Thursday Reads: Serious Farce Edition

The Studio Boat (Le Bateau-atelier),Claude Monet,1876

Good Day Sky Dancers!

BB and I switched days this week so she can deal with inspectors in her apartment building, and I can take Keely to the vet tomorrow. So, I’m the one that gets to laugh with you–and at Trump–about his trip to Ohio, where he thinks a few cases of his Trump-branded water will look as Presidential as Biden going to Ukraine and standing firm with air raid sirens sounding.  This is especially true since his concessions to remove railroad safety standards led to the disaster and poisoned local water source. Trump’s trot to East Palestine, Ohio, spotlighted how seriously deluded his supporters are and how his policies have turned the country into a backward cesspool.

Who on earth could think that visiting a diaster you created compares to a Presidential visit to a warzone where war crimes and active missile and drone attacks are aimed at civilian targets? Are Trump supporters really that stupid? This is from the New York Times.  “Trump Visits East Palestine, Seeking to Draw Contrast With Biden. The former president has attacked the administration’s handling of the train derailment, even as his own environmental policies while in office have been criticized.”  His crowd was mostly wipipo, so he felt no need to toss water bottles at them.

 It was evocative of the former president’s time in office: an at-times meandering address, punctated by self-promotion — his brand-name Trump Water — and an undercurrent of grievance.

But as he visited the small Ohio town of East Palestine on Wednesday, former President Donald J. Trump sought to hammer home a message just by showing up — that his successor and the man he’s seeking to replace, President Biden, had been ineffective in responding to a domestic crisis after a train derailed and spewed toxic chemicals early this month.

Mr. Trump had arrived on the ground before either Mr. Biden or the transportation secretary to a train derailment many Republicans have turned into a referendum on a lack of federal concern with the needs of red-state America.

At an East Palestine firehouse where he met first-responders and local elected officials, Mr. Trump, in remarks behind a lectern, said that “what this community needs now are not excuses and all of the other things you’ve been hearing, but answers and results.”

 It was evocative of the former president’s time in office: an at-times meandering address, punctated by self-promotion — his brand-name Trump Water — and an undercurrent of grievance.

But as he visited the small Ohio town of East Palestine on Wednesday, former President Donald J. Trump sought to hammer home a message just by showing up — that his successor and the man he’s seeking to replace, President Biden, had been ineffective in responding to a domestic crisis after a train derailed and spewed toxic chemicals early this month.

Mr. Trump had arrived on the ground before either Mr. Biden or the transportation secretary to a train derailment many Republicans have turned into a referendum on a lack of federal concern with the needs of red-state America.

At an East Palestine firehouse where he met first-responders and local elected officials, Mr. Trump, in remarks behind a lectern, said that “what this community needs now are not excuses and all of the other things you’ve been hearing, but answers and results.”

Starry Night Over the Rhône, Vincent van Gogh,1888

This man gets worse every time he follows his slime trail out of Mar-a-lago.  Greed of senior management is all over the Ohio train derailment. This is from the Washington Post. “Crew tried to stop Ohio train after alert about overheating wheel bearing, NTSB says. Federal investigators’ preliminary report provides clues about the cause of the derailment and the response.”

The crew of the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, received an alert about an overheating wheel bearing and was trying to slow the train before it came off the tracks, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report released Thursday.

As the engineer applied the brakes, an automatic braking system kicked in, according to the report. Investigators found that a wheel bearing was heating up over several miles as the train approached the derailment site, according to data from trackside sensors, but did not reach a critical threshold until shortly before the incident, when it registered 253 degrees above normal.

The report was released as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is visiting the scene in East Palestine, Ohio.
Buttigieg is set to get a briefing from investigators and meet with experts from his department who have been aiding the response. He is also expected to meet with members of the community, many of whom were forced to evacuate during a controlled burn of hazardous vinyl chloride in the derailed train cars.

The NTSB’s preliminary report didn’t formally reach conclusions about the cause of the derailment, but revealed new information about it. The boardsaid last week it had gathered evidence showing that a wheel bearing on the train overheated.

The Feb. 3 derailment — characterized by images of a fireball and billowing smoke rising over the community near the Pennsylvania border — has ignited calls for stricter regulation and increased fines for railroad safety breaches. Twenty cars in the 149-car Norfolk Southern train were carrying hazardous materials, 11 of which derailed along with 27 cars carrying nonhazardous goods, the NTSB said.

The agency’s preliminary report on Thursday indicated the train was traveling at 47 mph, below the speed limit of 50 mph, when it went off the tracks.

After the train came to a stop, the crew reported fire and smoke to the dispatcher, alerting of a possible derailment, the report said. The crew then was instructed to apply handbrakes to the two rail cars at the head of the train, then uncoupled the head-end locomotives and moved them about one mile from the rail cars.

Paul Cezanne, Annecy Lake,1896

ProPublica has this headline.  “A Norfolk Southern Policy Lets Officials Order Crews to Ignore Safety Alerts. In October, months before the East Palestine derailment, the company also directed a train to keep moving with an overheated wheel that caused it to derail miles later in Sandusky, Ohio.” This worries me because they run trains down the track that is pretty much right behind my house. The Saturday early morning train carries toxic substances, and many others carry oil and gas.

Norfolk Southern allows a monitoring team to instruct crews to ignore alerts from train track sensors designed to flag potential mechanical problems.

ProPublica learned of the policy after reviewing the rules of the company, which is engulfed in controversy after one of its trains derailed this month, releasing toxic flammable gas over East Palestine, Ohio.

The policy applies specifically to the company’s Wayside Detector Help Desk, which monitors data from the track-side sensors. Workers on the desk can tell crews to disregard an alert when “information is available confirming it is safe to proceed” and to continue no faster than 30 miles per hour to the next track-side sensor, which is often miles away. The company’s rulebook did not specify what such information might be, and company officials did not respond to questions about the policy.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be looking into the company’s rules, including whether that specific policy played a role in the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine. Thirty-eight cars, some filled with chemicals, left the tracks and caught fire, triggering an evacuation and agonized questions from residents about the implications for their health. The NTSB believes a wheel bearing in a car overheated and failed immediately before the train derailed. It plans to release a preliminary report on the accident Thursday morning.

ProPublica has learned that Norfolk Southern disregarded a similar mechanical problem on another train that months earlier jumped the tracks in Ohio.

Hudson River, Logging (1892) by Winslow Homer,

I listened to Joy Reid and her panel yesterday discuss how Republicans no longer argue for any actual policy and ideas because they know their rationale isn’t correct and it’s unpopular. Their plan is to simply us federal and state governments to push through laws to enact their drastic attacks on the US Constituion and hope their packed Supreme Court will go along with it.

Ron DeSantis is entirely in on creating challenges to first amendment rights and rights to privacy in the 14th amendment.  Still, the blueprint for these attacks was the decimation of Roe v. Wade which still remains highly unpopular. PRRI has this information about “Abortion Attitudes in a Post-Roe World: Findings From the 50-State 2022 American Values Atlas”.

Just under two-thirds of Americans (64%) say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while roughly one-third (34%) say it should be illegal in most or all cases. More granularly, 30% say abortion should be legal in all cases, 34% say it should be legal in most cases, 25% say it should be illegal in most cases, and just 9% say it should be illegal in all cases.

The share of Americans who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases has continued to increase since PRRI began tracking abortion legality in 2010, when it was at 55%. The share of those who say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases has shrunk (from 42% in 2010 to 34% now), with the proportion who say abortion should be illegal in all cases seeing the largest decline (from 15% in 2010 to 9% now).

However, there has been little movement in attitudes about abortion’s legality in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022. In March 2022, 64% of Americans felt that abortion should be legal, as did a similar share in June (65%). After Dobbs, support for abortion’s legality remained fairly constant in August (64%), September (62%), and December (65%).

Thomas Hart Benton,
Current River, circa 1961

This latest DeSantis plot against the US Constitution is outrageiousl  This is from Politico“DeSantis wants to roll back press freedoms — with an eye toward overturning Supreme Court ruling. Florida Republicans are seeking to weaken laws protecting journalists.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ broken relationship with the mainstream media could get even worse.

At the governor’s urging, Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature is pushing to weaken state laws that have long protected journalists against defamation suits and frivolous lawsuits. The proposal is part DeSantis’ ongoing feud with media outlets like The New York Times, Miami Herald, CNN and The Washington Post — media companies he claims are biased against Republicans — as he prepares for a likely 2024 presidential bid.

Beyond making it easier to sue journalists, the proposal is also being positioned to spark a larger legal battle with the goal of eventually overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits public officials’ ability to sue publishers for defamation, according to state Rep. Alex Andrade, the Florida Republican sponsoring the bill.

“There is a strong argument to be made that the Supreme Court overreached,” Andrade said in an interview. “This is not the government shutting down free speech. This is a private cause of action.”

Andrade said he is working with DeSantis’ office on the bill: “I would say I am accepting their input.”

DeSantis has a combative relationship with many media outlets, refusing to conduct interviews with platforms except Fox News and building a communications team that openly brags that its role is to be antagonistic to members of the press. His former press secretary, Christina Pushaw, frequently argued with journalists on Twitter and was once suspended by the social media giant for abusive behavior.

The lady of the lake
Henry John Yeend King (English, 1855–1924)

There’s several news articles relevant to the DOJ investigation of the insurrection.

From the New York Times: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Subpoenaed in Jan. 6 Investigation  —  The special counsel overseeing the inquiry into Donald Trump’s efforts to retain power after the 2020 election wants the former president’s daughter and son-in-law to testify to a grand jury.

From Rachel Weiner at the Washington Post: Rep. Scott Perry fights to keep phone from team probing Jan. 6 attack.

Also from the Washington Post is this update on the Fox-Dominion Lawsuit. “‘Incredibly damning:’ Fox News documents stun some legal experts. The disclosure of behind-the-scenes emails and texts greatly increased the chances that Dominion will win its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, experts say.”

The disclosure of emails and texts in which Fox News executives and personalities disparaged the same election conspiracies being floated on their shows has greatly increased the chances that a defamation case against the network will succeed, legal experts say.

If so, the messages could amount to powerful body of evidence against Fox, according to First Amendment experts, because they meet a critical and difficult-to-meet standard in such cases.

Dominion Voting Systems included dozens of messages sent internally by Fox co-founder Rupert Murdoch and on-air stars such as Tucker Carlson in a brief made public last week in support of the voting technology company’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network. Dominion claims it was damaged in the months after the 2020 election after Fox repeatedly aired false statements that it was part of a conspiracy to fraudulently elect Joe Biden.

Dominion said the emails and texts show that Fox’s hosts and executives knew the claims being peddled by then-president Donald Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell weren’t true — some employees privately described them as “ludicrous” and “mind blowingly nuts”— but Fox kept airing them to keep its audience from changing channels.

We can safely agree with Reid and her panel that there is no whiff of a “conservative” theoretical or philosophical drift to any of these actions.  It’s simply White Christian Nationalists and Big Money asking for relief from the U.S. Constitutional Principles and American democracy. It takes a kleptocracy, theocracy, and autocracy to erase history and established law.  What drive me nuts is their base is radical, uneducated, and incredibly frightened by headlines like this “Young people are more likely to accept gay couples — and to identify as gay” and “Losing their religion: why US churches are on the decline. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year – probably accelerated by Covid.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

29 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Serious Farce Edition”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Trump water went out of business in 2010. That is some very old water!

    Lots of interesting stuff here. I’m going to check out your links.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    The paintings are beautiful Dak. I hope Keely is OK. Emergencies with my kitties have become problematic, because the nearby emergency clinics are only open after hours and veterinarians are booked solid during business hours. Mine are all getting very old as well. The fees are crushing as well…

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m taking her in tomorrow first thing. My paycheck got screwed up though, so now I’m even more stressed out finding ways to pay for her if they don’t unscrew this.

      • dakinikat says:

        My Sister is going to stick on her card, and hopefully it gets straightened out by tomorrow. I just want to know if they have anything they can exclude.

    • NW Luna says:

      Hope Keely has only something temporary or which is easily managed.

      It’s been hard to get timely appointments at vet clinics, especially during the 1st two years of the pandemic. Not enough vets or is it a big increase in animals needing care? Veterinary practices are being bought up by big companies and equity firms. Vet clinics are desirable to investors because they’re basically a cash business unlike human healthcare where the clinic is paid immediately rather than having to wait for payment from insurance cos. The vet clinic I’ve been going to for around 25 years has been bought up by a big corporation after the previous owner, who was wonderful, retired. It doesn’t seem to be the same place.

      Large corporations and private equity firms are buying up veterinary offices at an alarming rate.

      An industry analysis showed, in 2021, 82% of the $38 billion in veterinarian billings were done by independently owned, mom-and-pop vets. By 2023, that number is expected to drop to just 50%.

      Dr. Levitas is an independent veterinarian but says he’s been approached several times by consolidation companies to sell. And he’s not alone. Private equity firms are yielding four to five times the returns, leading to companies like American Veterinary Group, Encore Vet Group and People, Pets & Vets to gobble-up practices like kibble.

      Critics of the “corporatization of vets” say consolidation leads to higher vet bills, less time spent with individual patients and less experienced doctors. Proponents say the conglomerates can afford better patient communication software and can afford better diagnostic equipment, like MRI machines, and better and faster lab work.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Wow thanks for the info Luna! My regular vet was an established local vet and when he retired I suppose this is what happened. Fees are certainly high. I’ve ripped through about three thousand in the past year, partly due to I-131 treatment for hyperthyroid.

  3. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

      • NW Luna says:

        the wild things some folks believe

        The Left isn’t immune. Look at the belief that men can become women, that womanhood is merely an “identity,” and that sex in humans isn’t binary. The belief in a subjective, undefinable, gender-identity soul which has no objective evidence unless it’s adherence to stereotypes. The belief that those who acknowledge biological reality are using hate speech. Just wild.

    • dakinikat says:

      This is the conversation I was referring to up top.

    • NW Luna says:

      If only we could do a national divorce without problems!

    • Beata says:

      It’s a crazy idea no matter who it’s coming from. There are huge “red” areas in “blue” states, outside of the major cities (see New York state, California, Oregon, Washington state, etc). To deny this is a falsity. There are also sizable “blue” areas in “red” states (for example, large urban areas as well as university cities in “red” states). To deny this is also a falsity. This “red” state vs “blue” state nonsense needs to stop from both the Right (conservatives) and the Left (liberals). It’s not helping anyone and creates more problems going forward. And we are all going forward, together. Let’s try to remember that.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Yet another order against Trump. (snicker)

    A federal judge on Thursday ordered that former president Donald Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray can be questioned under oath by attorneys for two former senior FBI employees who allege in separate lawsuits that they were illegally targeted for retribution after the FBI investigated Russia’s interference in the 2020 presidential election.

    The decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington came in consolidated lawsuits against the FBI and Justice Department by former senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Harvey Weinstein gets 16 more years in prison after Calif. rape trial

    Jane Doe 1 gave a statement in court Thursday about the trauma she suffered from Weinstein’s attack, telling Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench that no prison sentence would be “long enough to undo the damage.”

  6. Beata says:

    The Biden administration has handled the East Palestine, Ohio toxic chemical train disaster horribly. It happened on *February 3rd* and it has taken weeks for the Biden administration to do anything. It doesn’t matter if Trump administration policies led to the disaster, it occurred under Biden and Mayor Pete’s watch. Biden is two years into his presidency, in case anyone has forgotten. His administration is responsible for the handling of the disaster now, not Trump. Mayor Pete himself has been a total failure as Transportation Secretary. He needs to resign. This should be the end of any possibility that he will ever become President but it probably won’t. If the DNC crowns him in 2028, he’ll be the Democratic nominee, you betcha. I hope I’m dead by then.

  7. dakinikat says: