Lazy Caturday Reads: Happy New Year!
Posted: January 1, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Bernard Kerik, Betty White, caturday, conflicts of interest, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Golden Girls, Happy New Year 2022, January 6 insurrection, Joe Biden, John Roberts, Major General Paul Eaton, Mary Tyler Moore Show, notable deaths 2021, SCOTUS, Ukraine, Unite the Right rally, Vladimir Putin
Well, 2021 is in the rearview mirror and 2022 lies ahead. Will this year be better than the last two? We can only hope. Every year, we look back at the notable people who have left us, and there were many of those last year. To cap a terrible year, the last living member of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls–Betty White–died yesterday.
The New York Times: Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99.
Her death, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday, was confirmed by Jeff Witjas, her longtime friend and agent.
Ms. White won five Primetime Emmys and one competitive Daytime Emmy — as well as a lifetime achievement Daytime Emmy in 2015 and a Los Angeles regional Emmy in 1952 — in a television career that spanned seven decades and that the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” certified as the longest ever for a female entertainer.
But her breakthrough came relatively late in life, with her work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1973 to 1977, for which she won two of her Emmys.
As Sue Ann, the host of a household-hints show on the television station where Ms. Moore’s character worked, the bedimpled Ms. White was annoyingly positive and upbeat, but also manipulative and bawdy — the sexpot next door, who would have you believe she slept with entire Army brigades during World War II.
Once, when someone asked her how she was feeling, Sue Ann replied cheerfully: “I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I feel wonderful.”
She won another Emmy in 1986 for an entirely different kind of character: the naïve, scatterbrained Rose on “The Golden Girls,” which revolved around the lives of four older women sharing a house in Miami. Whereas Sue Ann knew everything there was to know about getting a man into bed, Rose got to the same place innocently, and by being just a wee bit off center.
Ms. White was the last surviving member of the show’s four stars. Estelle Getty died in 2008, Bea Arthur in 2009 and Rue McClanahan in 2010.
Read the rest at the NYT.
In 2021, we also lost Cloris Leachman (January 27, Gavin MacLeod (May 29), Ed Asner (August 29).
Read about more notable people who died in 2021 at The New York Times: Deaths in 2021: Headline Names Against the Backdrop of Pandemic.
In the news today, the pandemic rages on. CBS News: The world welcomes 2022 with muted celebrations as COVID-19 cases surge.
The world rang in 2022 with muted celebrations for another year, as the coronavirus pandemic — now fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant — continues to upset daily life across the globe. The new variant, which is now driving record case numbers in the U.S., forced many cities to tone down celebrations or cancel them altogether.
New York City’s Times Square still held an event, but it only allowed a small fraction of the typical crowd, and all attendees over the age of 5 who do not qualify for an exemption were required to be fully vaccinated and wear face masks. Cities such as Atlanta and San Francisco canceled typical celebrations.
In New Zealand, one of the first cities to kick off the new year, a light display replaced the traditional fireworks show. Australia proceeded with its seven-minute fireworks display over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but limited access to downtown Sydney, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans not to attend large gatherings on New Year’s Eve.
“What I would suggest people do not do, is to go to very large 50-to-60-person parties where people are blowing whistles and all that sort of thing, and celebrating, and you don’t know the vaccination status of the people in that environment,” Fauci said.
President Biden spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday night. The Washington Post:
WILMINGTON, Del. — President Biden said Friday that he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call that there would be “a heavy price to pay” if Russia invades Ukraine again.
Biden said he “made it clear” that any further military action by the Kremlin would result in “severe sanctions” but did not go as far as to say that Washington would respond to Russia’s continued military presence near the border with Ukraine.
“I’m not going to negotiate here in public,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del., where he is spending New Year’s Eve. “But we made it clear he cannot, I’ll emphasize, cannot invade Ukraine.”
Following his call on Thursday with Putin, Biden plans to speak by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday amid growing alarm over Russia’s military buildup near its border with Ukraine.
Biden will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House official, previewing the call to reporters on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House. Biden is also expected to review preparations with Zelensky for the upcoming diplomatic talks.
Senior U.S. and Russian officials will meet in Geneva on Jan. 9 and 10, before a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on Jan. 12 and negotiations at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna on Jan. 13.
Biden told reporters Friday that ahead of those conferences, Putin “laid out some of his concerns about NATO and the United States and Europe, and we laid out ours. And we said we’d begin to negotiate some of those issues. But I made it clear that they only could work if, in fact, he de-escalated, not escalated, the situation there.”
Party Cat, by Cindy Thompson
Chief Justice John Roberts issued his laughable year-end report. The New York Times: Chief Justice Roberts Reflects on Conflicts, Harassment and Judicial Independence.
Amid a drop in public confidence in the Supreme Court and calls for increasing its membership, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary on Friday to a plea for judicial independence.
“The judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of government,” he wrote.
The report comes less than a month after a bipartisan commission appointed by President Biden finished its work studying changes to the federal judiciary. While that panel analyzed proposals like imposing 18-year term limits on justices and expanding, or “packing,” the court with additional justices, much of the chief justice’s report was focused on thwarting less contentious efforts by Congress to address financial conflicts and workplace misconduct in the judicial system. Both issues are the subject of proposed legislation that has drawn bipartisan support.
Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, a nonprofit group that has called for stricter ethics rules for the Supreme Court, said the chief justice faced an uphill battle.
“Chief Justice Roberts is taking a page from his old playbook: acknowledging institutional challenges in the judiciary but telling the public that only we judges can fix them,” Mr. Roth said. “Yet the problems of overlooked financial conflicts and sexual harassment are serious and endemic, and there’s no indication they’re going away. So Congress has every right to step in and, via legislation, hold the third branch to account, which I expect to happen in 2022.”
Chief Justice Roberts addressed at some length a recent series of articles in The Wall Street Journal that found that 131 federal judges had violated a federal law by hearing 685 lawsuits between 2010 and 2018 that involved companies in which they or their families owned shares of stock.
“Let me be crystal clear: The judiciary takes this matter seriously,” the chief justice wrote. “We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule. But I do want to put these lapses in context.”
Hahahahaha! I’ll take him seriously when he address the many conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court, beginning with Clarence Thomas and his wife.
We are approaching the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection. In the news today:
The latest Trump/Giuliani pal to release documents to the January 6 committee is Bernard Kerik. Politico: Bernard Kerik provides batch of documents to Jan. 6 select committee.
A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts.
Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.
Teatime Cats, A Celebration! by Isabelle Brent
Among the withheld documents is one titled “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS.” Kerik’s attorney Timothy Parlatore provided the privilege log to the panel, which said the file originated on Dec. 17, a day before Trump huddled in the Oval Office with advisers including former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, where they discussed the option of seizing election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn.
Trump ultimately opted against that strategy, but his consideration of the option is one of the key questions the panel is probing as part of its broader investigation into attempts to overturn the election.
It’s unclear whether the letter is related to the same plan and if Trump knew of its existence. Kerik withheld it, describing it as privileged because of its classification as “attorney work product.”
Another document provided by Kerik to the panel included emails between Kerik and associates about paying for rooms at the Willard Hotel. Kerik had been subpoenaed by the panel on Nov. 8 as part of its investigation into the so-called war room at the Willard Hotel, where Trump allies met to strategize about preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. The panel had originally sent a letter accompanying the subpoena that had incorrectly suggested Kerik was in the war room on Jan. 5, leading Kerik to demand an apology.
Read more at Politico.
More on Kerik from Raw Story: Trump’s Twitter and the Freedom Caucus were key to overturning the election: Bernie Kerik documents.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has obtained new documents showing how Donald Trump’s Twitter account and the far-right House Freedom Caucus could be used to help overturn the 2020 election.
“A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts,” Politico reported Friday. “Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.”
Kerik — who was pardoned by Trump 11 months before the insurrection — is not an attorney but has claimed his work under Giuliani was covered by attorney-client privilege. Giuliani has had his law license suspended in New York and Washington, D.C.
“Another 22-page document, titled “STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – GIULIANI PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM,” describes a 10-day blitz aimed at Republican House and Senate members to pressure them to vote against certifying the 2020 election results,” Politico reported. “The document says its primary channels to disseminate messaging on these efforts included ‘presidential tweets’ as well as talk radio, conservative bloggers, social media influencers, Trump campaign volunteers and other media allies. A list of ‘key team members’ supporting the effort included ‘Freedom Caucus Members’ — a reference to the group of hardline House conservatives, some of whom backed Trump’s effort to overturn the election.”
Cats Birthday Party, by Andrew Osta
More January 6 news from Raw Story: ‘Unite the Right’ set the stage for Jan. 6 — and helped launch some of the biggest players in the Capitol riot.
Days after neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. murdered antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a horrific car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, Va., the Daily Caller, a website founded by Tucker Carlson, quietly removed articles by contributor Jason Kessler.
Kessler was the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally, which saw neo-Nazis chant, “Jews will not replace us,” as they carried torches to the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, 2017 and again the following day as they marched through Charlottesville.
More than four years later, the ideas that galvanized the Unite the Right rally are no longer considered too radioactive for mainstream conservative media. Carlson himself embraced the Great Replacement theory — responsible for fueling massacres in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, Calif.; and El Paso, Texas — on his Fox News show in April 2021. He accused Democrats of “trying to replace the current electorate” in the United States “with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.”
There are distinct differences in messaging between Unite the Right, in which white supremacists used Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi aesthetics to nakedly promote white nationalism, and the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which Trump supporters filtered similar aims through QAnon, paranoid anticommunism, and a perverted version of patriotism.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America — the nonprofit that won the civil lawsuit against the organizers of Unite the Right — is among those who see distinct similarities between the two events.
“The four years in between have shown us how much of this extremism has moved into the mainstream,” she said. “If you look at the tools and tactics, there are many, many parallels, from the use of social media to plan the violence to explicit discussion of the use of free speech instruments like flagpoles as weapons, to the immediate finger-pointing to ‘antifa, blaming them for the violence that far-right extremists were responsible for to even some of the ideology.
“While Charlottesville was explicitly white nationalist with holocaust imagery, and with KKK and Nazi paraphernalia like the tiki torches that are meant to evoke dark periods of our history, on January 6th when you think about ‘stopping the steal,’ it also speaks at its core to this same idea: There’s a plot to steal the country from largely white Christians,” Spitalnick continued. “That idea that Jews will not replace us is at the core of Unite the Right, but it’s also at the core of Jan. 6. We’ve seen how these ideas have been mainstreamed, from Tucker Carlson giving replacement theory a home on Fox News every night to Republican politicians talking about it.”
Read the rest at Raw Story.
Major General Paul Eaton issued a chilling warning in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly: Retired general warns the U.S. military could lead a coup after the 2024 election. (Eaton co-authored an op-ed at The Washington Post with two other retired generals that warned the military to prepare for another insurrection in 2024). Some exerpts:
How could a coup play out in 2024?
The real question is does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear-cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military.
And we saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election. We’re concerned about that. And we’re interested in seeing mitigating measures applied to make sure that our military is better prepared for a contested election, should that happen in 2024.
How worried is he on a scale of 1 to 10?
I see it as low probability, high impact. I hesitate to put a number on it, but it’s an eventuality that we need to prepare for. In the military, we do a lot of war-gaming to ferret out what might happen. You may have heard of the Transition Integrity Project that occurred about six months before the last election. We played four scenarios. And what we did not play is a U.S. military compromised — not to the degree that the United States is compromised today, as far as 39% of the Republican Party refusing to accept President Biden as president — but a compromise nonetheless. So, we advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024….
What should the military do?
I had a conversation with somebody about my age, and we were talking about civics lessons, liberal arts education and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. And I believe that bears a reteach to make sure that each and every 18-year-old American truly understands the Constitution of the United States, how we got there, how we developed it and what our forefathers wanted us to understand years down the road. That’s an important bit of education that I think that we need to readdress.
I believe that we need to war-game the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared — militarily, and from a policing function — on Jan. 6 is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S. and that is a position that we need to reinforce.
Sorry this post is so long and so late. I hope you all have a nice, relaxing weekend.