Thursday Reads: Extreme Weather and Random News

Good Afternoon!!

There was an outbreak of tornadoes in Southern states yesterday, including in New Orleans. Fortunately they missed Dakinikat, although she heard the nearby hits as she sheltered under her desk. She can tell us all about it in the comments. There’s also a huge winter storm crossing the country. It’s very bad in the Midwest and we are getting a lot of snow in parts of Massachusetts later today and tomorrow. It looks like those of us on the coast will get mainly wind driven rain, but you never know.

CBS News: At least 3 killed, multiple people injured after tornadoes tear through Louisiana.

At least three people have died and multiple people have been injured after tornadoes touched down in Louisiana on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Wednesday afternoon, a tornado passed through the New Orleans area, killing one and leaving over 42,000 without power in the New Orleans area, according to utility company Entergy

A 56-year-old woman was found dead outside of her house in St. Charles Parish and eight people were taken to St. Charles hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Parish president Matthew Jewell said. The Louisiana Department of Health earlier on Wednesday confirmed that two people, a 30-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son, had been killed in Caddo Parish after a tornado touched down in the area Tuesday.

Jewell said that tens of homes were damaged by the tornado, the second in just two weeks that touched the parish.

The tornado also touched down in Arabi, causing “major damage” to St. Bernard Parish. Officials asked that people avoid the area as authorities assess the damage.

“Parish officials have confirmed a tornado touched down in Arabi causing major damage,” St. Bernard Parish tweeted. “Firefighters and police are assessing the damage. Please stay out of the area until further notice. Thank you,”

According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, several homes and businesses suffered “catastrophic damage” and at least one of the sheriff’s office’s facilities suffered “severe damage,” but there were no reported injuries at the facilities, authorities said….

Earlier in the day, at least two tornadoes tore through New Iberia, Louisiana, causing “significant damage” to the Southport Boulevard subdivision and the Iberia Medical Center, New Iberia Police Capt. Leland Laseter said in a Facebook video post.

Read more and see photos at The Washington Post: Storms turn deadly in South as blizzard swirls over Plains, Upper Midwest.

At The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman has a piece on the last weekend’s troubling Young Republicans party: A New York Gala Draws Incoming G.O.P. Lawmakers, and Extremists.

Three incoming House freshmen who flipped Democratic seats in November attended a conservative gala in Manhattan on Saturday — along with white nationalists, right-wing conspiracy theorists and European representatives of far-right parties with authoritarian roots.

The event, sponsored by the New York Young Republican Club, has attracted attention for the remarks made by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Ms. Greene told the crowd that had she and Stephen K. Bannon, a former adviser to Donald J. Trump, organized the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, she would have made sure the insurgents were armed.

“And I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won,” she told the audience. “Not to mention, it would have been armed.”

But the three congressmen-elect in attendance have received scant notice, and their presence has raised questions about the influence of the party’s extremist fringe on the new Republican-led House.

The leader of the Young Republican Club, Gavin Mario Wax, opened Saturday night’s event on Park Avenue in Manhattan by calling for “total war” on Republican enemies.

Attendees included Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDare, which publishes writings by white nationalists and which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group. Also in attendance was Jack Posobiec, a far-right commentator known for promoting the PizzaGate conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizzeria.

And beyond Ms. Greene, guests of honor included three Republicans who took districts from Democrats in last month’s midterm elections: George Santos of Long Island; Cory Mills of Central Florida; and Mike Collins of the northern exurbs of Atlanta.

The Republican gala has become an unexpected flash point as the party prepares to take the gavel in the House after winning a razor-thin majority in the midterms. Democrats have questioned the silence of House Republican leaders since the gala’s attendance list and speeches came to light in an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s HateWatch.

“The unwillingness of so-called Republican moderates in New York and throughout the country to explicitly denounce the reckless extremism of people like Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks for itself,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the incoming House Democratic leader, said in an interview on Tuesday.

Journalists are still evaluating the impact of the thousands of text messages to an from Mark Meadows that Talking Points Memo obtained and released. This is from David Corn at Mother Jones: Newly Revealed Texts Show Mark Meadows Is a Liar.

Mark Meadows is a liar—at least by omission. And newly revealed text messages prove it. 

In 2021, the former White House chief of staff for Donald Trump released a book, The Chief’s Chief, which offered a sycophantic account of his tenure serving the reality-TV-star-turned-president. It made little news because it provided little news. In the book, Meadows fawns over Dear Leader. He blames Trump’s 2020 loss on Fox News’ less-than-enthusiastic coverage of Trump, other purported media conspiracies, and massive fraud. Of course, he cites no confirmed instances of significant voter fraud. But he insists it was clear Trump won. “I knew he didn’t lose,” he writes. How? Well, because of all the “palpable” excitement at the Trump rallies and the “feeling I got during the final days of President Trump’s campaign.” Alrighty, then. But there’s more: “If you looked at the social media traffic from that night—which, I did, constantly—there was no doubt about it: President Trump was going to be reelected by a healthy margin.” Talk about reality bias.

No savvy reader would expect Meadows to present an honest and accurate depiction of what transpired in the weeks after the election and on January 6. But he strives mightily to provide a phony recounting. He cites debunked allegations of fraud and claims the Democrats and the liberal media had plotted for years to set up a pretext in which Trump’s assertions of fraud could be dismissed as conspiracy theory nonsense and labeled “crazy” or “paranoid.” He calls this the “long con.” In Meadows’ telling, Trump and his attorneys merely engaged in legitimate court challenges to “uphold the Democratic process.” (Meadows mistakenly capitalizes “democratic.”) The problem, apparently, was that the courts, including the Supreme Court, didn’t have the guts to support these challenges. And then Trump, on January 6, simply made a farewell address to his followers that “did not call for violence,” and afterward he left the stage, informing Meadows he had no intention to head to the Capitol himself. When moments earlier he had told his loyalists that he would march with them toward Congress, Trump “had been speaking metaphorically.” (According to testimony provided to the House January 6 committee, Trump was intent on leading the throng and even got into a physical altercation with a Secret Service agent who would not allow him to do so.) Meadows shares not a single detail about his or Trump’s actions—or inaction—during the ensuing riot. 

Meadows was peddling disinformation. His book says nothing about Trump’s multiple efforts after Election Day to overturn the results. Missing from these pages: Trump pressuring Georgia election officials to “find” him enough votes to win that state (an effort in which Meadows participated); the fake electors scheme; Trump’s attempt to force the Justice Department to declare the election corrupt; the crazy conspiracy nutters who met with Trump and pushed him to seize voting machines; Trump muscling his vice president to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory; Trump’s refusal to take steps to quell the January 6 riot; and much more. 

Read the rest at Mother Jones.

Rolling Stone has a creepy scoop about Kanye West and his love of Hitler.

Cheyenne Roundtree at RS: Kanye West’s Love of Hitler Allegedly Goes Back 20 Years.

FOR THE PAST two months, Kanye West has dominated headlines for a nonstop stream of reprehensible behavior. What started out as a controversy over the rapper’s ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirts descended into a torrent of antisemitic remarks before he appeared on Alex Jones’ show in early December to praise Nazis and Hitler. “I see good things about Hitler,” West said during the bizarre three-hour interview where he falsely claimed Hitler had invented highways and microphones. 

West’s remarks mirrored earlier claims former business and music industry sources had told CNN and NBC this fall — that the musician had lauded Hitler and made several antisemitic comments within the past five years, paying at least two settlements to former employees who allege he made such remarks in the workplace. 

But as nearly half a dozen sources who worked with West tell Rolling Stone, his alleged obsession of Hitler and Nazis dates back even further than previously reportedThey claim that West has been discussing his admiration for Hitler and what he sees as positive achievements of Nazi Germany for nearly two decades, describing it as a well-known but well-kept secret within the rapper’s inner circle. 

Beyond just fascination, two sources claim, West allegedly took inspiration from Nazi propaganda strategies and power-gaining tactics to achieve his own fame and success. “It’s not a stretch to now compare Kanye’s ‘by any means necessary’ methods and tactics with Adolf Hitler’s,” a former longtime collaborator says. “To know that a Hitler/[Joseph] Goebbelsplaybook has been a central inspiration to Kanye’s own media playbook helps bring a great deal of clarity to the exact types of moves he’s been making over his career.” (West did not reply to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)

In the years before the release of West’s 2004 Grammy-winning debut album The College Dropout, West’s success as a rapper was unclear. While he was a wonderkid producer, music label executives believed West’s semi-preppy look and suburban upbringing wasn’t a fit for the gangster rapper image of the early 2000s. West’s persistence won out when he was signed to Roc-A-Fella in 2002 and quickly began working on his first album. It was in those early studio sessions the then-26-year-old frequently discussed Hitler and Nazis and quizzed others on their thoughts, according to a 2003 music industry source who claims to have witnessed the conversations firsthand. “It was like a daily thing,” the source says.

The topic wasn’t couched in general conversation, the music source says. Instead, West allegedly would approach collaborators and industry executives and ambush them with questions — seemingly trying to catch people off-guard. “Going up to somebody like, ‘So what do you think about the Holocaust?’ the music source explains. 

That is sooooo creepy. 

Speaking of creepy people, Elon Musk is still a bully and a hypocrite. 

The Washington Post: Musk bans Twitter account tracking his jet, threatens to sue creator.

Jack Sweeney, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, was a big fan of the billionaire industrialist Elon Musk. In 2020, Sweeney launched a Twitter account, @ElonJet, that used public air-travel data to map the flights of Musk’s private jet, thinking it’d be cool to track how Musk managed his business empire.

But when Sweeney woke up Wednesday morning, he was stunned to see that the 530,000-follower account on Twitter, the social media platform Musk bought in October, had been “permanently suspended” without explanation. A notice on Sweeney’s Twitter account said only that the company had, “after careful review … determined your account broke the Twitter rules,” without saying which rules it broke.

On Wednesday evening, the account was briefly restored, with Twitter outlining new rules seemingly designed to prevent Sweeney from posting the real-time locations of planes used by Musk and other public figures as long as he included a slight delay. Sweeney, over Twitter, asked Musk how long he’d have to delay the data to comply.

But Wednesday evening, Musk threatened to escalate the conflict against Sweeney, saying a car carrying Musk’s son, X Æ A-12, had been “followed by [a] crazy stalker” in Los Angeles, implying without providing evidence that location data had been a factor in the purported episode. “Legal action is being taken against Sweeney & organizations who supported harm to my family,” Musk tweeted.

Sweeney, 20, shared publicly available information about Musk’s flights, not his family members or his cars. The records stopped and ended at airports, and Musk has provided no further detail as to what legal basis Musk would cite in a lawsuit.

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” had been critical of Sweeney’s account but pledged last month to keep it online, tweeting, “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk.” [….]

Sweeney’s other Twitter accounts, which tracked the air travel of college sports teams, celebrities and politicians, including Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, climate envoy John F. Kerry and former president Donald Trump, remained online for several hours after the Musk jet account was suspended.

But on Wednesday afternoon, after Sweeney began discussing the issue publicly, those accounts as well as Sweeney’s personal account were suspended.

Twitter also blocked people from tweeting a link to a version of the account Sweeney runs on Instagram. When a user tries to tweet the link, Twitter says, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”

Meanwhile, Musk has been selling more Tesla stock. Is it wrong that I hope he keeps losing big?


It looks like Rudy Giuliani could soon be disbarred.

From the WaPo article:

An arm of the D.C. Bar found Thursday that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and personal attorney to President Donald Trump, violated the terms of his license to practice law in the nation’s capital when he filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania trying to block certification of the results in the 2020 presidential election.

The preliminary finding by the D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility means Giuliani and his legal team will have to file additional briefs detailing his defense and his role in the lawsuit, as officials consider what discipline he should face. Robert Bernius, the board’s chairman, said after a private 15-minute discussion Thursday that the finding was “preliminary and nonbinding.”

Hamilton “Phil” Fox III, the lead prosecuting attorney for the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, told the board that Giuliani’s conduct “calls for only one sanction, and that’s the sanction of disbarment.”

“What Mr. Giuliani did was use his law license to undermine the legitimacy of a presidential election, to undermine the basic premise of the democratic system that we all live in, that has been in place since the 1800s in this country,” Fox said.

But Bernius asked whether disbarment was extreme, noting that former D.C. administrative law judge Roy Pearson Jr. was suspended from practicing law in the city for only 90 days when he sued a dry cleaners for $54 million over a pair of missing pants. That D.C. case garnered national attention.

In hearings last week, Fox argued thatGiuliani had “weaponized” his law license in filing the lawsuit in Pennsylvania that falsely claimed that the November 2020 presidential election in that state was riddled with fraud. Those claims, Fox said, were “unfounded.”

He told the board that Giuliani had a “distinguished” career as a former federal prosecutor and a former U.S. attorney in New York. But “that was 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s like there are two different people. I don’t know if something happened to Mr. Giuliani or what.”

I’ll end there, because I’m late again. Insomnia is playing havoc with my life! What stories are you following today?


25 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Extreme Weather and Random News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is a good article by Jonathan Chait, although he’ll probably be attacked by people who don’t bother to read it. There is a long history of unquestioning acceptance of power drugs that are later found to be dangerous. For an extreme example, see Thalidimide.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The key thing to understand about this issue is that there are two distinct debates going on at the same time. The one between Democrats and Republicans in the political arena concerns whether to respect the basic rights of transgender people. Within the medical community, the debate is over exactly how to treat children who question their gender identity. The former matter is clear and simple. The latter is murky.

      The question of how to treat children has many sources of uncertainty. There has been a huge explosion in cases of children questioning their gender identity, and a large majority of the patients are assigned female at birth. The stages of treatment generally begin with social transition (using different name and clothing), proceed to drugs that delay puberty, and culminate in surgery. Experts don’t agree on the correct age at which to begin these treatments. One problem is that kids and teens often have a fluid grasp of their own identity and gender, and need time to form a stable identity. Another is that puberty blockers have undetermined long-term risks.

      Both sides of this debate within the medical community agree that trans people do require medical and social support without stigma. The disagreement lies in the process and speed of the appropriate treatment. The treatment regimen supported by most of the trans-activist community calls for “gender-affirming” care that puts kids on the process to transition in relatively rapid order, highly aware of the risk of going too slow: that transgender children will be denied care they need and grow despondent or even suicidal. More traditional treatment models call for more cautious progression to medicalization and surgery, focused on the risk of moving too fast: that children will be mistakenly diagnosed with gender dysphoria and will have long-term side effects from treatment that they later come to regret.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, I see Chait is being attacked viciously on Twitter. What am I missing? Why is it evil to argue for evaluating the side effects of drugs and radical surgery at very young ages? Someone please educate me. I just want to understand.

        • djmm says:

          I’d like to understand this, too. Trans persons should always be safe and adults can certainly make their own decisions on how to live their lives. But side effects of drugs and radical surgery on non-adults worry me.

        • quixote says:

          Understanding what you’re dealing with and avoiding damage to your one and only body are _not_ evil. I, of course, take a dim view of what’s going on in the minds of people who’d rather not know. (Don’t want to discover they might be wrong about something, is my guess.) JJ may have broader insights into their state of mind.

      • quixote says:

        The side effects include inability to climax, sterility, and no way to backtrack. That’s one of the problems with interfering with development: there’s no way to run the clock backward, reverse changes to an earlier point, and start on another track. That’s one of the advantages of waiting to adulthood: you can’t screw up a developmental pathway. Of course, that’s also the exact problem according to trans activists: you’re stuck in a pathway you don’t want. It’s a logical impossibility to somehow take both paths or “compromise.”

        Other side effects: neurological development can be affected, osteoporosis, cancers, liver pathologies, it goes on and on.

        Honestly, if they’d just let the kids dress and act how they want and dump all the gender roles bullshit, which is what the kids (and adults) are trying to escape, there’s no need to destroy bodies. But noooo.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    I can’t believe that Trump thought selling NFT tacky superhero cards for $99 bucks would excite his base. Sheesh!

    ‘Losing the plot’: Trump mocked after announcing superhero card collection
    Cards cost ‘only $99 each’ and ‘would make a great Christmas gift’, said former president in video as he made ‘major announcement’

    But when the announcement came on Thursday, Trump said he was merely offering supporters “limited edition cards featur[ing] amazing ART of my Life & Career”, which he promised would prove “very much like a baseball card but hopefully much more exciting”.

    “GET YOUR CARDS NOW!” the 76-year-old former president commanded, above the picture of himself standing in a ring for boxing or wrestling, muscles rippling under a red leotard and wearing high blue boots emblazoned with “45” (his presidential number) and an American flag as a cape.

    The cards, the declared candidate for the Republican nomination in 2024 said, cost “Only $99 each” and “would make a great Christmas gift”.

    “Don’t Wait,” Trump added. “They will be gone, I believe, very quickly!”

    Trump’s need for funds has increased recently, amid unprecedented legal jeopardy over his business and political affairs.

    He has also taken a battering in polls regarding the GOP nomination in 2024, slipping behind the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, in surveys carried out by USA Today, CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

    On Thursday, amid widespread mockery, Santiago Mayer, executive director of Voters Tomorrow, wrote: “Donald Trump’s major announcement is that he’s selling his own Pokémon cards.”

    Put a fork in those buns; he’s done!!!

  5. dakinikat says:

    Last night was wild. I thought the cell would turn into a waterspout over Lake Ponchartrain when they showed it forming around LaPalco. But, it went south and east, down the Mississippi river instead. It really clobbered places in St Charles Parish, a poor part of the state that is still trying to recover from Ida. It went up the West Bank creating massive damage in Gretna. Once it went to Algiers, it turned NE and headed for the lower 9. By that time, we had a tornado warning. I was watching WDSU and working. I saw what Margaret saw and immediately tried to round up the cats and get them under my desk with the dog. Dinah escaped, and I couldn’t wrestle her into her carrier. I never found Keely but managed to scope up Krystal and put her in an upside-down box. The lights went out for about five minutes, and the wind picked up, and then I heard the roar. I’ve lived in tornado alley forever and have been through many tornadoes. The first time I heard a tornado roar. It really shook me. It didn’t last long. It went NE and more east than North still, so it moved to Arabi, where the last one hit in March. It was scary, but all cats accounted for, and I’m still dealing with the adrenalin rush today.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Musk has suspended multiple journalists who have covered him, including Aaron Rupar. Also writers from CNN, WaPo and NYT. And more. It seems to be an ongoing thing.