Lazy Caturday Reads

Lucie Bilodeau, Quiet Day

Quiet Day, by Lucie Bilodeau

Happy Caturday!!

The weather has been crazy this year. The Midwest has been getting plenty of snow, but here in Massachusetts we’ve seen almost no snow and temperatures mostly above normal–in the 40s and 50s. We’ve also had a couple of freezing cold snaps, including this weekend. Last night it got down into the single numbers with wind chills below zero. The rest of the week we are again expecting above normal temperatures. Dakinikat has been getting more cold weather than usual in New Orleans, with occasional periods of very warm weather. And now Southern California is getting blizzard warnings–and not in the mountains.

The Washington Post: Low-elevation snow, blizzard conditions in California amid season’s coldest storm.

It’s been a week of howling wind and bitter cold in California as winter storms have dropped into the region from the far north. The cold air set the stage for snow at unusually low elevations late in the week. Now, it is combining with an atmospheric river to bring blizzard conditions and possibly unprecedented snowfall to Southern California.

The latest powerful storm, steered by a low-pressure system rotating off the California coast, is taking direct aim at the coastal mountain ranges that run between Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. An atmospheric river could linger over the region for more than 24 hours into Saturday, piling up feet of mountain snow while dousing lower elevations with flooding rains.

The region rarely experiences snow of this magnitude, which is more typical of the Sierra Nevada, according to Alex Tardy, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

“This is not Lake Tahoe, this is not Mammoth [Lakes], and we’re not talking about a month of snow,” he said. “We’re talking about a three-day storm putting 5 to 6 feet at a location like Big Bear.”

Tardy noted that for Big Bear Lake, a popular weekend ski destination about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, it is possible “that these three- to four-day totals will exceed anything that we’ve recorded before.” He also called the flood risk for urban and rural areas “significant,” given how much rain was expected to fall in a short period.

By late Friday night, the Weather Service in Los Angeles was warning of “life threatening flash flooding of creeks and streams, burn scars, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.”

Up to 7 inches of rain had fallen in some parts of Los Angeles County, with more on the way.

An extremely rare blizzard warning is in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday for the mountains of Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.

Last night some big news broke about the DOJ’s efforts to get access to Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry’s phone in the January 6 investigation. The phone was seized by the FBI last summer, but Perry has claimed the contents are protected by the “speech and debate clause.” It’s the same argument that Mike Pence is using to fight a grand jury subpoena and that Lindsey Graham tried and failed with in his fight to avoid testifying to the Georgia special grand jury. Now the judge in Perry’s case has also rejected the argument.

The Washington Post: Fight over Rep. Perry’s phone has prevented review of 2,200 documents in Jan. 6 probe.

A secret legal fight over the cellphone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) has prevented the Justice Department for more than six months from reviewing more than 2,200 documents in the criminal investigation of former president Donald Trump and supporters’ efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, a federal judge disclosed Friday evening.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. released a number of previously sealed opinions after finding that the “powerful public interest”outweighed the need for secrecy in the constitutional battle over Perry’s claims and the historic investigation.

Dee Nickerson

By Dee Nickerson

The Pennsylvania Republican has asserted that 2,219 documents contained on his phone are shielded by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause, which grants members of Congress immunity from criminal investigation in their official capacities. But in a ruling in December, Howell rejected that claim for more than 90 percent of the records, ordering Perry to turn over 2,055 text messages, emails and attachments after concluding that they were only incidentally related to his status as a lawmaker, and not central to that status and constitutionally protected as part of his lawmaking.

“What is plain is that the Clause does not shield Rep. Perry’s random musings with private individuals touting an expertise in cybersecurity or political discussions with attorneys from a presidential campaign, or with state legislators concerning hearings before them about possible local election fraud or actions they could take to challenge election results in Pennsylvania,” Howell wrote.

The scope and nature of the Perry fight had been secret, because they involve an FBI search warrant used to seize Perry’s phone on Aug. 9. But Howell said the Justice Department agreed to unseal details Friday because a federal appeals court held fast-tracked public arguments this week after staying Howell’s order and approved the release of her key opinions to certain members of Congress and the House general counsel’s office. That office has taken Perry’s side. Perry’s lawyers objected to the unsealing, but Howell said redactions protected his interests, noting that the government’s specific allegations about why Perry’s phone might contain evidence of a crime remain under seal.

Perry is a key figure who sought to help Trump replace the attorney general after the 2020 election with former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and get the Justice Department to reverse its finding that Joe Biden had been elected fairly, according to the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol.

More details from Politico: Judge rejected Perry’s bid to shield thousands of emails from Jan. 6 investigators.

Prosecutors homed in on Perry last year, seeking his contacts with top figures connected to Trump, including Clark and attorney John Eastman, an architect of Trump’s last-ditch bid to remain in power despite losing reelection. And in August, Perry’s phone was seized by FBI agents while he was traveling with family.

Thus far, however, investigators have not had access to any of the records because, last month, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to stay Howell’s ruling. On Thursday, those judges heard both public and private arguments about the dispute. The stay remains in place as the appeals court considers whether to leave Howell’s ruling in place, set it aside or modify it in some way.


Cats Relaxing in the Grounds at Napsbury, by Louis Wain

The judges — Karen Henderson, Gregory Katsas and Neomi Rao — appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s position and the breadth of Howell’s ruling, although they discussed her stance only in broad strokes and the details of her opinions remained under seal until Friday.

But the appeals panel’s ultimate leanings remained unclear at the conclusion of the public argument session Thursday. The appeals judges seemed most concerned by Howell’s determination that Perry’s outreach about Jan. 6 was not protected by the speech or debate clause because he was not acting with formal House approval.

That determination was a centerpiece of Howell’s ruling, which she said was rooted in longstanding precedent.

“No matter the vigor with which Rep. Perry pursued his wide-ranging interest in bolstering his belief that the results of the 2020 election were somehow incorrect — even in the face of his own reelection — his informal inquiries into the legitimacy of those election results are closer to the activities described as purely personal or political,” Howell said.

Another judge in Texas is hearing a case that could threaten access to abortion pills in every state.

The Washington Post: The Texas judge who could take down the abortion pill.

ABILENE, Tex. — Matthew Kacsmaryk was a 22-year-old law student when he drove to a small city in west Texas to spend a day with a baby he would probably never see again.

He was in Abilene to support his sister, who, pregnant at 17, had fled to a faraway maternity home to avoid the scorn she feared from their Christian community. But holding his nephew in his arms — then leaving the baby with adoptive parents— also solidified Kacsmaryk’s belief that every pregnancy should be treasured, his sister recalled, even those that don’t fit neatly into a family’s future plans….

Now 45 and a federal judge, Kacsmaryk (kaz-MARE-ik) has the opportunity to impose the most far-reaching limit on abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge, nominated by President Trump and confirmed in 2019, will soon rule on a lawsuit seeking to revoke U.S. government approval of mifepristone, a key abortion medication. That outcome could, at least temporarily, halt over half the legal abortions carried out across the country, including in states led by Democrats where abortion rights are protected.

While many experts have said the case relies on baseless medical claims, it is Kacsmaryk’s role as presiding judge that has the abortion rights movement bracing foranother crippling defeat.

The abortion pills lawsuit, which Kacsmaryk could rule on any day, is the latest in a long line of politically explosive cases to appear on the judge’s docket. In a practice known as “forum shopping,” conservative groups have zeroed in on the Amarillo division of the Northern District of Texas as a go-to place to challenge a wide range of Biden administration policies. Because Amarillo is a federal district with a single judge, plaintiffs know their arguments will be heard by Kacsmaryk — who, like any federal judge, is positioned to issue rulings with nationwide implications.

Appeals from Kacsmaryk’s district follow a path that has regularly yielded favorable outcomes for conservatives — reviewed first by the 5th Circuit, which upheld a strict Texas abortion ban long before Roe v. Wade was overturned, then ultimately by the conservative-controlled Supreme Court.

Read more at the WaPo.

Relaxing on the Rug, Ryan Connors

Relaxing on the Rug, Ryan Connors

Lots of legal cases in the news today, including updates on the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News.

Analysis by Oliver Darcy at CNN Business: ‘It’s a major blow’: Dominion has uncovered ‘smoking gun’ evidence in case against Fox News, legal experts say.

Fox News is in serious hot water.

That’s what several legal experts told CNN this week following Dominion Voting Systems explosive legal filing against the right-wing talk channel, revealing the network’s executives and hosts privately blasted the election fraud claims being peddled by Donald Trump’s team, despite allowing lies about the 2020 contest to be promoted on its air.

While the legal experts cautioned that they would like to see Fox News’ formal legal response to the filing, they all indicated in no uncertain terms that the evidence compiled in Dominion’s legal filing represents a serious threat to the channel.

“It’s a major blow,” attorney Floyd Abrams of Pentagon Papers fame said, adding that the “recent revelations certainly put Fox in a more precarious situation” in defending against the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds.

Rebecca Tushnet, the Frank Stanton Professor of First Amendment Law at Harvard Law School, described Dominion’s evidence as a “very strong” filing that “clearly lays out the difference between what Fox was saying publicly and what top people at Fox were privately admitting.”

A cache of behind-the-scenes messages included in the legal filing showed Fox Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch called Trump’s claims “really crazy stuff,” and the cable network’s stars — including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham — brutally mock the lies being pushed by the former president’s camp asserting that the election was rigged.

It also showed attempts to crack down on fact-checking election lies. On one occasion, Carlson demanded that Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich be fired after she fact-checked a Trump tweet pushing election fraud claims.

Tushnet said that in all of her years practicing and teaching law, she had never seen such damning evidence collected in the pre-trial phase of a defamation suit. “I don’t recall anything comparable to this,” Tushnet said. “Donald Trump seems to be very good at generating unprecedented situations.”

Read what more legal experts had to say about the case at the CNN link.

The New York Times has an interesting piece about what Fox hosts were saying on the air as opposed to behind the scenes: What Fox News Hosts Said Privately vs. Publicly About Voter Fraud.

Two days after the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson was furious.

Fox News viewers were abandoning the network for Newsmax and One America News, two conservative rivals, after Fox declared that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Arizona, a crucial swing state.

Belinda Del Pesco

Belinda Del Pesco

In a text message with his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, Mr. Carlson appeared livid that viewers were turning against the network. The message was among those released last week as part of a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox. Dominion, an elections technology company, has sued Fox News for defamation….

At the same time, Mr. Carlson and his broadcasting colleagues expressed grave doubts about an unfounded narrative rapidly gaining momentum among their core audience: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats through widespread voter fraud. The belief was promoted by then-President Trump and a coalition of lawyers, lawmakers and influencers, though they produced no evidence to support their assertions.

Many hosts, producers and executives privately expressed skepticism about those claims, even as they gave them significant airtime, according to private messages revealed last week by Dominion. What they said in those messages often differed significantly from what Fox hosts said in public, though they weren’t always contradictory.

Two days after the election, Mr. Pfeiffer said that voices on the right were “reckless demagogues,” according to a text message. Mr. Carlson replied that his show was “not going to follow them.” [….]

But he did follow them. The same day, on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Mr. Carlson expressed some doubts about the voter fraud assertions before insisting that at least some of the claims were “credible.”

There’s much more at the NYT link.

One more January 6 story at CBS News: Media organizations demand Jan. 6 videos McCarthy shared with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

A group of media organizations, including CBS News, is demanding access to a tranche of surveillance and police videos from the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol that U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy provided to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

In a letter to congressional leadership Friday, the media companies argue the footage McCarthy allowed Carlson and Fox News to access should be made available to other media groups.


Sphynx Cat Relaxing, Svetlana Novikova

The letter was sent on behalf of CBS News, CNN, Politico, ProPublica ABC, Axios, Advance, Scripps, the Los Angeles Times, and Gannett.

“Without full public access to the complete historical record, there is concern that an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness, with destabilizing risks to the legitimacy of Congress, the Capitol Police, and the various federal investigations and prosecutions of January 6 crimes,” wrote attorney Charles Tobin.

McCarthy’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CBS News about the reported release of more than 41,000 hours of police footage to Fox News.

The House speaker said in a Wednesday interview with The New York Times that he expects to make the footage more widely available after Carlson uses the material.

“I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public. I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment,” McCarthy said.

In the letter to McCarthy, Tobin wrote that the media organizations agreed with his “sunshine” statement.

“Now that the CCTV videos have been released to one member of the news media – one whose program is categorized by its own network as opinion programming – they must be released to the rest of the news media as well,” Tobin wrote.

That’s all I have for you today. Please share your thought and any other stories that you’re following.

20 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Everything I needed to know about authoritarianism I learned from feminism, or rather from feminism’s sharp eye when it comes to coercive control and male abusers. Sociologist and gender violence expert Evan Stark, in his book Coercive Control, defined the title term as one that subsumes domestic violence in a larger pattern of isolation, intimidation and control. (The book has been so influential that in the UK, coercive control is now recognised as a crime.) The violence matters, Stark writes, “but the primary harm abusive men inflict is political, not physical, and reflects the deprivation of rights and resources that are critical to personhood and citizenship”. This connects it directly to what dictators and totalitarian regimes do to the people under their rule – it’s only a matter of scale. And the agenda at all scales is to control not just practical matters, but fact, truth, history; who can speak and what can be said.

      • dakinikat says:

        Was just reading this!!!!

        Love the waggy finger on this illustration.

      • NW Luna says:

        the primary harm abusive men inflict is political, not physical, and reflects the deprivation of rights and resources that are critical to personhood

        Rather downplays the abuse to women, uh, excuse me, people with cervixes. All those beaten and murdered women are secondary, because the primary harm is political and to persons and citizens. If not meaning that, he should have made clear that he’s writing about authoritarian regimes, rather than extrapolating from individual men to totalitarian systems. 2nd Wave feminists got it right — the personal is political (no secondary about it).

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m still searching for the perfect cat fur remover! Brushing the kitties every day helps keep some of the fluff under control. I spun up some of the fur from 3 of my kitties and knit a hat. It’s so warm and light!

      • quixote says:


        (It’s funny how when you have something pigeonholed as “fairly gross vacuum cleaner contents” you can feel the mental realignment when it turns into “washed fluffy cozy hat” 😆 )

  5. NW Luna says:

    BB, nice range of cat pictures! Those sphynx cats–I’d never have one myself, but a friend does. She describes them as suede hot-water bottles that purr.

    • quixote says:

      A neighbor of mine has one. I’m not sure what to say. Yes, they feel amazing. But they look … a bit like aliens you wish had just stayed on their home planet.

  6. NW Luna says:

    From one of the stories linked to in the excerpt about Kacsmaryk, the judge who is so concerned about embryos and fetuses but didn’t help care for his sister’s infant instead of letting it be adopted out, and who won’t work for improved access to contraception and Plan B.

    “Mifepristone is one of the safest drugs on the market, safer than Viagra and penicillin,” Donley said. “We have a lot of studies and a lot of data on it.”

    Retract FDA approval for Viagra!