Memorial Day: A Day to Remember those who fell in Battle for our Country

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Today, we remember and pay tribute to those who died in battle. This is a tradition started by freed slaves after the Civil War. It’s had some controversy because there were and still are dead-enders on the confederate side of history. This year has been filled with examples where we have been treated with an obvious need of history being rewritten or forgotten or replaced with lies.

We lost Capitol Police officers defending the halls and grounds of Congress this year. This adds to our already bloody, war-filled history. Just this last week we saw the Republicans vote to deny and continue to try to rewrite history. Republican officials are trying to rewrite history and the sacred terms of democracy in every red state in the country.  This term Louisiana was treated to a diatribe by the Representative who was serving as the head of the education committee.  He insisted that there were good things about slavery as he was attempting to ensure critical race theory couldn’t be taught in classes across the state.  This reminds me of Mississippi and its adherence to “the confederate memorial day”. The state refused to acknowledge the federal holiday right into this century.

However, this kind of thing remains front in my mind while I honor those fallen Capitol Police officers as part of our war dead.

 

Fortunately, and I believe only for the moment, this battle has gone to our courts. Truthtelling Republicans believe it likely to happen again.  This is from VOX: A bipartisan January 6 commission is probably dead. Democrats have a backup plan. A House committee could be less vulnerable to GOP obstruction.” Will have any chance to learn more about the insurrection?

Such a committee would differ from the proposed bipartisan commission in several key ways, but it could still take steps to ensure accountability for those involved in the insurrection. Notably, a select committee would be composed of members of Congress rather than outside experts, and the subpoena power would function differently — but, crucially, it could also be created with only a simple majority vote in the House.

At the same time, a select committee could cast an inescapable partisan shadow over the investigation — and the failure of the independent commission bill underscores the alarming depths of Republican fealty to the Big Lie.

Several Democratic members of the House have publicly voiced their support for the backup plan, which follows the defeat on Friday of the bipartisan commission bill in a 54-35 vote. The bill would have needed 60 votes to bypass the controversial Senate filibuster.

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hasn’t publicly declared her next move. But in a statement released after Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the bipartisan commission bill on Friday, Pelosi pledged that “Democrats will proceed to find the truth.”

“Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans’ denial of the truth of the January 6th insurrection brings shame to the Senate,” she said. “Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and our country less safe.”

So, let’s check this headline out from HuffPo: Trump’s Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Calls For Myanmar-Type Coup In U.S.“It should happen,” Flynn declared of the violent, deadly military coup at a wild QAnon conference in Dallas for “patriots.”

Avowed QAnon disciple and confessed felon retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has called for a Myanmar-like military coup in America.

“It should happen,” Donald Trump’s former national security adviser said in an astonishing declaration at a QAnon conference Sunday.

Myanmar’s military violently seized control of the country from its civilian government in late January, detained democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and top party members, and killed more than 700 protesters as of early this month. The military justified its action by claiming unproven “election fraud.”

Flynn presented his dark vision of a military coup and dictatorship in the U.S. in response to a question from the audience at the conference.

″I wanna know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?” an unidentified member of the audience asked Flynn, though he pronounced the nation as “Minnimar.”

“No reason,” Flynn responded to wild screams of approval. “It should happen.”

This should give us all pause.  It also means the best way of remembering and honoring our war dead is to ensure our folks in uniform do not have to face another group of insurrectionists.  Everyone needs to call out the “Big Lie” including republicans.  Everyone needs to ensure Liberty and Justice is for all including Republicans.  Everyone needs to fight to protect the myriad of civil rights protected by the right to privacy to include Republicans.

Today is a good day to consider what duties we all have as citizens as well as remembering those who died to fight for them.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

I actually have this sheet music as well as the 78.  My grandfather was in charge of the War Bond programs for the Kansas City Federal Reserve District so we also have the same for “Any Bonds Today?” which was popular during World War 2.  Today was the day my family picnicked in some very small cemeteries in some very small towns in Kansas and Missouri and cleaned the family plots and memorials.  We took Decoration Day seriously having had family serve in every war since the Revolutionary War and all of them on the right side of the Civil War itself.  We have a lot to be thankful for to include those freed slaves who started the entire day of memory.


Sunday Reads: Red Hats

Another Sunday…and more cartoons from Calle.com:

Cartoons from AAEC

The Purging of the Republican Party - by Angelo Lopez
Who’s Your Lifestyle Guru?
05292021 Memorial Day

Now some tweeters:

I wanted to stay away from disturbing news, but that can’t be done.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Very Unpleasant Weather, George Cruikshank, 1820

Very Unpleasant Weather, George Cruikshank, 1820

Good Afternoon!!

New England weather is insane!! Just a couple of days ago, it was in the 90s here. Now it’s raining cats and dogs and 46 (feels like 41). I had to turn the heat on in my apartment this morning! Memorial Day weekend is usually the first big weekend on the Cape, but I don’t think it will be that nice down there. The rain and cold is supposed to continue through Monday. On the plus side, it’s perfect weather for reading mysteries. Anyway, here’s what’s happening in the news.

As everyone knows, yesterday Senate Republicans blocked the bill that would have created a bipartisan commission to investigation the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

NPR: Senate Republicans Block A Plan For An Independent Commission On Jan. 6 Capitol Riot.

Bipartisan legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has failed in the Senate, as Republicans staged their first filibuster since President Biden took office to block the plan.

The final vote Friday was 54-35, but Republicans withheld the votes necessary to bring the bill up for debate. Just six GOP senators joined with the Democrats, leaving the measure short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

Cat+in+Rain Tarra Lyons

Cat in the rain, by Tarra Lyons

The proposed commission was modeled on the one established to investigate the 9/11 terror attacks, with 10 commissioners — five Democrats and five Republicans — who would have subpoena powers. A Democratic chair and Republican vice chair would have had to approve all subpoenas with a final report due at the end of the year.

The House approved the measure 252-175 last week with 35 Republicans joining all Democrats in support of the plan.

But Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, were deeply skeptical of the commission in the days leading up to the vote.

McConnell had dismissed the proposal as a “purely political exercise,” given that two Senate committees are already looking into the events of Jan. 6. In remarks from the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell called into question how much more a commission would be able to unearth….

In remarks on the Senate floor after the vote, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described the outcome this way: “[O]ut of fear of — or fealty to — Donald Trump, the Republican minority just prevented the American people from getting the full truth about Jan. 6.” He added: “Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they’re afraid of Donald Trump.”

Joe Manchin was very upset about the vote, but he isn’t willing to do anything about the systemic problems that allowed a minority of Republicans to defeat the majority. Raw Story: 

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) Friday afternoon after failing to help get at least 10 Republicans to join with Democrats to not filibuster a vote on a bill to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, expressed frustration….

Manchin’s full remarks, which he made to Forbes’ Andrew Solender about Republicans voting to block the January 6 insurrection commission bill:

“This job’s not worth it to me to sell my soul. What are you gonna do, vote me out? That’s not a bad option, I get to go home.”

“If that’s what they wish. But I’m sure not going to sell my soul when I know what’s right. And this is right for us to start healing the country. You’ve got to get this commission.”

Manchin, who has also announced he will not support HR1/S1, the “For the People Act” to protect voting rights, has positioned himself as something of a powerbroker, given his conservative voting record (Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, is ranked more liberal than Manchin.) He absolutely has refused to allow the filibuster (which was designed to block civil rights legislation from passing during the past 99 years, and especially used during the late middle 20th century,) to be killed.

The Nation’s Justice Correspondent Elie Mystal notes “if the filibuster didn’t exist, the 1/6 commission would have gotten 10-15 Republican votes.”

c378bdc2b541226b54cc26a199ce5393The other Democratic roadblock, Senator Krysten Sinema, supposedly supports the commission, but instead decided to help kill it. The Arizona Republic: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema skips Jan. 6 US Capitol riot commission vote.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema skipped Friday’s procedural Senate vote on establishing a bipartisan commission to study the U.S. Capitol riot. 

Senate Republicans, in their first use of the filibuster under President Joe Biden, blocked the legislation from proceeding. 

It’s unclear why Sinema, D-Ariz., missed the vote, which took place Friday morning after Republicans forced an overnight marathon session involving separate legislation intended to bolster the U.S.’s competitiveness against China. She was last seen voting Thursday evening on the Senate floor on that legislation.

EJ Montini at The Arizona Republic: The way Sen. Kyrsten Sinema helped to kill the Jan. 6 commission.

Make no mistake, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema helped to kill the bill that would have created a commission to investigate the insurrection of Jan. 6, even though creating such a commission is something she supported.

Just last week Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia issued a statement urging Republican colleagues to vote for the commission.

Sinema and Manchin are staunch supporters of the Senate’s filibuster rule, which requires a 60-vote majority to pass legislation. They were hoping to get more of their Republican colleagues to reach across the aisle to help create a commission….

Essentially, even when there is a bipartisan majority of senators supporting a course of action – as 54 did with establishing a commission – a minority can keep it from happening.

The same fate awaits the For the People Act, a sweeping piece of legislation aimed at combating voter suppression laws being enacted in many state legislatures – including ours.

David Smith at The Guardian: Republicans’ blocking of the Capitol commission shows how deep the rot is.

The question now is not so much whether the Republican party can be saved any time in the foreseeable future. It is what Joe Biden and the Democrats should do when faced with a party determined to subvert democracy through any means necessary, including violence.

On Friday Republicans in the Senate torpedoed an effort to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly insurrection by Donald Trump’s supporters at the US Capitol on 6 January, deploying the procedural move known as the filibuster to stop it even being debated.

Fearful perhaps of what such a commission might uncover about their own role as co-conspirators, most brushed aside personal pleas by Gladys Sicknick, the mother of a police officer who was that day sprayed with a chemical, collapsed and later had a stroke and died….

Cats. Rain. by Elena Reutova, 2020

Cats. Rain. by Elena Reutova, 2020

One of America’s two major parties now falls outside the democratic mainstream – think “far right” in European terms. But are Democrats taking the existential threat sufficiently seriously or sleepwalking towards disaster in the next election cycle? [….]

Minutes after Friday’s vote, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, seemed to get it, arguing that Republicans acted out of “out of fear or fealty” to Trump and made his false claim of a stolen election their official policy. “Trump’s big lie is now the defining principle of what was once the party of Lincoln,” Schumer said. “Republican state legislatures, seizing on the big lie, are conducting the greatest assault on voting rights since the beginning of Jim Crow.”

But national voting rights legislation that would counter such steps is in deep trouble on Capitol Hill. Biden’s deadline for a police reform law named after George Floyd has come and gone due to Republican objections. His ambitious infrastructure investment is stalling as Republicans seek to shave billions off.

If Democrats can’t get rid of the filibuster, U.S. democracy may be in its death throes. 

Michael Kranish, Mike DeBonis, and Jacqueline Alemany at The Washington Post: Democrats grapple with the enemy within: What to do about the filibuster rule that could kill their agenda.

On Friday, for the first time this congressional session, Republicans used the filibuster on a piece of legislation, killing the proposal to form a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the very institution in which they sit. A growing number of Democrats, a group that now goes beyond the liberal wing of the party, believe that if Republicans were willing to use the procedure to kill what once was considered an uncontroversial bipartisan idea, they won’t hesitate to use it on more contentious parts of President Biden’s agenda.

“If you can’t get a Republican to support a nonpartisan analysis of why the Capitol was attacked the first time since the War of 1812, then what are you holding out hope for?” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is an advocate of reforming and potentially eliminating the filibuster.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) stressed that the filibuster was not in the Constitution, calling it an anti-democratic tool used to “block the will of the majority of the American people.”

“The framers of the Constitution built plenty of checks and balances into our system and they didn’t think we needed a filibuster — it’s a complete invention of the U.S. Senate,” Van Hollen said. “The greater danger to our country right now is our inability to get big things done.” [….]

raining-cats-dogs-4-590x368But some Democratic senators, particularly those who won by narrow margins or are from states won by former president Donald Trump, insist that bipartisanship is not dead. Indeed, skepticism about flatly eliminating the filibuster goes deeper in the Democratic ranks than the much-noted opposition of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). Members such as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said they are dismayed at Republican obstruction, but also believe that the specter of gridlock has been exaggerated by those pushing for rules changes.

“We’re not even six months into this administration. We’ve already passed a major bipartisan bill on hate crimes. We’re about to pass another major bipartisan bill that will address research and innovation,” said Shaheen, referencing bills regarding attacks on Asian Americans and competition with China, while also saying she hopes for bipartisan support for an infrastructure plan. “I think it’s an important message for the American people to see that we’re going to work together in the best interests of the country.”

The result is a party impasse over how to handle the filibuster, which has alarmed activists and lawmakers who fear Democrats are fumbling a make-or-break moment with the midterms and the threat of losing control of Congress looming.

That’s just a brief excerpt. The whole article is well worth reading.

As Senate Republicans and one Democrat were killing the bipartisan commission, the DOJ criminal investigation continued. 

CNN: Prosecutors announce fresh charges against ‘Maga Caravan’ leader, others in January 6 insurrection.

The self-proclaimed leader of the “Maga Caravan,” which led dozens of vehicles to Washington, DC, to a rally held by former President Donald Trump, was charged with allegedly being one of the first insurrectionists to assault law enforcement at the US Capitol, the Justice Department announced.

Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, 38, of East Liverpool, Ohio, was arrested in Alabama this week for federal charges that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and engaging in physical violence on Capitol grounds. Thomas made his initial court appearance in the Northern District of Alabama Wednesday, prosecutors said. He has not entered a plea and information about his attorney was unavailable on Thursday….

wry39LLvWV_ae0eldW850aOAer0DTaGBRWtOHmhDGPgInvestigators, in documents supporting Thomas’ arrest, describe how he convened the caravan of nearly 60 vehicles around midnight of January 6 to listen to speakers Mike Lindell and Michael Flynn, who were both parroting false accusations of election fraud.

Thomas identified himself in an interview with a local news station as “Pi Annon,” according to the criminal complaint. He later uploaded the videos from the insurrection, including one of the interview to his personal YouTube page where his display name is “Joseph Thomas,” according to the criminal complaint.

Body camera footage from Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police Department allegedly showed Thomas “advancing toward a line of law enforcement and pushing against their shields … punched and struck the officers with his fist and forearm at least twice,” according to a news release. Law enforcement officers later confirmed the attack and stated the individual in the interview “was one of the first to come in and start hitting [and] pushing officers on the line,” prosecutors said.

Adam Klasfeld at Law and Crime: ‘2 If By Sea’: Oath Keepers Messages Shed New Light on Alleged Plot to Storm D.C. With Guns by Way of Potomac.

Hours before Senate Republicans killed an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6th siege, federal prosecutors disclosed communications about how Oath Keepers allegedly plotted to storm Washington, D.C. with guns by boat by way of the Potomac River.

Those discussions became public in a filing seeking to maintain the strict pretrial release conditions of Oath Keepers member Thomas Caldwell, whom prosecutors allege organized a group of militia members on “standby with guns in a hotel across the river.” In the brief, prosecutors also alleged that a message from the militia’s leader described a “worst case scenario” where former President Donald Trump “calls us up as part of the militia to to assist him inside DC.”

Pulling a line from one of the immortal verses of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the extremist group’s Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs allegedly imagined the militia members as the modern day equivalent of their American colonial forebears.

raining-cats-and-dogs-sue-tasker

Raining cats and dogs, Sue Tasker

“1 if by land,” Meggs allegedly wrote in an encrypted message on the group’s Signal channel, quoting Longfellow’s 1861 poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

“North side of Lincoln Memorial,” Meggs’s message continued, according to the government. “2 if by sea[,] Corner of west basin and Ohio is a water transport landing !!”

The alleged Oath Keepers plot to ferry heavy weapons across the Potomac River on a boat was previously reported by the New York Times in February, but prosecutors first made new evidence supporting that claim public on the day Trump’s Republican Party blocked independent scrutiny into the attack.

According to the government’s eight-page brief, the 65-year-old Caldwell allegedly answered Meggs’s call by asking a member of another militia group about procuring a boat for their so-called “quick reaction force,” or QRF.

Read the rest at the Law and Crime link.

That’s it for me today. I’m going to curl up with a good book. I hope you enjoy the long weekend, whatever your weather!


Friday Reads: This and that and the other …

“The popular artist @PENPENCILDRAW created an illustration in response to that ruling, depicting “an Indian judge’s guide to being an ideal rape survivor”. The illustration went viral.”

Hi Sky Dancers!

I’m still exhausted from end-of-term madness. We’re still caught up in reacting to Trumpist news.  I’ll go there but not quite yet.

My neighbor tweeted this BBC article this morning on the terrifying rape culture in India.  Read this and see how the judge on the case dismissed a work-related rape.  It’s horrifying!  I need to post a trigger warning here!  The judge actually describes what he finds “appropriate” behavior for a rape victim. There should be global outrage on this one.

As many of you may know, I’ve been an advocate of battered women and children and also rape victims since high school.  I’ve been involved in this well into my current state of cronehood.  I fear for my daughters and for my soon-to-be-born granddaughters.  How can we ever get rid of these attitudes?  This is from India but I’ve run into these same attitudes here.

The illustration came from the following article.

Arianna Vairo

From the BBC World News article above:

Is there an appropriate way for a rape victim to behave?

That’s the question many are asking in India after a judge threw out charges against a man accused of raping a female colleague and questioned the behaviour of the alleged victim.

Judge Kshama Joshi wrote that in photographs taken shortly after the alleged assault, the young woman was “smiling and looked happy, normal, in [a] good mood”.

“She did not look disturbed, reserved, terrified or traumatised in any way even though this was immediately after she claims to have been sexually assaulted,” the judge wrote in a 527-page judgement.

The charges against Tarun Tejpal, the high-profile former editor of Tehelka magazine, were dismissed. The Goa government, which has appealed the decision, asked on Thursday for an early hearing, saying “we owe it to our girls” and that the acquittal order was “erroneous in law” and “unsustainable”. The High Court judge agreed and said he would hear the case on 2 June.

Endless debunking of these myths has led to little progress.  The root causes are power and control.  Never forget!

The fight to remove power and control from women also continues on the fight to preserve access to legal abortions.  This is from WBUR: “The Supreme Court, Abortion And The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Long Game.” The forced birth movement will never be satisfied an end to Roe V Wade.  Here’s a list of articles discussed in the broadcast.

CNN: “How Trump and McConnell set the final pieces for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade” — “Conservatives have been waiting decades for this moment: a transformed Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an abortion case that directly challenges women’s reproductive rights tracing to the 1973 Roe v. Wade milestone.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Mississippi Abortion Case at the Supreme Court: What You Should Know” — “The question of abortion rights is making a return to the Supreme Court, with justices on Monday agreeing to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

Ms. Magazine: “Unprecedented Surge in Anti-Abortion Laws Proposed and Passed Across the U.S.” — “In the first four months of 2021, anti-abortion lawmakers introduced 536 abortion restrictions in 46 states, including 146 abortion bans, according to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute on Friday. They enacted 61 restrictions in 13 states, including eight bans that would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Governors signed 28 restrictions into law in eight states just last week.”

The Hill: “Democrats: Roe v. Wade blow would fuel expanding Supreme Court” — “Democratic senators say if the Supreme Court strikes a blow against Roe v. Wade by upholding a Mississippi abortion law, it will fuel an effort to add justices to the court or otherwise reform it.”

Susanna and the Elders, Restored – X-Ray
1998 Kathleen Gilje

The headlines are quite bleak. This is from New York Magazine and was written by By Irin Carmon and Benjamin Hart. “The Radicalism of the Abortion Law the Supreme Court Granted”.

Irin: I would call this catastrophic for abortion rights. Not even the 5th circuit, arguably the most conservative appeals court in the country, thought it was worth upholding this ban, because it so egregiously flouts almost a half-century of precedent. There’s no circuit split — the dissent among lower courts that usually obliges the Supreme Court to step in. The court has had many chances to change its rule as to whether states can ban abortion before viability and never has. This suggests at least four justices (which is how many it takes to take up a case) think now is the time.

This is the from the local Erie News about the radical set of abortion legislation advanced by republicans in the Pennsylvania house.  I have not put the headline up because it contains mislabelling of the Forced Birth movement

Pennsylvania conservatives have previously pushed anti-abortion legislation, but several bills have stalled in committee, including when the Republican-controlled Legislature had a Republican governor to sign their agenda into law.

Former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011 signed into law stricter standards for abortion clinics and in 2013 signed a law that denied abortion coverage through Obamacare.

But nothing as restrictive as what was introduced Tuesday got close to law during the Corbett years.

The three bills Republicans advanced this week include a heartbeat bill that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected; a ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis; and another that requires medical facilities to disclose burial options for miscarriages and abortions.

Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York County, said during the committee meeting that supporting the ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis is a “no brainer.”

“We shouldn’t allow them to be discriminated against,” she said.

“Children with Down syndrome, they lead amazing lives,” Klunk added. “They are contributing in so many ways, but they need the chance at life to be able to do that.”

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny County, called the ban “dystopian” during the meeting and said the General Assembly is creating more fear while denying access to healthcare.

Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon County, introduced the bill on burial options because of his own experience after losing a child, a story he has shared previously.

He said he was “asking the ladies in the room” to “recognize how men feel.”

He said his bill is optional and gives families a chance at closure after losing a baby, he said.

“This is about giving choice to those people whose faith says that life begins at conception,” Ryan said.

Frankel argued that Ryan’s bill mandates cremation or burial and does not make it optional after abortion or miscarriage. To get a burial, a death certificate would also be required for abortions and miscarriages.

This is also about power and control.  This is from The Guardian “Anti-abortion movement bullish as legal campaign reaches US supreme court.”

The anti-abortion movement in the US is emboldened and optimistic after the supreme court announced it would hear a direct challenge to laws underpinning the right to abortion in the US, and Texas enacted a law intended to ban abortion after six weeks.

The high court decision to take up the case and the Texas move come during the most hostile year for reproductive rights in the nearly half-century since pregnant people won the constitutional right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy in the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade.

“The long-predicted scaling back of abortion rights by the supreme court just got a lot more likely,” said Mary Ziegler, a legal historian, author of Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v Wade to the Present, and law professor at Florida State University.

Today, abortion is legal in all 50 states up to the point the fetus can survive outside the womb, a legal concept called “viability” established in Roe. This is generally understood to be about 24 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 39 weeks).

The case taken up by the court, called Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will answer whether Mississippi can limit abortion to 15 weeks, and is brought by the state’s last abortion clinic. If upheld, it would reduce by more than two months the time in which a woman could choose to terminate a pregnancy.

“It’s really hard to see why the court would take this case unless they’re interested in reversing part of Roe or all of Roe,” said Ziegler. Further, the court chose to answer “the most explosive question in the case”, which “suggests they’re not really worried about the political fallout”.

On the right, the hopes are clear: that the court will end the legal right to an abortion, and potentially allow room to criminalize the procedure.

“We’re all hopeful the court will be intellectually honest and acknowledge what the science is clear on – that a unique human life starts at fertilization,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the anti-abortion advocacy group Life Action. Rose is widely seen as the face of the millennial anti-abortion movement.

Mississippi is just one of 29 states across the south and midwest considered hostile to abortion rights, where 58% of American women of reproductive age live, and which would probably act to further restrict abortion rights.

The supreme court case represents the most severe challenge ever presented to Roe, and is a reflection of how the country has splintered in a decade of Republican-led voting restrictions and partisan gerrymandering, the process of redrawing politicians’ districts to favor one party.

“We’re becoming two countries, and your voting rights and your reproductive rights are increasingly likely to depend on where you live,” said David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote and the bestselling author of Rat F**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count.

The Rape of the Sabine Women, by Pablo Picasso, 1962

The purge continues in education.  Not only is sex education in many states illegal but now summer school classes in Oklahoma have been cancelled because they don’t teach the white male version of racism. From Oklahoma City Local News station 5: “Oklahoma teacher says summer class canceled due to bill that bans teaching critical race theory.”

A teacher is disappointed with Gov. Kevin Stitt after one of her summer classes was canceled due to House Bill 1775, which bans educators from teaching certain concepts of race and racism.

Melissa Smith told KOCO 5 that she’s taught race theory-type classes for six years and is confused why there’s an issue now.

“I’m not happy. This is information everyone needs to know,” Smith said.

The high school and community college teacher said House Bill 1775 has caused her to lose a class she was supposed to teach this summer at Oklahoma City Community College.

“I’ve actually been teaching race and ethnicities in the United States for multiple years,” she said.

The recently signed legislation restricts what can be taught about racial divisions through history in Oklahoma classrooms.

“I got an email a week or so ago, saying due to this new law, they were canceling my completely full race and ethnicities class,” Smith said.

Her students won’t be able to take her class even though it was required for some to graduate. Also, Smith won’t be paid.

“This was a huge chunk of my income,” she said.

When Stitt signed the bill, he said, “We can and should teach the history without labeling a young child as an oppressor or requiring he or she feel guilt or shame based on their race or sex. I refused to tolerate otherwise.”

Yaqiu Wang • CHINA

So, this is AmeriKKKa.  This is from The New Yorker and Susanne B. Glasser: “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, but It’s Getting There.  A country that cannot even agree to investigate an assault on its Capitol is in big trouble, indeed.”  

Before leaving town for their Memorial Day recess, in fact, Senate Republicans were expected to use the legislative filibuster for the first time this session to block the proposed bipartisan panel. Their stated arguments against a commission range from the implausible to the insulting; the real explanation is political cynicism in the extreme. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is so far delivering on his pledge to focus a “hundred per cent” on blocking Biden’s agenda, even claimed that an investigation was pointless because it would result in “no new fact.” John Cornyn, a close McConnell ally, from Texas, was more honest, at least, in admitting, to Politico, that the vote was all about denying Democrats “a political platform” from which to make the 2022 midterm elections a “referendum on President Trump.” For his part, Trump has been putting out the word that he plans to run for reëlection in 2024—and exulting in polls showing that a majority of Republicans continue to believe both his false claims of a fraudulent election and that nothing untoward happened on January 6th. Needless to say, these are not the signs of a healthy democracy ready to combat the autocratic tyrants of the world.

“Turns out, things are much worse than we expected,” Daniel Ziblatt, one of the “How Democracies Die” authors, told me this week. He said he had never envisioned a scenario like the one that has played itself out among Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past few months. How could he have? It’s hard to imagine anyone in America, even when “How Democracies Die” was published, a year into Trump’s term, seriously contemplating an American President who would unleash an insurrection in order to steal an election that he clearly lost—and then still commanding the support of his party after doing so.

This is the worrisome essence of the matter. In one alarming survey released this week, nearly thirty per cent of Republicans endorsed the idea that the country is so far “off track” that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” against their political opponents. You don’t need two Harvard professors to tell you that sort of reasoning is just what could lead to the death of a democracy. The implications? Consider the blunt words of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a ruling on a case involving one of the January 6th rioters at the Capitol, issued even as it became clear that Republican senators would move to block the January 6th commission from investigating what had caused the riot:

The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near daily fulminations of the former President.

It’s worth noting that Jackson released this ruling this week, the same week that Trump issued statements calling the 2020 vote “the most corrupt Election in the history of our Country,” touting himself as “the true President,” and warning that American elections are “rigged, corrupt, and stolen.”

Via HuffPo: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski Says Mitch McConnell Is Blocking Jan. 6 Commission For Political Gain.

“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said.

She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear. And one of those is that we have free and fair elections… I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle.”

So, I rather thought this post would be something else than it became as I wrote. Once again, I went down a dark rabbit hole.  We are losing our democracy and our selves in a series of right wing autocratic attempts to make laws and send them to courts stacked with religionists, autocrats, white nationalists, and enablers of patriarchy. Trumpism is radicalizing me. It’s something we must vote against, march against, and speak out against.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

hym01art1On Tuesday, I wrote about the sudden mainstreaming of the so-called “lab leak theory” of the origins of Covid-19 in China. Today David Leonhardt has an “explainer” of this sudden attention to this long-dismissed notion.

Suddenly, talk of the Wuhan lab-leak theory seems to be everywhere.

President Biden yesterday called on U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble their efforts” to determine the origin of Covid-19 and figure out whether the virus that causes it accidentally leaked from a Chinese laboratory. Major publications and social media have recently been filled with discussion of the subject.

The origin of the virus remains unclear. Many scientists have long believed that the most likely explanation is that it jumped from an animal to a person, possibly at a food market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Animal-to human transmission — known as zoonotic spillover — is a common origin story for viruses, including Ebola and some bird flus.But some scientists have pointed to another possibility: that it escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As in other laboratories, researchers there sometimes modify viruses, to understand and treat them.

“It is most likely that this is a virus that arose naturally, but we cannot exclude the possibility of some kind of a lab accident,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told senators yesterday.

Leonhardt writes–as I did on Tuesday–that the reason this is suddenly getting so much attention is because a number of scientists have recently argued that the lab leak theory should be investigated.

Among the reasons: Chinese officials have refused to allow an independent investigation into the lab and have failed to explain some inconsistencies in the animal-to-human hypothesis. Most of the first confirmed cases had no evident link to the food market.

But has anything really changed?

In some ways, not much has not changed. From the beginning, the virus’s origin has been unclear. All along, some scientists, politicians and journalists have argued that the lab-leak theory deserves consideration.

Almost 15 months ago, two Chinese researchers wrote a paper concluding that the virus “probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.” Alina Chan, a molecular biologist affiliated with Harvard and M.I.T., made similar arguments. David Ignatius and Josh Rogin, both Washington Post columnists, wrote about the possibility more than a year ago. Joe Biden, then a presidential candidate, didn’t mention the lab-leak theory in early 2020 but he did argue that the U.S. should “not be taking China’s word” for how the outbreak started.

But these voices were in the minority. The World Health Organization initially dismissed the lab-leak theory as implausible.

Read the rest at the link–I’ve probably quoted too much.

covid_19_-_the_right_way_ditikalayakashyapIf you read the comments on the Tuesday post, you know that Quixote, who is quite knowledgeable on this subject, vehemently argued against the lab leak theory. Quixote posted another comment yesterday that I didn’t see until this morning:

The virus isn’t engineered because you can tell by the RNA sequence. If it had been, the inserted bits will be obvious when you compare it to related viruses. Sort of like Frankenstein’s monster is visibly sewn together from parts that don’t go together.

The early cases don’t particularly center on the lab or on people associated with it. They’re outside Wuhan, inside Wuhan, at the abandoned mine / bat cave, at the captured animal food market, and so on. The pattern is what you’d see if a virus mutated to be able to infect people, but wasn’t very good at it yet, and had been moving through the population for a while. In the course of simmering through the population, the most successful virus would be the one that changed enough to infect people easily.

It had enough time to do that, and that was exactly the threat the Wuhan lab, and also CDC people there, were looking for. (Trump, by the way, cut funding for both of those because what the hell do we need to be paying people in China for.) The danger was noticed by Chinese doctors (one of whom soon died of the disease) who tried hard to alert the world. They were squelched by the government. If the CDC people had still been there, it would have been a lot harder to squelch.

So tl:dr; no evidence covid19 was an intentional bioweapon thing. Poor evidence that it could have unintentionally leaked. It’s a fact that the attempted coverup by the Chinese let the pandemic get going. If procedures at the lab need improving, they certainly should be.

The other things you mention about China are all true. (Tibet too. Never forget Tibet.) It’s been obvious for decades that China was going to abuse whatever power it could get. But that’s another whole train of thought.

As bad as they are, covid19 does not fit the lab leak story at all well. Both things can be true: they’re bad and covid was an incompetent accident made infinitely worse by self-serving dictators all over the world, including China.

I agree that there certainly is no evidence for the lab leak theory. The only reason I thought there could be something to it was that several people in the lab got sick with something that looked like Covid-19 and were hospitalized. I thought they could have gotten the virus from the cave samples–not that the virus was engineered in the lab–and that somehow the virus got into the population that way. But there is no way to ever know if this happened, as China would never cooperate with any investigation.

Now that Biden has ordered an investigation, we will likely hear more about this, but I can’t see how we’re ever going to know for sure how the virus originated. The crossover from animal to human explanation makes the most sense.

It’s also worth checking out this thread on Twitter by a China expert.

In other Covid-19 news, The New York Times reports that two studies have found that Immunity to the Coronavirus May Persist for Years.

Immunity to the coronavirus lasts at least a year, possibly a lifetime, improving over time especially after vaccination, according to two new studies. The findings may help put to rest lingering fears that protection against the virus will be short-lived.

WehavecompassionCovid19Suzon

19 Faces of Covid-19, by Suzon Lucore

Together, the studies suggest that most people who have recovered from Covid-19 and who were later immunized will not need boosters. Vaccinated people who were never infected most likely will need the shots, however, as will a minority who were infected but did not produce a robust immune response.

Both reports looked at people who had been exposed to the coronavirus about a year earlier. Cells that retain a memory of the virus persist in the bone marrow and may churn out antibodies whenever needed, according to one of the studies, published on Monday in the journal Nature.

The other study, posted online at BioRxiv, a site for biology research, found that these so-called memory B cells continue to mature and strengthen for at least 12 months after the initial infection.

“The papers are consistent with the growing body of literature that suggests that immunity elicited by infection and vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 appears to be long-lived,” said Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research.

Read more at the NYT.

There was another mass shooting yesterday–so what else is new? 

It’s also not new that the perpetrator had a history of violence against women. Fox News: San Jose shooting leaves 9 dead, deceased suspect identified; victims shot in separate buildings.

The eight people initially killed by a gunman at a Northern California rail yard Wednesday morning were shot in two separate buildings before the suspected shooter took his own life, authorities said Wednesday. 

A ninth victim died in a hospital late Wednesday evening, authorities said.

The mass shooting epidemic, credit Dana Gornall

The mass shooting epidemic, credit Dana Gornall

Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith expressed her grief for the families of the victims before praising the quick response of law enforcement officers who went into a Valley Transportation Authority building as the active shooting was happening. She said deputies and San Jose police officers were the first on the scene. 

The suspect was identified Wednesday as Samuel Cassidy, 57, who was a VTA employee, officials said. No motive is known for the shooting at this time.

An ex-girlfriend told the San Francisco Chronicle he was prone to alcohol-fueled mood swings and had been accused in a March 2009 court filing of rape and abuse. The documents were filed in response to a domestic violence restraining order that Cassidy had filed earlier that month. 

The former girlfriend alleged his mood swings worsened when he drank alcohol and that he played “several mind games which he seems to enjoy.” She listed several incidents of alleged sexual assault in which he would hold her arms and force his weight onto her. 

He would apologize and promised to never do it again afterward, the report said. 

(Emphasis added)

Cassidy’s ex-wife said he had threated workplace violence years ago. KCRA3.com: What we know about Sam Cassidy, the suspect in the San Jose VTA shooting.

The man who opened fire Wednesday at a rail yard in San Jose, killing nine other people and ending his own life, has been identified as 57-year-old Sam Cassidy. He was an employee of the Valley Transportation Authority, which provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara County, authorities said.

RS31736_Photo-Jul-06-11-30-19-AM-qut-520x293Cassidy was identified as a maintenance worker at the Valley Transportation Authority….

According to The Associated Press, Cassidy had talked to his ex-wife about killing people at work more than a decade ago.

“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” a tearful Cecilia Nelms told The Associated Press.

She said he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.

“He could dwell on things,” she said. The two were married for about 10 years until a 2005 divorce filing and she hadn’t been in touch with Cassidy for about 13 years, Nelms said.

I’m still perplexed and fascinated by the Q-Anon phenomenon. There a couple of stories about it today.

NBC News: Study finds nearly one-in-five Americans believe QAnon conspiracy theories.

Washington, we have a problem — politically, informationally and societally — when 15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds “are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

Or when 20 percent agree with this statement: “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.”

Or when another 15 percent agree that “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

These are the results of a PRRI-IFYC study that was conducted online March 8-30, but that was just released Thursday.

And the study finds that Republicans, those who trust far-right news outlets like OANN and Newsmax, and white evangelicals and Hispanic Protestants are all more likely to believe these statements than other Americans.

It’s hard to call something fringe when approximately one-in-five Americans believe these statements, especially one that true patriots “may have to resort to violence” to save the country.

Here’s the PRRI story: Understanding QAnon’s Connection to American Politics, Religion, and Media Consumption.

Three Components of the QAnon Conspiracy Movement

The far-right conspiracy theory movement known as QAnon emerged on the internet in late 2017 and gained traction throughout former president Donald Trump’s time in office. QAnon’s core theory revolves around Satan-worshipping pedophiles plotting against Trump and a coming “storm” that would clear out those evil forces, but the movement has also been described as a “big tent conspiracy theory” that involves a constantly evolving web of schemes about politicians, celebrities, bankers, and the media, as well as echoes of older movements within Christianity, such as Gnosticism.

e7d48eefa41a0d5dd2b2ae4f7062823421-QANON-COVER-NO-TYPE.rvertical.w1200To understand how this loosely connected belief system is influencing American politics, religion, and media, we fielded three questions, each containing a tenet of the QAnon conspiracy movement….

QAnon Beliefs and Partisanship

A nontrivial 15% of Americans agree with the sweeping QAnon allegation that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” while the vast majority of Americans (82%) disagree with this statement. Republicans (23%) are significantly more likely than independents (14%) and Democrats (8%) to agree that the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.

Similarly, one in five Americans (20%) agree with the statement “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” while a majority (77%) disagree. Nearly three in ten Republicans (28%), compared to 18% of independents and 14% of Democrats, agree with this secondary QAnon conspiracy theory. Trends among demographic groups are similar to those of the core QAnon conspiracy theory.

Fifteen percent of Americans agree that “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” while the vast majority (85%) disagree. Republicans (28%) are twice as likely as independents (13%) and four times as likely as Democrats (7%) to agree that because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence.

Click the link to read the rest.

So…that’s a mixed bag of news for you. What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread.