overturn the government.

In other words, the trends towards believing what you want to believe regardless of evidence is increasing. Opinion is becoming more powerful than fact. And actions to ensure that authoritarian (and fascism) is promoted in as many areas of (public) life as possible are gaining traction. Such fantasy-led selfishness is condoned or underwritten by the rich and powerful élites. It is hard to see what could reverse these trends.

Louis Further

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