Monday Reads: Modernizing Policy to the 21st Century and Beyond!

Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s pouring here again and flooding.  This seems to be the new state of affairs as Climate Change goes beyond noticeable in more places than the Maldives and the gone, gone gone, beyond barrier islands and glaciers of the planet.  Our infrastructure here in New Orleans was made for 1910, not 2021, and certainly not for this kind of constant extreme weather which we might as well start calling our weather all the time.

Oh, and by the way, attacks on our country are more than just the North Korean government lobbing missiles into the air with pictures of the stern face of Dear Leader in its government-run press.  We just had a cyberattack on the Oil Pipeline infrastructure that look’s like the kind of thing the Last Guy’s bestie Putin likes to do.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are debating every policy like it’s 1959. Are we certain the interstate highway system isn’t a sign that Eisenhower has been co-opted by Commies?  So, what’s stopping us from getting some new-fangled, up-to-date, technologically, and scientifically consistent policies based on what’s real?

Oh, yeah, Joe Manchin and Republicans …

So, let’s look at that attack on our oil infrastructure.

And enjoy the artwork of Helen Frankenthaler active in the 1950sl, m.

From MSNBC: “Colonial pipeline hack claimed by Russian group DarkSide spurs emergency order from White House. The DarkSide ransomware group released a statement Monday saying that it is apolitical and that it did not mean to cause widespread disruption.”

The federal government issued a rare emergency declaration on Sunday after a cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline choked the transportation of oil to the eastern U.S.

The Colonial Pipeline, responsible for the country’s largest fuel pipeline, shut down all its operations Friday after hackers broke into some of its networks. All four of its main lines remain offline.

The emergency declaration from the Department of Transportation aims to ramp up alternative transportation routes for oil and gas. It lifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow. The U.S. is already dealing with a shortage of tanker truck drivers.


Helen Frankenthaler, Open Wall, 1953

There are declared emergencies in 17 states and DC.  From Axios:

Why it matters: Friday night’s cyberattack is “the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure” known to have occurred in the U.S., notes energy researcher Amy Myers Jaffe, per Politico.

  • The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a regional emergency declaration for 17 states and Washington, D.C., to keep fuel supply lines open.

The big picture: Colonial Pipeline carries 45% of fuel supplies in the eastern U.S. Some 5,500 miles of pipeline has been shut down in response to the attack.

  • While gasoline and diesel prices aren’t expected to be impacted if pipeline operations resume in the next few days, fuel suppliers are becoming “increasingly nervous” about possible shortages, Bloomberg notes.

What’s happening: The emergency declaration covers: Alabama, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Painted on 21st Street “Untitled” (1951), in a show at Gagosian on Helen Frankenthaler’s early period.

Darkside –a Russian Criminal group–is considered the hacker per NBC.  “Russian criminal group suspected in Colonial pipeline ransomware attack. The group, known as DarkSide, is relatively new, but it has a sophisticated approach to extortion, sources said.”

The system, which runs from Texas to New Jersey, transports 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply. In a statement Sunday, the company said that some smaller lateral lines were operational but that the main lines remained down.

“We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations,” the company said.

Raimondo said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the effort to restart the network was “an all-hands-on-deck effort right now.”

“We are working closely with the company, state and local officials to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren’t disruptions in supply,” she said, adding: “Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent. They’re here to stay.”

A White House official said Sunday that the Energy Department is leading the government’s response. Agencies are planning for a number of scenarios in which the region’s fuel supply takes a hit, the official said.

On Saturday, Colonial Pipeline blamed the cyberattack on ransomware and said some of its information technology systems were affected. It said it “proactively” took “certain systems offline to contain the threat.”

Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Landscape, 1951

I think having Arizona QAnon crazies search for bamboo in ballots is just really missing the threat and mark.  Don’t you?  Well, read this Vice article about the QAnon plan to steal Arizona for Trump and be relieved our justice department has been called in.

A group of Arizona citizens, including one Republican Congressional candidate, is asking the state’s Supreme Court to invalidate all election results since 2018 and remove all elected officials from their offices immediately.

And who should replace the ousted election officials? Well, the citizens who filed the lawsuit, of course.

The legal petition claims all officials elected in Arizona since 2018 are “inadvertent usurpers” because the elections they won were conducted by vote-counting equipment that was not properly certified.

The plaintiffs claim the evidence to back up this staggering claim will be provided in the lawsuit’s appendix, which unfortunately they had not submitted at the time of writing.

The plaintiffs claim that the court has the authority to void the terms of the named officials—which include Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs—and install themselves as appropriate replacements.

“When in the past citizens have been appointed by the Governor to finish out a Senate term due to unusual circumstances, the Governor has typically chosen pedigreed, well-known politicians, but this is not necessary. Any Arizona resident meeting the minimum qualifications is entitled to and has the right be appointed to a seat in unusual situations,”  the lawsuit claims.

The legal filing is the latest harebrained effort by pro-Trump and QAnon supporters in Arizona to get the results of November’s election overturned. There is currently an audit of 2.1 million votes being conducted in Maricopa County. The GOP-sanctioned recount is being conducted by a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas, which has no experience conducting audits.

I can’t imagine a more embarrassing state to live in at the moment than Arizona.  I live and have lived in pretty embarrassing states so I’m an authority on that.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is asking Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to respond to concerns the department has about the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation as the Senate’s contractors perform an audit of November’s presidential election in Maricopa County.

In a letter sent to Fann on Wednesday, Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the division, asked for Fann’s response to its concerns with an explanation of “the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur” during the audit.

The department’s concerns may have been prompted in part by a letter it received Thursday from three organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, asking the department to dispatch federal monitors to oversee the audit. That letter raised the same concerns that the department said it has, regarding the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation.

Helen Frankenthaler, March 1960.

Anyway, don’t even get me started on Louisiana where the lege is trying to make us a “sanctuary state” for oil and gas.  This is basically an industry that is killing us while making a few people quite rich. 

A state lawmaker wants to make Louisiana a “fossil fuel sanctuary state,” quixotically asserting special sovereignty to nullify any federal law, regulation or tax that in any way harms the oil and gas industry.

Rep. Danny McCormick, a Republican from Oil City, a town of about 1,000 residents in northwest Louisiana, says his House Bill 617 is a “preemptive effort” to protect the industry from the future policies of President Joe Biden’s administration.

“What he’ll do, I can’t answer yet,” McCormick said Wednesday, shortly after the bill was introduced in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. “There may be no limit to his attacks on the fossil fuel industry.”

The bill was partially inspired by the cities and other local jurisdictions that defied the immigration policies of former President Donald Trump’s administration. These so-called “sanctuary cities” refused to hand over immigration detainees for deportation.

Okay, so that’s pretty embarrassing for the state of Louisiana.

Anyway, I’ve just about had it with folks trying to redefine the future as back to the past.  State legislatures are Trumpier than the country can afford. Phillip Bump of WAPO puts it this way: “Refusal to accept reality is doing unquestionable damage to democracy”.  There are dangers out there but it’s not bamboo in ballots or transgender children.

The challenge, of course, is that the ramifications of rejecting the results of an election are obviously more dire than not having a chance to compete in a singing competition. Trump is both leveraging and accentuating a pattern of refusing to acknowledge defeat that poses real dangers for the American democratic system.

Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that he lost hinges on myriad assertions that something dubious or suspicious happened during the 2020 presidential contest. The sheer volume of claims is itself often cited as evidence that something needs to be done about election security, a claim that’s a bit like advocating legislation for mandated chimney locks given how many Americans (most of them under the age of 7) believe in Santa Claus.

There remains no credible evidence of the 2020 results being influenced or shifted in any way that would suggest widespread fraud. (Quite the opposite.) But there is a substantial industry predicated on claiming that voting results are suspect, claims into which Trump and others could tap.

Helen Frankenthaler’s “Weeping Crabapple.” 2009

Well, there’s a business well-suited for devils and demons.  There are no communists under your beds but there are a lot of disturbed politicians in your statehouses. Greg Sargent reminds us that the GOP has been radicalizing for some time.  It’s interesting to note that we’re on our second McCarthy in the House supporting conspiracy theories.

This is not the act of a “coward” who “fears Trump,” and would vouch for the integrity of the election if only he could do so without consequences.

Rather, it is the act of someone who is fully devoted to the project of continuing to undermine confidence in our elections going forward.

This is for purely instrumental purposes. Republicans are employing their own invented doubts about 2020 to justify intensified voter suppression everywhere. Banks neatly crystallized the point on Fox, saying those doubts required more voting restrictions — after reinforcing them himself.

Indeed, with all this, Republicans may be in the process of creating a kind of permanent justification for maximal efforts to invalidate future election outcomes by whatever means are within reach.

I’ve already detailed the possibility that a GOP-controlled House could refuse to certify a contested state’s election results in 2024. Brian Beutler suggests other ways Republicans could use official power to undermine legitimate outcomes, such as institutionalizing “sham audits” like the Arizona one or punishing state officials who certify Democratic victories.

So, it’s not fear itself we should fear these days.  That ought to keep you up at night.  There’s tons of technology to hack our creeky old infrastructure.  There are also all these chemicals and fossil fuels that are killing everything.  Can’t we just forget the good old days and move forward to face the new? Well, we could if we keep our democracy and get back to reality.

Anyway, time for Dakinikat Downer to go grade some papers and trying to calm any students that feel for DogeCoin.  Just when I thought bitcoin was the only Ponzi Scheme preying on our children.   Elon Musk strikes again!

Have a good week!   We’ll be here!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

10 Comments on “Monday Reads: Modernizing Policy to the 21st Century and Beyond!”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. quixote says:

    I love this business of the Russian criminal gang saying, “Oh gee whiz, we’re not political.” While living in a transnational crime syndicate controlled by Putin. I have bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    • NW Luna says:

      “didn’t mean to cause widespread disruption” Wanted to cause nationwide disruption but only got part of the country, is what they mean.


    • dakinikat says:

      I always think of Maxwell Smart fight the agents of Chaos!

  3. NW Luna says:

    Thanks for the Helen Frankenthaler paintings!

    • bostonboomer says:

      They are lovely.

    • dakinikat says:

      My pleasure … she’s an interesting woman too. I tried to link to a few articles about her. There were a large number of showings and things when she died a few years back so lots to discover out there.

  4. dakinikat says: