Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Boy with cat, Christopher Wood, 1926

Boy with a Cat, by Christopher Wood, 1926

Law enforcement sources are preparing for a planned Trumpist “Justice for January 6” rally today even though many Trump fans are claiming it could be a “false flag” and telling others not to attend. This time Capitol Police are not taking chances on a repeat of the January 6 insurrection.

The New York Times: Capitol Area on Edge Over Right-Wing Protest of Jan. 6 Arrests.

Law enforcement and residents of the District of Columbia were on high alert on Saturday as far-right demonstrators were expected to gather at the foot of the Capitol to protest the jailing of Donald J. Trump supporters who stormed the building on Jan. 6.

The Defense Department put 100 National Guard troops on standby. The Capitol Police erected fencing around Capitol Hill. Even youth soccer games were canceled before the “Justice for J6” rally, the first significant gathering of right-wing demonstrators at the Capitol since a mob attacked the building in January as Congress was officially certifying President Biden’s victory.

The rally is being organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, and his organization, Look Ahead America. The organization has demanded that the Justice Department drop charges against what the group calls “nonviolent protesters” facing charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot. Organizers have secured a permit for 700 attendees, according to the document.

Mr. Braynard has told protesters to be peaceful, “respectful and kind” to the hundreds of police officers expected to meet them, and to refrain from bringing signs, flags or clothing promoting a candidate or objecting to the 2020 election.

“What we’re looking for is pure patriotism,” he said in a promotional video.

But the Department of Homeland Security has warned of potential violence.

“We are aware of a small number of recent online threats of violence referencing the planned rally, including online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” the department’s intelligence officers wrote in a report obtained by The New York Times.

The Washington Post: Justice for J6: What to know about Saturday’s rally for those arrested in the Capitol riots.

Demonstrators in support of the pro-Trump mob that mounted the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are returning to the scene of the insurrection Saturday to demand “justice” for those arrested in the riot.

Organizers of the “Justice for J6” rally argue that many of the hundreds of people charged during the January insurrection, when a crowd incited by President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election stormed the Capitol, were actually nonviolent and participating in a political protest.

Now, rally organizers argue, those people are facing unjust charges and being detained as “political prisoners,” an assertion that has exploded beyond the far right and been embraced in mainstream conservatism….

The “Justice for J6” rally is scheduled to begin at noon at Union Square, a public park near the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Organizers are expecting around 700 attendees, according to a permit application submitted to the U.S. Capitol Police Board by Look Ahead America, a group that has planned protests in support of people arrested in the riot.

However, many far-right extremists have actually discouraged people from attending this rally, and there does not appear to be widespread coordination to bring people to the demonstration, researchers who study domestic extremism said.

Users in far-right Internet forums and groups have claimed without evidence that the rally is a “trap,” created by the federal government to lure demonstrators to Washington, where federal officials will arrest them. Users also allege without evidence that the event will be infiltrated by left-wing activists who will disguise themselves as Trump supporters and deliberately cause trouble to make the rallygoers look unlawful.

It still seems wise that law enforcement organizations are prepared and on alert. It doesn’t take a large mob to set off a bomb somewhere.

Millais, John Everett, 1829-1896; A Flood

John Everett Millais, A Flood

USA Today talked to the organizer of today’s event: ‘Might just be me and a bullhorn’: Meet the unlikely organizer of the Justice for J6 rally in DC.

The organizer of Saturday’s rally, aimed at recasting Jan. 6 as something other than the violent insurrection it was, immediately appears as an unlikely messenger for the Republican far-right.

Until Matt Braynard emerged as the face of a demonstration, staged to support hundreds arrested in the Capitol riots, the Republican operative had a relatively modest public profile, though  a recent spate of false voter fraud claims has gained him financial support.

Yet in the run-up to Saturday’s event, he has been everywhere – including a Friday appearance on C-SPAN.

In recent days, Braynard has appeared to downplay expectations for the size of the gathering, contending that the heavy security measures are more aimed at “intimidation” than protection and designed to discourage people from attending the so-called “Justice for J6” event. 

“It’s all meant to deter people from coming,” said Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer, whose group has tried to present most of the hundreds arrested in the Capitol attack as “political prisoners.”

“It’s all about dragging down attendance. In the end, it might just be me and a bullhorn,” he told USA TODAY in a brief interview this week. 

At MSNBC, Dean Obeidallah argues that the message of the rally itself is extremely problematic: Trump allies are still spreading a dangerous Jan. 6 myth.

The rally sends a clear message: If you commit acts of violence to help Trump, he and his supporters will have your back. Despite the fact that the event may in fact be relatively small at an estimated 700 attendants, that message and what it represents makes this arguably the most dangerous pro-Trump rally yet.

Saturday’s event, named the “Justice for J6” rally, is organized by a former Trump campaign strategist, Matt Braynard, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by claiming he had proof of 2020 election fraud, predicated upon the false claim that those still being held in custody are political prisoners.

On Thursday, Trump released a statement that read in part, “Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest,” insisting as he has before that the prosecutions are political in nature.

Adolf-Fleischmann-Esslingen-1892-1968-Stuttgart-Drei-Katzen-Late-1920s-scaled

Adolf Fleishchann Esslingen, Drei Katzen, late 1920s

This is nothing new — Trump has been leading that crusade for some time, baselessly claiming that the Jan. 6 attackers still behind bars “are being treated unbelievably unfairly. ” He’s also compared their treatment by law enforcement to other groups: “You look at people in prison and nothing happens to Antifa and they burned down cities and killed people.” (The Associated Press has detailed that hundreds of people were prosecuted for crimes arising from last summer’s protests, with an average sentence of 27 months in prison.)

Whether or not the rally turns violent, the real damage lies in its bolstering of Trump’s dangerous message, and the possibility that the Jan. 6 attacks may be more than a one-off attempt by Trump and his supporters to overturn future elections using violence. A CBS poll from late July found that 55 percent of Trump voters view the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol as “defending freedom.” (That’s compared to 31 percent of all Americans who share that view.) And among Republicans, only 39 percent “strongly disapprove” of the Jan. 6 attack — down from 51 percent in January.

Those poll numbers, along with recent DHS reports that “some conspiracy theories associated with reinstating former President Trump have included calls for violence if desired outcomes are not realized,” are a wake-up call we cannot afford to ignore.

Although Trump isn’t planning to be at the rally, he is still pushing the notion behind it–that the January 6 thugs are really “political prisoners.” The Washington Post: Republican leaders remain silent as Trump casts perpetrators of Jan. 6 attack as political prisoners.

The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the falsehoods that inspired it continue to shape the Republican Party, with former president Donald Trump ramping up his defense of the rioters who participated in the violence while marshaling opposition to GOP lawmakers who have denounced the attack as an insurrection and a threat to American democracy.

The state of the party was put into focus this week with the sudden retirement announcement of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), a onetime rising GOP star who became one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after the riot, which earned him a Trump-backed primary challenger. He cited a “chaotic political environment” and “the toxic dynamics inside our own party” for his decision.

Meanwhile, Trump this week expressed sympathy for his supporters who participated in the attack and are now being prosecuted by federal authorities ahead of a Saturday rally at the Capitol that is expected to attract a small cohort of far-right protesters, claiming that the arrestees are being held as “political prisoners.”

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said in a statement Thursday, adding that the prosecutions have “proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice.”

On Friday, Trump hailed Gonzalez’s retirement, saying “Good riddance to Anthony” and “1 down, 9 to go!” His primary opponent, former Trump aide Max Miller, thanked the former president for his continued support.

Trump’s willingness to not only sweep the Jan. 6 riot under the rug, but to embrace its perpetrators as political martyrs, has been met with silence by GOP congressional leaders, despite their stated desire to move on from the past and focus the party on opposing President Biden’s governing agenda.

Henriette Ronner-Knip, Hide and Seek, mid 19th century

Henriette Ronner-Knip, Hide and Seek, mid 19th century

More on this theme from Margaret Carlson at The Daily Beast: The GOP’s Young Stars Don’t Want to Represent Trump’s Party.

Rep. Anthony Gonzales was a rising star in the Republican firmament until a vengeful Trump helped snuff out the re-election campaign of the intelligent, charismatic two-term Ohioan as a warning to others of what awaits infidels in his party.

In 2018, Gonzales was the party’s prize recruit for an Ohio seat, a Cuban American football star out of Ohio State, a first-round draft pick of the Colts with an MBA from Stanford. All was fine—Trump loves athletes and took Gonzales on Air Force One—until Gonzales voted to impeach the president over Jan. 6. That day, Gonzales was present during a phone call in which the president could have called off his mob but didn’t.

Gonzales says that although he could have beaten the crony Trump chose to challenge him, he decided it wouldn’t be worth the effort it would take only to return to a caucus in thrall to a flawed man he called a “cancer” on the party and who forced him to get security to protect his family. His retirement comes two days before his 37th birthday.

Gonzales is a sterling example of who the Republican Party is sacrificing on the altar of The Donald. Trump’s only animating force for interfering in the 2022 primaries is punishing apostates—any party member who suggests that he didn’t leave the White House for the warm waters of Mar a Lago voluntarily, or upheld the results of the election he lost or, worst of all, voted for impeachment. Already, Trump has supported challengers to three secretaries of state who didn’t declare the election stolen, including Brad Raffensperger who refused to “find” the 11,570 votes needed to steal Georgia from Biden.

Trump is also supporting a challenge to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and endorsing Mo Brooks, who’s running to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. Brooks stood on the Mall on Jan. 6 in a camouflage hat crying out that, “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” So far Trump has endorsed close to 40 candidates in 23 states who have little in common save for their abject fealty to him.

In response to Gonzales retiring, Trump sent out a statement that sounded like something out of the Politburo, noting the congressman’s “tremendous loss of popularity, of which he had little, since his ill-informed and very stupid impeachment vote against the sitting president of the United States, me.”

John Alonzo Williams, Cat on a table in front of a window

John Alonzo Williams, Cat on a table in front of a window

Meanwhile, Trump is re-upping his claims about the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Yahoo News: Donald Trump wrote to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to ‘decertify’ the 2020 election.

Donald Trump sent a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to start “decertifying” the 2020 election, on Friday.

The letter, which was posted to Twitter by Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington, claims to have enclosed evidence of “large scale voter fraud” in Georgia….

The letter, which was posted to Twitter by Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington, claims to have enclosed evidence of “large scale voter fraud” in Georgia.

Trump refers to 43,000 absentee ballots which he claimed violated the chain of custody rules.

“I would respectfully request that your department check this and, if true, along with many other claims of voter fraud and voter irregularities, start the prices of decertifying the election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner,” the letter says….

In his letter to Raffensperger, Trump said, “People do not understand why you and Governor Brian Kemp adamantly refuse to acknowledge the now proven facts.”

None of the legal challenges to the 2020 election have been held up in court, and the Justice Department said it found no evidence of widespread fraud.

No matter what happens with this rally today, we are still facing serious attacks on U.S. democracy from one of the two major political parties and their mentally unstable leader.


Finally Friday Reads! Trash problems are Everywhere!!!

“East River From the Shelton” (1926), Georgia O’Keeffe

Hi Sky Dancers!

I learned something from the Mayor yesterday.  Every city in the country is having trouble picking up and dumping its trash mostly due to Covid-19.  No one can send excess garbage pick-up capacity to New Orleans because no city has more pick-up ability than trash. It is possible to deliver your trash to the dump if you’re motivated enough to sit in line and mask up as heavily as possible. You can also demonstrate at the Trash Parade tomorrow although I wouldn’t taking any trash to dump at city hall if you go.

With that being said, let’s talk about the big Trash parade in the District and Uncle Clarence Thomas who usually lets the ghost of Antonin Scalia and his wife do all the talking for him.  Oh, and Sarah Palin hasn’t been vaccinated so let’s start the death watch now!  Alaska and Idaho hospitals are so overcrowded they are rationing care!.  Republicans now own Death Panels!

Just like that, the Supreme Court’s judge with the most conflicts of interest pulls an Amy Coney Barret.

Justice Clarence Thomas defended the independence of the Supreme Court on Thursday and warned against “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want, when we want it.”

Thomas, the longest serving justice, acknowledged that the high court has its flaws, comparing it to a “car with three wheels” that somehow still works. But he said the justices are not ruling based on “personal preferences” and suggested that the nation’s leaders should not “allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like.”

The justice’s remarks came during a lecture at the University of Notre Dame in which he talked about traveling by RV in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee with his wife, Ginni. Thomas reflected on his childhood in the segregated South and his religious faith. He also alluded several times to the political polarization in the United States

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re really good at finding something that separates us,” Thomas told the crowd of more than 800 students and faculty gathered at the school’s performing arts center.

Thomas is the latest justice to add his voice to the mix and publicly come to the court’s defense in the face of growing criticism that the nine justices are merely politicians in robes.

“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician,” Thomas said in response to a question about public misconceptions of the court.

“That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”

New York Street with Moon, 1925, Georgia O’Keefe

Yes, that made me throw up in my mouth a little too.  So let me get back to the Trash Parade on September 18th and this link to VOX and a piece by Aaron Rupar: “The Justice for J6 rally is Trump supporters’ latest attempt at revisionist history. The September 18 event is prompting officials to raise fencing again around the Capitol. Extremism experts are skeptical.

Two days ahead of a Trump-inspired rally outside the Capitol on behalf of people who have been charged with crimes in connection to the January 6 insurrection, former President Donald Trump released a statement supporting the cause of the Justice for J6 movement.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said, invoking his oft-repeated lies about the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden. “In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!”

Trump’s statement tosses fuel on a combustible situation. A Monday statement from the US Capitol Police warning about “concerning online chatter about a demonstration planned for September 18” already raised worries that Saturday’s Justice for J6 rally could spiral out of control and result in violent scenes reminiscent of January 6. But extremism experts are skeptical.

Jared Holt, a domestic extremism researcher with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, wrote recently on his website that online chatter indicates the event is likely to be a bust.

“I am highly skeptical that [right-wing extremists] would appear in any kind of significant numbers without at least some kind of indication of that appearing in the communities they so often frequent,” Holt wrote. Reached this week via Twitter direct message, Holt said he still isn’t seeing indications September 18 will amount to much. In fact, he is seeing members of far-right groups warning that the event is likely to be swarming with informants.

Holt’s assessment is backed up by Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, who told Talking Points memo he’s “not witnessed anything that would indicate large numbers of far-right demonstrators, or Proud Boys in particular, will attend this event.”

But Capitol Police’s warning and decision to mobilize extra law enforcement resources illustrates how much of a concern Trump-inspired extremism remains nine months after the insurrection — as well as how focused law enforcement is on preventing another January 6 from happening.

It’s a long read but worth it.

New York: A Painting, “Radiator Building–Night, New York” by Georgia O’Keefe of American Radiator Building, 1927.

There’s a lot of brief information in that Washingtonian link.

The two main speakers are Joe Kent, who’s challenging GOP Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington state, and Mike Collins, a Republican running for Congress in Georgia. Braynard will host alongside Cara Castronuova, a pro-Trump boxer who appeared on season 11 of The Biggest Loser and founded a group called Citizens Against Political Persecution. Family members of people held on January 6 charges will likely speak, Braynard says.

Members of Congress including Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Louie Gohmert attended Look Ahead America’s DC events in July. Greene and North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn have said they don’t plan to attend, and neither do Gohmert and Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert; none of the other members’ offices have yet responded to queries from Washingtonian about whether they plan to attend or speak. What about Trumpworld? The Daily Beast reported late last month the former President’s circle has been silent about the event so far. Braynard says “we’ve had some mighty allies” but wouldn’t say whether he’s been in touch with anyone in Trump’s ambit: “We will never disclose our conversations we’ve had.”

More extremist Republican figures who refused the vaccine are now severely ill with Covid-19.  As the links above show, they are basically overcrowding hospitals causing people with other emerging issues to be sent home to die or flown to hospitals miles away.  Washington State hospitals are filling up due to Covidiots from Idaho.  The Daily Beast is reveling in every one of them.  “Laura Loomer, Who Once Said ‘Bad Fajitas’ Were Worse Than COVID, Says She’s Tested Positive. The far-right activist said in a Gettr post that she’s experiencing severe coronavirus symptoms.? ”  The Death Watch is real for these kooks.

The far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer says she’s tested positive for the coronavirus, after suffering from severe symptoms that she wrote left her feeling like she “got hit by a bus.”

In a post on the Trumpist social network Gettr, Loomer complained that she started suffering from “fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches” on Wednesday that she said felt like “a bad case of the flu… So I took a COVID test and it came back POSITIVE.”

She added: “I have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine, and I don’t plan on ever taking it because it is unsafe and ineffective. Today, I immediately started a treatment of Azithromyacin and Hydroxychloroquine. I’m also taking the OrthoMune dietary supplement.” She said she’s also received the Regeneron antibody treatment used by ex-President Donald Trump.

Yeah, all the rich nuts get the Monoclonal Antibodies developed by Regeneron.  The poorer folks just get to die.

The Shelton with Sunspots, N.Y.Date:
1926,Georgia O’Keeffe

Reuters reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis still hasn’t found the bottom of the moral depravity pit. Hassan Kanu writes that  “Florida governor conflated ‘black joy’ with protest, judge says”. Florida clearly has trash issues. Maybe the Courts can deal with it.

A federal judge on Thursday blocked part of a sweeping anti-protest bill enacted by Florida Republicans and Governor Ron DeSantis, writing that officials’ reaction to peaceful protests in the summer of 2020 is akin to the unlawful racist backlash seen during 1960s protests against Jim Crow laws.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee said that the governor made an embarrassing mistake – or worse – when his offices “conflated a community celebration of a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery with a protest.”

He issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new definition of rioting under the Combating Public Disorder Act.

DeSantis’ lawyers in defending the law had submitted to the court a Facebook post as evidence that Black Floridians continue to freely exercise their protest rights – except the flyer actually announced a “Black Joy” event celebrating America’s first official Juneteenth holiday.

And when Texans cross their borders, it appears it’s not their very best.  This is from NBC News: “Carmine’s hostess attacked after asking diners for proof of vaccination. Cellphone footage obtained by NBC New York shows a brawl outside Carmine’s on the Upper West Side.”

Three people were arrested for allegedly assaulting a New York City restaurant hostess on Thursday after she asked a group of diners visiting from Texas to show proof they had been vaccinated before seating them.

Cellphone footage obtained by NBC New York shows a brawl involving several people outside Carmine’s Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. Staff and bystanders intervened to break up the melee after it broke out around 5 p.m. ET, the station added.

Oddly, enough, the first time I ever saw New York City was on the way to Madrid and smack in the middle of a garbage strike.  People that deal with garbage really need to be paid better.  It was my first but not the last trip to Europe.  There, I learned that the last thing I ever wanted to be identified as was an American. I actually found myself in England at one point explaining that not every one of us is like that couple that just left that table who hailed from Stockton, California.

The ugly Americans are even identifiable down here in New Orleans as they behave rudely everywhere it seems. The only problem is, we have an excess of trash at the moment and not enough of those saintly men who take out the trash.  I’m definitely glad they’re making $20 an hour down here now and that I can still gift them six packs whenever I can.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  


Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Today I’m going to focus on the FBI’s epic mishandling of sexual abuse in the USA Gymnastics/Larry Nassar case as well as the accusations against now Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh.

Yesterday some of the country’s most accomplished women gymnasts gave shocking and damning testimony to before the Senate Judiciary Committee. For background, here is the statement of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his report:  “Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General’s Report on the FBI’s Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation.” This is a huge story, and all I can do is try to give you a sense of what happened to these women. Here are parts of their testimony.

Vice News: Gymnasts Slam FBI for Failing to Protect Them From Sexual Abuse.

Four of the top gymnasts in the United States told Congress that the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee had failed them, for years, in a Senate hearing Wednesday—and they want answers and accountability.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing centered on a Justice Department report, released this summer, that found the FBI had botched its investigation into Larry Nassar, a once-celebrated doctor who has since been jailed and accused of abusing hundreds of gymnasts while pretending he was providing medical treatment. The four gymnasts who testified Wednesday—Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman—have all said that they were abused by Nassar.

“They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing,” Maroney, an Olympic gold medalist, told the senators of the FBI. “If they’re not going to protect me, I want to know: Who are they trying to protect?”

Maroney, who is not named in the report, spoke with a FBI agent about her experience with Nassar, but that agent didn’t properly follow up, according to the report. More than a year after speaking with Maroney, the agent drafted a summary of her interview that included statements she did not make, per the report. 

The FBI’s inaction, Maroney said, was beyond devastating. She recalled sitting on her bedroom floor and spending nearly three hours telling the agent about the abuse she endured. After recounting one particularly horrific memory, she began to cry; the agent, she said, only asked her, “Is that all?”

“By not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year and this inaction directly allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue,” Maroney said. “I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough.”

AP: Biles: FBI turned ‘blind eye’ to reports of gymnasts’ abuse.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles told Congress in forceful testimony Wednesday that federal law enforcement and gymnastics officials turned a “blind eye” to USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of her and hundreds of other women.

Biles told the Senate Judiciary Committee that “enough is enough” as she and three other U.S. gymnasts spoke in stark emotional terms about the lasting toll Nassar’s crimes have taken on their lives….

The four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion — widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time — said she “can imagine no place that I would be less comfortable right now than sitting here in front of you.” She declared herself a survivor of sexual abuse.

“I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles said through tears. In addition to failures of the FBI, she said USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee “knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge.”

Biles said a message needs to be sent: “If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”

The hearing is part of a congressional effort to hold the FBI accountable after multiple missteps in investigating the case, including the delays that allowed the now-imprisoned Nassar to abuse other young gymnasts. All four witnesses said they knew girls or women who were molested by Nassar after the FBI had been made aware of allegations against him in 2015.

Yahoo News: Aly Raisman described the profound physical and mental impact Larry Nassar’s abuse has had on her health.

 

Aly Raisman has been extremely transparent about the significant emotional burden of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

On Wednesday, the two-time Olympian detailed the profound physical impact the trauma has had on her health.

During a Senate Judiciary hearing about the FBI’s failings in the Nassar case, Raisman explained that she’d been sapped of all of her energy due to post-traumatic stress disorder and the lasting impact of Nassar’s abuse.

“Experiencing a type of abuse is not something one just suffers in the moment; it carries on with them sometimes for the rest of their lives,” Raisman said. “For example, being here today is taking everything I have.”

“I hope I have the energy even to just walk out of here,” she added.

She described feeling completely depleted after sharing her story publicly for the first time. She said she remembered struggling to find the energy to stand up in the shower and that she would have to sit on the floor to wash her hair.

She “couldn’t even go for a 10-minute walk outside” despite having been in the peak physical condition to compete in two Olympic Games just a few years prior. She often feels that her memory is impacted, too, and that her “mind isn’t working” adequately and that she has “no energy at all.”

The Oklahoman: At Larry Nassar hearing, former OU athlete Maggie Nichols says FBI, USA Gymnastics ‘betrayed’ her.

Nichols was the first to report Nassar’s abuse to USA Gymnastics in 2015. She was known for a time only as “Athlete A,” but before Congress she was quick to make clear that Nassar’s abuse “didn’t happen to Athlete A. It happened to me.”

“I reported my abuse to USA Gymnastics over six years ago and still, my family and I received few answers and have even more questions about how this was allowed to occur and why dozens of other little girls and women at Michigan State had to be abused after I reported,” Nichols said in an opening statement before Congress Wednesday.

Nassar served as team doctor for the 2016 US Olympic Gymnastics teams and continued his role at Michigan State University until later that year after an Indianapolis Star investigation was first published.

Nichols became an OU gymnast that same year, earning All-American status during her time with the Sooners. She later served as a student assistant coach, too. On Wednesday, she said that USAG, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI have “betrayed her and those who have reported Larry Nassar.” She said the lack of action was a “coverup.”

“After I reported my abuse to USAG, my family and I were told by their former president, Steve Penny, to keep quiet and not say anything that could hurt the FBI investigation,” Nichols said. “We now know there was no real FBI investigation occurring.”

More articles to check out:

Sally Jenkins at The Washington Post: Larry Nassar is in jail. Why isn’t everyone who ignored his crimes?

The Washington Post: FBI fires agent who failed to pursue tips about sex abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Nancy Armour at USA Today Sports: Opinion: Gymnasts bare their souls in describing Larry Nassar abuse, but are lawmakers listening?

Dan Wetzel at Yahoo News: Pathetic lack of response to Larry Nassar’s reign of terror hits U.S. Senate.

The non-investigation of Larry Nassar’s abuse of young girls sheds light on what happened during the Senate confirmation hearings on Bret Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. 

The Guardian: FBI director faces new scrutiny over investigation of Brett Kavanaugh.

The FBI director, Chris Wray, is facing new scrutiny of the bureau’s handling of its 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, including its claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a further investigation into the then supreme court nominee.

At the heart of the new questions that Wray will face later this week, when he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee, is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct.

It is not clear whether that claim is accurate, based on a close reading of the MOU, which was released in court records following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI was called to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation process in 2018, after he was accused of assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. He also faced other accusations, including that he had exposed himself to a classmate at Yale called Deborah Ramirez. Kavanaugh denied both accusations.

The FBI closed its extended background check of Kavanaugh after four days and did not interview either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. The FBI also disclosed to the Senate this June – two years after questions were initially asked – that it had received 4,500 tips from the public during the background check and that it had shared all “relevant tips” with the White House counsel at that time. It is not clear whether those tips were ever investigated.

The FBI said in its letter to two senators – Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher Coons – that the FBI did not have the authority under the 2010 MOU at the time to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity”. In other words, the FBI has said it would have required explicit instructions from the Trump White House to conduct further investigation under the existing 2010 guidelines on how such investigations ought to be conducted.

But an examination by the Guardian of the 2010 MOU, which was signed by the then attorney general, Eric Holder, and then White House counsel, Robert Bauer, does not make explicitly clear that the FBI was restricted in terms of how it would conduct its investigation.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

Alternet: ‘Just as flawed’: Sen. Whitehouse questions FBI probe of Kavanaugh after failed Larry Nassar investigation.

Talk about perfect timing. During a hearing on the FBI’s mishandling of allegations against Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised questions about whether the Nassar investigation was the only FBI case that was bungled. Whitehouse used the investigation of former USA Gymnastics team doctor and convicted pedophile Nassar to question the legitimacy of the FBI’s 2018 background check into Brett Kavanaugh, wondering if that investigation might have been “just as flawed.”

“It strikes me very strongly as we sit here today, and as we heard the powerful testimony earlier this morning, that the last time a woman came forward in this committee to testify to her allegations of sexual assault in her childhood, the witness was Christine Blasey Ford,” Whitehouse said.

“It appeared to me then, and it appears to me now that her testimony was swept under the rug in a confirmation stampede,” he added. “It is very possible that the FBI investigation of her allegations was just as flawed, just as constrained, just as inappropriate, as the investigation in this case.”

Whitehouse demanded answers regarding the non-investigation of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and called out FBI Director Christopher Wray over the bureau’s investigation of Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Whitehouse noted that he repeatedly requested more information about the FBI’s investigation into Ford’s allegations but had been ignored for two years before finally receiving a response yesterday.

“Not coincidentally, I suspect, on the eve of your appearance today,” Whitehouse said to Wray.

I know there is much more news out there today, but in my opinion the stories about the FBI failing women are vitally important. It’s obvious that the FBI is far too white and far too male. And don’t forget the non-investigation of Nassar happened under the leadership of James Comey. 

Now a new white male FBI Director–Chris Wray–is similarly accused of failing to adequately investigation allegations of sexual abuse of women.

As always, this is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: No or Yes

Well, I’m uncertain if we will get a definite answer tonight regarding those recall results in California. So if you don’t see any updates here on this thread…take a look in the comments. As of the time of writing this post, the polls in California are just about ready to close.

So for the latest information:

This thread:

I’m glad Milley did what he did.

I would call her a cunt…I only use that word in extreme conditions:

On the Boston Mayor Primary:

Sad news there…about Norm MacDonald.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Self-Portrait at Ekely, 1926, Edvard Munch

Self-Portrait at Ekely, 1926, Edvard Munch

As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, another potential hurricane is on the horizon for Gulf Coast. From The Weather Channel: Tropical Storm Nicholas Brings Flooding Rain Threat to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi.

Tropical Storm Nicholas will spread its threat of flooding rain from southeast Texas into Louisiana and Mississippi the next couple of days after making landfall as a hurricane overnight.

Nicholas made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph at 1 a.m. CDT Tuesday about 20 miles northeast of Matagorda, Texas.

The center of Nicholas is now located near Houston. Moderate to heavy rain extends to the east of that center, from far southeast Texas into Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses were without power in southeast Texas, including the Houston area, as of late Tuesday morning, according to poweroutage.us.

Winds gusts over 50 mph were clocked at Houston’s Hobby airport this morning. Parts of the far southeast Houston metro area picked up 4 to 7 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Galveston, Texas, has the highest storm total rainfall so far with 13.96 inches as of early Tuesday.

A storm surge of 3 to 4 feet above normal tide levels has been observed this morning on the upper Texas coast, including around the Galveston Bay area.

A topical storm warning is in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Cameron, Louisiana, as well as some inland counties near the coast, including the Houston metro area. This means tropical-storm-force winds (39+ mph) are expected to continue in southeast Texas through this morning and will spread into coastal southwest Louisiana by this afternoon.

The other big news today is California’s recall election. The Guardian: Gavin Newsom’s political fate in balance as final votes cast. in California recall.

Californians will decide on Tuesday whether to keep Gavin Newsom in office as a recall election that has left the Democratic governor fighting for his political life draws to a close.

The gubernatorial recall effort is only the second in California’s history to make it on to the ballot and a rare chance for Republicans to seize control in a deep blue state. Voters are being asked two questions: should Newsom be removed from office, and, if he is recalled, who should take his place? Millions of Californians have already cast their ballots, either by mail or at early voting locations, and registered voters will have until Tuesday evening to make their choice, in a special election that is costing the state $276m.

Newsom, who has been a broadly popular governor since he was elected in 2018, found himself in a peculiar position after a Republican-led recall effort gained steam amid the worst of the state’s pandemic.

He appeared confident heading into the final stretch, spending Monday campaigning with Joe Biden. Polls that had signaled peril for him during the summer have recently given him a more comfortable lead. Meanwhile, the leading Republican challenger, the rightwing radio host Larry Elder, has been laying a groundwork of misinformation to falsely imply that the election, if he loses, was rigged against him.

Early returns show that of those who have already cast their votes, most have been Democrats who are likely to oppose the recall. More Republicans are expected to vote in person on election day.

Self Portrait, 1918, Suzanne Valadon

Self Portrait, 1918, Suzanne Valadon

The San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board has a warning for Democratic voters: Think Newsom has recall in the bag? Don’t be so sure.

If you lean Democratic, as the majority of people who live in California do, you’re likely feeling pretty good about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s chances of staving off the recall in today’s election. Recent polls show that only 38.5% of likely voters support recall while 60.1% are opposed. After months of doom and gloom about Newsom’s chances for survival, the word “landslide” has suddenly found its way into headlines.

But polls have been wrong before.

For those who feel that removing Newsom right now would deal the state a catastrophic blow at a time it can least afford it, as The Chronicle’s editorial board does, there are still some worrying numbers out there.

As of last Tuesday, according to data from the California Secretary of State’s office, only about 6.3 million mail-in ballots had been returned, accounting for a measly 28.3% turnout. For context, more than 5.5 million Californians voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

COVID-19 has shown us what happens when too many citizens fail to do their civic duty. More than 80% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. And yet the failure of even a modest percentage of Californians to follow suit has helped fuel a deadly surge of the coronavirus’ delta variant.

California desperately needs herd immunity from the recall. And that means more of you need to vote.

A bit more explanation:

A recall isn’t like most gubernatorial elections. The person with the most votes is not guaranteed a win. If “no” on recall fails to achieve more than 50% of the vote, Newsom is out. Republican Larry Elder, who is polling at 26%, will likely be our next governor.

How much damage could Gov. Larry Elder do in a state with a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature?

Plenty.

We’ve seen what chaos grandstanding politicians can cause on their own, particularly as it relates to public health and the COVID pandemic. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-mask and laissez-faire vaccine policies — of the variety that Elder says he prefers — threw that state into its deadliest COVID surge yet. Similar policies by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have led to similar results.

This is really frightening. I’m hoping all those Democrats get out to vote today if they haven’t already voted by mail.

Self Portrait, 1918, Pablo Picasso

Self Portrait, 1918, Pablo Picasso

Speaking of Covid-19, Vladimir Putin has been exposed to the virus. CNN: Russia’s Vladimir Putin is quarantining after several Covid-19 cases in his entourage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is quarantining after several people in his inner circle tested positive for Covid-19, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin has tested negative for coronavirus and is “absolutely healthy.”

Peskov told journalists in a conference call that as “several people” in Putin’s entourage got sick with Covid-19 the President “must take a responsible position and not endanger the health of his colleagues.” The spokesman did not specify who has tested positive and said he didn’t know whether the individuals had been vaccinated.

Putin — who was vaccinated against Covid-19 in March — had a busy day on Monday. He held face-to face talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, met a number of Russian Paralympians and inspected troops taking part in military exercises in Nizhny Novgorod.

So was Assad exposed also?

Asked why Putin met with Assad if there were concerns about his exposure to people who tested positive, Peskov said the event took place before the decision to quarantine was made.

When pressed on the matter by journalists who brought up the fact Putin told Russian athletes on Monday there were people sick with coronavirus around him, Peskov reiterated there was “nothing illogical” about Putin’s schedule.

“First, I can say that Putin did not meet with Assad at the end of the day, it was at the beginning of the working day. And everything else, as the doctors completed their studies and the necessary procedures … a decision was made. There is nothing illogical here. At that time [when the meetings happened], doctors were still doing their tests,” Peskov said.

This could get interesting.

More Covid news from The New York Times: Covid Hospitalizations Hit Crisis Levels in Southern I.C.U.s.

Hospitals in the southern United States are running dangerously low on space in intensive care units, as the Delta variant has led to spikes in coronavirus cases not seen since last year’s deadly winter wave.

One in four hospitals now reports more than 95 percent of I.C.U. beds occupied — up from one in five last month. Experts say it can become difficult to maintain standards of care for the sickest patients in hospitals where all or nearly all I.C.U. beds are occupied….

Paula Modersohn-Becker, Self Portrait Before a Green Background with Blue Iris

Paula Modersohn-Becker, Self Portrait Before a Green Background with Blue Iris

In Alabama, all I.C.U. beds are currently occupied. In recent days, dozens of patients in the state have needed beds that were not available, according to data published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“It means they’re in the waiting room, some are in the back of ambulances, things of that nature,” said Jeannie Gaines, a spokesperson for the Alabama Hospital Association.

In Texas, 169 hospitals have I.C.U.s that are more than 95 percent full, up from 69 in June. There are only about 700 intensive care beds remaining across the entire state, according to recent data.

Hospitals in Houston constructed overflow tents last month to handle the influx of patients, and the rate of hospitalizations in the state is now 40 percent higher than when the tents were built.

Twenty-four hospitals in Florida reported having more I.C.U. patients last week than available beds.During past surges, hospitals have been forced to improvise by having staff care for more patients than usual or by setting up temporary intensive care beds in other wings of the hospital.

Patients with critical conditions besides Covid, like heart attacks or strokes, can also have worse health outcomes when most beds are full.

Washington D.C. is bracing for a planned rally by the Trumpist crazies on Saturday. Politico: GOP’s Jan. 6 problem returns to its doorstep.

The Saturday rally defending some rioters arrested during the Capitol insurrection is reminding the GOP of an uncomfortable reality: Part of its base believes the Jan. 6 attack was justified.

Saturday’s rally comes as some conservative lawmakers fan outrage on the right over former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him — rhetoric that worries some fellow Republicans, who warn that their colleagues are riling up the biggest fans of the former president. That still-simmering discord within the GOP puts party leaders in an awkward position ahead of the Sept. 18 “Justice for J6” rally on Capitol Hill, organized by a former Trump campaign aide.

Henri_Matisse_Self-Portrait_in_a_Striped_T-shirt_(1906)

Henri Matisse, Self Portrait in a Striped T-Shirt, 1906

So far, top Republicans are staying as quiet as possible about the Sept. 18 protest on the Hill, which has prompted police officials to re-install the Capitol security fence to safeguard against potential violence. They aren’t endorsing it — nor are they condemning it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Monday that out of his Republican conference, he “doesn’t think anyone is” going to attend. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not respond to a question about whether leaders should be encouraging other rank-and-file members not to attend as he headed to a briefing on the rally.

Their approach appears to be working, as no Republican lawmakers have publicly said they will attend — even some who have repeatedly and publicly claimed some Jan. 6 defendants are “political prisoners” being treated unfairly because of their political views. However, the offices of Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) — all of whom have peddled the “political prisoners” claim repeatedly — have declined multiple requests for comment about whether they plan to appear.

This is scary though:

One GOP lawmaker in a safe red seat spoke candidly on condition of anonymity about the conundrum facing the party ahead of the rally in support of some insurrection defendants: “The majority of the Republican base feels that Jan. 6 was justified. And because those people didn’t have arms, they shouldn’t be incarcerated right now.”

“Every day, I hear the word ‘Civil War’ — every day,” the Republican added, recalling a return home one day after Trump supporters descended on the Capitol. This lawmaker expected sympathy and disgust about the attack on Congress and instead heard constituents commenting in support.

Other Capitol Hill offices reported similar calls from constituents who insisted the rioters did not go far enough in the weeks after the attack, which included more than 1,000 violent acts against law enforcement and is tied to multiple deaths of rallygoers as well as police officers.

Yikes! But I’m seeing a lot of the crazies on Twitter calling the rally a “false flag” organized by the FBI and telling people not to go. I guess we’ll find out in a few days.

I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!