Tuesday Reads

Garden Cats, Hilary Pecis, 1979

Garden Cats, Hilary Pecis, 1979

Good Afternoon!!

I’m really late getting started today, because I had a chance to get a second Moderna booster shot and I took it. My town held a booster clinic in my apartment building late this morning. My arm is sore and I expect I’ll have some symptoms for a few days like I did with the last shot. I hope it won’t be too bad.

Anyway, there’s lots happening today. Of course there’s quite bit of discussion of the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and I’m going to focus on that. The massacre has also put a spotlight on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson’s hate filled rants and drawn attention to NY Rep. Elise Stefanik promotion of the so-called “great replacement theory.” Another Trumpist politician in Arizona is also being investigated for her claims about the Buffalo mass shooting.

The Washington Post: Buffalo shooting suspect wrote of plans 5 months ago, messages show.

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday, wrote in increasing detail of his plans to murder dozens of Black people in statements posted online over the past five months, according to a compilation of messages by a writer who identified himself as Gendron.

A review of more than 600 pages of messages by The Washington Post found that Gendron resolved in December to kill those he slurred as “replacers,” and decided in February to target Buffalo’s Tops grocery store based on its local African American population. In March, he performed a reconnaissance-style trip to monitor the store’s security and map out its aisles, the messages show. When a store guard confronted him about why he had repeatedly entered that day, Gendron made excuses and fled in what he described as “a close call,” the messages state.

Having identified the supermarket as “attack area 1,” Gendron detailed two additional Buffalo locations as areas at which to “shoot all blacks,” according to the messages, which showed that he had charted routes to each location, worked out the times needed for each shootout and assessed that more than three dozen people in all could be fatally shot.

Wind from the sea, Edward Gordon

Wind from the sea, Edward Gordon

Police confirmed on Monday that they suspected Gendron had intended to attack multiple locations. Also on Monday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a call with various law enforcement officials and community leaders: “I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”

Gendron, from Conklin, N.Y., has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in relation to the attack on Saturday. Three other people were also injured before Gendron was arrested at the grocery store. The shootings were streamed live online. In a separate 180-page document published two days before Saturday’s shooting, Gendron cited a racist theory that non-Whites were brought to the United States to replace White people for political purposes.

The 672-page compilation of messages reviewed by The Post was published during the weeks before the attack in Buffalo. The messages featured a screen name that Gendron used on other platforms, contained images of Gendron’s face in selfies and referenced events in his personal life, such as a speeding ticket, which The Post verified.

You can read much more about Gendron and his plans at the WaPo link.

NBC News: New York’s red flag law should have helped thwart the Buffalo mass shooting. What went wrong?

Less than a year after a white teenager in upstate New York was investigated for making a threatening statement at school, he legally purchased a firearm, which he is accused of using to gun down 10 Black people in a racist rampage, authorities said.

The massacre at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Saturday should have been thwarted by New York’s red flag law, which aims to stop people from buying or possessing firearms when they show they’re threats to themselves or others, gun policy experts said.

“It was designed exactly for this circumstance,” said David Pucino, the deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center, a gun-safety group.

Instead, after Payton Gendron appeared on the radar of New York State Police in June over a chilling comment about a murder-suicide he made in the classroom while he was still a minor, he was evaluated and cleared, paving the way for him to legally buy the semi-automatic rifle he is accused of using in the shooting 11 months later, law enforcement officials and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

No official involved in the investigation in June initiated a court process that could have helped prevent Gendron from buying the rifle, a New York State Police spokesperson said Monday.

Now, state legislators are looking into whether those involved followed the proper protocol. “I’ve asked for the investigation of exactly what transpired there,” Hochul told Buffalo’s WKSE radio on Monday.

Hochul said a teacher had asked Gendron about his plans just before the start of summer vacation last year. He responded, “I want to murder and commit suicide,” Hochul said.

the-summer-poppy-field Claude Monet

The Summer Poppy Field, Claude Monet

NBC News: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson under fresh scrutiny after Buffalo mass shooting.

Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is facing intense scrutiny from extremism experts, media watchdogs and progressive activists who say there is a link between the top-rated host’s “great replacement” rhetoric and the apparent mindset of the suspect in the weekend’s deadly rampage in Buffalo, New York.

The white suspect accused of killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood apparently wrote a “manifesto” espousing the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory — elements of which Carlson has pushed on his weeknight show.

The theory baselessly holds that a cabal of Jewish people and Democratic elites are plotting to “replace” white Americans with people of color through immigration policies, higher birth rates and other social transformations. The idea circulated on the far-right fringes before moving to the mainstream of conservative media.

“Tucker Carlson has made comments that directly reference this conspiracy theory on his show,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks white supremacy, hate groups and extremism.

“The rhetoric that he espouses finds its origins in white supremacist literature,” Hayden went on to say, citing examples of websites and other publications popular with white supremacists. He added that Carlson “stops short of naming” Jewish people as the orchestrators of the “replacement,” instead using more general terms such as “the elite.”

Annie Karni at The New York Times: Racist Attack Spotlights Stefanik’s Echo of Replacement Theory.

Over the past week, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking House Republican, has blasted President Biden for providing infant formula to undocumented immigrants while “American mothers” suffer amid a nationwide formula shortage.

Wheat field with a reaper, Vincent Van Gogh

Wheat field with a reaper, Vincent Van Gogh

She has attacked Democrats and “pedo grifters,” borrowing language from the baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory that claims there is a Satan-worshipping cabal of liberal pedophiles, which has evolved into a movement on the right.

And after the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, where a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in a racist rampage, Ms. Stefanik is under scrutiny for campaign advertisements she has circulated that play on themes of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory. That belief, espoused by the Buffalo gunman, holds that the elite class, sometimes manipulated by Jews, wants to “replace” and disempower white Americans.

Last year, in an ad on Facebook, Ms. Stefanik accused “radical Democrats” of planning what she described as a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” the ad said.

Stefanik originally ran as a “moderate,” but that was before she decided to suck up to Trump to advance her career.

ArizonaCentral.com: Arizona Senate to investigate Wendy Rogers over social media post on Buffalo shooting.

The Arizona Senate will investigate a social media post from state Sen. Wendy Rogers that suggested the shooter in a mass killing in Buffalo, New York, last weekend was a federal agent and part of a federal conspiracy.

The Senate voted 24-3, with three members not voting, to move forward with an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. The committee will now examine Rogers’ remarks “relating to the Buffalo shooting as inappropriate of an elected official with this body.”

An effort to expel Rogers, pushed by Democrats, failed on a 11-15 vote just after 4 p.m.

Sea Watchers, 1952 (oil on canvas)

Sea Watchers, Edward Hopper, 1952

Rogers, a Trump-endorsed, first-term politician who belongs to the Oath Keepers and has espoused conspiracy theories, was censured by her Senate peers on March 1 after she promoted hanging political enemies during an appearance at an event hosted by Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and threatened to destroy fellow Republicans’ careers.

Rogers also drew condemnation at the time for antisemitic statements and behavior, including a promotional photo of her next to do a dead rhino marked with a Star of David.

On Saturday, following the shooting deaths of 10 people at a Buffalo store, Rogers posted on the social media site Telegram, “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”

Numerous political observers and journalists said that Rogers statement meant that she was calling the shooting was a “false flag” operation by federal authorities. The statement drew nearly 200 comments that were subsequently blocked from view by Telegram.

Two more articles discuss the GOP’s responsibility for racist violence:

David Leonhardt: The Right’s Violence Problem. The Buffalo killings are part of a pattern: Most extremist violence in the U.S. comes from the political right.

Over the past decade, the Anti-Defamation League has counted about 450 U.S. murders committed by political extremists.

Of these 450 killings, right-wing extremists committed about 75 percent. Islamic extremists were responsible for about 20 percent, and left-wing extremists were responsible for 4 percent.

Nearly half of the murders were specifically tied to white supremacists:

17-THE-MORNING-CHART-jumbo-v2

As this data shows, the American political right has a violence problem that has no equivalent on the left. And the 10 victims in Buffalo this past weekend are now part of this toll. “Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL, has written. “The numbers don’t lie.”

The pattern extends to violence less severe than murder, like the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. It also extends to the language from some Republican politicians — including Donald Trump — and conservative media figures that treats violence as a legitimate form of political expression. A much larger number of Republican officials do not use this language but also do not denounce it or punish politicians who do use it; Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, is a leading example.

Talia Lavin at Rolling Stone: The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.

There’s no such thing as a lone wolf — an appellation often given, in error, to terrorists who act alone, particularly those of the white supremacist variety. There are only those people who, fed a steady diet of violent propaganda and stochastic terror, take annihilatory rhetoric to its logical conclusion.

Such was the case on Saturday, when a teenaged white supremacist named Payton Gendron opened fire in a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people, while livestreaming the carnage on the live-video site Twitch. Prior to the shooting, he had posted a 180-page manifesto in which he laid out his rationale clearly: He was an adherent of what is called Great Replacement Theory, the idea that white people, in the United States and white-majority countries around the world, are being systematically, deliberately outbred and “replaced” by immigrants and ethnic minorities, in a deliberate attempt to rid the world of whiteness. It’s a conspiracy theory that has inspired terror attacks in New Zealand and Pittsburgh, San Diego, and El Paso – an ideology that marries demographic panic with the idea of a cunning, nefarious plot. Reading through the document, what struck me hardest, however, was how very close the killer’s ideas were to the American mainstream – the white-hot core of American politics.

klimt_appletree-1

Apple tree, Gustav Klimt

Five years ago, when white supremacists walked down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and carrying tiki torches, few people understood their intent – the fact that they were referring to replacement theory. The idea seemed outlandish, even incomprehensible; at the time, it was a fairly obscure rallying cry, based around a 2012 book by French novelist Renaud Camus fearmongering about a nonwhite-majority Europe, absorbed into the fetid stew of white-supremacist cant, where it acquired a vicious antisemitism. For many white supremacists, it is Jews who are orchestrating the “reverse colonization,” as Camus put it, of white countries, in order to more easily manipulate a nonwhite and therefore more malleable general populace. In Gendron’s manifesto, after explaining in detail why he picked the particular supermarket he did — it was in a majority-Black neighborhood with a majority-Black clientele — he felt the need to explain why he did not choose to attack Jews. “[Jews] can be dealt with in time, but the high fertility replacers will destroy us now, it is a matter of survival we destroy them first,” he wrote, before listing his weaponry in detail with price points included — a manual for future murders. While Gendron’s choice to engage in mass slaughter puts him on the radical fringe of those who enforce their beliefs with bullets, and his overt antisemitism differs slightly from vaguer blame of “elites,” “Democrats” and “globalists,” his fixation on white birthrates and demographic change are neither fringe nor particularly unusual. The gnawing fear of a minority-white America has utterly consumed conservative politics for the past half-decade, creating a Republican party whose dual obsessions with nativism and white fertility have engendered a suite of policies engineered to change the nature of the body politic. What unites murderers like Gendron, and the long list of white supremacist attackers he cited with admiration, with the mainstream of the Republican party is the dream of a white nation.

What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: America has a gun fetish that’s killing us

The Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse of 2022 over my house last night.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I gaze through my Twitter feed which is loaded with all these photos of wipipo and their small army of indoctrinated children looking like they’re all about to head to The Aluminium Warehouse Church of the Almighty Dollar to get their sanctimony on or to everyone’s favorite store, movie theatre, or place of actual worship to slaughter the rest of us.

I’m trolling my stupid Senator again because he doesn’t seem to have any concept of being moral even though he throws bible verses on his feed day after day. Sometimes he sounds almost normal and then, he goes down the MAGA rabbit hole and sounds like a monster.

I am just sick of all the gun violence and white national terrorist violence and murder. I know I keep writing about it but folks like my one semi-cogent Senator are just fixated on all the wrong problems. For one, why do kids have access to dangerous weapons of war? For another, at what point do we start looking at Terrorist Manifestos and “news” broadcasts domestically and say this isn’t free speech, it is violent insurrection talking?

This is your basic child abuse. They look like a cult! And this is what their children grow up to do:

And this is your basic horrid policy. Let’s kill a lot of people by linking these two things together! And of course, let’s ignore gun violence even if you’re a doctor and every doctor’s organization calls it a Public Health Crisis.

Please read that thread from Sherrilyn Iffel. It’s enlightening. Please read this one too!!!

I’ve been caught in several shootouts in my neighborhood recently. The abandoned Naval Base is full of methheads and heroin addicts who come from the rural areas to the city. There are gunshots at least once a day. There have been at least 4 deaths there this month that are known around here from there. The police seem absolutely unable to do anything. Our crime wave is due to the long-ignored Opioid crisis. Why don’t we see some action there?

I grew up in a small Iowa town with a lot of people that had guns specifically for hunting. All I ever saw was the meat my dad would bring home when his friends shared their bounty. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years and it was labeled as dangerous when I moved here. Well, the demographics have changed and the violence is appalling now. I’ll let you read between the lines. They are getting these ideas from one Party, from their Preachers, and from the likes of Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

Congressman Adam Schiff said it out loud. Fox News, Republicans, and white nationalist xtians are killing us and our democracy. There is no other way to look at this. They are after the rights of women, religious minorities, or the nonreligious, and they are after people of color and the GLBTQ community. It’s their way or we go to prison or they just turn their maladjusted little men on us with their tactical gear and semi-automatic weapons. OR, they let big Pharma loose to turn those little men into monsters.

And they send monsters to serve at the State and Federal levels who want the process to be rigged in their favor. Otherwise, they quit or go on Fox to howl like hyenas.

The number of proposed laws catering to one very small part of the Christian belief community is astounding. I just wished that a number of people heard those of us that experienced it from the 1980s forward and actually believed what we were saying. I was under attack as not being a ‘real’ Christian because I was a social justice Methodist at the time. One of my great grandfathers was a circuit rider in the Kansas/Oklahoma area doing just about the same thing as me so it’s a long tradition in my family.

Oh, and here are some pictures of my new Kitty Cristal who was rescued from the middle of neutral ground and is now happily installed on my bed. I’m hoping to distract you from all this distress with her as much as she is doing for me.

From Salon: “Why is the Supreme Court using religious belief to alter secular law? Alito’s draft opinion is full of specious legal and historical language — but it’s just religious doctrine in drag”. This is written by Thom Hartmann.

Democrats are generally disinclined to discuss religion, much less debate it.

They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were famously atheist, Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other high-profile people in the founding generation were deists (a close cousin to atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects religion interfering with government or vice versa.

But it’s time to discuss religion whether we like it or not, because it’s no longer knocking on our door: Sam Alito just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades that threaten to catch the place on fire.

Alito’s Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion rests on two main premises.

The first is that the Supreme Court has no business recognizing a “right” that isn’t rooted in the nation’s “history and tradition.”

This right-wing canard has been around for years, and has been used to argue against pretty much ever form of modernity from integrated public schools to, more recently, same-sex marriage. It’s a convenient pole around which you can twist pretty much any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map during the past roughly 240 years.

For example, Alito could just as easily have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion at all at the founding of our republic, and they didn’t really start showing up until the 1800s as physicians were clamoring for licensure to lock midwives out of birth-related medical practice (which included abortion).

The year Virginia got an abortion-regulating law, for example, was the same year — 1847 — that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead more than a half-century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.

She sure sleeps better than I do!!

Read on. We’re in the dawning of the Age of DisReason and Religious tyranny. It’s back to the Middle Ages. We also know they are a well-armed bunch of Crusaders that have been whipped up into a frenzy by the Republican Party and Fox News. They also have plenty of playgrounds out on the Internet. They’ve been stacking courts since the Reagan years and look out!

And now, we have a fringe theory guiding yet another set of their reactionary movement. This is from the New York Times: “A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P. Replacement theory, espoused by the suspect in the Buffalo massacre, has been embraced by some right-wing politicians and commentators.”

Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.

The next year, another white man, angry over what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.

And in yet another deadly mass shooting, unfolding in Buffalo on Saturday, a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 people after targeting a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side, writing in a lengthy screed posted online that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”

Three shootings, three different targets — but all linked by one sprawling, ever-mutating belief now commonly known as replacement theory. At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence.

But replacement theory, once confined to the digital fever swamps of Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes — of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority — has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations.

By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as “replacers” of white Americans. Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party — spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.

My Dog Temple has a new buddy.

We’ve always had ugly racist, anti-semite, white nationalist movements lurking about but now they’re weaponizing the first and second amendment against the majority. And of course, some Republicans are calling it a “false flag” operation which means this ugly ass young man was really a liberal. This Senator is a white nationalist. From HuffPo: “State Senator Who Backs White Nationalism Suggests Buffalo Shooting Was False Flag. Arizona GOP Sen. Wendy Rogers promoted a deranged conspiracy theory after 10 people were killed in what authorities say was a

A Republican state lawmaker with ties to white nationalists suggested the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket was staged by government agents.
“Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo,” Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers wrote on Telegram. The first-term lawmaker has built a national profile among far-right extremists with incendiary rhetoric, diehard support for former President Donald Trump and an embrace of white nationalism.

Authorities said an 18-year-old white gunman traveled several hours on Saturday to a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, where he opened fire outside at a supermarket. Thirteen people were shot; 10 died. Most were Black. The accused killer left a manifesto riddled with racist views and references to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white Americans are being replaced by people of color, according to The New York Times.

Oh, and then there’s this from VOX: “The Supreme Court just made it much easier to bribe a member of Congress. A case brought by Ted Cruz is a huge boon to rich candidates and moneyed lobbyists.” SCOTUS weaponized the first amendment again and there’s nothing in the original Constitution about lobbyists and dark money so please, Alito, explain this one to me in “federalist” terms.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been at war with campaign finance laws for more than a dozen years, stretching at least as far back as its decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). On Monday, the Court’s six Republican appointees escalated this war.

The Court’s decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign.

Federal law permits candidates to loan money to their campaigns. In 2001, however, Congress prohibited campaigns from repaying more than $250,000 of these loans using funds raised after the election. They can repay as much as they want from campaign donations received before the election (although a federal regulation required them to do so “within 20 days of the election”).

The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official’s pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him.

Indeed, now that this limit on loan repayments has been struck down, lawmakers with sufficiently creative accountants may be able to use such loans to give themselves a steady income stream from campaign donors.

According to the Los Angeles Times, for example, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) made a $150,000 loan to her campaign at 18 percent interest in 1998 — before the 2001 law was enacted. Though Napolitano did eventually reduce the interest rate on this loan to 10 percent, the high-interest loan allowed her to make a considerable profit from donors.

Okay, there’s more about this shit but I can’t do it. Maybe BB will pick up on some of it tomorrow.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today!!

And love and snuggles from all of us at the kathouse! Here’s Ted Cruz with the Last Word today.


Sunday Reads: Get the government outta my snatch!

All for this!

Cartoons via Cagle website:

That one above is what I call a perfect political cartoon.

On the Buffalo mass shooting hate crime:

And here’s to the #BansOffOurBodies rallies from yesterday:

And with that…this is an open thread


Lazy Caturday Reads

Liquid Cat, photo by Karen Slagle

Liquid Cat, photo by Karen Slagle

Happy Caturday!!

My stress level is sky high lately. If only I could relax like a cat, blissfully unaware of the daily shocks we humans have to deal with these days. At least it’s the weekend, so maybe we’ll get a break–or maybe even some good news? Here’s the latest:

The Guardian: Demonstrators across the US protest expected reversal of Roe v Wade.

With the US supreme court apparently poised to overturn the 1973 landmark decision which made abortion legal, hundreds of thousands of people across America are planning to take to the streets to protest the looming decision.

A coalition of groups such as Planned ParenthoodUltraVioletMoveOn and the Women’s March are organizing Saturday’s demonstrations, whose rallying cry is “Bans Off Our Bodies”. More than 370 protests are planned, including in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago….

The “Bans Off Our Bodies” gatherings will take place three days after Democrats in the US Senate on Wednesday made a largely symbolic effort to advance legislation that would codify the right to an abortion into federal law. All 50 Republicans and one conservative-aligned Democrat – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – voted against the measure, leaving it well short of the 60 votes necessary for it to advance.

Also from The Guardian: Protesters rally outside US supreme court justices’ homes ahead of pro-choice marches.

Pro-choice demonstrators continue to turn up outside the homes of supreme court justices, with the latest target being conservative Amy Coney Barrett, who signed on to a majority draft opinion that was leaked to reveal an intention to overturn the constitutional right to seek an abortion in the US.

f98f3f2f0a7f126cf8c3e9070096f64e“The right to your own body – to do what you want with your own body – is the most personal freedom you can have,” one protester said from among a group wearing long red “handmaid” capes and white bonnets earlier this week to symbolize forced childbearing, as members of the Virginia state police watched nearby….

Several organizations, led by Planned Parenthood and the Women’s March, are preparing for a nationwide day of pro-choice marches on Saturday….

Protesters have so far gathered outside the residences in the Washington DC area of Samuel Alito, who wrote the scorching draft opinion, and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as Barrett and the chief justice, John Roberts, who did not sign on to the draft opinion, unlike the other three and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

Yesterday, British medical journal The Lancet released a scathing editorial warning the U.S. Supreme Court that if they overturn Roe v. Wade, they will have women’s “blood on their hands.”

The Lancet: Why Roe v. Wade Must Be Defended.

“Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views.” So begins a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, leaked from the US Supreme Court on May 2, 2022. If confirmed, this judgement would overrule the Court’s past decisions to establish the right to access abortion. In Alito’s words, “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives”. The Court’s opinion rests on a strictly historical interpretation of the US Constitution: “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.” His extraordinary text repeatedly equates abortion with murder.

The Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution has been the main foundation underpinning the right of American women to an abortion. That 1868 Amendment was passed during the period of American Reconstruction, when states’ powers were being subjected to certain limitations. The goal of the Amendment was to prevent states from unduly restricting the freedoms of their citizens. That guarantee of personal liberty, so the Supreme Court had previously held, extended to pregnant women, with qualifications, who decided to seek an abortion. Alito rejected that reasoning. He argued that for any right not mentioned in the Constitution to be protected, it must be shown to have had deep roots in the nation’s history and tradition. Abortion does not fulfil that test. Worse, Roe was an exercise in “raw judicial power”, it “short-circuited the democratic process”, and it was “egregiously wrong” from the very beginning. It was now time, according to Alito, “to set the record straight”.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4fe6739970b-600wiWhat is so shocking, inhuman, and irrational about this draft opinion is that the Court is basing its decision on an 18th century document ignorant of 21st century realities for women. History and tradition can be respected, but they must only be partial guides. The law should be able to adapt to new and previously unanticipated challenges and predicaments. Although Alito gives an exhaustive legal history of abortion, he utterly fails to consider the health of women today who seek abortion. Unintended pregnancy and abortion are universal phenomena. Worldwide, around 120 million unintended pregnancies occur annually. Of these, three-fifths end in abortion. And of these, some 55% are estimated to be safe—that is, completed using a medically recommended method and performed by a trained provider. This leaves 33 million women undergoing unsafe abortions, their lives put at risk because laws restrict access to safe abortion services.

Read the rest at the link.

At The Washington Post, Dana Millbank writes: Roe’s impending reversal is a 9/11 attack on America’s social fabric.

Washington’s reaction to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has been typically myopic.

Republicans first tried to make people believe that the issue wasn’t the opinion itself but the leak. Now they’re absurdly trying to portray Democrats as supporters of infanticide. Democrats, in turn, squabbled among themselves before a show vote on a doomed abortion rights bill. And the news media have reverted to our usual horse-race speculation about how it will affect the midterms.

This small-bore response misses the radical change to society that Justice Samuel Alito and his co-conspirators are poised to ram down the throats of Americans. Their stunning action might well change the course of the midterms — but more importantly, it is upending who we are as a people.

Assuming little changes from the draft, overturning Roe would be a shock to our way of life, the social equivalent of the 9/11 attacks (which shattered our sense of physical security) or the crash of 2008 (which undid our sense of financial security). As epoch-making decisions go, this is Brown v. Board of Education, but in reverse: taking away an entrenched right Americans have relied upon for half a century. We remember Brown because it changed us forever, not because it altered the 1954 midterms.

Read more at the WaPo.

Clarence Thomas, husband of Ginni Thomas, who supported a coup against the U.S. government, is still whining about the SCOTUS link, which most likely came from a right wing source. Adam Liptak at The New York Times: Justice Thomas Says Leaked Opinion Destroyed Trust at the Supreme Court.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4feaa48970b-600wiThe leak of a draft opinion has done irreparable damage to the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas said at a conference in Dallas on Friday night, adding that it had destroyed trust among its members.

“What happened at the court is tremendously bad,” Justice Thomas said. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them.”

The leak of the opinion, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, was “like kind of an infidelity,” Justice Thomas said.

“Look where we are, where that trust or that belief is gone forever,” he said. “And when you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder.”

Tough shit. My trust in SCOTUS was gone after Thomas was confirmed by lying about his sexual harassment of Anita HIll.

I won’t quote from this one, but if you want to read an argument by a constitutional scholar who is a Democrat who supports abortion rights but opposes Roe, check out this article at The Wall Street Journal by Akhil Reed Amar: The End of Roe v. Wade. I found it interesting but not that helpful for women who are facing a disastrous and traumatic future around pregnancy and childbirth. The article wasn’t behind the paywall when I opened it.

In other news, Republican Senators refused to visit Ukraine with Democrats, but then they organized their own trip. Please note that one of their GOP colleagues, Rand Paul, is currently blocking a bill to provide more aid to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. The New York Times: McConnell and other Republican senators make a secret visit to Ukraine.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, visited Ukraine on Saturday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading the latest delegation of American lawmakers to the country as the United States deepens its commitment to Kyiv’s fight against the Russian invasion.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4f00414970b-600wiThe surprise visit by Mr. McConnell, who was accompanied by three other Republican senators, comes as the Senate is working to pass a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. It follows a string of other clandestine visits, including by the first lady, Jill Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi….

“Helping Ukraine is not an instance of mere philanthropy — it bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression not succeed and carries significant costs,” Mr. McConnell said this week. “If Ukraine fails to repel Russian aggression, there is no question that the threat to American and European security will grow.”

The trip was disclosed by Mr. Zelensky’s office. Details were not yet available from the lawmakers.

Mr. McConnell was joined by Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of his leadership team and the Foreign Relations Committee; John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Intelligence Committee; and Susan Collins of Maine, who sits on both the Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees government funding.

In the photos I’ve seen, Zelensky doesn’t look as happy as he did when Jill Biden and Nancy Pelosi visited him.

The New York Times’s Luke Broadwater and Emily Cochrane on the subpoenas of members of Congress by the January 6th committee: Subpoenas for Republicans Raise New Questions for Jan. 6 Panel.

The decision by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to issue subpoenas to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has sent a shock wave through Capitol Hill, heightening tensions in an already hostile environment and raising questions about the future of the inquiry and the institution itself.

The move by the Democratic-led panel set up a showdown with Republicans that could result in the threat of jail time against sitting members of Congress — including Mr. McCarthy, who is in line to be speaker if his party wins control of the House in November. It also had major implications for the investigation, and whether the country will ever get full answers about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that disrupted the peaceful transfer of power and left more than 150 police officers injured.

Some Democrats immediately began clamoring for Mr. McCarthy and other lawmakers to be held in criminal contempt if they fail to appear at their scheduled depositions in late May, while Republicans warned of retaliation if they take control of the House after the midterm elections.

“I wouldn’t be for it, but turnabout is fair play,” Representative Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, said of retaliatory subpoenas. He called the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas a “horrible precedent for the institution,” adding: “It’s a race to the bottom.”

88cba75816c3e74906a3af2d2eb71db4I’d say the refusal of Republicans and Trump associates to honor Congressional subpoenas looks bad for Republicans, especially if they try to investigate Democrats in the future; but for the NYT, it’s always about how everything that happens is bad for Democrats.

Meanwhile at Axios: More bombshells for Jan. 6 committee before June hearings.

The Jan. 6 committee may seek testimony from additional lawmakers as soon as next week, ahead of blockbuster TV hearings that kick off next month, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: Chiefs of staff and other aides to members of the House select committee were told Friday on their weekly call with committee staff to brace for more bombshells ahead of the June 9 start to public hearings, according to two sources on the call….

The big picture: The committee created a major stir with post-election implications when on Thursday it issued subpoenas to five House Republicans, including two of the GOP’s top brass — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

  — Members haven’t said how they would enforce those subpoenas.

  — Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, told Axios on Thursday that “the fact-gathering process will continue through the hearings.”

What we’re hearing: A U.S. Capitol Police security briefing for members and their chiefs of staff, to prepare for the June hearings, is scheduled for May 20.

That’s what’s happening so far today, as I see it. What’s on your mind?


Friday Reads: Right-Wing Overreach Seems to Be Upon Us

The Foxes (German: Die Füchse), 1913, Franz Marc.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There are signs of backlash to moves by the Libertarian Right, the White Evangelical Nationalist Crusade, and the advance of global Fascism. They’re little signs mind you, but they are definitely there.

The major obvious overreach is the Putin invasion of Ukraine. But, we have some small hints that our markets and our political system may be waking up and pushing back.

Nothing made me happier today than to see the announcement I expected this morning after the crazy cryptocurrency market took a major dive and Tesla fell drastically. Nothing like a good dose of market discipline to kick a guy when he thinks he is winning. From WAPO: “Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter deal is temporarily on hold. The Tesla CEO, who has been seeking Twitter investors as his EV company sheds $400 billion in value, later says that he’s ‘still committed’ to the acquisition.”

I did mention a while ago that the entire thing could blow up in many different ways for many different reasons. Tesla has been overpriced for quite some time and cryptocurrency is basically a wild gamble no matter what they say about it. Sometimes, the favorite gets outfoxed.

Elon Musk tweeted early Friday that his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter was temporarily on hold, injecting fresh doubt into his ownership push just as a stock downturn had forced him to scramble for new investors.

Musk said the deal was on hold as he examined the number of spam accounts on the site, appearing to tie the delay to due diligence on an issue he has raised as a motivating factor to become Twitter’s owner. But the revelation sent the company’s stock down sharply, as investors signaled their doubt about whether the deal would go through.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” he tweeted, linking to a Reuters article from last week citing a Twitter filing.

Roughly two hours later, he added: “Still committed to acquisition.”

My guess is he’s looking for a reason to lower the offering price. My youngest daughter–the Market Maven–and I frequently discuss that we do not understand the demand for cryptocurrency. My Brother-in-law who also has been into investing for some time and is a Tax Attorney/CPA sneers at it too. I just come at it as a Financial Economist who believes currency needs to be backed up by actual production and a country’s laws. Maybe, I’m seriously old-fashioned. The last time I heard all the crypto bots tweet “To the Moon” I realized a crash was on the horizon for them. My jaded attitudes based on too-good-to-be-true have served me well in every market crash I’ve lived through. I bail. New York Magazine has this headline: “The Crash of Crypto’s Perpetual Wealth Machine” written by Kevin T. Dugan.

Just about four months ago, billionaire and Wall Street legend Mike Novogratz went to a Brooklyn tattoo parlor a few blocks down from Jim Cramer’s bar and, at 58, made permanent his devotion to a speculative new cryptocurrency. The result, on his left arm, was a large wolf howling at the moon. “I’m officially a Lunatic!!!” he tweeted to his more than 400,000 followers.

The ink refers to Luna, one half of a duo of digital currencies that were supposed to act as a perpetual wealth-creation machine, a way to always make money through the magic of code and financial engineering. At the time, Luna was on a massive run, up more the 1,000 percent over the prior six months. Novogratz is known as much for his career in the buttoned-up world of high finance — he’s an ex-partner at Goldman Sachs and Fortress Investment Group, an investor who lost two ten-figure fortunes and is on his third — as for being someone who has chafed against those boundaries. Several years ago, he was among the first high-profile Establishment finance types to dive all-in on crypto. (The ex-Princeton wrestler also hired Hilary Duff to play at his birthday party a few years ago.) But even for Novogratz, the tattoo seemed a little over-the-top. When someone tweeted their bewilderment that Novogratz would have gone so far, Do Kwon, the creator of Luna, chimed in, unprompted: “don’t worry it wasn’t much.”

This week, though, the critics who warned that Kwon’s perpetual wealth machine was too good to be true and that Novogratz might come to regret that tattoo before long were vindicated when Luna and its partner coin, Terra, both imploded in spectacular fashion. Terra is supposed to be trade reliable at the value of exactly one U.S. dollar, but it plummeted to 29 cents on Wednesday morning. Luna was down 99 percent since its highs last month. More than $40 billion in wealth — no small part of it from retail investors — was gone in a matter of hours. The shock of the sudden collapse sent the price of bitcoin falling to its lowest point since July, exposing how a coin labeled a Ponzi scheme by its critics had impacted the larger market in digital assets. Meanwhile, shares in leading U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase were off by 25 percent, and the trillion-dollar-plus crypto industry is teeming with rumors about large funds or companies that may be on the brink of failure.

Le Petit Prince et le renard, Antione de Saint Exupery,1943

Does this sound like a rational market to you?

The Oil and Gas Industry is also overreaching which caused me to once more troll one of my senators on Twitter. This is what’s going on and the Oil and Gas Industry is once more outfoxing the people who are supposed to regulate their failed oligopoly market so they can’t restrict quantity or price fix. From Time: “Oil Companies Posted Huge Profits. Here’s Where The Cash Will Go (Hint: Not Climate).” Nor is its goal the production of more gas and oil. They are perfectly happy with the high prices.

As consumers grapple with high fuel prices and politicians scramble to knock them down, oil companies are not making any sudden moves. That’s because, after years of low fuel prices, they are now enjoying a financial upswing, as demonstrated by lucrative first quarter earnings reports released in late April and early May.

Oil prices started to creep up in late 2021 due to supply constraints, but then turbocharged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. For Chevron, the upshot was $6.3 billion in profits last quarter, up from $1.4 billion a year ago. For Exxon Mobil, profits more than doubled in the same period, to $5.5 billion. The numbers were also rosy for European firms—even among those that took a hit from severing ties with their Russian investments. TotalEnergies, a French company, netted nearly $5 billion, a 48% boost from last year, while U.K. companies Shell (at $9 billion) and BP (at $6.2 billion) are hitting profit levels that they haven’t seen in about a decade.

For the most part, major oil companies aren’t going to pour these billions of dollars into climate-mitigation investments like carbon capture technologies. Nor have they signaled any immediate intention to bolster oil production, despite calls from heads of state to do so. Their inaction has spurred U.S. and European countries, which are under pressure to keep fuel affordable, to release oil reserves and replace Russian crude oil and liquid natural gas from other sources. Despite those government efforts, oil prices have stayed above $100 per barrel, sustaining an influx of money to fossil fuel companies that are passing it on to stockholders and investors in the form of increased dividends and share buyback initiatives that drive up companies’ share values.

One analysis from the Wall Street Journal found that the nine largest U.S. oil producers spent 54% more in share repurchases and dividends in the first quarter than they invested in new oil developments. Similarly, a recent report covering the 20 largest U.S. oil companies published by the environmentalist organization Friends Of The Earth and consumer watchdog organizations Public Citizen and BailoutWatch, tallied $56 billion in new share buyback authorizations in the roughly seven months since last October, compared with $11 billion announced in the nine months before that.

I think they’re being deliberately political and obtuse about this. It’s also not helpful because they could solve this problem by passing laws. They are stopping oil production. You are letting them Senator by not forcing them to produce or give up their damned excessive profits to an extraordinary income or price gouging tax.

So, it looks like Republicans are going to be bringing more guys like this one to the ballot in the fall midterms. More power to them. I’m not sure any rational voter of either part is going to want more of this guy. From Politico: “‘He’s Not OK’: The Entirely Predictable Unraveling of Madison Cawthorn. A string of embarrassing incidents has led many to question whether the young congressman from North Carolina was really ready for the job.” The little dude is not an outlier. Ask his Maga Buddies in Congress now subpoenaed by the Jan 6 committee.

Four and a half years after Cawthorn contemplated suicide, he was running for Congress. Turning a stirring story of conquering adversity into a shocking political victory, he achieved his most ambitious career goal at a staggeringly early age. And within weeks if not days of being sworn in — at 25 years old one of the youngest members in the history of the House — he had put himself on a short list of the chamber’s most known figures. Now, though, heading into his first reelection, Cawthorn is mired in controversy, facing the very real possibility that the end of his electoral career might come as quickly as it began. Emboldened by Cawthorn’s miscues, misdeeds and array of indiscretions, seven Republican challengers have lined up to try to take him out in Tuesday’s primary, party leaders have abandoned him, and other MAGA firebrands are keeping their distance what with the escalating storm of even just the past few months.

Police stopped him for driving with a revoked license (again). Airport security stopped him for trying to bring a gun onto a plane (again). He made outlandish and unsubstantiated comments on an obscure podcast about orgies and cocaine use by his Capitol Hill colleagues. He called the Ukrainian president a “thug,” he suggested Nancy Pelosi was an alcoholic (she doesn’t drink), and the seemingly ceaseless gush of unsavory news has included allegations of insider trading, pictures of shuttered district offices, a leaked tranche of salacious images and videos, and ongoing proof in FEC filings that he’s a prodigious fundraiser but a profligate spender as well. All of this comes on top of multiple women in multiple places accusing him of sexual harassment, his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6 of last year, his growing catalogue of alarming provocations on social media and on the House floor, and his politically imprudent decision to announce he was switching districts only to reverse course. His marriage amidst all this lasted less than a year.

Common foxes in the snow, 1893,Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Kuhner

Seems a lot like Gaetz, Jordan, Taylor Greene, and others except they didn’t spill the beans on the Grand Old Pervert’s Orgies and Cocaine parties. Then there’s the Hand Maid on the Supreme Court. Move on, she’s perfectly normal too right?

Check out this in The Atlantic by Margaret Atwood. “I INVENTED GILEAD. THE SUPREME COURT IS MAKING IT REAL. I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Although I eventually completed this novel and called it The Handmaid’s Tale, I stopped writing it several times, because I considered it too far-fetched. Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the distant past: There are a number of them on the planet today. What is to prevent the United States from becoming one of them?

For instance: It is now the middle of 2022, and we have just been shown a leaked opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that would overthrow settled law of 50 years on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and is not “deeply rooted” in our “history and tradition.” True enough. The Constitution has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the original document does not mention women at all.

Women were deliberately excluded from the franchise. Although one of the slogans of the Revolutionary War of 1776 was “No taxation without representation,” and government by consent of the governed was also held to be a good thing, women were not to be represented or governed by their own consent—only by proxy, through their fathers or husbands. Women could neither consent nor withhold consent, because they could not vote. That remained the case until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, an amendment that many strongly opposed as being against the original Constitution. As it was.

Women were nonpersons in U.S. law for a lot longer than they have been persons. If we start overthrowing settled law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justifications, why not repeal votes for women?

Reproductive rights have been the focus of the recent fracas, but only one side of the coin has been visible: the right to abstain from giving birth. The other side of that coin is the power of the state to prevent you from reproducing. The Supreme Court’s 1927 Buck v. Bell decision held that the state may sterilize people without their consent. Although the decision was nullified by subsequent cases, and state laws that permitted large-scale sterilization have been repealed, Buck v. Bell is still on the books. This kind of eugenicist thinking was once regarded as “progressive,” and some 70,000 sterilizations—of both males and females, but mostly of females—took place in the United States. Thus a “deeply rooted” tradition is that women’s reproductive organs do not belong to the women who possess them. They belong only to the state.

Alito of the poison pen is “reluctant to discuss state of Supreme Court after Roe leak” according to the Washington Post. Do you think he enjoys being the most hated man in America?

In his first public address since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion he wrote that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. breezed through a detailed examination of statutory textualism, and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision saying federal discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers.

But he was a little stumped by the final audience question from a crowd at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: Are he and the other justices at a place where they could get a nice meal together?

“I think it would just be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, are you all doing okay in these very challenging times?” the questioner asked.

The fact that Alito was speaking via closed circuit from a room at the Supreme Court seven miles away, rather than in person, was a sign these are not normal times.

Foxes, Kawanabe Kyosai

The snowflake can’t even handle his neighbors serving wine and cheese plates and opening their home bathrooms to protestors by his house. They needed a law to protect him from a cocktail get-together with a point? What did he think would happen? That 60% of the population was going to take his little diatribe based on a guy that believed in and killed witches? And he was at fucking George Mason which barely qualified as an educational institution and is more like an indoctrination center that teaches false narratives and pogrom generator.

What about the overreach of the White Nationalists and Militias that stormed the Capitol and January 6. Ever wonder what a nightmare it would be to be raised by one or married to one? What sense of relief you must feel to find your violent and manipulative father/husband in federal prison!

You may read the stories of the three grown kids of Steward Rhodes at The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Prosecutors’ most recent allegations against Rhodes include that he attempted to contact then-President Donald Trump through an intermediary in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. They further alleged that Rhodes, in a conference call with Oath Keepers members in the days following Trump’s election defeat, characterized Trump’s opponents as a cabal of pedophiles.

In February, Hatewatch met with and interviewed Rhodes’ adult children: son Dakota Adams, 24, and daughters Sedona Adams, 23, and Sequoia Adams, 19, in Kalispell, Montana. Rhodes and his ex-wife, Tasha Adams, have three other children who are still minors, and are not included in this interview.

The conversation shed important new light on the psychology of the Oath Keepers founder and provided the untold story of the impact of his public activities on his family.

The more these stories get out, the more outraged the sane majority in this country should be convinced that voting Democratic is our only hope. Even, if that party isn’t exactly the party that stands up for right, we have no other rational choice.

What’s on your writing and blogging list today?