Thursday Reads: Groundhog Day in the Year of the Rabbit

Good Afternoon!!

Marc Chagall, The Dream (the Rabbit) 1927

Marc Chagall, The Dream (the Rabbit) 1927

Today is Groundhog Day, and it looks like we are in for 6 more weeks of winter. CNN: Punxsutawney Phil left his burrow for his annual prediction. Here’s how much longer winter will last according to the legend, by CNN Meteorologist Monica Garrett

Punxsutawney Phil – the legendary groundhog weather watcher – woke up and saw his shadow Thursday morning, calling for six more weeks of winter.

Each February 2, on Groundhog Day, the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club make the pilgrimage to Gobbler’s Knob, Phil’s official home.

The group waits for Phil to leave his burrow and, legend has it, if he sees his shadow we’re in for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we get to bask in an early spring.

Scientifically speaking, winter will officially come to an end on the equinox on March 20, regardless of what Phil predicts. But Mother Nature doesn’t always follow the timetable, and neither does Phil….

Phil’s track record is not perfect. “On average, Phil has gotten it right 40% of the time over the past 10 years,” according to the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages “one of the largest archives of atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, aNend oceanic research in the world.”

Where I am, in Greater Boston, this winter has been very mild so far, but this weekend we are expecting record-breaking freezing cold temperatures. CBS Boston: Bitter cold sub-zero temperatures coming Saturday could be historic.

The WBZ Weather Team has issued a NEXT Weather Alert for a brutally cold Friday and Saturday.

We have a legit, Arctic front headed our way early on Friday. Behind it, the coldest air not only of this season, but perhaps, in several years or even decades!

The high temperature for the day on Friday will go into the books somewhere around 32 degrees. But, this comes early, just after midnight. The Arctic front rolls in after sunrise and temperatures will crash through the day.

By the evening commute, most of southern New England is in the single digits.

Overnight, we bottom out with most of the area dipping below zero.

There is potential for actual air temperatures to drop as low as -10 to -20 degrees by Saturday morning.

If the city of Boston were to hit -10, that would be the coldest reading recorded in over 60 years – since January 15, 1957! The low temperature record for the date on Saturday is -2 degrees (set way back in 1886), I would say odds are very high of beating that.

Combine that with the potential for wind gusts of more than 20 mph early on Saturday and wind chill readings are absolutely ridiculous. Worst-case scenario, parts of the area north and west of Boston could have feels-like temperatures between -20 and -30 degrees!


Franz Marc, Two sleeping rabbits, 1911

Yikes! It’s a good thing I just got my new air heat pump system installed yesterday. My town’s housing authority is changing over to the heat pump system in its 60-plus apartment buildings. We already had electric heat, but this system is supposed to be more efficient and therefore good for the environment. It will also provide us with air conditioning in the summer, so I won’t need to install my own air conditioner anymore. From The Washington Post, Dec. 13, 2022: What is a heat pump, and should I get one?

If you’ve been hearing a lot about heat pumps but you still don’t really understand what one is, you’re not alone. In places such as Sweden and Switzerland, they’ve long been a common option for controlling the temperature of homes. But heat pumps have only recently gained traction in the United States thanks to a global energy crisis and rising awareness that the all-electric systems are more efficient than typical furnaces and air conditioners. Their profile also got a boost in the summer with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes incentives for adopting them….

Despite their name, heat pumps can both heat and cool a space. They work by transferring heat rather than creating it. In cold weather, they pump heat from outside your home to the inside to warm your interior. An outdoor unit extracts warm air, then sends it traveling through a refrigerant line connected to an indoor unit. The air gets compressed along the way, which heats it up even more before it gets pushed into the home. In warm weather, the system does the reverse: sucking up warm air from inside and pumping it outdoors (which is also how a typical air conditioner works).

Of course, this all raises an obvious question: In the winter, where does the heat pump find warmth outside to bring indoors? As it turns out, even when it’s tremendously chilly, there’s still thermal energy in the air and ground. (Heat energy is present as long as the temperature remains above absolute zero.) [….]

Heat pumps are more energy efficient than fossil-fuel-reliant furnaces and air conditioners because they run solely on electricity. And they don’t actually generate heat — remember, they just move it from one location to another — so they use less energy than other electric-powered heating and cooling systems, too.

Unfortunately, the new heating device takes up quite a bit of wall space, so two tall bookcases needed to be moved. Thank goodness, my brother and sister-in-law took care of that. It pays to have much-younger siblings! But enough about my boring life. Here are some news stories that piqued my interest today:

There’s another follow-up to the blockbuster NYT article about the failed Durham investigation of the origins of the FBI’s investigation Trump and Russia. Charlie Savage at The New York Times: Lawmakers Call for Inquiry Into Durham’s Review of Russia Investigation.

Two House Democrats urged the Justice Department’s independent inspector general on Wednesday to open an investigation into the special counsel review of the Russia inquiry, citing “alarming” disclosures in a recent New York Times article.

The article, which showed how the special counsel’s review became roiled by disputes over prosecutorial ethics, “reveals possible prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of power, ethical transgressions and a potential cover-up of an allegation of a financial crime committed by the former president,” the lawmakers wrote. In a four-page letter to the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, they asked that he scrutinize whether the special counsel, John H. Durham, or the attorney general who appointed him, William P. Barr, “violated any laws, D.O.J. rules or practices, or canons of legal ethics.”

happy-easter.Michael Sowa

Happy Easter, by Michael Sowa

Because Democrats are in the minority in the House, the two lawmakers — Representatives Ted Lieu of California and Dan Goldman of New York — lack the power to convene their own oversight hearings into the matter. But on Monday, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, suggested that he would hold oversight hearings into Mr. Durham’s inquiry along with other aspects of how the Trump administration handled the Justice Department.

The report is “but one of many instances where former President Trump and his allies weaponized the Justice Department,” Mr. Durbin said in a statement, adding that his committee would “do its part and take a hard look at these repeated episodes, and the regulations and policies that enabled them, to ensure such abuses of power cannot happen again.”

Mr. Barr assigned Mr. Durham to scour the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing in the spring of 2019 and later bestowed special counsel status on him, entrenching him to stay in place after Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election. Mr. Durham developed two cases centered on charges of false statements, both of which ended in acquittals, and he is completing a report about his investigation, which has lasted four years.

Read more at the NYT.

Here’s another important story by Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer at The New York Times: Bias and Human Error Played Parts in F.B.I.’s Jan. 6 Failure, Documents Suggest.

Days before the end of the 2020 presidential race, a team of F.B.I. analysts tried to game out the worst potential outcomes of a disputed election.

But of all the scenarios they envisioned, the one they never thought of was the one that came to pass: a violent mob mobilizing in support of former President Donald J. Trump.

The team’s work, which has never been reported, is just the latest example of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to predict — or prevent — the chaos that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Apparently blinded by a narrow focus on “lone wolf” offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, the analysis and other new documents suggest, officials at the bureau did not anticipate or adequately prepare for the attack.

The story of the F.B.I.’s missteps in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6 was touched upon, but not fully explored, by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and may involve a mix of legal hurdles, institutional biases and simple human error….

There was no single failure. Agents ignored warning signs flashing in the open on social media and relied on confidential sources who either knew little or failed to sound the alarm. Still, even recently, bureau officials have played down not preventing the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

“If everybody knew and all the public knew that they were going to storm Congress, I don’t know why one person didn’t tell us,” Jennifer L. Moore, the top intelligence official at the F.B.I.’s Washington field office at the time, told congressional investigators. “Why didn’t we have one source come forward and tell me that?” [….]

Now, the F.B.I. is conducting an internal review of what happened on Jan. 6 tassess what it describes as lessons learned and to “make improvements in communication and in the collection, analysis and sharing of information.” The Justice Department’s inspector general is also scrutinizing the bureau’s preparation and response.

There’s much more at the NYT link.

rabbit-1908, Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau, Rabbit, 1908

House Republicans have been planning more ridiculous investigations as well as idiotic legislation, but they haven’t made a lot of progress yet. NBC News: Congress is off to a spectacularly slow start, and members fear it won’t get better.

The House, paralyzed for days, struggled to elect a speaker.The Senate is holding symbolic votes just to pass the time. America’s most powerful lawmakers have been twiddling their thumbs, unable to hold hearings because committees aren’t set up.

Welcome to the Seinfeld Congress. It’s a show about nothing.

One month in, the 118th Congress is off to a spectacularly sluggish start, frustrating some lawmakers and foreshadowinga messy two years of divided government in a presidential election cycle where very little is expected to get done.

Forget making historic laws. It’s not even clear the new Congress can agree to keep the government functional or prevent a self-imposed economic meltdown.

“I have very low expectations,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said in an interview. “I would predict — and I hope I’m wrong — this will prove to be one of the least productive congresses in modern history because of the dysfunctionality of an unstable majority.”

The Senate isn’t accomplishing much either, according to the article.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted only three times in the entire month of January. During the first month of 2017, the Senate voted 35 times; in 2015, it voted 46 times….

Last week, the Senate held a vote on a measure to designate January as “National Stalking Awareness Month” — which faced no opposition and could have been adopted instantly. But the chamber apparently had nothing to do that day and needed to fill the time.

On Tuesday, usually one of the busiest days of the legislative week, the Senate didn’t vote at all. And on Wednesday, the Senate voted on a resolution declaring January as “National Trafficking and Modern Slavery Prevention Month.” The vote was 97 to 0, indicating again that a recorded vote was unnecessary; the chamber could have approved it by unanimous consent….

On Wednesday, six days after Senate Democrats announced their committee assignments, Senate Republicans followed suit. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday the delay was because the GOP committee process was “a little more cumbersome than ours” and that he’s “very hopeful” that the committees can be officially put together on Thursday.

Another huge problem for the Republicans in the House has been newly elected, scandal-ridden Rep. George Santos. Here’s the latest:

Politico: Feds probing Santos’ role in service dog charity scheme.

FBI agents are investigating Rep. George Santos’ role in an alleged GoFundMe scheme involving a disabled U.S. Navy veteran’s dying service dog.

Two agents contacted former service member Richard Osthoff Wednesday on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, he told POLITICO.

Osthoff gave the agents text messages from 2016 with Santos, who he says used his plight to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for the pit bull mix, Sapphire — then ghosted with the funds, as first reported by Patch.

Mark Bryan, Mo Bunny, Mo Problems

Mark Bryan, Mo Bunny, Mo Problems

“I’m glad to get the ball rolling with the big-wigs,” Osthoff said in an interview Wednesday. “I was worried that what happened to me was too long ago to be prosecuted.”

The alleged fundraising scheme is one of many scandals plaguing the freshman Republican, who has refused to leave office despite a series of allegations of lying and fraud that first came to light in December shortly after he won a swing seat on Long Island.

New York Democratic Reps. Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman, who called for a Federal Election Commission investigation into Santos’ campaign finances last month, welcomed the news that the Eastern District investigation is proceeding at a serious clip.

“Only the U.S. attorneys are capable of moving at the speed that’s necessary,” Torres said in an interview.

“There’s no one that poses a greater threat in Congress than Santos. It’s undeniable that he’s broken the law. We have to protect Congress from George Santos, who threatens it from within,” Torres said.

Andrew Kakzynski at CNN: Inside George Santos’ transformation from Anthony Devolder into a political figure.

The transformation of George Santos began in 2019, the year he went from Anthony Devolder, just another New Yorker sharing political musings on social media, to a Republican congressional candidate with a compelling fictional resume.

His improbable rise to the House of Representatives started as he joined a group of pro-Donald Trump activists at a time when the House GOP had just been defeated by a blue wave in 2018. He was young, gay and Latino, and appeared on the conservative scene as activists from more diverse backgrounds were gaining more attention and becoming influencers in Republican social media circles.

The formerly apolitical Santos, who had mostly posted on social media about celebrities, suddenly embraced conservative politics as he got to know grassroots Republicans at in-person events and on Facebook. CNN’s KFile reviewed hundreds of his posts on a half-dozen accounts to chronicle the pivotal transformation.

Until 2019, he didn’t post conservative-leaning content and enthusiastically posted on Facebook about ordering a “One Nation, No God” shirt in LGBT colors in 2016. One picture he shared in 2014 showed him posing with Bethenny Frankel, the former “Real Housewives” reality TV star, as an audience member on the set of her short-lived talk show. Video of the episode shows Santos looking under his chair to see if he won a $500 QVC gift card.

Beginning in January 2019, Santos started firing off tweets on his political views. He sent many opposing abortion. In others, he made negative comments about politicians, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from the Bronx, and then-New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Most of the posts received no likes or retweets, but that lack of engagement didn’t deter him from political activism – and ultimately paid off when he finally won political offic

Kakzynski provides an interesting timeline of Santos’ transformation to political activist and then candidate. Check it out at CNN.

Renaissance Rabbit, David Henderson

Renaissance Rabbit, David Henderson

More on House happenings from NBC News: Fireworks in House after Democrat says ‘insurrectionists’ should be banned from leading Pledge of Allegiance.

A routine House committee meeting erupted into a heated, nearly hourlong debate Wednesday over the Pledge of Allegiance, with one Democratic lawmaker saying that “insurrectionists” who backed former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election should be banned from leading it.

The fiery back-and-forth took place in a House Judiciary Committee meeting where members set rules for the current Congress. It began after Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., offered an amendment that would give the committee the opportunity to begin each of its meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance. He said the rule would give members “the ability to invite inspirational constituents” to be able to share and lead in the pledge.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee’s ranking member, immediately objected, arguing that House members already recite the pledge on the floor every day. “I don’t know why we should pledge allegiance twice in the same day to show how patriotic we are,” he said.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., noted that many Republicans on the committee voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., then said he was introducing an amendment to Gaetz’s amendment that clarified that the pledge cannot be led by anyone who has supported an insurrection against the United States in any way.

“This pledge is an affirmation of your defense of democracy and the Constitution,” Cicilline. “It’s hard to take that claim seriously if in fact, an individual in any way supported an insurrection against the government.”

Gaetz began sparring with Cicilline, saying that he was concerned the Democrat’s proposal would make many Democrats on the panel ineligible to lead the pledge, too, because of previous elections when some in their party objected to electors.

“I’m concerned that you may be disqualifying too many of your own members,” Gaetz said, as the two of them yelled over each other.

“I’m talking about elected officials who swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States, who in any way participated, supported, facilitated, encouraged the insurrection against the United States,” Cicilline said. “That’s not too hard a standard.”


One more before I wrap this up. Hunter Biden is finally fighting back. The Washington Post: Hunter Biden’s lawyers, in newly aggressive strategy, target his critics.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers, in a newly aggressive strategy, sent a series of blistering letters Wednesday to state and federal prosecutors urging criminal investigations into those who accessed and disseminated his personal data — and sent a separate letter threatening Fox News host Tucker Carlson with a defamation lawsuit.

The string of letters, which included criminal referrals and cease-and-desist missives aimed at critics and detractors, marked the start of a new and far more hard-hitting phase for the president’s son just as House Republicans prepare their own investigations into him.

Abbe Lowell, a recently hired lawyer whom Biden enlisted about a month ago, sent lengthy letters to the Justice Department and Delaware’s attorney general requesting investigations into several key players who were involved in disseminating data from a laptop that Biden is said to have dropped off at a repair shop in Wilmington, Del.

Bryan M. Sullivan, another lawyer now representing Biden, sent a separate communication to Carlson and Fox News demanding that they correct falsehoods from his recent show or risk a possible defamation lawsuit.

And in another letter, Lowell wrote to the Internal Revenue Service challenging the nonprofit status of Marco Polo, a group that is run by conservative activist Garrett M. Ziegler. Lowell provided 36 pages as evidence that the group is engaging in political activity in violation of its nonprofit status.

Taken together, the actions represent the boldest and most aggressive moves to date from Biden, who has often heeded the advice of those who urged him not to make public waves. Those close to President Biden and the White House have preferred a more conservative approach, but some individuals around Hunter Biden have wanted to be more assertive in telling his side of the story and going more directly after his opponents.

Read more at the WaPo.

That’s it for me today. What are your thoughts on all this? What stories are you following?

32 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Groundhog Day in the Year of the Rabbit”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      I’ll say they’re not! The people who are Very Online need to get out more.

      What’s worse, as one bright wit pointed out somewhere in the UK: if you keep calling anything you disapprove of ‘right wing’ (such as, for instance, ignoring or not knowing about all your twee usages), then don’t be surprised when people turn away from the left.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    See the NYT story in the post.

  3. bostonboomer says:


    • bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      I have to admit I was in the group thinking, “Nah. They would never do that.” Even now. Even after all the evidence that, yes, they instantly do that.

      I figured there had to be, there just _had_ to be 4 or 5 Repubs who would vote like human beings.

      Apparently not.

      That’s why when I see phrases like this: “where very little is expected to get done” I think that’s the best possible outcome.

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    Aren’t you glad we’re not stuck in the Ground Hog’s Day Loop with tRump as president?

    CLASSIC TRUMP; “It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things. … I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than — tomatoes are bad by the way. But it’s very dangerous … they were going to hit — they were going to hit very hard.”

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    More SCOTUS wives cashing in …

  8. dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      the conspiracy nuts also believe that “illegal immigrants” get free medical care and free college. They can’t find a single person who’s actually received those amazing benefits, but that apparently changes nothing. “Nuts” is too weak a word.

  9. quixote says:

    About heat pumps: I’ve had them for some three years now and they are _great_. The electricity, whether you’re heating or cooling, is about one third the cost of what I was using before (some kind of forced air from a central electrical furnace and separate central AC.)

    • NW Luna says:

      I thought they had to be installed below the foundation? That would be a expensive cumbersome process for existing houses.

      • quixote says:

        No, you’re thinking of geothermal heat. The pump part is somewhat like the compressor unit of a fridge or AC. You wouldn’t put it in the full sun, but it can go anywhere where those appliances would go.

        • NW Luna says:

          Ah, right, it was geothermal I was thinking of. We’ve changed over pretty much everything else energy-wise when remodeling a few years back. Have been fed up with anything to do with remodeling, but will have to look into what a heat pump would need.

  10. MsMass says:

    Yeah, BB, hope you let us know how your heat pump works out this week. My initial thought is that when it gets down near zero outside, the pump would have a hard time keeping the temp up inside. Our heat pump goes to a condenser down in the 5000 sq.foot basement and the temp drops as we pull off heat upstairs .
    If it gets down to about 35 degrees,we need some auxiliary heat. Hope you still have an auxiliary source. Good luck, I highly recommend a heated lap blanket!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ll let you know. So far it’s much more consistent than my previous thermostat. Every apartment has its own heat pump. The bedroom is still on the old heating system. But in the 5 years I’ve lived here, I have never turned on the heat in the bedroom.

      I mostly keep the thermostat low in the front room. I’m on the 10th floor so I get heat from lower apartments. There is also a closed in balcony outside my living room. That is where the heat pump is, and there is a thermostat unit on the wall inside. That is what they installed yesterday.

      • Beata says:

        I hope you are staying warm, BB. It got down to 10° here last night. Still very cold today. Our place is poorly insulated and the heater is old. Last month, when it got down to -10° with a -40° wind chill, all our windows froze shut with a half-inch of ice that formed INSIDE(!) the windows. The doors were also frozen shut. The extreme cold lasted about a week. We stayed in the back bedroom with the cat because the rest of the house was so cold.

        • NW Luna says:

          That sounds awful, Beata! I hope the weather warms up for you.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Oh no, Beata, that’s awful. The extreme cold here is only going to last through tomorrow. I’m nice and warm. I hope you get milder weather soon. Sending hugs

  11. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      The info that’s out there (and has been there for some time) is close to being a smoking gun.

      • quixote says:

        By the nervewracked look of him, he thought he was going to get away clean for having thrown the 2016 election.

        Given Garland’s pace, he may still get away.

  12. RonStill4Hills says:

    So now Lauren Bimboebert is now calling for guns in congress.

    My girlfriend made a really good point, sounds like they are planning another coup attempt.

    MTG said herself that if she had planned Jan 6, they would have been armed and they would have won….

    If MAGAt members had been armed, Nancy Pelosi, AOC and Ilhan Omar would have been taken hostage and probably harmed.

    This isn’t funny anymore.

    • quixote says:

      I hadn’t thought about all this Repub Congressional gun carrying and metal detector removal as anything but their usual elaborate cosplay. But you’re right. It would make things way worse in another Jan6-type coup.

      As you say, not funny. Such clowns. And not funny.