Monday Reads: More June JusticePosted: June 6, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s going to be an interesting week as we start the January 6 committee’s public hearings on the insurrection on Thursday evening. The times are listed in EDT to the left of the headline. NBC asks the big questions: “The Jan. 6 committee begins hearings with a big challenge: Capture public attention. Whether the public hearings will be considered a success for Democrats largely depends on what comes after and whether legislation or prosecutions follow.”
Seldom has a set of congressional hearings opened amid so much anticipation and, at the same time, so little guarantee of success.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitolwill hold the first of at least a half-dozen public hearings this week, having already promised stunning revelations that would lay bare just how dangerously close the U.S. came to losing its democracy.
“It’s all about democratic resiliency. Can we fortify our institutions and our people against insurrection, coups and violence?” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a committee member, told NBC News. “I hope we will be able to spur the country to make the necessary reforms to solidify democracy.”
Thursday is when the suspense lifts and the nine-member committee gets to tell all.
But what will success look like? The question has weighed on committee members and congressional Democrats who have invited the panel to present both a definitive accounting of the riot and tangible solutions to prevent another.
What comes later is likely to determine whether the committee’s work is judged a success or a failure, according to interviews with more than 20 committee members, other lawmakers, witnesses, congressional aides and political strategists.
As the panel sees it, the hearings can’t just come and go. Members are looking for accountability. The committee isn’t a law enforcement body, so it can’t prosecute anyone. Yet if members lay out a compelling story about the far-flung effort to deny Joe Biden his rightful victory, it could pressure the Justice Department to ramp up its own inquiry.
“I am really very hopeful that what [the committee] will produce will be a road map — not just for Congress, but for the Department of Justice and for the American people who want to preserve our democracy,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who was trapped in the gallery of the House chamber during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, said in an interview.
If you’ve been on Twitter at all this morning, you’ll notice that the cult that controlled Amy Coney Barrett is in the news. This is from The Guardian. Why do almost all of these religious cult stories come with sordid tales of child abuse and perversion? “Legal claims shed light on founder of faith group tied to Amy Coney Barrett. Examination of People of Praise comes as supreme court seems poised to reverse Roe v Wade.” Little Miss Amy’s job was to control the women.
The founder of the People of Praise, a secretive charismatic Christian group that counts supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a member, was described in a sworn affidavit filed in the 1990s as exerting almost total control over one of the group’s female members, including making all decisions about her finances and dating relationships.
The court documents also described alleged instances of a sexualized atmosphere in the home of the founder, Kevin Ranaghan, and his wife, Dorothy Ranaghan.
The description of the Ranaghans and accusations involving their intimate behavior were contained in a 1993 proceeding in which a woman, Cynthia Carnick, said that she did not want her five minor children to have visitations with their father, John Roger Carnick, who was then a member of the People of Praise, in the Ranaghan household or in their presence, because she believed it was not in her children’s “best interest”. Cynthia Carnick also described inappropriate incidents involving the couple and the Ranaghan children. The matter was eventually settled between the parties.
Barrett, 50, lived with Dorothy and Kevin Ranaghan in their nine-bedroom South Bend, Indiana, home while she attended law school, according to public records. The justice – who was then known as Amy Coney – graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1997 and two years later married her husband, Jesse Barrett, who also appears to have lived in the Ranaghan household. There is no indication that Amy Coney Barrett lived in the house at the time when the Carnick children were visiting or witnessed any of the alleged behavior described in the court documents.
The examination of the People of Praise’s history and attitude towards women comes as a majority of the supreme court – including Barrett – appear poised to reverse Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal across the US.
Cynthia Carnick stated in the documents that she had witnessed Dorothy Ranaghan tie the arms and legs of two of the Ranaghans’ daughters – who were three and five at the time the incidents were allegedly witnessed – to their crib with a necktie. She also said that the Ranaghans allegedly practiced “sexual displays” in front of their children and other adults, such as Dorothy Ranaghan lying with her clothes on and “rocking” on top of Kevin Ranaghan in their TV room.
Cynthia Carnick – who no longer uses Carnick as her last name – declined to comment but said that she stood by the statement she made at the time.
This is horrifying. We have too many sick, sick individuals on the Supreme Court right now appointed by Republicans appeasing these types of cults. One piece of good news on the SCOTUS front did come out today. This is from USA Today. “Supreme Court declines appeal over law licenses from St. Louis couple who waved guns at protest. Mark and Patricia McCloskey drew national attention for walking onto their front yard with guns during a 2020 protest of the police killing of George Floyd.”
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a St. Louis couple potentially facing indefinite suspension of their law licenses after they waved guns at a racial justice protest outside their home in 2020.
Mark McCloskey, a personal injury attorney and Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, and his wife Patricia McCloskey drew national attention for walking onto their front yard with guns during a protest of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The protesters were walking to the home of the St. Louis mayor at the time.
Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. Missouri Gov. Michael Parson pardoned the McCloskeys in 2021 but the state office responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by lawyers sought to suspend their law licenses.
Rebecca Traister has a long piece up at The Cut on Senator DiFi. “The Institutionalist Dianne Feinstein fought for gun control, civil rights, and abortion access for half a century. Where did it all go wrong?”
Feinstein is now both the definition of the American political Establishment and the personification of the inroads women have made over the past 50 years. Her career, launched in a moment of optimism about what women leaders could do for this country, offers a study in what the Democratic Party’s has not been able to do. As Feinstein consolidated her power at the top of the Senate, the party’s losses steadily mounted. It has lost control of the Supreme Court; it is likely about to lose control of Congress. Children are being gunned down by the assault weapons Feinstein has fought to ban, while the Senate — a legislative body she reveres — can only stand by idly, ultimately complicit. States around the nation are banning books about racism as Black people are being shot and killed in supermarkets. Having gutted the Voting Rights Act, conservatives are leveraging every form of voter suppression they can, while the Senate cannot pass a bill to protect the franchise. The expected overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer will mark a profound step backward, a signal that other rights won during Feinstein’s adulthood, including marriage equality and full access to contraception, are just as vulnerable.
As the storied career of one of the nation’s longest-serving Democrats approaches its end, it’s easy to wonder how the generation whose entry into politics was enabled by progressive reforms has allowed those victories to be taken away. And how a woman who began her career with the support of conservationist communities in San Francisco, and who staked her political identity on advancing women’s rights, is now best known to young people as the senator who scolded environmental-activist kids in her office in 2019 and embraced Lindsey Graham after the 2020 confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett, a Supreme Court justice who appears to be the fifth and final vote to end the constitutional right to an abortion. As Feinstein told Graham, “This is one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.”
For many from a younger and more pugilistic left bucking with angry exasperation at the unwillingness of Feinstein’s generation to make room for new tactics and leadership before everything is lost, the senator is more than simply representative of a failed political generation — she is herself the problem. After she expressed her unwillingness to consider filibuster reform last year, noting that “if democracy were in jeopardy, I would want to protect it, but I don’t see it being in jeopardy right now,” The Nation ran a piece headlined “Dianne Feinstein Is an Embarrassment.”
Feinstein, who turns 89 in June, is older than any other sitting member of Congress. Her declining cognitive health has been the subject of recent reporting in both her hometown San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times. It seems clear that Feinstein is mentally compromised, even if she’s not all gone. “It’s definitely happening,” said one person who works in California politics. “And it’s definitely not happening all the time.”
Reached by phone two days after 19 children were murdered in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in late May, Feinstein spoke in halting tones, sometimes trailing off mid-sentence or offering a non sequitur before suddenly alighting upon the right string of words. She would forget a recently posed question, or the date of a certain piece of legislation, but recall with perfect lucidity events from San Francisco in the 1960s. Nothing she said suggested a deterioration beyond what would be normal for a person her age, but neither did it demonstrate any urgent engagement with the various crises facing the nation.
“Oh, we’ll get it done, trust me,” she assured me in reference to meaningful gun reform. Every question I asked — about the radicalization of the GOP, the end of Roe, the failures of Congress — was met with a similar sunny imperviousness, evincing an undiminished belief in institutional power that may in fact explain a lot about where Feinstein and other Democratic leaders have gone wrong. “Some things take longer than others, and you can only do what you can do at a given time,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t do it at another time. And so one of the things that you develop is a certain kind of memory for progress: when you can do something in terms of legislation and have a chance of getting it through, and when the odds are against it, meaning the votes and that kind of thing. So I’m very optimistic about the future of our country.”
It’s a long read but well worth it if you remember the year of the woman that brought a few more women senators to the District. There are also two features on some of the worst of the worst Republicans if you want to check them out. Steve Bannon is the Focus of “American Rasputin” at The Atlantic. Blind justice is still chasing that one. Hot Air follows the latest Elon Musk Drama with the headline “BREAKING: Musk threatens to dump deal in letter to Twitter, SEC.” The last one doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s from The Bulwark. “The Long History of Glenn Greenwald’s Kissing Up to the Kremlin. In his world, it seems America can do nothing right and Vladimir Putin can do nothing wrong.” I really don’t want to quote them but you may want to skim them and see if anything interests you. I’ll give you a taste of Cathy Young’s piece on Greenwald.
But Greenwald has been baffling and disappointing legions of his progressive admirers for years with his cozy relationship with the MAGA right. And a look at his career shows that his pro-Kremlin affinity goes way back—as part of a more general tendency to sympathize with foes of the U.S.-led “neoliberal” (or “neoconservative”) international order.
A CBS poll shows how out of step a lot of Republicans are with the rest of the county. “In a new @CBSNewsPoll , 72% of the nation believes mass shootings are preventable, however, there is a partisan split with 44% of Republicans saying mass shootings are something we have to accept.” That’s like basically saying we can’t cure all cancers so just give up on it. Or maybe, what you have is cancer, so we’ll just inject more cancer in there.
I just really have trouble understanding this viewpoint. It seems so irrational.
This weekend saw 7 mass shootings. This is from Axios. “At least 54 injured, 11 killed in 7 separate mass shootings this weekend.” These shootings show the disturbing trend of increasingly younger shooters. Most of these were due to young men solving their personal issues with guns,
The big picture: Most of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. since 2018 were committed by men who were 21 or younger.
- Between the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, committed by a 20-year-old, and late 2017, killers were between the ages of 26 and 64. All of them were men.
- When looking at school shootings specifically, killers tend to be younger, PolitiFact reports.
- Nearly half of homicides in 2020 were committed by people 29 and under, according to the most recent FBI data on the matter.
- Wednesday’s shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was committed by a man in his 40s who was targeting a doctor he blamed for his back pain.
The problem seems to be getting worse. Per the New York Times, only two of the deadliest mass shootings from 1949 to 2017 were committed by gunmen under 21. The two were the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
“We see two clusters when it comes to mass shooters, people in their 40s who commit workplace type shootings, and a very big cluster of young people — 18, 19, 20, 21 — who seem to get caught up in the social contagion of killing,” Jillian Peterson, a criminal justice professor who helped found the Violence Project, told the New York Times.
State of play: Under federal law, a person has to be 18 or older to buy a shotgun or a rifle, though some states have a higher limit of 21. Additionally, there is no law preventing teens or even kids from being given a rifle as a gift.
Something could be done to lessen the ability of the under 21 crowd to access guns.
So I hope my sweet fluffy kitten brightens your day even if the situation in our country is dire. Even local Republicans are bracing for the impact of Trump on their next round of primaries. This is from Natasha Korecki at NBC News. “Republicans brace for next round of Trump primary chaos. State party officials and other members of the GOP in Nevada, Wisconsin and Missouri say they’re concerned about coming contests and the effects of Trump’s 2020 fixation.”
“I wish Trump would sit down and keep quiet. I think the country’s had enough of him,” said Perry DiLoreto, a prominent Nevada businessman and longtime GOP donor who backed Trump in 2016 and 2020.
In the state’s upcoming GOP primary for Senate, he ignored Trump’s endorsement of former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt and instead supported retired Army Capt. Sam Brown.
“Donald Trump was a great example of somebody that had some good ideas and had good common sense. But to move any of those ideas forward, you have to know how to have civil dialogue with people,” DiLoreto said.
Republicans in states like Nevada, Missouri and Wisconsin are airing their frustrations as they brace for primaries that could play a heavy hand in the fate of governor races or ultimately Senate control in November. Republicans in these states say they are increasingly turned off by Trump’s fixation on the unfounded contention that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, particularly since changes in voting laws have already played out in many states.
Their grumbling comes on the heels of a blowout loss of Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate David Perdue in Georgia — he lost by 50 points – only for Trump to push voter fraud conspiracy claims afterward. And it comes after the messy results in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, where Mehmet Oz and David McCormick went into overtime amid the narrowest of Oz leads. This again had Trump, who endorsed Oz, crying foul over ballot counting. (McCormick conceded on Friday.) Trump also backed far-right state Sen. Doug Mastriano in the governor’s contest, who went on to win, prompting an eruption within the state’s GOP that now fears it could lose a once competitive governor’s mansion in the fall.
The seesaw of emotions Republicans are expressing comes as more of the party rank and file members — who still adoringly back Trump and his politics — show signs that they’re open to new faces in the party to run for president in 2024.
I think expecting Orange Caligula to sit down and be quiet is a tall order. Hope springs eternal they say!
Anyway, enough for me today! What’s on your reading and blogging list?
And the sourdough boule is done!!!