Sunday Reads: Terrorwatts

Good morning…

This next link truly is mind boggling…

I don’t understand this Bitcoin shit…

The cryptocurrency’s value has dipped recently after passing a high of $50,000 but the energy used to create it has continued to soar during its epic rise, climbing to the equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of Argentina, according to Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a tool from researchers at Cambridge University that measures the currency’s energy use.

Bitcoin mining – the process in which a bitcoin is awarded to a computer that solves a complex series of algorithms – is a deeply energy-intensive process.

“Mining” bitcoin involves solving complex math problems in order to create new bitcoins. Miners are rewarded in bitcoin.

Earlier in bitcoin’s relatively short history – the currency was created in 2009 – one could mine bitcoin on an average computer. But the way bitcoin mining has been set up by its creator (or creators – no one really knows for sure who created it) is that there is a finite number of bitcoins that can be mined: 21m. The more bitcoin that is mined, the harder the algorithms that must be solved to get a bitcoin become.

Now that over 18.5m bitcoin have been mined, the average computer can no longer mine bitcoins. Instead, mining now requires special computer equipment that can handle the intense processing power needed to get bitcoin today. And, of course, these special computers need a lot of electricity to run.

The amount of electricity used to mine bitcoin “has historically been more than [electricity used by] entire countries, like Ireland”, said Benjamin Jones, a professor of economics at the University of New Mexico who has researchedbitcoin’s environmental impact. “We’re talking about multiple terawatts, dozens of terawatts a year of electricity being used just for bitcoin … That’s a lot of electricity.”

Seriously…when I read this article, I could feel the blood vessels in my head bursting.

Meanwhile…

It should be noted…that if you live in a red state, it is more likely that the schools are open…and have been for a while now.

So, here we have a bomb from WWII having to be detonated…while a cryptocurrency uses as much electricity as an entire country just to “mine” it. What the fuck?

Well, try and have a pleasant day.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Eva Skierska, A Lady and Cocotte

Eva Skierska, A Lady and Cocotte

Good Morning!!

The vaccine rollout in Massachusetts has been awful, and Governor Charlie Baker has been taking a beating over it. Yesterday the legislature held a public hearing on the problems. WBUR: Emotions Ran High During A State Hearing On Mass.’ Vaccine Rollout

For six hours, a joint committee of state representatives and senators grilled Gov. Charlie Baker and members of his administration, listening to them testify on issues related to vaccine distribution and equity.

The technical problems people experienced trying to sign up for vaccine appointments loomed large at the hearing. Last week, state websites crashed under the weight of a million more vaccine seekers hustling to get one of a mere 60,000 slots. This week, people posted screenshots showing wait times in the tens or hundreds of thousands of minutes to social media.

The problems mostly revolved around technology failures and confusion about the software being used to manage vaccines, PrepMod.

The disconnect between the state and the PrepMod system seems to be part of a larger trend of people feeling that the rollout is confusing. Clinicians running vaccine sites have expressed frustration at how the rollout policies seem to keep shifting and changing. During the hearing, state Sen. Cindy Friedman spoke to this feeling.

“[The] twists and turns, the change in plans, the communication that changes depending on who you are talking to. Even I, with all my knowledge, am completely at a loss as to what is going on at times,” she said.

The unpredictable nature of the rollout has people on edge. State Sen. Eric Lesser conveyed some of that frustration to the governor during the hearing.

“Will you say you’re sorry to the millions of people [who could not make an appointment],” Lesser demanded.

“Of course. Absolutely. Definitely. Yes,” Baker responded. A hint of exhaustion crept into his voice.

He may have to do this rodeo again. The committee chair invited Baker for another hearing in a couple weeks’ time.

“Well, this one’s been so much fun, I’ll certainly look forward to coming back,” Baker said.

There’s some good news this morning, so I’ll begin with that. 

Atelier de Jiel, Black Cat and His Flowers

Atelier de Jiel, Black Cat and His Flowers

LOL! The good news for me is that the state is now allowing vaccines for seniors 65 and older and those living in subsidized housing. I had already gotten an appointment for March 4 at my doctor’s office, but yesterday I learned that my town in providing vaccines for my apartment building. They will come to my door, like they did with the flu shots last fall. So I feel fortunate. But my sister who lives in California got her first shot in early February and will be getting the second soon. Still I’m grateful to get it in such a convenient way.

More good news: The House passed the Covid relief bill last night. HuffPost: House Democrats Pass $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill.

After hours of delays, the House passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill early Saturday morning, taking the first step toward delivering another round of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, increased child tax credits and an influx of cash for state and local governments.

The House passed the bill almost entirely along partisan lines, 219-212, with two Democrats, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine, voting no. 

The measure will now go to the Senate, where it’s set to pass by a “reconciliation” process that requires a simple majority. But not before one key provision is stripped.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that a section providing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage could not be done through the reconciliation process, deciding that it did not have enough of an impact on the federal budget to qualify. It left that provision subject to a 60-vote threshold.

Democrats have only 50 seats in the Senate ― with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break a tie in favor of the Democrats ― and the $15 minimum wage was already imperiled because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). But even though the Senate parliamentarian had ruled that the minimum wage provisions couldn’t be done through reconciliation, House Democrats still included it.

Monroe Cat, Coco De Paris

Monroe Cat, Coco De Paris

That means the bill will still have to come back to the House for a final vote after the Senate amends the legislation. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) kept the minimum wage hike in after progressives argued they had already compromised on other items they wanted in the COVID-19 relief bill.

Ultimately, the $1.9 trillion package has a number of provisions that progressives love. It would provide a round of $1,400 checks to most Americans. It extends and increases a federal boost to unemployment benefits by $400 a week ― up from $300 ― and provides that extra money until September. It increases the child tax credit to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17 and raises it to $3,600 for children younger than 6. It also provides $1,400 checks per dependent.

On top of all those policies, there’s money for state and local governments ($350 billion), public schools ($128 billion), higher education ($39 billion), coronavirus testing and contact tracing ($46 billion), rental assistance ($25 billion), restaurants and bars ($25 billion), child care ($15 billion), vaccine distribution ($14 billion), pandemic supplies ($10 billion) and a host of other public health causes. 

Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that the process should take about two weeks.

More good news but bad news for Trump. Prosecutors in New York have his tax returns in hand. Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair: Sad: Prosecutors Have Trump’s Tax Returns and There’s Nothing He Can Do About It.

Donald Trump has fought tooth and nail to keep anyone from seeing his tax returns, and likely for good reason: even glimpses of them seemed to show a bumbling businessman who employed shady, and sometimes outright fraudulent, tactics to stay afloat. Were his taxes to wind up in the hands of, say, a Manhattan prosecutor, it could mean some serious trouble for him—particularly if he didn’t have the office of the presidency to protect him from legal liability.

Catriona Millar

By Catriona Millar

Unfortunately for the ex-president, that’s precisely what’s happened: on Thursday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance officially obtained Trump’s personal and corporate tax records and is likely poring over them this very instant as part of his sweeping probe into Trump’s financial affairs. Vance spokesman Danny Frost confirmed that the DA’s office had finally gained possession of the returns, which have long proven elusive for prosecutors and lawmakers alike. 

The public probably won’t get a look at them for a while, if ever. But with Vance and his team now scouring the records, Trump’s legal vulnerability may have increased dramatically, as reflected by the desperate and aggrieved statement the former president released earlier this week after the Supreme Court rejected his last-ditch effort to keep the documents hidden. “All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump,” he said in the statement, referring to himself in the third person. “I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years…despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me.”

Does that man ever get off the pity pot? He’s fortunate not to be charged with negligent homicide of more that half-a-million people.

The latest on the FBI’s Capitol riot investigation from The New York Times: F.B.I. Said to Have Singled Out Potential Assailant in Capitol Officer’s Death.

The F.B.I. has pinpointed an assailant in its investigation into the death of Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was injured while fending off the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol last month and later died, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the inquiry.

The F.B.I. opened a homicide investigation into Officer Sicknick’s death soon after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Investigators initially struggled to determine what had happened as he fought assailants. They soon began to suspect his death was related to an irritant, like mace or bear spray, that he had inhaled during the riot. Both officers and rioters were armed with such irritants during the attack.

Adrie Martens

By Adrie Martens

In a significant breakthrough in the case, investigators have now pinpointed a person seen on video of the riot who attacked several officers with bear spray, including Officer Sicknick, according to the officials. And video evidence shows that the assailant discussed attacking officers with the bear spray beforehand, one of the officials said.

While investigators narrowed potential suspects seen in video footage to a single person this week, they have yet to identify the assailant by name….

Given the evidence available to investigators, prosecutors could be more likely to bring charges of assaulting an officer, rather than murder, in the case. But the death of Officer Sicknick, a 42-year-old Air National Guard veteran who served in Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, could increase the penalties that prosecutors could seek if they took such a case to court.

More from The Washington Post: FBI focuses on video of Capitol Police officer being sprayed with chemicals before he died in pro-Trump riot.

Investigators have uncovered video appearing to show someone spraying a chemical irritant at Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick and other law enforcement personnel fending off rioters in last month’s attack, though they have yet to identify the person or tie the activity directly to Sicknick’s death, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sicknick’s death has vexed investigators exploring the Jan. 6 riot, as they have struggled to figure out how precisely he died and whether someone could be held criminally accountable in connection with the death.

Investigators determined Sicknick did not die of blunt force trauma, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. U.S. Capitol Police in a statement Jan. 8 said that Sicknick died “due to injuries sustained while on duty.” No autopsy or toxicology report has been made public, unusual seven weeks after a death.

Warren Kimble

By Warren Kimble

Capitol Police said in a statement Friday the medical examiner’s report was not yet complete, adding, “We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation.”

The video could offer prosecutors a path to charging someone in connection with Sicknick’s death — though they still have to identify the assailant and would then have to establish that the spraying proved fatal. Prosecutors, instead, might consider bringing assault charges.

The FBI captured screenshots of people visible in the video, one person familiar with the matter said, and in the past month released the images publicly, hoping to identify them. The bureau did not mention Sicknick or depict the chemical spraying when distributing the images.

Yesterday, the government released the intelligence report on the investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. David Sanger at The New York Times: Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.

President Biden has decided that the diplomatic cost of directly penalizing Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is too high, according to senior administration officials, despite a detailed American intelligence finding that he directly approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist who was drugged and dismembered in October 2018.

The decision by Mr. Biden, who during the 2020 campaign called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state with “no redeeming social value,” came after weeks of debate in which his newly formed national security team advised him that there was no way to formally bar the heir to the Saudi crown from entering the United States, or to weigh criminal charges against him, without breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies.

Officials said a consensus developed inside the White House that the cost of that breach, in Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism and in confronting Iran, was simply too high.

For Mr. Biden, the decision was a telling indication of how his more cautious instincts kicked in, as the responsibilities of managing a difficult ally led him to find ways other than going directly after Prince Mohammed to make Saudi Arabia pay a price….

Albena Vatcheva, Dreaming

Albena Vatcheva, Dreaming

Many organizations were pressing Mr. Biden to, at a minimum, impose the same travel sanctions against the crown prince as the Trump administration imposed on others involved in the plot.

Mr. Biden’s aides said that as a practical matter, Prince Mohammed would not be invited to the United States anytime soon, and they denied that they were giving Saudi Arabia a pass, describing series of new actions on lower-level officials intended to penalize elite elements of the Saudi military and impose new deterrents to human rights abuses.

Those actions, approved by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, include a travel ban on Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, who was deeply involved in the Khashoggi operation, and on the Rapid Intervention Force, a unit of the Saudi Royal Guard that protects Prince Mohammed — and is under his direct control.

Biden is getting a lot of pushback on the decision to let MBS skate. Examples:

Nicholas Kristof: President Biden Lets a Saudi Murderer Walk.

Graeme Wood at The Atlantic: Murderers Should Be Called Murderers. Frequently and to their faces.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: Mohammed bin Salman is guilty of murder. Biden should not give him a pass.

At least it’s not all bad news today. What stories have you been following?


Friday Reads: Leave Neera Alone!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I started to look for the picture of the Brittany guy for the title I choose today when I found out some one at Twitchy had grabbed it first.  I’ve never seen a bunch of whiny over sensitive old white guys–both on the Bernie Bro side and the Rightish side of the Political spectrum–that have their panties in a bunch about Neera Tanden.

What Twitchy did was send me to Politico and this article. “Neera Tanden Got Twitter Right—And That Was Her Problem.  But Twitter has a way of turning on you.”  All you really have to be in the world of Joe Biden’s appointments is to be a woman of color associated with Hillary Clinton and damn sharp at critical thinking and the white guys pee themselves.  I swear.

I believe this is called cyber bullying and the hypocrisy on the right side of the aisle is just over the top!  They support the king of the nasty ass twitter trolls but gang up if a woman criticizes them or their politics or for Pete’s sake their daughter who price gouges diabetics?  PUHLEEEZZEEE!   This is from Politco and  Joanna Weiss: “Neera Tanden Got Twitter Right—And That Was Her Problem – POLITICO.  So what’s the bottom line here?  It’s Politico, afterall so deep breath.

The internet is overflowing with snarky diatribes about Senators Susan Collins and Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell. A veteran political player, who might someday need Cruz or Collins or McConnell for a vote, should have known it would do her no good to pile on. And, on some level, she did know: In 2016, she told an interviewer, “I’m willing to concede I should tweet less.”

Instead, Tanden did what a lot of us do: She went for the dopamine hit, again and again. Over the past few years, she tweeted that “a vampire has more heart than Ted Cruz,” compared McConnell to Voldemort, and called Collins “criminally ignorant.” It wasn’t just Republicans she angered; she was also known for tweaking left-wing rivals like Senator Bernie Sanders, suggesting in one tweet that Russia had helped Sanders in the 2016 election. Some have detected sexism in the sudden rush to scold her, but Tanden stands out among Biden’s Cabinet nominees for the edginess of her social media posts.

So, after years of Trumpist Trolling on twitter and the tv and just about everywhere the outrage is going to fall on Tanden?  Some one tells these guys politics requires thicker skin then that.  Even Joe the plumber and former pol gets it.

So, comparing Cruz to Voldemart is nowhere near as bad as what some of his colleagues say about him or what Trump has said about him.  Again, why the focus on Neera?   Just today, AXIOS reports that Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said Cruz could “go fuck himself”.   Where’s the pearl clutching on that?

John Boehner has been going off script while recording the audio version of his new memoir, using expletives and asides not in the book — such as the former Republican House speaker saying, “Oh, and Ted Cruz, go f**k yourself.”

Why it matters: The book is appropriately titled, “On the House: A Washington Memoir.” It promises to share “colorful tales from the halls of power, the smoke-filled rooms around the halls of power and his fabled tour bus.” Two sources familiar with the tapings told Axios about the asides.

  • The audio version, which includes an even heftier price tag of $39.99, will be sprinkled with Boehner’s unfiltered, baritone, inner monologue.
  • Similar to the cover — where he’s pictured in a dark room, drinking red wine with a cigarette burning in an ashtray — Boehner has been taping his audiobook with a glass of wine in hand.
  • The Ohioan never hid his penchant for tan skin and red wine, or his love of cigarettes (two packs a day).

And let’s not forget this moment earlier this month: “Lawmakers Are Reading Hilariously Mean Tweets About Ted Cruz On The Senate Floor, And People Are Absolutely Delighted”.  They were actually reading Tanden tweets and it rather backfired on them

If you were wondering who the most disliked politician on Capitol Hill was, the answer is Ted Cruz.

The Republican senator from Texas got dragged by his fellow lawmakers while they were attempting to dig into the background of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget. During Tanden’s confirmation hearing, Republican senator attempted to point out how damning Tanden’s social media posts — many of which condemned Republican party leaders like Mitch McConnell and Cruz — were in light of Biden’s appointment. They wondered if she could do a good job of sticking to the president’s commitment to bipartisanship after calling McConnell “Moscow Mitch” and Senator Tom Cotton a “fraud.”

What they didn’t realize was they were giving audiences a live Mean Tweets reading on the Senate floor, and that their colleague, Cruz, would get the worst of it.

A lot of people, Republican and Democrat, can’t stand Ted Cruz but Tanden’s tweets managed to trash the insurrection-supporting senator with some truly stunning linguistic verbosity. At one point, Tanden was accused of tweeting that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” which, just … wow.

Okay, so enough on that and again, I seem to just have a thing for showing the ragging Cruz takes from every one.  Oh wait, just one quote from Lindsay Graham and I’ll move on, I promise!!   From CNN: “Lindsey Graham jokes about how to get away with murdering Ted Cruz”.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks his party has gone “bats—” crazy, and joked Thursday that it’s possible to get away with murdering Ted Cruz if it happened in the Senate.

“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” the former presidential candidate said at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner, referencing the Texas senator’s unpopular reputation on Capitol Hill.

And then, read further about what he said about Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.  See, it’s okay to continually call Hillary crooked as long as you’re a white guy.

The Parliamentarian’s ruled that the minimum wage bump to $15 an hour can’t go into the Covid relief bill and the reconcilliation process.   The House is set to pass the $1.9 Billion relief package today.      A number of Democrats want to take the same path Republicans did when they fired a parlimentarian twenty years ago.  This is from WAPO today: “Some Democrats want to fire the Senate parliamentarian who scuttled $15 minimum-wage plans. It’s been done once before”.

But at least one lawmaker called for an even more radical solution: firing the Senate’s referee.

“Abolish the filibuster. Replace the parliamentarian,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweetThursday.
“What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.”

The Biden administrationshowed little appetite to challenge MacDonough following her ruling on Thursday, saying it was “disappointed” but would move forward with the stimulus without the minimum-wage increase.

Of course, the Republicans fired the Parlimentarian then over a ruling about tax cuts.  Tax cuts and being angry, hypocritical screamers are about the only thing they’re about these days.  Oh, yeah, that reminds me the CPAC–your basic forum for Angry, white, hypocritical screamers--is coming up and let’s pray we don’t have to see any film footage of it or the Trumpsterfire from the Pandemic stricken stet of Floridadia. By the way, Pence turned down an invitation to speak and McConnell didn’t get one per that Guardian link.

Okay, I couldn’t contain myself.  More gratiutous Ted Cruz bashing today from his colleages: “Ted Cruz’s colleagues mocked him by putting memes of his Cancun trip in the Senate gym locker room: ‘Bienvenido de Nuevo, Ted!'”  Guess I’ll never be considered to head the Budget office.

After his infamous Cancun junket, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the subject of a prank in the locker room of the Senate gym midweek, Carol Lee and Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC News reported.

Early birds turning up for a workout Wednesday morning came across color printouts of Cruz in his airport getup, which included a light polo shirt and a mask bearing the Texas flag, according to NBC, who reviewed the materials provided by two sources.

“The rendering featured a manipulated photo of Cruz from his well-documented trip to Mexico, dragging his luggage across an arctic landscape while holding a tropical cocktail garnished with a slice of fruit in his other hand,” Lee and Caldwell wrote.

The printouts included a crossover meme, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s viral pose in mittens at President Joe Biden’s inauguration photoshopped into the frigid backdrop, NBC said.

Ah, gee … same bunch of folks with the worst twitter trolls on the planet getting reemed on sacred ground.  Have they no mercy?  No sense of the sacred?

Speaking of which, I think that I’m going to start picking on Rand Paul more since he’s defintely up there on the most offensive person in the Washington Beltway crowd.  I still can’t get how he could compare child genital mutilation to the procedure to becoming intersex to a transgender Doctor who is candidate for a leadership position for HHS.  Can we just start understanding the gender is a social concept?  And there’s wonderful research on it from indigenous tribes and other places not considered “western”.

There’s a lot to discuss concerning these issues.  Can we start by having a discussion on that gender and sex are not the same thing no matter how hard some folks want to believe they are?  But sheesh, that line of questioning was uncalled for under any circumstances but a serious conversation about the forced gender mutiliation of children–including circumcision–in a hearing on why we let a lot of religions get away with cruel rituals.

Okay, so that’s it from me today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

So,  let’s sing one for Rando! or Teddy Boy!  Your choice!


Thursday Reads

Van Gogh Monmarte painting revealed

Scène de rue à Montmartre, 1887

Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with paintings from Vincent van Gogh’s Paris years, because of this story from BBC yesterday: Van Gogh Paris painting goes on public display for first time.

A Street Scene In Montmartre has been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887.

Sotheby’s estimates it could fetch up to eight million euros (£6.9m) when it is sold at auction next month.

Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey told BBC News that this is “the first time we are able to see it properly”.

Small reproductions have been made in the past, often in black-and-white. “What is exciting is that it is a Van Gogh painting which has been hidden away ever since it came off the artist’s easel,” Mr Bailey said.

“It has always been in private collections, so only the owners and their friends knew it.

“It is an interesting picture because it is a transitional work between Van Gogh’s Dutch years, when he painted in dark, earthy colours, and the exuberant works that he did in Provence. It was in Paris that he discovered the Impressionists, and this led him to explore colour.”

It is one of a series of works Van Gogh created while lodging with his brother Theo in 1886 and 1887 a short distance from the street depicted in the painting….

Montmartre was still semi-rural when the scene was painted. A windmill features prominently behind some perambulating locals. The famous Sacré-Cœur church that now dominates the area was under construction at the time.

View of Paris from Vincent's Room, 1887

View of Paris from Vincent’s Room, 1887

I’m getting really angry about the treatment of Neera Tanden and Deb Haaland–both women of color–in the Senate. This attack on her by fake good ‘ol boy Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana is really disgusting. Andrew Solender at Forbes: GOP Senator Questions Neera Tanden’s Loyalty To Biden, America – Says Her ‘Allegiance’ Is To Hillary Clinton.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) denounced two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees in fiery terms Wednesday, questioning Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden’s loyalty to America.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Kennedy expressed pessimism about Tanden’s imperiled nomination, stating, “I’m not saying she’s a smoked turkey, but the smoker is heating up.”

Kennedy pointed to Tanden’s past tweets attacking lawmakers as the main area of concern, but simultaneously launched into his own attacks, claiming there is bipartisan concern that Tanden’s “allegiance is not to America and it’s not to President Biden, it’s to Secretary Clinton.

Kennedy also echoed Republican attacks on Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Biden’s nominee for Interior secretary, as a radical leftist, but said he needs to “do a little more research” and is still undecided, according to pool reports.

Kennedy said he is “not impressed” with what he has seen from Haaland thus far, labeling her a “neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whackjob” who is “living in La La Land,” citing her support for an oil and gas moratorium.

What an asshole. And remember, Kennedy is one of the eight Republicans who in 1918 spent the Fourth of July in Russia sucking up to Putin.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: What terrible things did Neera Tanden tweet? The truth.

Can you believe that Neera Tanden called Hillary Clinton the “anti-Christ” and the “real enemy”?

Oh, wait. It was Ryan Zinke who said those things. Fifty-one Republican senators (and several Democrats, including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia) confirmed him as secretary of the interior in 2017.

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

And how about the times Tanden allegedly called the NAACP a “pinko organization” that “hates white people” and used racial epithets?

My bad. That was Jeff Sessions. Again, 51 Republican senators (and one Democrat, Manchin) voted to confirm him as attorney general in 2017.

Surely Tanden went beyond the pale when she “liked” a tweet calling then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry a “traitor” and “Vietnam’s worst export,” and when she suggested Clinton supporters leave the country.

Except Mike Pompeo was the one who did those things. He won confirmation as secretary of state in 2018 with the votes of 50 Republicans and six Democrats, including Manchin.

But, really, the most appalling thing Tanden said was that Muslims have a “deficient theology” and they “stand condemned.”

Whoops. That wasn’t Tanden but Russell Vought. Just last year, 51 Republicans voted to confirm him as director of the Office of Management and Budget — the same position Tanden is up for now.

Now, all 50 Senate Republicans, assisted by Manchin, are on the cusp of sinking Tanden’s nomination because they object to her harsh tweets. Many have noted the hypocrisy, particularly when compared with the treatment of Richard Grenell, an online troll who won confirmation as ambassador to Germany with 50 Republican votes — and Manchin, natch — despite routinely disparaging women’s appearances.

But this isn’t just about double standards. What really must sting about Tanden’s tweets is not that they were mean, but that, for the most part, they were true.

What really got Manchin’s goat was that Tanden criticized his daughter.

At The Daily Beast, David Rothkopf asks: Joe Biden Wants to Repair America. Will Joe Manchin Let Him?

Like 82 million others, I voted last year to entrust America to a moderate Democrat named Joe.

Little did I expect that the Joe who’d end up with the last word on a host of vital national issues would be Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin’s ascendancy came thanks to the Democratic victories in the two Georgia runoff races in January. That gave the party 50 votes in the Senate and control, thanks to the decisive tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, so long as the caucus maintains unity. What they could not count on, it turned out, was Manchin.

Fishing in Spring, 1887

Fishing in Spring, 1887

On issues from cabinet nominations to the filibuster to the minimum wage, Manchin has seized the power that breaking from the Democratic majority gives him. He does this in the name of being a so-called centrist, a moderate. But the reality is that he is proving to be a MINO, a moderate in name only, embracing views that are more like those of the increasingly radical Republican Senate caucus than they are like those of his Democratic colleagues….

One of the earliest signs that Manchin was perfectly happy to play the spoiler disrupting the aspirations of his own party leadership came even before the Democrats took control of the Senate. While negotiations were taking place between Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell over the new power-sharing arrangements in the 50-50 Senate, McConnell sought to put a stake through the heart of any idea the Democrats might have of seeking to abolish the filibuster, one of McConnell’s favorite tools of obstruction in the Senate, vital to enabling his minority to continue to block key legislation that could not make it to the filibuster threshold of 60 votes.

Manchin publicly announced his opposition to removing the filibuster. His rationale was that of all filibuster advocates, that it was an important institutional legacy in the Senate and helped drive bipartisanship by forcing the majority to seek some minority support for their legislation. Neither of these assertions are true, however. The filibuster was rarely used in the first 200 years of U.S. history and once it began to be used more frequently, from the 1990s onward, it was almost always used to block the passage of legislation rather to leverage opposing sides into dialogue.

Biden needs to start playing hardball with Manchin. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The Capitol insurrection in the news:

Frank Figluzzi at MSNBC: The Senate asked all the wrong questions about the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.

The Senate held its first hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Tuesday. And I have to be honest: I was not impressed.

The cadre of former Capitol security chiefs testifying might as well have played a continuous recorded loop of them reciting in unison, “the intelligence wasn’t there,” in response to senators’ equally redundant questions about the Capitol security failure and why adequate resources weren’t deployed.

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

But neither the senators nor their witnesses addressed the toughest questions: Why didn’t you see what so many civilians did? What biases fed into the many incorrect assumptions made? And what keeps us collectively — as Americans, as law enforcement, and more specifically, as white people — from perceiving our own as a potential threat? The answers are complex — but the right questions need to be asked first.

The more that former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger repeated their “intelligence was lacking” mantra, the less intelligent they sounded. Irving stated, “We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no, the intelligence did not warrant that.” Sund testified that “the level of probability of acts of civil disobedience/arrests on Jan. 6 ranged from ‘remote’ to ‘improbable'” and that “none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.”

Perhaps the dozens of intelligence professionals on Sund’s staff should include the cost of newspaper subscriptions and laptops in their next budget request. The truth is that there was significant online chatter and numerous media reports that protestors were targeting the electoral vote count. So then, what is it that keeps law enforcement professionals from seeing what’s right in front of them?

Ouch!

As these hearings continue, we will likely hear from the FBI and other law enforcement leaders. Importantly, we can expect to hear about the legal constraints on what that agency can and cannot do about monitoring social media, penetrating protests groups and investigating domestic extremism. These limits rightfully help preserve our civil liberties, free speech and freedom of association. And it’s true that law enforcement can’t possibly see and assess the universe of social media even if such monitoring were allowed. But plenty of social media posts prior to the insurrection spoke of violence, vandalism and targeting the Capitol — those things have little to do with exercising civil liberties.

After the insurrection, two ProPublica journalists interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. They also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents. Significantly, their reporting provides something other than the convenient “intelligence failure” rationale as to why planning was so poor when it came to protecting our iconic symbol of democracy.

Read the rest at MSNBC. 

NPR: Architect Of The Capitol Outlines $30 Million In Damages From Pro-Trump Riot.

The cost of repairing damages from the attack on the U.S. Capitol and related security expenses have already topped $30 million and will keep rising, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The events of Jan. 6, he said, were “difficult for the American people and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness.”

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Blanton said that congressional appropriations committees have already approved a transfer request of $30 million to pay for expenses and extend a temporary perimeter fencing contract through March 31.

But more money will be needed, he added: “History teaches us that project costs for replacements and repairs beyond in-kind improvements across campus will be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment.”

The price tag will go even higher, Blanton told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, if the fence and other security measures are needed beyond March.

Republicans aren’t upset about the Capitol attack though. What they care about is Neera Tanden’s “mean tweets.”

Profiles of two of the insurgents:

The Daily Beast: An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter.

The retired NYPD cop now charged with assaulting a D.C. cop in the Capitol riot that has been called domestic terrorism was previously assigned to guard the ruins of the World Trade Center as recovery teams extracted the remains of innocents killed by Islamic terrorism.

And 54-year-old Thomas Webster once presented himself as a victim of terrorism in a civil suit filed in the same federal jurisdiction where he was accused this week of attacking a District of Columbia police officer “like a junkyard dog.”

Webster can be seen on video wielding a metal flagpole and seeking to tear off the cop’s gas mask with such ferocity that he became known online as “the eye gouger.”

Webster’s transformation from supposed terror victim to accused terrorizer caused him to be denounced by a law enforcement supervisor who directed and participated in the actual removal of remains from Ground Zero while the now retired cop stood guard at the periphery. The supervisor does not remember Webster from those months in downtown Manhattan but had seen the Jan. 6 video from the Capitol.

“I look at it as a further desecration of all first responders,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “It’s taken 20 years, but he managed in my view to be as guilty as any terrorist or terrorist wannabe. You are attacking the very principles of our existence: democracy, the Constitution, the Capitol.”

Bellingcat: Woman Accused of Stealing Nancy Pelosi’s Laptop Appears in Video Making Nazi Salute.

On January 6, 2021, Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old home care worker from Pennsylvania, was one of roughly 800 rioters who breached the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. While many engaged in property damage and violence that day, Williams’ case stands out given her ex-partner has alleged to the FBI that she stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

This former boyfriend also alleges that her goal was to sell the laptop to a Russian intelligence agency, a claim January court documents say “remains under investigation,” but which has been denied by Williams’ lawyer who accuses the former partner of seeking revenge. 

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

While Williams has not been charged with stealing the laptop itself, something she also denies, she faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well aiding/abetting others to “embezzle, steal, purloin.”

Footage from January 6 released by ITV News shows Williams urging rioters upstairs towards Congressional offices. In one video from inside Pelosi’s office, a voice that the FBI states it believes to be Williams’ says “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand takes a laptop from a table. The affidavit links to a thread of captured Discord posts from a user named Riley bragging, “STOLE SHITT FROM NANCY POLESI [sic]”.

In an interview with ITV on January 16, Williams’ mother described her daughter as getting caught up in the moment. She noted that Riley had been radicalized on far-right message boards but described her daughter’s main political goal as, “…wanting America to get the correct information”. 

However, Bellingcat has since received information that suggests that Williams was more than just a Trump supporter caught up in the maelstrom. She is somebody who posted racist and Anti-Semitic content as well as filmed a video that appears openly pro-Nazi and promotes accelerationism (speeding up the collapse of society) as a pathway towards establishing a genocidal white supremacist state….

Several days after Williams was charged in mid-January, an antifascist activist reached out to Bellingcat with a video they believed showed her pledging allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Bellingcat has since shared the footage and findings of its investigation with NBC News.

The 36-second video opens with a young woman dancing in a dress while wearing a hat, glasses and a mask decorated with a skull. These skullmasks were adopted as a symbol by Atomwaffen and similar accelerationist Nazi terrorist groups back in 2017.

But so what? Have you heard about Neera Tanden’s tweets?

That’s all I have for you today. I know there’s lots of other news–what stories have caught your interest?


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Good morning…

Meanwhile, there was more going on yesterday…then a car crash in California:

Just the thought of this tweet makes me want to puke:

This news here also makes me sick:

Just end this with William Blake:

And that’s all for now… stay safe.