Mixed Emotions Monday Reads: Fatal Carnival and Political Purges

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Skeleton Krewes photo by @VarleyPix

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m entering my second coughing, sniffling, miserable week of influenza Type 2 and there are only two people I would wish it on.  We will get to both of them later because frankly I’m stressed and worried.  Not only did we not get an infrastructure week and a signed bill that would help us revitalize our country’s roads, grids, and public goods and services provisions, we’ve got less infrastructure than we did two years ago.

We are facing climate change essentially leaderless. We are facing the potential of the corona virus essentially leaderless and without a fully functional CDC.  We are staring down Hurricane and Tornado season and undoubtedly more fires, mudslides, and floods. We essentially have dysfunctional, leaderless agencies ill prepared and staffed for that too.

Okay, I couldn’t make it to the second paragraph with up bringing the two guys least prepared to deal with any of this and who could use a good dose of a bad virus. The current President needs a good dose of something and he can just hang out with the other old white pure ID Geezer and discuss why philosophical diatribes and political purges accomplish anything out here in the real world. Maybe if either of them actually had a few real problems they would go away and we could find some people that actually have lived through some real problems and can deal with it

So, down here in New Orleans we’ve been living in dysfunctional infrastructure hell since Katrina.  We lack a basic tax commitment to public health and safety.  Our sewers and pumping systems do not work adequately. The mega privatized utility that gives us our gas and electricity can’t keep their grid up and the lights on. Building inspectors that okay-ed the Hard Rock Hotel site which collapsed, killed people,and still serves as a macabre sepulchre were shown by their GPS trackers to never, ever been near the site.

And, we’re so stretched by things we’ve ceased doing Carnival safely this year.  Two people were killed by floats.  Two people fell off floats.  Two people fell of a balcony.  I feel like Mardi Gras 2020 is way too symbolic of symptoms plaguing our tired old country.

A man was hit and killed by a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans on Saturday evening, the second such death in a week.’   That headline comes from The Guardian.   This is probably why the only thing I want to see on the actual Mardi Gras Day are the skeleton Krewes and the Indians.  The rest can just take those sewer cluttering, earth damaging plastic beads and slip on mule dung on Bourbon Street. I’m now firmly committed to the stodgy ideas that superkrewes are not a super idea where ever thing is oversized but our public safety and infrastructure commitments.  And screw all those Hard Rock Hotel Developers and AirBnB parasites while we’re at it.

The individual, who was not immediately named, was killed at around 7pm after he appeared to fall underneath a large tandem float during the Krewe of Endymion parade near the city centre.

Witness video posted online suggested the man fell at a point in the parade route where there were no barricades to separate onlookers from floats, which often pass close to the roadside.

Eyewitnesses speaking to local media suggested the man jumped to catch an item thrown from the float then slipped on beads left on the floor.

On Wednesday, 58-year-old Geraldine Carmouche was run over and killed by a tandem float. Witnesses suggested Carmouche tripped on a hitch holding the two floats together and fell underneath the second trailer.

Such deaths are rare at the annual carnival event. Local reports suggested the last similar incident occurred in 2008, when a man was struck by a float after the parade ended. In 1981 a three year-old girl was killed by a rolling float.

New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell instructed all remaining parades to end the use of tandem floats.


CL Thomas of Nashville blogs about and photographs Skeleton Krewe

I will now briefly discuss some of the floats for Krewe D’etat whose good ol boy designers still don’t seem to have gotten over Hillary being succesful or Bill Clinton’s blow job in an “Epstein didn’t kill himself float”, took a huge whack at Bernie in a “communist float”, and then did an ugly parody on the impeachment with a horrible portrayal of Speaker Pelosi.    I turned off the TV pretty quickly and returned to coughing fits.

This one was way over the top for the family route imho and you’ll remember I raised very young two daughters in the French Quarter for five years.  There is satire and then there is tasteless, tacky, mean,  and unfunny.  I thought the dick stuff at KDV was a bit much.  This was just tacky and gross.

Also, there was a huge Trump 2020 signs at the top of one of the big floats.  That’s shenanigans imho.   This was clearly just more Trumpy White Male mean spiritedness on display. Save that crap for protests and rallies creeps!!!!

For some reason, all of this clusterfuck seems appropriate during the Trumpist Regime Chaos with the Berner steriods thrown in.   All it needed was a bunch of really old guys wagging their fingers and screaming and women and people of color.  Really.

Here’s some real leadership from Forbes’ Jeff McMahon writing on a Climate Change Activist and Former UN Climate Change Christiana Figueres.

In a book out tomorrow, the woman who led the negotiations for the Paris Agreement calls for civil disobedience to force institutions to respond to the climate crisis.

“It’s time to participate in non-violent political movements wherever possible,” Christiana Figueres writes in The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis,” which will be released tomorrow by Knopf.

Figueres served as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-16. She co-authored the book with her strategic advisor, Tom Rivett-Carnac. The two also support voting:

“Large numbers of people must vote on climate change as their number one priority,” they write. “As we are in the midst of the most dire emergency, we must urgently demand that those who seek high office offer solutions commensurate with the scale of the problem.”

But they note that electoral politics have failed to meet the challenge, largely because of systemic roadblocks including corporate lobbying and partisan opposition.

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Photo by Rick Olivier Mardi Gras Day With The Skull And Bones Gang

Science Denial or ignorance and profiting from trashing the planet and commiting acts of extraction terror typifies our two least favorite guys too. Remember Bernie making money from dumping toxic nuclear waste on a poor border town down in Texas? Well, read this in WAPO today written by Fred Hiatt.  ” How Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both reject the reality of climate change.”

We have at hand a bipartisan, rigorous plan to address that danger.

And now it is more than possible that we will end up with two presidential candidates who reject that plan in favor of two varieties of utter unseriousness.

The first is the denialism of President Trump. He either believes or cynically pretends to believe that climate change is not a threat. His administration has gravely aggravated the threat, for example by recklessly relaxing regulation of the super-warming gas methane.

The second version is the fantasy extremism of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He would prosecute oil executives “for the destruction they have knowingly caused” (he “welcomes their hatred”) and phase out carbon-neutral nuclear power. The Vermont independent would ban the fracking of natural gas, which is — if you control the methane emissions — a useful transitional fuel from dirty coal to clean wind and solar.

As though by magic, Sanders’s proposals will “dramatically decrease the cost of energy storage” and (why not?) make electricity “virtually free” after 2035 (though, sadly, we would still have to pay for “operations and maintenance costs”). All fossil fuels will be gone by 2030, the renewable energy that takes its place will be “publicly owned,” and — not to worry — the plan “will pay for itself over 15 years.”

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to make such things happen, as Patrick Pouyanné told me last week. Pouyanné is one of those people whose hatred Sanders might welcome; he is chairman and chief executive of Paris-based Total, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.

I particularly liked this point made by  Pouyanné:

Pouyanné said a U.S. ban on fracking — or the jailing of oil executives, for that matter — would have little impact on climate change. Why? Because much of the world’s oil is located in poorer countries that depend desperately on oil exports, and they will gladly make up any shortfall.

“Change will not come from changing the source of supply,” he said. “You have to reduce demand.”

“Which brings us back to the plan, put forward this month by the Climate Leadership Council, that would actually work. Supported by energy companies (including Total) and environmental groups alike, it would impose a steadily rising tax on carbon. That would lead to reduced consumption and increased innovation in alternatives, including battery storage for solar and wind power. To get buy-in from industry, the plan would do away with a lot of regulation — but only so long as emissions were, in fact, going down.

Katherine Johnson, part of a small group of African-American women mathematicians who did crucial work at NASA, in 1966.

And we’ve lost one of the best math minds on and off the planet. She was recently celebrated in a movie. “Katherine Johnson Dies at 101; Mathematician Broke Barriers at NASA” is the lede for her NYT Obit. Katherine Johnson was  part of a small group of African-American women mathematicians who did crucial work at NASA, in 1966. They were featured in “Hidden Numbers” in 2016.

They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.

Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, who died at 101 on Monday at a retirement home in Newport News, Va., calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth.

A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr., who became the first American in space when his Mercury spacecraft went aloft in 1961.

The next year, she likewise helped make it possible for John Glenn, in the Mercury vessel Friendship 7, to become the first American to orbit the Earth.

Yet throughout Mrs. Johnson’s 33 years in NASA’s Flight Research Division — the office from which the American space program sprang — and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name.

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Vintage Mardi Gras Costumes

And the Corono Virus looks like it’s spreading.  Italy is the latest country dealing with death and illness.  This update is from WAPO.

The World Health Organization declined to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Monday, saying the rapidly spreading disease has “pandemic potential” but does not yet require that designation.

China’s leaders also postponed the biggest event on their political calendar, the National People’s Congress, as the country’s battle against the virus disrupts the ruling Communist Party’s agenda and hammers the domestic economy.

In a speech to party officials Sunday, President Xi Jinping warned that the outbreak was a “crisis” that would inevitably jolt the country’s economic development, but he pledged that the disruption would be temporary and manageable.

Beijing also abruptly backtracked on an earlier announcement that it would relax travel restrictions on the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan, amplifying concerns about the government response to the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the epidemic is surging around the world. Just four days ago, Italy had only confirmed three cases. As of Monday, it has the largest known outbreak outside Asia.

One of Big Chief Al's suits

OffBeat Magazine Photographer: Rick Olivier Chief Al Morris

This is bad news for the US Intelligence community. Eli Clifton writes this for Responsible Statecraft: “Trump’s new acting Director of National Intelligence conducted undisclosed work for Hungary’s far-right government”.

An investigation by Responsible Statecraft has found  that President Trump’s newly installed acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, knowingly provided public relations services directed at U.S. media on behalf of a project funded by Hungary’s far-right government. Grenell didn’t register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which is a requirement applying to individuals and entities operating inside the U.S. as an “agent” of a “foreign principal.”

Grenell’s appointment as acting Director of National Intelligence, which was announced last week, was met with widespread ridicule and disbelief.

“President Trump selected an unqualified loyalist as his top spy,” said  International Institute for Strategic Studies senior fellow Jonathan Stevenson in a New York Times op-ed.

“Mr. Grenell, who currently serves as ambassador to Germany, is manifestly unqualified for the job, even in an acting capacity,” the Washington Post editorial board said. “He has no experience in intelligence or in managing large organizations – like the 17 agencies that will now report to him.”

Craig Engle, Grenell’s attorney, told Responsible Statecraft that Grenell “knew that the Hungarian government was the sponsor” of work he undertook, but claimed that Grenell’s activities did not require him to file under FARA.

According to the Justice Department, activities requiring registration as an “agent” to a “foreign principal” includes engaging in “acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal.”

On Friday, ProPublica reported that Grenell took undisclosed payments for advocacy work on behalf of Vladimir Plahotniuc, a Moldovan politician who was later accused of corruption. Engle told ProPublica that Grenell was not required to file under the FARA because “he was not working at the direction of a foreign power.”

Grenell’s history as a Twitter troll and political operative is well documented, but his work for foreign entities and governments has largely gone unreported.

In 2009, Grenell founded Capitol Media Partners (CMP), a public relations firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC.

And then there is this:

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If you haven’t watched the Production “The Music Makers of Gennett Records” about small town Richmond, Indiana and all the Roots music and popular music it recorded and pianos it made, you simply must!!  It’s produced by the Indianapolis Public TV station.  Hint:  Louis Armstrong and a lot of the greats from down here figure prominently but it also includes Hopi Ritual music and Hill music. This was essentially one of three early recording studios. Its history is fascinating and you’ll hear a lot of that ragtime and blues in their early incarnations.

During the early 20th century, one tiny recording studio in Richmond, Indiana, had a big impact on the soundtrack of the Jazz Age. The Music Makers of Gennett Records tells the unlikely story of the Gennett Recording Studios, where many of the greatest artists in American jazz, blues, country, and gospel music first recorded.

Discover the unlikely story of the Gennett Recording Studios, where many of the greatest artists in American jazz, blues, country, and gospel music first recorded. The documentary traces the careers of early Gennett musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, and the singing cowboy Gene Autry, among other popular artists of the era, and features several of their rare 1920s recordings.

Produced by WTIU for Indiana Public Media. Click here to learn more about the film.

And, I have officially thrown in with Elizabeth Warren. I wrote her a check and I’m making phone calls for her. I’m really at a loss of what else to do at this point. I’m also slightly less panicked about Joe Biden because what will be a complete disappointment is better than the other two shitfests at the top of their respective nominations now.

If she gets through SC and Super Tuesday I will likely vote for her.  I’m pretty sure that Louisiana will not be an important state for any one but I’m just going to do what I can.

So, that’s enough for me today.  Back to coughing and escapism.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

32 Comments on “Mixed Emotions Monday Reads: Fatal Carnival and Political Purges”

  1. Delphyne49 says:

    Hope you feel better, Kat – that flu took me about 3 weeks before I felt better. ❤️

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    Looking forward to a book report on this from BB when she’s feeling better!!!

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    I’ve sent my little bit of support to Warren too… let’s see if she is still there when GA votes.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      If they don’t drop out soon along with Pete, we are getting Bernie.

      • dakinikat says:

        what about bloomberg and steyer? Steyer squishing third place in SC

        • Joannelle says:

          Good Gawd, If Sanders gets the nomination Trump is a shoe in. Why the heck do the dems allow Sanders to claim Democrat status – he has openly said he would never be a Dem.
          He’s one of the main factors that Hillz didn’t win. Get him the hcek out of there!!!!

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      40%-70%? In round numbers there’s about 7 billion of us now. The 55% as a midpoint. That’s 3.8 billion cases. With a (so far) slightly over 2% fatality rate, that’s almost 100,000,000 fatalities.

      Somehow, my brain just can’t wrap itself around the complete incompetence necessary for that kind of spread, but I’ve been wrong about everything lately. (Brexit? Nah, they would never do that. Dump? Likewise. Sanders, hahaha, oh, wait. etc.)

  9. dakinikat says:

    I’ve been a Hillary Super Volunteer for quite some time. We’re a nationwide group that worked our asses off for her campaign and some of the admins and top people have been out working multiple campaigns… John put this up last night and it’s pretty much spot on in terms of the only thing I can think of … He was on the ground in Iowa. I know Bruce is working his ass off in Wisconsin. We’ve got a lot of folks in Houston too. Do what you can right now to stop Bernie or we lose everything

    “I suggest everyone help make calls and texts for the candidate/s in each state most likely to defeat Bernie in that state.

    Even if they aren’t your first choice – it’s about denying Bernie delegates right now and momentum.

    So South Carolina – help Biden

    Minnesotta – help Amy

    California – Warren

    Point being : don’t wait.”

    If you’re in a super Tuesday state try to make calls or do the text app. You can’t send out a text a second to a voting dem. It takes no effort.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. What do folks think about Warren’s strategy in not attacking Sanders but just differentiating herself from him lightly? I am reading those who think she has to attack him but I am not sure that is a good strategy for her. I’m not sure what she can achieve at this point, and don’t think I will know until after Super Tuesday, tonight’s debate, and any developments between now and then, despite many votes already having been cast.