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!


10 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is by Senator Chris Murphy of CT.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. Enheduanna says:

    The artist’s self-portraits are so interesting BB.

    My heart goes out to the front-line hospital workers who have to endure this unrelenting onslaught of careless anti-vaxxers – forced to put their lives on the line or quit. And then there are the non-covid patients who desperately need attention.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Hi! Talking to Cox. The neighborhood issues are supposedly gone so it’s just me atm.

    Great information and kewl self-portraits!!!

  5. quixote says:

    Vast relief. Recall failed resoundingly. 66% to 33% or so.

    They still need to maintain momentum to modify that whole recall process so it stops being a Repub chew toy.


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