Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: January 15, 2022
The temperature here in the Boston area was 1 degree this morning. We had wind chill temperatures around -20 overnight and today will see -11 wind chills. Winter weather this year has been weird everywhere. For the past couple of weeks here, we have been alternating between freezing cold and unseasonably warm days.
Today a massive winter storm is moving from the upper Midwest into the South. Eventually the storm will move up the coast and into New England as a “southeaster.” So far it looks like my area will miss the heavy snow. I hope that prediction holds! I feel for those of you who live down south.
A massive storm system that’s dumping several inches of snow on the central US is expected to move toward the southeast Saturday, prompting the governors of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to declare states of emergency ahead of a crippling ice and snow event.
More than 65 million people in the affected areas are under winter weather alerts, the National Weather Service said.
“A strong developing storm over the Lower Mississippi Valley will move eastward to the Southeast by Sunday morning, then head northeastward to the northern mid-Atlantic by Monday,” the National Weather Service Prediction Center said early Saturday.
Rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain — or a combination of all of those — will make travel difficult over the three-day holiday weekend across the Eastern US.
A swath of 8 to 12 inches of snow was recorded across portions of North Dakota on Friday.
From there, the system dove deeper south, heading into Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas where it delivered rain and snowfall.
“How fast surface temperatures fall below freezing, and therefore, how fast rain changes to snow will play a big role in determining just how much snow accumulates,” said the NWS office in Topeka, Kansas.
Throughout Saturday the storm system will bring heavy bands of snowfall to the Mid-South and Tennessee Valley.
Localized areas of Tennessee could see snow totals exceeding 6 inches as the storm continues its eastward track toward the Southern Appalachians.
There’s lots more winter weather news to read at that CNN link.
Out on the West Coast, there’s another type of natural disaster warning. The New York Times: Tsunami Reported in Tonga After an Underwater Volcano Eruption.
A four-foot tsunami wave was reported to have hit Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, on Saturday, sending people rushing to higher ground. Witnesses said ash had fallen from the sky, after an underwater volcano erupted earlier near the remote Pacific nation.
The volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, is about 40 miles north of the Pacific archipelago’s main island, Tongatapu.
The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia reported the tsunami on Twitter. But communication with Tonga was disrupted, according to The Associated Press, so there were no immediate official reports of injuries or the extent of the damage.
The Tonga Meteorological Service issued a tsunami warning for the archipelago on Saturday evening. On their Facebook pages, the meteorological services for nearby Fiji and Samoa also issued alerts, advising people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas.
The National Tsunami WarninI g Center in the United States issued a tsunami advisory for the West Coast on Saturday morning Pacific time, including the Washington and Oregon coast, with the National Weather Service in Portland reporting possible one- to three-foot waves in Newport, Ore., Long Beach, Wash., and Seaside, Ore. “First wave may not be the highest,” and later waves may “be larger,” the tweet said.
I think I’d rather have a snowstorm.
Unfortunately, I guess I’ll have to get to the politics news now. I want to recommend three long reads and then I’ll list some links to other interesting stories.
First a piece by Yale philosophy professor and fascism expert Jason Stanley at The Guardian, published last month: America is now in fascism’s legal phase.
Let us be reminded that before there is a final solution, there must be a first solution, a second one, even a third. The move toward a final solution is not a jump. It takes one step, then another, then another.”
So began Toni Morrison’s 1995 address to Howard University, entitled Racism and Fascism, which delineated 10 step-by-step procedures to carry a society from first to last.
Morrison saw, in the history of US racism, fascist practices – ones that could enable a fascist social and political movement in the United States.
Writing in the era of the “super-predator” myth (a Newsweek headline the next year read, “Superpredators: Should we cage the new breed of vicious kids?”), Morrison unflinchingly read fascism into the practices of US racism. Twenty-five years later, those “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems” are closer than ever to winning a multi-decade national fight.
The contemporary American fascist movement is led by oligarchical interests for whom the public good is an impediment, such as those in the hydrocarbon business, as well as a social, political, and religious movement with roots in the Confederacy. As in all fascist movements, these forces have found a popular leader unconstrained by the rules of democracy, this time in the figure of Donald Trump.
Morrison’s interest was not in fascist demagogues or fascist regimes. It was rather in “forces interested in fascist solutions to national problems”. The procedures she described were methods to normalize such solutions, to “construct an internal enemy”, isolate, demonize and criminalize it and sympathizers to its ideology and their allies, and, using the media, provide the illusion of power and influence to one’s supporters.
Philosophers have always been at the forefront in the analysis of fascist ideology and movements. In keeping with a tradition that includes the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno, I have been writing for a decade on the way politicians and movement leaders employ propaganda, centrally including fascist propaganda, to win elections and gain power.
Often, those who employ fascist tactics do so cynically – they do not really believe the enemies they target are so malign, or so powerful, as their rhetoric suggests. Nevertheless, there comes a tipping point, where rhetoric becomes policy. Donald Trump and the party that is now in thrall to him have long been exploiting fascist propaganda. They are now inscribing it into fascist policy.
The article is very long, but well worth reading. Remember, Hitler got many of his ideas from the Jim Crow South.
In the lead-up to the Capitol siege, the FBI received at least a dozen warnings about the possibility of violence that day (see timeline below.) When the day came and the Capitol barricades fell, it became evident the FBI largely ignored them all.
The warnings came from all sides: regional law enforcement, social media platforms, Congress (specifically the House and Senate intelligence committees), a top defense official, extremist watchdogs, right-wing experts, journalists and even three different components within the FBI itself.
Grid reviewed every public statement FBI officials made about the bureau’s intelligence leading up to the siege to understand how the FBI explained its posture on Jan. 6. We read hundreds of pages of FBI briefings and press statements, FBI officials’ testimony before Congress and public comments in news reports.
We found that the FBI has given at least five different explanations for why it failed to heed these warnings and take steps to foil the Capitol attack or help other agencies prepare a sufficient response. Some of them support arguments the FBI should get more money and legal authorities. But given what we now know, none of them holds up.
“They’re following the same blueprint as 9/11,” said Mike German, a former undercover FBI agent and author of “Disrupt, Discredit and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy.” He is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. “First they say, ‘We had no intelligence,’ then say, ‘Our authorities prevented us from getting the intelligence,’ which is not true.”
The institutional lack of introspection, while unsurprising, is deeply worrisome, German and others agree. The threat of political violence — particularly from the right, and targeting democratic institutions and political leaders — is higher than at any point in modern history. Many key indicators point in one direction: Extremist violence is reportedly surging, and threats against election officials and members of Congress are increasing. The threat of lethality from domestic violent extremist groups “is higher than it ever was,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told Congress last May.
If the FBI remains blinkered to the most serious and likely threats, Jan. 6 might not be its last major failure. American democracy has largely survived the violence of Jan. 6, and the Department of Justice has undertaken a historic effort to investigate, indict and prosecute hundreds of participants — who might never have stormed the Capitol in the first place if the FBI had heeded clear warnings and taken proper steps to prevent the attack.
Palidino goes on to refute the five main excuses the FBI has given for it’s failure to respond to the many warnings they received before January 6. It appears that the bureau is still focusing more on left wing protestors than on right wing violence, despite the public claims of director Chris Wray.
The final long read is by Jennifer Taub at The Washington Monthly: Merrick Garland’s Trump Problem—and Ours.
Timing is everything. When it comes to free and fair elections and ensuring that Donald Trump and fellow authoritarians do not pull off a successful coup, we are nearly out of time. At least 19 states have added laws that make it more difficult to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, and 49 state legislatures are considering voting restrictions, including, most ominously, measures that would take election management out of the hands of secretaries of state and hand it over to GOP-controlled legislatures. We have until November 8to fix this.
The prosecution of the former president is on a slower timeline. This includes not only the criminal investigations being pursued in Georgia by the Fulton County district attorney, and in New York by the state attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney, but also any investigations emanating from the U.S. Department of Justice. But that’s okay; Merrick Garland is no longer the problem or the solution.
I came to this conclusion after Attorney General Garland delivered a much-hyped speech commemorating the anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. After considering his words, I opened a calendar and did the math. We’ll get to that math in a moment. But first, let’s be clear about what Garland did and didn’t promise.
After watching his talk and then reading the prepared remarks published on the DOJ website, I have this take: I fully trust Garland to prosecute Trump in connection with the events directly leading up to and surrounding the certification of the electoral vote on January 6. But I’m less sure how much Trump mischief that will include.
Why do I believe DOJ is currently investigating the former president? Some doubt it. There have been no leaks to the press. By comparison, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has been less circumspect. Committee members, including Republican Representative Liz Cheney, have made it clear that they are examining Trump’s legal culpability on a number of grounds. Garland will have access to whatever the committee uncovers, including the report they plan to issue as early as this summer. And if the panel, chaired by Representative Bennie Thompson, makes criminal referrals to DOJ, committee staff will turn over the evidence they have gathered.
In such a referral, the committee might reference several statutes that DOJ can use to prosecute the former president and others, including obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy, and seditious conspiracy. They might also use the wire fraud statute to charge those who raised funds off the Big Lie.
Read the rest at The Washington Monthly link.
More stories to check out:
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Kevin McCarthy’s coverup for Trump may be hiding knowledge of possible crimes.
Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: The conservative knives come out for Brett Kavanaugh.
The New York Times: Census Memo Cites ‘Unprecedented’ Meddling by Trump Administration.
What’s on your mind today? What stories are you following?