Monday Reads: Time to send the Republican Party to the Ash Heap of History

Good Day Sky Dancers!

In typical 2020 fashion, there is another hurricane aimed at New Orleans. It’s named Zeta because they’ve run through both alphabets now. November one marks the end of the official Hurricane Season and this one is coming at us on Wednesday. November three should be a death knell for Trump and the Republican party. We’ve seen this before. Remember the Whigs? The Federalist party that fell apart eventually but still tried stacking the courts in the process and passed the Alien and Sedition Acts because they wanted to control immigration and citizenship tightly.?

It’s just American History kinda repeating itself with the same base arguments and tricks. Let’s investigate this as the Republican party tries to sandbag the process by stacking and continuing to appoint incredibly unsuitable people to all levels of our Federal Court System. Today’s it’s OfDonald or OfMitch or whatever old white man owns Amy Coney Barret’s soul. today. The good news is that this may stop but it will take a long time to undue the damage.  That’s something Thomas Jefferson was worried about back when the Whigs were trying it.

Ronald Brownstein wrote this amazing piece about Republican Court Stacking and its purpose at The Atlantic last week. “What the Rush to Confirm Amy Coney Barrett Is Really About. The Republican Party wants to shield itself from the growing Democratic coalition.”

Nothing better explains the Republican rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court than the record crowds that thronged polling places for the first days of early voting this week in Georgia and Texas.

The historic number of Americans who stood in long lines to cast their ballot in cities from Atlanta to Houston symbolizes the diverse, urbanized Democratic coalition that will make it very difficult for the GOP to win majority support in elections through the 2020s. That hill will get only steeper as Millennials and Generation Z grow through the decade to become the largest generations in the electorate.

Every young conservative judge that the GOP has stacked onto the federal courts amounts to a sandbag against that rising demographic wave. Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Barrett—whom a slim majority of Republican senators appears determined to seat by Election Day—represent the capstone of that strategy. As the nation’s growing racial and religious diversity limits the GOP’s prospects, filling the courts with conservatives constitutes what the Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz calls “the right-wing firewall” against a country evolving electorally away from the party.

This dynamic suggests that the 2020s could reprise earlier conflicts in American history, when a Court majority nominated and confirmed by the dominant party of a previous era systematically blocked the agenda of a newly emerging political majority—with explosive consequences. That happened as far back as the first years of the 19th century, when electoral dominance tipped from John Adams and the Federalists to Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party. At the time—and in language today’s Democrats would recognize—Jefferson complained that the Federalists “have retreated into the judiciary as a stronghold … the tenure of which renders it difficult to dislodge them.”

Some lag time between the composition of the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, and the country’s electoral balance is built into the constitutional system, with federal judges receiving lifetime appointments.

But just as in earlier eras, conflict is likely to be on tap for the 2020s once Barrett’s seemingly inevitable confirmation cements a 6–3 conservative majority. Because the oldest Republican-appointed justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, are only 72 and 70, respectively, this majority might hold the last word on the nation’s laws for at least the next decade. The oldest Millennials may be in their 50s before any of these Republican justices step down from the high court.

Charles M. Blow column: Trump's army of angry white wen - South Florida Sun  Sentinel - South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Democratic party has consistently won more voters in seven of the last eight presidential elections and this can only continue with the population dynamics we see today.  White men are aggrieved and scared and dragging their women with them if they can into a  national twilight zone that reflects xenophobia and racism under the guise of economic distress, religious ‘freedom’, and  cancel ‘culture’. 

All of these are monikers for racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and hatred towards what is not white, not christian in a narrowly defined sense, and not patriarchal. You can read this kind of nonsense from Rich Lowry at the National Review.  This is exactly the kind of person that needs to fade into history so the rest of us can live long and prosper.

Charles Blow sums it up pretty clearly today in this NYT’s Op Ed.

The white racist, sexist, xenophobic patriarchy and all those who benefit from or aspire to it are in a battle with the rest of us, for not only the present in this country but also the future of it.

The Republican Party, which is now without question the Party of Trump, has become a structural reflection of him. They see their majorities slipping and the country turning brown with a quickness, and they are becoming more tribal, more rash, more devious, just like him.

Like Trump, the Republican Party sees a future in which the only way they can win is to cheat. That is why they are stacking the courts. That is why they openly embrace tactics that are well known to result in voter suppression. That is why they gerrymander. That is why they staunchly oppose immigration.

Trump’s base of mostly white men, mostly without a college degree, see him as the ambassador of their anger, one who ministers to their fear, consoles their losses and champions their victimhood. Trump is the angry white man leading the battle charge for angry white men.

The most optimistic among us see the Trump era as some sort of momentary insanity, half of the nation under the spell of a conjurer. They believe that the country can be reunited and this period forgotten.

I am not one of those people. I believe what political scientist Thomas Schaller told Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson in 2018: “I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war.” If 2018 was the beginning of it, it is now well underway.

Trump is building an army of the aggrieved in plain sight.

It is an army with its own mercenaries, people Trump doesn’t have to personally direct, but ones he has absolutely refused to condemn.

When it comes to the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the young neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville and the far-right fight club the Proud Boys, Trump finds a way to avoid a full-throated condemnation, often feigning ignorance.

“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” Trump said when he ran in 2016. That of course was a lie. In fact, Trump is heir to Duke’s legacy.

In 1991, when Duke ran unsuccessfully to be governor of Louisiana but received a majority of the white vote in the state, Trump told CNN’s Larry King, “I hate seeing what it represents, but I guess it just shows there’s a lot of hostility in this country. There’s a tremendous amount of hostility in the United States.”

King responded, “Anger?”

Then Trump explained: “It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs.”

It is that very anger that Trump harnessed to win the presidency: anger over racial displacement disguised as economic anxiety.

A Swedish University has studied the Republican Party and come up with this analysis as reported by The Guardian. “Republicans closely resemble autocratic parties in Hungary and Turkey – study. Swedish university finds ‘dramatic shift’ in GOP under Trump, shunning democratic norms and encouraging violence.”   

The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a new international study.

In a significant shift since 2000, the GOP has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey.

The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump.

By contrast the Democratic party has changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, and in that regard has remained similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. Their principal difference is the approach to the economy.

The new study, the largest ever of its kind, was carried out by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, using newly developed methods to measure and quantify the health of the world’s democracies at a time when authoritarianism is on the rise.

Anna Lührmann, V-Dem’s deputy director, said the Republican transformation had been “certainly the most dramatic shift in an established democracy”.

V-Dem’s “illiberalism index” gauges the extent of commitment to democratic norms a party exhibits before an election. The institute calls it “the first comparative measure of the ‘litmus test’ for the loyalty to democracy”.

The Daily Beasts reports that “In violation of the law, the FBI won’t deliver a legally required report on domestic terrorism before an election that many security veterans fear may spark some level of violence.”

The FBI has failed to produce a legally required report detailing the scope of white supremacist and other domestic terrorism, despite mounting concerns that the upcoming election could spark far-right violence.

According to a key House committee chairman, that leaves the country in the dark about what the FBI concedes is America’s most urgent terrorist threat, as well as the resources the U.S. government is devoting to fight it.

In June, the bureau was supposed to release a report compiling a wealth of currently unavailable data on domestic terrorism, a category that includes white supremacist violence. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the FBI, in accord with Department of Homeland Security and consultation with the Office of Director of National Intelligence, specify not only known acts of domestic terrorism, but “ideologies relating to domestic terrorism,” and what the FBI and its partners are doing to combat it all.

Yet the FBI is over four months late. While President Trump falsely portrays left-wing property damage as terrorism, suspicion is building that the FBI, whose director Christopher Wray is on the outs with Trump, will keep the public from seeing the scope of its premier terror threat before an election that may feature violence emerging from it.

“I would hate to think that they are reacting to President Trump’s machinations about his dislike for senior leadership in the FBI,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, told The Daily Beast. “This report probably would not be viewed favorably by this administration. That, I think, precipitates the report not being released by Nov. 3.”

It’s time to Drive Old Dixie Down, again and this time the party that needs to go with it is what used to be the Party of Lincoln.  Read that National Review crap and you’ll see that it’s the same stuff that’s be floating around the country since its inception that we keep trying to flush. The Alien and Sedition Act was one of the things that took the Whigs down.  Will Children in Cages take take the Republicans down?

Let us know if you got to vote and if you’re okay!!!  Take care and be gentle with yourself and those around you!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?




Foggy Friday Reads

Danse Macabre 1918 by Rob W Harrison, 2017

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s the second time this week I’ve awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of fog horns on the Mississippi River. The sun has yet to burn off the thick clouds. The big ships blare their horns as they make their way from the wharfs of New Orleans down to the mouth of the river and out into the Gulf. It’s a somewhat haunting and ominous sound as they continually fade only to be followed by another one up river starting the loud blare all over again.

This is totally great for the upcoming Halloween festivities which are supposedly still on despite the country’s uptick in COVID-19 Pandemic cases and deaths. But wow, it sounds like something ominously tolling for the Covid Dead and foreshadowing the upcoming election. Further up the Mississippi, the state of Missouri has hospitals that are turning away ambulances at their emergency rooms. Up the mighty Missouri river–which I spent most of my life living near until now– Kansas City, MO has overwhelmed their care facilities.

This is reported by The Hill.

Some medical facilities in Kansas City, Mo., have turned away ambulances due to an influx of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Metro hospitals and emergency departments reported Wednesday night high enough volumes of patients that facilities temporarily stopped accepting ambulances, a leading physician at St. Luke’s Health System told The Kansas City Star.

Marc Larsen, operations director of St. Luke’s COVID-19 Response Team, said the influx in cases affected eight facilities Wednesday evening. The official did not specify the names of the other facilities.

“We’re bursting at the seams in the metropolitan area, and really across the state and the region,” said Larsen, who is also an emergency physician.

Two of the facilities belong to the St. Luke’s system, a hospital spokesperson said.

St. Luke’s Health System admitted more than 100 COVID-19 patients Tuesday, setting record numbers since the start of the pandemic. On Thursday, the system still averaged 90 virus patients across St. Luke’s facilities.

Danse Macabre 1918 (redo), RW Harrison, drawing, 2017

Anecdotally, my friend Michelle went to have lunch with a nurse friend of hers and, while she was waiting at the Touro hospital here in New Orleans, a nurse at the ER said they are seeing more patients now than they were even in the beginning. So, much for rushing to get those bars back open!

Looking strictly at the data, there’s this from NBC: “Coronavirus case increase sets new U.S. record, rising to over 77K in one day

But, according to Trumperz, we’ve rounded the corner. I’m not sure which corner he means but these drawings kind’ve express my thoughts on that.

So, I didn’t live blog the debate last night since I went across the street to my neighbor’s house with a shepherd’s pie and a bottle of chardonnay to watch with her. We two ladies who are mostly cooped up in our houses have been neighbors for almost 20 years although her job used to take her all over the world and she’d lease it out in the interim to others.

We both wondered if Trump had been sedated since he seemed unusually calmer than his full blown Roid Rage performance last time. Maybe, a few calmer folks than Rudy or Chris Christie prevailed in Debate prep. Republicans are saying that his presentation was so almost normal that he won the debate. I guess we really are in the post-truth and venomous age of enraged white men because a calm presentation of lies and personal slurs is not my idea of an actual debate.

We’re going to repeat this on election day with the hope of ringing out the old and craven administration.

Unknown Title, Joan Miro, 1918

Mike Allen from Axios had this to say this morning: “Trump-Biden venom on display during final debate”. So how is this for equivocation and bothersiderisms that we’ve come to hate so much?

Joe Biden twice referred to President Trump as “this guy,” and Trump called the former vice president’s family “like a vacuum cleaner” for foreign money.

Why it matters: The personal venom — during Thursday’s final presidential debate, in Nashville — was a reminder that even during a more normal debate, nothing this year is normal.

  • A prime example: “Oh, God,” Biden said during an exchange on race.

Foreshadowing the crises he’d face if elected, Biden said America is “about to go into a dark winter” because of the coronavirus:

  • “220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this: … Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.”
  • Trump responded that he expects a vaccine “within a matter of weeks”: “I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter, at all. … We have to open our country.”

An exchange that captures the two in a nutshell:

  • Biden: “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family. And your family’s hurting badly. … [Middle-class families are] sitting at the kitchen table this morning deciding: ‘Well, we can’t get new tires — they’re bald — because we have to wait another month or so.'”
  • Trump: “That’s a typical political statement. Let’s get off this China thing, and then he looks [in mocking tone]: ‘The family around the table,’ everything. Just a typical politician when I see that. I’m not a typical politician. That’s why I got elected.”

Japan’s 1918 Pandemic Prevention Posters

Trumperz is obviously projecting about the China thing which is always his political strategy it seems. You accuse the other guy of doing what you’re doing. Grade school playgrounds have better shout outs than this.

Most polls today show that Biden won the debate. This is from CNN’s polling director Jennifer Agiesta: “CNN Poll: Biden wins final presidential debate”.

Joe Biden did a better job in the final debate on Thursday, according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup, while 39% said that President Donald Trump did.

Viewers once again said that Biden’s criticisms of Trump were largely fair (73% said they were fair, 26% unfair), and they split over whether Trump’s attacks on Biden were fair (50% said yes, 49% no).
That’s a more positive outcome for Trump. In a CNN Instant Poll after the first presidential debate, just 28% said they thought the President had won the debate, and 67% called his criticism of Biden unfair.
All told, though, the debate did not do much to move impressions of either candidate. Favorable views of Biden before the debate stood at 55%, and they held steady at 56% in post-debate interviews. Likewise, Trump’s numbers held steady, with 42% saying they had a favorable view of the President in interviews conducted before Thursday’s debate and 41% saying the same afterward.

More debate watchers, though, said Trump’s performance raised concerns about how he would handle the presidency (55%) than did Biden’s (41%).

And while we’re on the subject of looking like death, what is with the Grim Reaper’s hands and bandages?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hands have become the unlikely subject of wild speculation on social media as people obsess over how badly bruised they look this week, but Kentucky’s longtime senator isn’t saying much about it.

A photograph taken earlier this week showed McConnell’s noticeably discolored hands, which had a couple of small bandages on them. A little bruising around his mouth also was noticeable during a public appearance.

People theorized online that the reason for the apparent bruises could be that he has COVID-19, is taking blood thinners or has some other health issue. Snopes, the well-known fact-checking website, even put out a post confirming the photograph of the senator’s hands is real.

In light of all the rampant conjecture on the internet, a few reporters in Washington, D.C., asked McConnell about it Thursday, according to dispatches from the Capitol Hill press pool.

Bresnahan said he was feeling OK. “Good for you,” McConnell replied.

“But I’m serious, is there anything going on we should know about?” Bresnahan followed up.

“Of course not,” McConnell said.

Another journalist asked about the bruising, too, and McConnell said there were no concerns. He did not respond when asked if he was being treated by a doctor.

During a debate in Lexington on Oct. 12, McConnell had no discernible bruising on his hands, according to photographs from the event.

This isn’t the first time the senator has dismissed questions about his personal health.

Earlier this month, after President Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah both confirmed they had contracted COVID-19, McConnell refused to say whether he had recently been tested for the virus.

Egon Schiele, Portrait of the dying Edith Schiele, 1918,

Mask Up Ya’ll! This is a pandemic data chart about the efficacy of masks.

Despite the clear opposition to masks within the Trump White House and among its allies, Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support their use as a public health measure and say they wear them whenever they’re in public.

Still, there are significant differences in mask-use rates at the state level. And data from Carnegie Mellon’s CovidCast, an academic project tracking real-time coronavirus statistics, yields a particularly vivid illustration of how mask usage influences the prevalence of covid-19 symptoms in a given area.

There’s a really interesting graphic there about the frequency of mask wearing per state and the infection rates that you should check out.

Meanwhile, back in Grim Reaper Territory:

We do have confirmation today that Alaska Senator Lisa Murskowski will vote no on the SCOTUS nomination Of Donald. This is from Newsweek.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski signaled on Thursday that she will vote against confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week.

The Alaska lawmaker, who met with the conservative nominee earlier this week, would join the likes of Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the only other Republican who plans to vote against the Trump nominee on Monday. Barrett’s nomination was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday by unanimous consent after Democrats boycotted the vote.

“I’ve shared for a while that I didn’t think we should be taking this up until after the election, and I haven’t changed,” Murkowski said, according to a congressional pool report.

Maine’s Susan Collins indicated on Oct. 16th that she did not support the nomination.

So, that’s some of the grim news today.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads! Vote Him OUT!

Pierre Edouard Baranowski, 1918 – Amedeo Modigliani

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Tis the season to be Voting!  And we all really, really, really need to do that and take as many people with us as possible!

I can hardly turn on the TV any more.

Here’s all I want to say from The Rolling Stone: via The Hill: “Rolling Stone endorses Biden, calls Trump ‘categorically unfit to be president'”. How can such a strongly worded statement be such an understatement?  But that’s been our upside down country for the past nearly 4 years.

Rolling Stone magazine is endorsing Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, saying in a piece on Monday that the U.S. has lived “under a man categorically unfit to be president” for the last four years.

“Fortunately for America,” the magazine said at the top of its endorsement of the former vice president, “Joe Biden is Donald Trump’s opposite in nearly every category: The Democratic presidential nominee evinces competence, compassion, steadiness, integrity, and restraint.”

“Perhaps most important in this moment, Biden holds a profound respect for the institutions of American democracy, as well as a deep knowledge about how our government — and our system of checks and balances — is meant to work; he aspires to lead the nation as its president, not its dictator,” the magazine continued. “The 2020 election, then, offers the nation a chance to reboot and rebuild from the racist, authoritarian, know-nothing wreckage wrought by the 45th president.”

Trump’s only plan for America is one that keeps him in office and in the position of not being held accountable for anything including the massive grifting.

Amedeo Modigliani – Christina

So, what kind of things are going on right now?

Well, first, Trump is trying all kinds of ways to make Dr. Fauci look bad and to convince us all the virus is no big deal.  This is from CBS’ 60 Minutes as reported by Jonathan LaPook: “Fauci admits administration has restricted his media appearances, says he’s not surprised Trump got COVID”.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a voice of logic and stability since the pandemic began. And right now, he’s worried we’re heading in the wrong direction. Worldwide the number of new cases is surging at an alarming rate, as seen in this map by Johns Hopkins University. This week, Russia reported a record number of infections, and cases are spiking in the UK, France, and Italy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: When you have a million deaths and over 30 million infections globally, you can not say that we’re on the road to essentially getting out of this. So quite frankly, I don’t know where we are. It’s impossible to say.

What Dr. Fauci knows for sure is, here in the United States, infections are beginning to rise as the weather gets colder and people congregate indoors. Over the last two weeks, new cases have gone up in at least 38 states.

Dr. Jon LaPook: How bad would things have to get for you to advocate a national lockdown?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: They’d have to get really, really bad. First of all, the country is fatigued with restrictions. So we wanna use public health measures not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy. So instead of having an opposition, open up the economy, get jobs back, or shut down. No. Put “shut down” away and say, “We’re gonna use public health measures to help us safely get to where we wanna go.”

Those measures were not in place last month in the rose garden when President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Dr. Jon LaPook: Were you surprised that President Trump got sick?

Dr. Anthony Fauci: Absolutely not. I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask. When I saw that on TV, I said, “Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come outta that, that’s gotta be a problem.” And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.

The good Doctor intends to vote in person on election day and says it can be done safely.  Read or watch the entire interview at the link.

Yes. Please vote.

The AP went in search of the not so elusive Burbie women in Michigan and low and behold they found more than a few women of color!  Wow!  Some one tell the Russian Potted Plant occupying the Oval Office! Claire Galofaro  reports:  ‘Our house is on fire’: Suburban women lead a Trump revolt .  However, the lede feature is a suburban white woman so there’s still that. (sigh).  But it’s Michigan and that’s an important state.

For many of those women, the past four years have meant frustration, anger and activism — a political awakening that powered women’s marches, the #MeToo movement and the victories of record numbers of female candidates in 2018. That energy has helped create the widest gender gap — the political divide between men and women — in recent history. And it has started to show up in early voting as women are casting their ballots earlier than men. In Michigan, women have cast nearly 56% of the early vote so far, and 68% of those were Democrats, according to the voting data firm L2.

That could mean trouble for Trump, not just in Oakland County but also in suburban battlegrounds outside Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix.

Trump has tried to appeal to “the suburban housewives of America,” as he called them. Embracing fear and deploying dog whistles, he has argued that Black Lives Matter protesters will bring crime, low-income housing will ruin property values, suburbs will be abolished. Campaigning in Pennsylvania last week, he begged: “Suburban women, will you please like me?”

There’s no sign all this is working. Some recent polls show Biden winning support from about 60% of suburban women. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won 52%, according to an estimate by the Pew Research Center.

Talk to women across suburban Michigan, and you’ll find ample confirmation: the lifelong Republican who says her party has been commandeered by cowards. The Black executive who fears for the safety of her sons. The Democrat who voted for Trump in 2016 but now describes him as “a terrible person.”

Together, they create a powerful political force.

All I can say is whatever it takes to get that Monster out of the White House.

This NYT Times Op-ED asks a question we can only hope isn’t rhetorical. “Has Trump Drawn the Water for a ‘Republican Blood Bath’?  And if he has, what should Biden do with his first term?”  It’s a conversation between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens.

Gail: Speaking of the competition between Trump and Biden, what did you think of those town hall pseudo debates?

Bret: I think they’re a public service. Biden continues to dispel the myth that he no longer has a brain. And Trump continues to dispel the myth that he’s ever had a heart. The more voters are reminded of these two facts between now and the election, the likelier we are to send Trump into permanent exile in Mar-a-Lago or wherever else he goes from here.

Gail: Well thanks to great reporting from our Times colleagues, we are able to hope that the first place he goes from here is bankruptcy.

Bret: From Here to Bankruptcy? Wasn’t that a film with Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift?

Gail: If it was a new version, we’d have to watch the scene where Trump goes to the beach and embraces Melania (or Stormy? Or someone in between?) in the waves. Definitely don’t want to go there.

Bret: In the meantime, it looks like Amy Coney Barrett is heading toward confirmation, and some progressives are advocating all manner of retaliation against Republicans for pushing the nomination through: ending the Senate filibuster for legislation, packing the Supreme Court, even pushing for statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

All this assumes Democrats win back the Senate and the White House. If they do, is any of that warranted or wise?

Gail: None of those would be on the top of my priority list, but I can understand why they’re coming up. The way the Republicans have handled court appointments is shocking, including their decision to break all the precedents they set during the Obama administration and ram Barrett through just days before the election.

Bret: Well, I wouldn’t object to any president’s right to nominate a justice at any point in his presidency if Mitch McConnell hadn’t held up Merrick Garland’s nomination to replace Antonin Scalia on transparently bogus grounds. But the hypocrisy rankles and reeks. If Senate Republicans had integrity — ha! — they would have held themselves to their own standard and held the nomination until after January.

Frans Hellens, 1919 – Amedeo Modigliani –

Trump’s constant trips to the Courts appear to be paying off for everyone but Trump Policy.  This is from WAPO. “Federal judge strikes down Trump plan to slash food stamps for 700,000 unemployed Americans” as reported by Spencer Hsu.

A federal judge on Sunday formally struck down a Trump administration attempt to end food stamp benefits for nearly 700,000 unemployed people, blocking as “arbitrary and capricious” the first of three such planned measures to restrict the federal food safety net.

“In a scathing 67-page opinion, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. condemned the Agriculture Department for failing to justify or even address the impact of the sweeping change on states, saying its shortcomings had been placed in stark relief amid the pandemic, during which unemployment has quadrupled and rosters of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have grown by more than 17 percent, with more than 6 million new enrollees.

The rule “at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans,” Howell wrote, adding that the Agriculture Department “has been icily silent about how many [adults] would have been denied SNAP benefits had the changes sought . . . been in effect while the pandemic rapidly spread across the country.” The judge concluded that the department’s “utter failure to address the issue renders the agency action arbitrary and capricious.”

Howell temporarily enjoined the proposal on March 13, the same day President Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency. Congress then waived the requirement for the duration of the emergency as part of economic relief legislation, and the Trump administration suspended its planned April implementation date.

However, the Agriculture Department appealed the judge’s earlier order, and absent court intervention the rule would have taken full effect at the end of the state of emergency. Spokesmen for the department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also going to SCOTUS is the Trump Wall debacle and his “remain in Mexico policy (via Reuters) “U.S. Supreme Court to review legality of Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ asylum policy”.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide the legality of one of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies that has forced tens of thousands of migrants along the southern border to wait in Mexico, rather than entering the United States, while their asylum claims are processed.

The justices will hear a Trump administration appeal of a 2019 lower court ruling that found that the policy likely violated federal immigration law. The “remain in Mexico” policy remains in effect because the Supreme Court in March put the lower court’s decision to block it on hold while the legal battle continues.

The Republican president has said the policy, which took effect in January 2019, has reduced the flow of migrants from Central America into the United States. Restricting both illegal and legal immigration has been a central theme of Trump’s presidency. He has sought to reduce asylum claims through a series of policy and rule changes.

Immigration advocacy groups and 11 individual asylum seekers who fled violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were returned to Mexico after entering the United States filed suit to challenge the legality of the policy.

Portrait of Jeanne Herbuterne – Amedeo Modigliani 

Further information on this can be found at WAPO: “Supreme Court to review Trump’s border wall funding and ‘remain-in-Mexico’ program”.

The Trump administration had asked the court to intervene in both because of decisions against it in lower courts.

Also in both cases, the justices have previously allowed the administration to proceed with its plans while the merits of the issues were litigated.

In July, the court rejected a last-ditch effort from environmentalists to stop the ongoing construction of parts of the border wall. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in late June that the administration’s use for the wall of funds intended for the Defense Department was unlawful.

By the time the court hears the case, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, say the Trump administration will have used all of the money.

But the administration told the court it was important for it to weigh in to correct the decision that the president did not have the authority to redirect military funds to pay for border wall construction.

Trump, who ran for office in 2016 promising that Mexico would pay for the border wall, has obtained more than $15 billion in federal funds for his signature project, including $5 billion provided by Congress through conventional appropriations. The president has tapped into Pentagon accounts for the remaining $10 billion, including the $2.5 billion transfer last year that the 9th Circuit said was unlawful.

In 2019, the Supreme Court in an emergency order allowed the administration to proceed with the transfers and contracts for construction, even though House Democrats, affected states and environmental groups said that violated the will of Congress, which withheld the funds from the administration.

So, if you’re like me and getting very tired, wistful, and full of wishing you will never hear anything negative about dull moments again, just join us and vote!  VOTE!  VOTE!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Election Fever Friday Reads

Ladies of the Night Otto Dix

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Well, the usual crazy election season is even crazier than usual.  Republicans are panicking and trying as quickly as possible to shove an unacceptable candidate on to the court while screaming Biden wants to pack the courts! at the top of their lungs. Trump exited an official townhall debate with Joe Biden on ABC only to be given an hour to himself on NBC/MSNBC.  Joe’s fundraising is a monster machine while Trump can’t even afford a few TV ads.  Every day is a new fresh hell!!

I’m mostly staying in bed with the blankets over my head.  

Peter Nicholls–writing for The Atlanticsays Trump is Scared and lashing out.

He seemed as if he might be delirious. He blasted out bewildering tweets in all caps. Sick and infectious, he circled the perimeter of the hospital in an armored SUV, waving to supporters. He demanded the arrest of his opponents.

After doctors treated Donald Trump with a steroid last week, following his COVID-19 diagnosis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, other Trump critics, and national-security experts questioned whether the drug had warped his judgment. “Roid rage” started trending on Twitter. His condition revived talk about invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. A Stanford University law professor who had taken the same drug tweeted that she couldn’t be “president of my cat” when under its influence.

Those suspicions miss the point: Trump is belligerent when sick, just as he’s hostile when well. He sees plots when he’s dosed with dexamethasone and conspiracies when he’s gulping Diet Coke behind the Resolute desk. Days have passed since he apparently stopped taking the drug, and he sounds every bit as unmoored.

What’s been driving him in the final stretch of the campaign isn’t a medication that messes with his mood. It’s dread, people who’ve worked with him throughout the years told me. There are less than three weeks to go in a campaign that appears to be heading the wrong way. “He’s down and he’s likely to lose,” a former White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, told me. “This is fear.”

It’s hard to gauge whether Trump’s thinking was impaired. One measure that doctors use to spot changes in a patient’s behavior is deviations from the baseline. But Trump’s ordinary conduct is, “let’s say, charitably, unusual,” Robert Wachter, the chairman of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco, told me. Or, in the nonclinical and wholly unscientific assessment of the ex–White House official: “There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig. The guy is nuts.”

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner “Portrait of Erna” 1915

Jonathan Swan of Axios writes that “Trump’s advisers brace for loss, point fingers”.  Wow, wouldn’t you like to have to look for a job expecting Donald Trump to have to give you a reference.

Three senior Trump advisers who recently talked to campaign manager Bill Stepien walked away believing he thinks they will lose.

The big picture: The Trump campaign is filled with internal blaming and pre-spinning of a potential loss, accelerating a dire mood that’s driven by a daily barrage of bleak headlines, campaign and White House officials tell me.

  • “A lot of this is the president himself,” one adviser said. “You can’t heal a patient who doesn’t want to take the diagnosis.”

Behind the scenes: In weekly pep talks, Stepien tells staff members why they shouldn’t pay attention to the perennially horrible public polls — and how they can “win the week” and the campaign.

  • But in other private conversations, described by multiple sources, Stepien can seem darkly pessimistic. He likens the campaign to an airplane flying through turbulence, saying: “It’s our job to safely land the plane.”
  • Three sources who have heard Stepien use variations of the airplane analogy say they sensed he was deeply, perhaps irretrievably pessimistic about the state of the race.
  • “It’s not a great feeling when you get the sense the campaign manager doesn’t deep down think we’re going to win,” one campaign source said.

Stepien pushed back strongly on that, telling me on Friday morning: “With each day closer to November 3, our campaign data presents a clear pathway to 270 for the President that provides me more confidence than ever in President Trump’s re-election.”

  • “Our campaign knows how President Trump was elected in 2016 and more importantly, we know exactly how he’s going to do it again,” Stepien added.

Why it matters: Trump can still win. But make no mistake: Even his most loyal supporters, including those paid to believe, keep telling us he’s toast — and could bring Republican control of the Senate down with him.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Sitting Lady

There is some indication that Mitch McConnell expects to lose the Senate but is plotting to regain it in 2022.  It appears that he doesn’t want to do anything regarding COVID 19 because he believes any stimulus would help a Biden economy.  He’s really just an evil ass isn’t he? This is an Op Ed from Market Watch by Rex Nutting: “By saying no to more stimulus, Mitch McConnell is already trying to make Joe Biden’s life miserable”.

Blame Donald Trump all you want for Washington’s failure to deliver more relief and stimulus to the battered economy. But the failure is not his, not entirely. If Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had wanted to do it, it would have been done.

McConnell has gotten everything he wanted out of Trump’s presidency: A big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, a judiciary packed with young conservatives.

The Republican senator from Kentucky may be the most powerful person in Washington. His strength doesn’t rely on subservience to Trump, but on his skill in orchestrating the most autocratic institution in the land. He’s a master, and he plans on being there for a while longer. At 78, he’s running for re-election to another six-year term.

Although both men have occasionally mentioned further stimulus, neither Trump nor McConnell wanted another stimulus bill urgently enough to get it done. The “greatest deal maker” in history never engaged with the Democrats, and McConnell seemed happy to let the effort fail.

Now they are talking about piecemeal proposals that may bail out a few industries, but nothing substantive that would boost the economy, move the needle on the stock market SPX, 0.49% DJIA, 0.82%, or help the people who are struggling to pay the rent or buy food.

At first glance, McConnell’s indifference to further economic assistance is a puzzle. McConnell was fully onboard with economic stimulus and relief in March and April, when a bipartisan group of lawmakers and administration officials crafted a series of measures that flooded the economy with timely and targeted aid.

It wasn’t perfect, but it got results.

The government assistance approved in March and April kept millions of households, thousands of business, and the U.S. economy in general afloat for much of the summer, before most of the provisions expired. You’d think that another shot of adrenaline before the election could have sealed a Republican victory in November by making the economy a big plus instead of a question mark.

Why did Mitch say no?

Some will point to ideology. McConnell didn’t want to give that much cash to states poorly run by Democratic governors and mayors, they say. Or maybe Mitch is honestly worried about the national debt.

But I think it was McConnell’s pragmatism and knack for political calculus that made the difference between the cooperation of the spring and the gridlock of the summer and fall. He knows that no legislation enacted now can save the election for the Republicans.

He still wants to win, of course, but he needs a Plan B just in case. McConnell can see the blue wave coming, and he’s already angling to make Joe Biden’s life miserable, just as he did with Joe’s buddy, Barack Obama.

We need to get rid of McConnell as much as we need to get rid of Trump.  Well, at least he has to deal with bad ratings today.

Chew out this you ugly Orange Snot Blob!

Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump appeared in directly competing town halls on Thursday night, after the President dropped out of the second debate.

Trump’s hourlong appearance on NBC, which drew criticism across the industry and even an angry letter from top talent and showrunners who work with NBCU, appears to be trailing Biden’s 90-minute session with ABC in the ratings, at least according to early numbers.

Biden drew 12.7 million total viewers on the Disney-owned network, while Trump drew 10.4 million in the same 9-10 p.m. time slot on NBC. Across the entire runtime, the Biden town hall averaged 12.3 million viewers. In terms of the fast national 18-49 demographic, Biden is comfortably on top with a 2.6 rating to Trump’s 1.7.

Plus, the First Day of Early Voting is happening here in New Orleans and we seem to be no different than the rest of the country.  This is from our Mayor LaToya Cantrell:

I was bugging the Denver part of my family to get their ballots mailed in since of any of us, they have the likelihood of a vote that really matters.  The Denver Post reports this: “Early voter turnout in Colorado increases a “bonkers” 2,400% from 2016. Democrats returning ballots at highest rate so far”  Youngest Son in Law seems to like the mail in ballots.  The kids and sister in Washington State do too.  Me, I’m going to be headed down the Avenue to the old Fire Station on Election Day as usual.

More than 300,000 Colorado voters have returned ballots for the Nov. 3 election as of 11:30 Wednesday night — a staggering display of enthusiasm in a state that sends all voters a ballot by mail.

When that latest figure was tabulated by the Secretary of State’s Office, Colorado was 20 days out from the election. Twenty days out from the 2016 election — when Colorado also had universal mail-in voting — 12,141 people had cast ballots, said a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jena Griswold. That’s a 2,377% increase in early turnout this year as compared with 2016, when overall voter turnout far exceeded the national average.

“It’s great for democracy to see so many Coloradans making their voices heard,” Griswold told The Denver Post. “Even with ballots still being mailed this week to registered voters, turnout is 24 times higher than at this point in 2016.”

Politicos in Colorado are floored by these numbers, which Democratic political consultant Craig Hughes described as “bonkers.”

I’m assuming all our Sky Dancers have similar plans to save our Republic.

George Grosz
The Poet Max Herrmann-Neisse

So, one more thing just to Drive Donald bonkers.  This is Forbes.  You know, the ones with the billionaires’ list?  It seems Donald does have billions in debt.  “Donald Trump Has At Least $1 Billion In Debt, More Than Twice The Amount He Suggested.” This is from Dan Alexander.

No aspect of Donald Trump’s business has been the subject of more speculation than his debt load. Lots of people believe the president owes $400 million, especially after Trump seemed to agree with that figure on national television Thursday night. In reality, however, he owes more than $1 billion. 

The loans are spread out over more than a dozen different assets—hotels, buildings, mansions and golf courses. Most are listed on the financial disclosure report Trump files annually with the federal government. Two, which add up to an estimated $447 million, are not.

A list of what he own and what he owes and to whom is shown on the link.

And today’s best and most creative Trumpist excuse of the day comes from Kudlow whose probably already been at the bottle.

So, I’m going to go back and hide under the blankets with a cup of nice black coffee and a cat or 2 plus a dog.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Sex Traitor Monday Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m really in a bit of a twist today. I’m trying to decide if I want to see OfDonald try to convince any one that she’s anything other than the member of a cult that basically sees women as men’s property and sperm vessels. I’ve been trying to get women’s rights ever since I was told it was not possible for little girls to play little league baseball in grade school.  I feel like my life’s work is about to be trashed by all these old men riding on the back of yet another woman.

We know who she is as she turns on her on kind: “From the New York Times: “Rooted in Faith, Amy Coney Barrett Represents a New Conservatism”.  I do not know how her faith–more taliban like terrorist fanatacism to me–should guide any one but her self.  She made her choice. Let us all make ours.

Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump’s two previous nominees, had the kind of background traditional for Supreme Court nominees of both parties, featuring Ivy League schools and government jobs on their résumé as well as establishment religious beliefs. Judge Barrett embodies a different kind of conservatism.

Judge Barrett is from the South and Midwest. Her career has been largely spent teaching while raising seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with Down syndrome, and living according to her faith. She has made no secret of her beliefs on divisive social issues such as abortion. A deeply religious woman, her roots are in a populist movement of charismatic Catholicism.

From her formative years in Louisiana to her current life in Indiana, Judge Barrett has been shaped by an especially insular religious community, the People of Praise, which has about 1,650 adult members, including her parents, and draws on the ecstatic traditions of charismatic Christianity, like speaking in tongues.

The group has a strict view of human sexuality that embraces once-traditional gender roles, such as recognizing the husband as the head of the family. The Barretts, however, describe their marriage as a partnership.

Some former members of the group say it could be overly intrusive. Other members, like Judge Barrett, appear to have treasured their connection to it. But she does not appear to have spoken publicly about the group, and she did not list her membership in the People of Praise when she filled out a form for the Senate Judiciary Committee that asked for organizations she belonged to.

Around the time of her appeals court confirmation, several issues of the group’s magazine, “Vine & Branches,” that mentioned her or her family were removed from the People of Praise website.

Family members have also declined to comment on her participation.

To Judge Barrett’s critics, she represents the antithesis of the progressive values embodied in Justice Ginsburg, her life spent in a cocoon of like-minded thinking that in many areas runs counter to the views of a majority of Americans.

She has made clear she believes that life begins at conception, and has served in leadership roles for People of Praise, and her children’s school has said in its handbook that marriage is between a man and a woman. Her judicial opinions indicate broad support for gun rights and an expanded role for religion in public life.

“Amy Coney Barrett is everything the current incarnation of the conservative legal movement has been working for — someone whose record, and the litmus tests of the president nominating her, suggest will overturn Roe, strike down the A.C.A., bend the law toward big business interests and make it harder to vote,” Elizabeth B. Wydra, the president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, said, referring to the Affordable Care Act.

It’s not her religion that makes her unsuitable for the court.  It’s the way she believes every one must follow it and tends to dictate that from the judiciary.  That’s something that is distinctly against the first amendment that says the state not provide legislative support to a religion of its choice and making.   Her views are starkly fanatical and  quite in the minority which is why the Oldest Living Confederate Widow is rushing this through despite putting an entire group of senators at risk of Covid-19 and the entire process in jeopardy.

Women’s rights is just one area where she will rip across the civil rights of others. From the Daily Beast: “Will Amy Coney Barrett Finally Explain Her Ties to Anti-Gay Hate Group?”

She told Franken in 2017 that she was “generally aware” that the Alliance Defending Freedom had been categorized as a far-right hate group. What does she know about the group now?

In 2017, then-Senator Al Franken asked federal judicial nominee Professor Amy Coney Barrett a simple question: What is the nature of your relationship with the far-right legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom? At the time, Barrett pleaded ignorance about ADF’s sustained campaigns against LGBTQ people both in the United States and abroad.

“I’m invited to give a lot of talks as a law professor and it is not—I don’t know what all of ADF’s policy positions are,” Barrett told Franken. “It has never been my practice to investigate all of the policy positions of a group that invites me to speak.”

Another extremely important issue is this:

The Washington Post has extremely good coverage on this decision which OfDonald will also be willing to strike down.  “Barrett Supreme Court hearing expected to focus on health care, with the pandemic looming over the proceeding”.

“We are all agreed on two starting points: One is the importance of the Affordable Care Act,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Democratic senator and member of the Judiciary Committee. “And secondly, the extraordinary effort to drop everything — covid-19 relief and any other consideration by Congress — to focus exclusively on filling this Supreme Court vacancy.”

A Supreme Court nomination hearing touches on a panoply of legal and policy issues that may come before the nine justices. But this time around, Democratic senators will have a much tighter focus, each drilling Barrett with questions about the legality of the Affordable Care Act and telling stories of constituents who have benefited from President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, according to Democratic aides who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the strategy.

Democratic senators on the committee have held at least four conference calls in the past week to fine-tune their Barrett strategy, while Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has spoken regularly with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Democrat.

SACRAMENTO, CA – MARCH 24: Members of the Handmaid Coalition of California hold signs as they march to the California State Capitol during a March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24, 2018 in Sacramento, California. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A majority of Americans agree with the former Republican position that this court position be put on hold.  ABC reports “Majority says wait on the SCOTUS seat; 6 in 10 favor upholding Roe: POLL. Americans say they prefer to wait to fill the vacancy until next year, 52%-44%”  I do not understand how any American supports the founding of a theocratical autocracy.

Six in 10 registered voters say the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade as the basis of abortion law in the United States, and a majority in an ABC News/Washington Post poll — albeit now a narrow one — says the Senate should delay filling the court’s current vacancy.

Sixty-two percent in the national survey say they would want the court to uphold Roe, while 24% would want it overturned; 14% have no opinion. There are broad political, ideological and religious-based divisions on the question.

That’s a closer division than the 57%-39% preference for waiting in an ABC/Post poll late last month. That poll was conducted before Trump nominated Barrett and the Senate moved to proceed with her confirmation hearings, scheduled to start Monday.

Opposition to action has dropped among political independents, from 63% to 51%. Eighty-three percent of Democrats favor waiting to fill the seat, while 77% of Republicans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support action now.

Similarly, 77% of conservatives want action by the current Senate; 64% of moderates and 87% of liberals say wait. Among registered voters who want Roe upheld, 68% say the Barrett nomination should be set aside; among critics of Roe, 71% want the Senate to proceed.

Meanwhile, the insane orange thing on steriods can’t wait to pack the courts with some one that will let him skirt the law.

So yes, We’re living in a dystopian novel framed by a Life Long Criminal Grifter and a group of fanatics that make the Taliban look compassionate. Welcome to the Theocratic Kleptocracy of America.

So, I hope you’re all well and doing as well as possible in these truly Dark Times where we may lose our Republic.  Vote !!!! VOTE!!!! VOTE!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?