Lazy Caturday Reads
Posted: January 21, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: cat art, Cats, caturday | Tags: Brett Kavanaugh, Covid-19, Davos, debt limit, Doug Letter, Janet Yellen, January 6, John Roberts, leaked draft, medicare, Roe v. Wade, Social Security, Supreme Court |
Goddess, Hunter, Consort, Thief, by Peter Paul Rubens, 16th Century
The Supreme Court is in the news and not in a good way. You know about John Roberts’ failed “investigation” into the leak of the draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but did you know about the secret documentary on Brett Kavanaugh? Here’s the latest:
Charlie Savage at The New York Times: Supreme Court’s Inquiry Into Leak Included Interviews With Justices.
The Supreme Court’s internal investigation into who leaked a draft of the opinion last year overturning the landmark decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion included talking to all nine justices, the marshal of the court said on Friday.
But the justices — unlike dozens of law clerks and permanent employees of the court — were not made to sign sworn affidavits attesting that they had not been involved in the leak of the draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade and that they knew nothing about it.
The clarification by the marshal, Gail A. Curley, who oversaw the inquiry, followed widespread speculation over its scope and limitations. In a 20-page report on Thursday, Ms. Curley disclosed that the investigation had not turned up the source of the leak while leaving ambiguous whether it had extended to interviewing the justices themselves.
“During the course of the investigation, I spoke with each of the justices, several on multiple occasions,” Ms. Curley said on Friday. “The justices actively cooperated in this iterative process, asking questions and answering mine.”
She added: “I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the justices or their spouses. On this basis, I did not believe that it was necessary to ask the justices to sign sworn affidavits.”
Ms. Curley did not indicate whether she searched the justices’ court-issued electronic devices and asked them to turn over personal devices and cellphone records, as she did with other personnel. She also did not address whether she had interviewed any of the justices’ spouses, another question that arose after her report was made public.
It wasn’t much of an investigation if even Gini Thomas was not questioned, and the most likely suspects–the right wing justices– weren’t required to sign affidavits. But no one really expected Roberts to do a serious investigation when he won’t even deal with the justices’ political activities and conflicts of interest. What a weakling he is.
On to the Kavanagh documentary.
The Guardian: ‘I hope this triggers outrage’: surprise Brett Kavanaugh documentary premieres at Sundance.
A secretly made documentary expanding on allegations of sexual assault against supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh has premiered at this year’s Sundance film festival.
Four year old girl with cat, by Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, 1647
Justice, a last-minute addition to the schedule, aims to shine a light not only on the women who have accused Kavanaugh, a Donald Trump nominee, but also the failed FBI investigation into the allegations.
“I do hope this triggers outrage,” said producer Amy Herdy in a Q&A after the premiere in Park City, Utah. “I do hope that this triggers action, I do hope that this triggers additional investigation with real subpoena powers.”
The film provides a timeline of the allegations, initially that Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault when she was 15 and he 17. She alleged that he held her down on a bed and groped her, and tried to rip her clothes off before she got away. Kavanaugh was also accused of sexual misconduct by Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that he exposed himself and thrust his penis at her face without her consent at a college party.
About the film:
The first scene features Ford, half off-camera, interviewed by the film’s director Doug Liman, whose credits include Mr and Mrs Smith and The Bourne Identity. Justice features a number of interviews with journalists, lawyers, psychologists and those who knew Ford and Ramirez.
“This was the kind of movie where people are terrified,” Liman said. “The people that chose to participate in the movie are heroes.”
In the film, Ramirez, who previously told her story to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, also shares her story on-camera. Ramirez is referred to as someone “they worked hard for people not to know”, her story never given the space it deserved until long after Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court in October 2018….
The film then details how the circles around Ramirez and Kavanaugh responded, showing text messages of a discussion when Ramirez’s allegations were about to go public, of a mutual friend being asked by Kavanaugh to go on record to defend him. Another friend refers to it as “a cover-up”.
The New Yorker included a statement from a group of students at the time in support of Kavanaugh. A year later, the film shows that two of them emailed the New Yorker to remove their names from the statement.
Ramirez’s lawyers claim they contacted Republican senator Jeff Flake, who was involved in Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, to explain what happened to her. The next day Flake called to delay the confirmation and insist on a week-long FBI investigation.
But the film details how the FBI failed to call on the many witnesses recommended by Ramirez’s lawyers. Footage is shown of the film-makers meeting with a confidential source who plays tape of Kavanaugh’s classmate Max Stier, now a prominent figure in Washington running a non-profit, who allegedly witnessed Kavanaugh involved in a similar act of alleged drunken exposure with a female student at a dorm party at Yale. The woman has chosen to remain anonymous and this is the first time this recording has been heard.
Read more details at the link. You can also check out this piece at The Hollywood Reporter: How Doug Liman Directed a Brett Kavanaugh FBI Investigation Doc in Secret.
Some January 6 investigation news:
Politico: The House’s legal lieutenant in its Trump wars speaks out — about Jan. 6 and more.
While Congress’ biggest Donald Trump antagonists are household names to political junkies — think Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff, Jamie Raskin — there’s a lesser-known Trump adversary who may have been more effective than the others: Doug Letter.
Portrait of Cleopea Krieg von Bellikon, 1499-1671, by Hans Asper
The former House general counsel was involved in every political brawl between House Democrats and Trump that has defined Washington politics for the past four years. Letter helped guide the work of the Jan. 6 select committee, played a critical role in both Trump impeachments and strategized the certification of Joe Biden’s win — before violent rioters upended those plans on Jan. 6, 2021….
In a wide-ranging interview with POLITICO, the House’s former top attorney described his tenure battling a former president who tested the limits of executive power at every turn, resisting efforts at accountability in ways that previous chief executives had not. But he has faith that his work helped to stem future presidential attempts to push constitutional boundaries, lending more power to lawmakers.
“I just feel like the Biden administration and future administrations are not going to act like the Trump administration,” Letter said. “They’re not going to show such ignorance of our system and think that the executive branch can ignore the legislative branch. That’s not the way it works.”
Doug Letter on January 6:
Letter was returning to the House floor from some basement vending machines when he ran into Speaker Nancy Pelosi being whisked from the Capitol under heavy guard. Don’t go back up there, one official told him. An angry mob had breached the building.
But Letter, in a panic, said he had to retrieve several giant binders that were full of sensitive strategy and scripts for the day’s proceedings. He opted to forgo evacuating with Pelosi and instead raced back to the chamber.
“I was the last person in before they locked the doors,” Letter recalled.
The attack on the Capitol led to the Jan. 6 select committee, where the House’s then-top attorney charted a legal strategy that Letter now describes as one of the hallmarks of his tenure.
Through his work on that panel, Letter secured at least two streams of information that became a core element of the committee’s voluminous findings: Trump’s confidential White House records and the Chapman University emails of attorney John Eastman, an architect of the then-president’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.
Letter also won court fights to obtain telephone records from Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward, who took part in Trump world’s plan to send false electors to Congress. And he helped direct the House’s strategy to hold certain Trump advisers in contempt of Congress, which resulted in prosecutions of Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon.
“We had a whole enormous number of people that, as we now know, were putting together this massive, not just a conspiracy, but a whole bunch of conspiracies, to attack our democracy,” Letter said.
Read the rest at Politico.
Joseph Goodhue Chandler, American folk art
As you know, I went to a meeting in my over-60 apartment building awhile back. Most of the people there weren’t wearing masks. I came down with something a few days later, and it dragged on for weeks. I thought others here in the building were being careful too, but I was wrong. We haven’t talked much about Covid-19 on the blog lately, but yesterday I read this article that really angered me, and I want to share it with you.
Slate: Billionaires at Davos Don’t Think COVID Is a Cold.
In photos of 2023’s World Economic Forum—or Davos as it is commonly called, after the Swiss resort town where it annually occurs—you might not notice the HEPA filters. They’re in the background, unobtrusive and unremarked upon, quietly cleansing the air of viruses and bacteria. You wouldn’t know—not unless you asked—that every attendee was PCR tested before entering the forum, or that in the case of a positive test, access was automatically, electronically, revoked. The folks on stage aren’t sporting masks (mostly), so unless you looked at the official Davos Health & Safety protocol, you wouldn’t be aware that their on-site drivers are required to wear them. You also might be surprised to learn that if, at any point, you start to feel ill at Davos, you can go collect a free rapid test, or even call their dedicated COVID hotline.
It’s hard to square this information with the public narrative about COVID, isn’t it? President Joe Biden has called the pandemic “over.” The New York Timesrecently claimed that “the risk of Covid is similar to that of the flu” in an article about “hold outs” that are annoyingly refusing to accept continual reinfection as their “new normal.” Yet, this week the richest people in the world are taking common sense, easy—but strict—precautions to ensure they don’t catch COVID-19 at Davos.
In addition to high-quality ventilation, masks, hotlines and PCR testing, some have noted the signature blue glow of Far-UVC lighting, demonstrated to kill pathogens in the air, although this is unconfirmed. We can be certain, however, that the testing, high-quality ventilation, and filtration protocol is effective at preventing the kind of super-spreader events most of us are now accustomed to attending.
t seems unlikely to me that a New York Times reporter will follow the super-rich around like David Attenborough on safari, the way one of their employees did when they profiled middle-class maskers last month. I doubt they will write “family members and friends can get a little exasperated by the hyper-concern” about the assembled prime ministers, presidents, and CEOs in Switzerland. After all, these are important people. The kind of people who merit high-quality ventilation. The kind of people who deserve accurate tests.
Why is the media so hellbent on portraying simple, scientifically proven measures like masking—in environments absent of high-quality ventilation, full of people who do not have easy and consistent access to tests—as ridiculous and unnecessary as hundreds of people continue to die daily here in the U.S.?
Why is the public accepting a “new normal” where we are expected to get infected over and over and over again, at work events with zero precautions, on airplanes with no masks, and at social dinners trying to approximate our 2019 normal?
Very good questions. I guess the rich are entitled to protection, but the rest of us can just get sick and die for all they care. I hope you’ll go read the whole article at Slate.
Finally, a couple of articles about the upcoming fight over the debt limit:
CNN: Yellen warns of ‘global financial crisis’ if US debt limit agreement isn’t reached.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday warned of the widespread global effects that could be felt if the federal government exhausts extraordinary measures and fails to raise the debt ceiling, telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about the ways everyday Americans could face stark consequences.
Yellen’s warning comes after the United States on Thursday hit its $31.4 trillion debt limit set by Congress, forcing the Treasury Department to start taking extraordinary measures to keep the government paying its bills.
Still Life with Fighting Cats, by Frans Snyders (1579-1657), Flemish painter
While those newly deployed extraordinary measures are largely behind-the-scenes accounting maneuvers, Yellen told Amanpour that “the actual date at which we would no longer be able to use these measures is quite uncertain, but it could conceivably come as early as early June.”
Speaking exclusively to CNN from Senegal, Yellen said that after the measures are exhausted, the US could experience at a minimum downgrading of its debt as a result of Congress failing to raise the debt ceiling. The effects of the federal government failing to make payments, she argued, could be as broad as a “global financial crisis.”
“If that happened, our borrowing costs would increase and every American would see that their borrowing costs would increase as well,” Yellen said. “On top of that, a failure to make payments that are due, whether it’s the bondholders or to Social Security recipients or to our military, would undoubtedly cause a recession in the US economy and could cause a global financial crisis.”
“It would certainly undermine the role of the dollar as a reserve currency that is used in transactions all over the world. And Americans – many people would lose their jobs and certainly their borrowing costs would rise,” she continued.
Read more at CNN.
The Washington Post: Biden aides want to force GOP to abandon debt limit threats.
Shortly after last year’s midterm elections, a senior congressional Democrat called White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and asked how the administration planned to prevent the new Republican House majority from using the debt ceiling — and the threat of a default that could wreck the economy — to force spending cuts.
Klain said the White House’s plan was straightforward, according to the lawmaker: Refuse to entertain any concessions, and launch a barrage of attacks highlighting the GOP position that would force Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to fold.
“This debate is simple: We want to do the responsible thing, and they want to take the entire American economy hostage to cut Social Security and Medicare,” said the member of Congress, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations. Klain told the lawmaker that the fight could result in substantial political benefits for the Democratic Party. “The point he was making was clear: You can’t negotiate with people who take hostages.”
Felis Syriacus Ulisse Aldrovani (1522-1605), by Vintage Lavoie
But the question remains what the administration will do if Republicans won’t raise the debt limit without negotiations.
House Republicans have increasingly signaled that they will force a showdown with the administration over the nation’s debt ceiling, which sets a statutory limit on how much the federal government can borrow….
Many GOP lawmakers have said that they will not approve a debt ceiling increase without cuts to spending programs that the Biden administration has vowed to protect, creating an impasse with no clear resolution.
…[A]dministration officials [have] conclude[d], at least for now, that the only viable path is to press Republicans to abandon their demands to extract policy concessions over the debt limit — a position they have publicly reaffirmed in recent weeks. The Biden administration is focused on pressing the GOP to unveil a debt limit plan that includes spending cuts, with the hope that such a proposal will prove so divisive among Republicans that they are forced to abandon brinkmanship. This strategy stems in part from the belief among White House officials that it would be enormously risky either to negotiate policy with the GOP on the debt limit or try to solve it via executive order — and they appear willing to put that premise to the test.
How about having Biden and surrogates travel around the country educating voters about the consequences of either letting Republican crash the economy or letting them destroy Social Security and Medicare? Just a thought.
What are your thoughts about all this? What other stories do you recommend?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
The brainchild of men who never had the responsibility of feeding young children.
No fresh meat – not even chicken???? No baked beans………unless you make them from scratch, which takes hours. And forget using bacon in that recipe I guess.
When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I have some chicken dinners, debone it for shredded chicken for other recipes and boil the carcass for chicken broth.
Who votes for these people?????!!!!!!!!!!! But I guess cruelty is the point after all. I’m surprised a cell phone doesn’t disqualify recipients.
Thank you for the link to the Slate article re: Davos. Just recently I started being required to go back into the office at least one day a week. I asked many questions about whether there had been any improvements to our building’s ventilation and what (if any) other types of precautions were being taken. I have received no answers as of yet. So I’m going to work just to close myself in my office to be on Zoom calls all day that I could be taking from home. I’m pretty angry about it. I’m emailing that article to my boss.
I read the Slate article yesterday and it has already reinforced my continuing masking up. Despite the Covid death rate dropping last week in MA, it’s still pretty high. So I will continue with the masks when indoors with lots of people like the grocery store this morning. I wonder if improved ventilation will continue or not seeing as so many people have “ given up “ on Covid.
I mask up still and am naturally inclined to social avoidance. What scares me is “long” covid, like I get it even once and I could suffer for the rest of my days. Vaxxed to the hilt of course…
*And* the chances of getting long covid go up with each reinfection. So much for the “don’t worry, be happy, let’s get sick all the time” brigade.
#DavosSafe for all!
This needs to be emphasized in order to get policymakers’ attention.
That article points out that exercise isn’t helpful and makes Long Covid worse. Yikes! Normally moderate exercise is helpful for fatigue.
Hah. True (about finally getting their attention 🙄 )
Yes, even if people aren’t scared of Covid, they should be scared of Long Covid.
I’ve asked if there have been any improvements to the ventilation and air spaces at my work building where I have an office, and haven’t received any answers. Most of my job is in medical/health education, and I do all my appointments with patients via televideo. So I’m continuing to work from home.
Story: Yesterday I saw my own healthcare provider. Her clinic has signs up about their mandatory masking policy. I was sitting in the lab waiting area for a blood draw when a young woman and her mother came in. The younger woman’s mask was worn underneath her nose. I spoke to her calmly “Pardon, but it looks like your mask’s slipped down. They can tend to do that.* It needs to be up over your nose too; would you pull it up?” She stared at me and didn’t do anything. Her mother (actually wearing a mask properly) said “She’s fine. She doesn’t need to do anything.” Daughter: “It’s none of your business anyway. I don’t tell you how to wear your mask; you don’t tell me how to wear my mask.” Me: “Having your mask not worn in the right way does put me and other people at risk. It helps protect others when your mask is worn up.” She: “No one’s going to get infected.” Mother: “She’s not infected. No one’s being infected. Just leave. Get out of here.” Mother walks closer, voice raises: “No one’s going to be infected. You’ve been brainwashed. Just get out. Leave.”
At this point it was hard not to yell “You MAGA idiot” at her, but only said mildly “I’m science-based” and then turned to the couple of staff who were walking up asking “Is everything OK?” (No, you’ve got a science-denier here I think.) I ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. One was right there and asked me to go into another room to talk. Once there, I related the situation and that since this was a medical clinic in WA State the regs were that masks were required and this should be enforced for patient and staff safety. Manager: “Oh yes, and it’s good to remind staff. I’ll go see about this. And you stay here I’ll get the lab tech to draw your blood in here.” Lab tech comes in, hears the story, and thanks me for speaking out. She’s stuck in a small room all day and worries when patients wear masks sloppily. Manager comes back in a few minutes later to tell me everything’s all right. I ask if the young women did pull up her mask over her nose, and the manager says: “I think so; I’ll check.” (eyeroll)
I went home still fuming over the incident. I’ve many times asked people to pull up their masks over their noses and though I’ve been glared at a few times this was the first time I was met with denial, insult, and raised voice. Perhaps I should be surprised I haven’t heard this before. I should know by know that people like that (yes, “those people”) aren’t influenced by science, or logic. Yet when they throw stuff like “no one’s going to get infected” I have a strong desire to respond with evidence, e.g. talk as if it’s a rational, adult debate. And the “You’re brainwashed!” was either infuriating or hilarious. Both. Need to practice my laugh-at-insult skill.
I should go take the trouble to email the clinic mgr or medical director that patients shouldn’t have to remind others about the safety regs, nor to tolerate being insulted and told to leave by other patients when this happens.
*(I phrase it this way to give the person an ‘out’ although they should damn well know if the mask isn’t over their nose.)
In a grocery store,I was accosted fir my mask, by a well dressed,beautifully coiffed shopper, after New Years. She approached with finger extended,pointing as if she was going to push,poke me? Pull the mask off?
I jumped back,then left. If I answered back would she have a gun? A knife?
The event has created anxiety, as masks identify those of us who still stay current &science informed. We are identified as political targets easily with a mask. I now stopped shopping at this high end, independent grocery.
Both Luna & Va, how horrible.
Also infuriating: We’re (absurdly!) supposed to all be doing our own public health measures. The whole nonsense of ‘you mask up if you want. I don’t have to.’ And then when you do it, they still bring the aggro.
How awful! Yes, later on I thought — was she carrying? And this was in a placd where multiple signs pointed out that state regulations required masking. It wasn’t optional. I need to start carrying … oh, smallpox virus? in a little vial and let it loose when people harass me about masking. ‘Oh, it’s not your business.’
Reminds me of that talk Bill Gates gave to a bunch of bigwigs about the need to do much more to prevent malaria. In the middle of it, he released a cloud of mosquitoes from a jar on the table in front of him. Brought the point home in a way mere words didn’t. As would your ‘jar of smallpox’ :eeeeeeeee:
Yes, I wouldn’t actually use something as virulent as smallpox.
BB…you must be feeling better babe, cause the bitch is back! Kick ass!
Thanks JJ. I’m still tired, but I’m better.
Hope you keep improving!