Monday Reads: Heat Wave Edition

2000 Roy Lichtenstein ‘Sunrise

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Yesterday went up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit with a feels like 107 heat index.  The heat index is supposed to hit 110 today.  We got a reprieve finally when a storm blew down from the north with rain and kicked us into the high 70s.

I need to get my central air repaired and was planning on doing it last month but I have had nearly 6 years of an unwanted guest and it does no good for me to fix anything so I’ve been operating on a very small window unit in the guest room for the entire back of the house.  I’m just exhausted so need to get this up before the intense heat kicks in again. I’ll probably be in a cold bath reading something or another.

Impression Sunrise, Claude Monet, circa 1872

Ezra Klein wrote an interesting Op-Ed at The New York Times yesterday.  It has a hypothesis that’s worth considering: “What the Rich Don’t Want to Admit About the Poor.”  Basically, if the “American Dream” is the carrot, then the everlasting threat of poverty is “the stick”.

Reports that low-wage employers were having trouble filling open jobs sent Republican policymakers into a tizzy and led at least 25 Republican governors — and one Democratic governor — to announce plans to cut off expanded unemployment benefits early. Chipotle said that it would increase prices by about 4 percent to cover the cost of higher wages, prompting the National Republican Congressional Committee to issue a blistering response: “Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage, and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill.” The Trumpist outlet The Federalist complained, “Restaurants have had to bribe current and prospective workers with fatter paychecks to lure them off their backsides and back to work.”

But it’s not just the right. The financial press, the cable news squawkers and even many on the center-left greet news of labor shortages and price increases with an alarm they rarely bring to the ongoing agonies of poverty or low-wage toil.

I actually tweeted one of my deplorable senators when he started at it. Got a nice number of retweets too

Back to Klein:

This is the conversation about poverty that we don’t like to have: We discuss the poor as a pity or a blight, but we rarely admit that America’s high rate of poverty is a policy choice, and there are reasons we choose it over and over again. We typically frame those reasons as questions of fairness (“Why should I have to pay for someone else’s laziness?”) or tough-minded paternalism (“Work is good for people, and if they can live on the dole, they would”). But there’s more to it than that.

It is true, of course, that some might use a guaranteed income to play video games or melt into Netflix. But why are they the center of this conversation? We know full well that America is full of hardworking people who are kept poor by very low wages and harsh circumstance. We know many who want a job can’t find one, and many of the jobs people can find are cruel in ways that would appall anyone sitting comfortably behind a desk. We know the absence of child care and affordable housing and decent public transit makes work, to say nothing of advancement, impossible for many. We know people lose jobs they value because of mental illness or physical disability or other factors beyond their control. We are not so naïve as to believe near-poverty and joblessness to be a comfortable condition or an attractive choice.

Most Americans don’t think of themselves as benefiting from the poverty of others, and I don’t think objections to a guaranteed income would manifest as arguments in favor of impoverishment. Instead, we would see much of what we’re seeing now, only magnified: Fears of inflation, lectures about how the government is subsidizing indolence, paeans to the character-building qualities of low-wage labor, worries that the economy will be strangled by taxes or deficits, anger that Uber and Lyft rides have gotten more expensive, sympathy for the struggling employers who can’t fill open roles rather than for the workers who had good reason not to take those jobs. These would reflect not America’s love of poverty but opposition to the inconveniences that would accompany its elimination.

Nor would these costs be merely imagined. Inflation would be a real risk, as prices often rise when wages rise, and some small businesses would shutter if they had to pay their workers more. There are services many of us enjoy now that would become rarer or costlier if workers had more bargaining power. We’d see more investments in automation and possibly in outsourcing. The truth of our politics lies in the risks we refuse to accept, and it is rising worker power, not continued poverty, that we treat as intolerable. You can see it happening right now, driven by policies far smaller and with effects far more modest than a guaranteed income.

Olive Trees With Yellow Sky And Sun
VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1889

I have a friend who is the walking anecdotal evidence on “shoe-leather costs” and how they relate to risks in job searches.  She had an off-and-on job as a concierge at a small hotel during the panic and had to rely on unemployment for obvious reasons. Another neighbor had a long-term job with a big hotel here and they basically paid to retire him early which may or may not have been a good deal but a year ago the risks of being out of a job were quite hard to predict.  They’re both out on the street.  He’s about my age and she’s in her 40s and on her own.

So, she gets this great job offer at a start-up hotel operation in the Garden District in a historic building about a month ago.  She was on the payroll as they were training everyone and getting ready to open which they did about 10 days ago. She quit her not-so-stable job for one that appeared to look like a great opportunity. Well, about 2 days of open hotel, the owners realized they’d be overly optimistic on business and they downsized.  That’s business-speak for leaving your employees to the wolves.

She has a job interview today.  But, look at her now.  She has two jobs from which she is unlikely to get references and look sketchy in terms of time on the job on a resume. She’s trying to get back on UI because once again, she’s out of work.  It’s risky and hard work to find a reliable, well-paying job these days. Low wages are built into the business model since we’ve been in an employer’s job market. Well, if all it takes is giving people a certain level of money to pressure low-wage payers to pony up, then call me a Marxist.

Remember the business owner in Seattle that just paid everyone what would be needed to live in Seattle?  Here are his comments about the little ticket to ride Jeff Bezos just bought.

Like Klein said, it’s about our priorities in the policy arena. Threatening families with homelessness and starvation so they’ll accept $9 an hour to sweat it out in a hot-as-hell kitchen in New Orleans is such a good example of the American Dream. Isn’t it?  And let’s not forget about who bought that 28 million dollar ticket to space.  The guy that’s rich enough to buy that can’t be bothered with paying taxes and Republican policy has granted that to him.  At least the ticket proceeds with going to a nonprofit set up to encourage children to study technology.

If you’d like a reminder, here’s the list of billionaires who avoided paying taxes while also getting richer during the pandemic. and economic meltdown.  That’s because if you can play the market, you can bet for or against the economy and still make money. Guess what group of people can’t do that easily?

Another, the weather is hell story comes from me last night working at this desk and waiting for Amazon to deliver my two packages of socks.  I noticed the storm coming in and that the parish had just shut down the causeway because of 65 mph winds.  I ran out to meet my driver–a young black woman–who was frantically trying to get the last of the packages delivered around 8 pm.  Yes, I left my desk. I wanted her to know they had just shut down the causeway and what she might get caught up in.  She didn’t know the causeway had closed but she said all of us were trying to tell them it was going to get bad but they kept telling us to get that last package out. I said please be safe and rain through the misty rain to the desk where I am underpaid and overworked while being way overeducated. The first question I had was why did those other workers in that other state turn down a union.  The only place I ever worked as a college instructor that actually paid fairly was solidly unionized and bargained for wages and would get a complaint into the NLB if the negotiations were crap.

The Senator up there is also whining that everyone is being mean to the oil and gas company. I sure hope he is here melting in the “unusual” heat we have going on with everyone else.  Maybe he’d like to work a while with the guys trying to clean out the drains before the next “unusually active” hurricane season gets on with it.  He needs to hang with those folks working outside to give his Doctor Senator Ass a chance to learn about heat exhaustion.

He’s also against equal pay for equal work and any kind of law that stops racial discrimination or anything else that has nothing to do with getting a job done.  All of these things prove that we don’t have the kinds of perfect job markets because according to classical economics (i.e. capitalism) we should all be paid according to our productivity. Sex and Racial discrimination shouldn’t exist but they do which requires some kind of intervention to make the market right.  So, the guy hates functional markets.  What else can I deduce from his prattle?

Anyway, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk and reading my rant. I’m probably going a bit crazy from the heat and I still have to work today.  My employer isn’t interested in my AC issues just that it makes me unfit for service.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Wherefore art thou Rule of Law?

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I turned on the TV last night to catch a “whoa” look on Chris Hayes’s face as he read the breaking news. The look said it all. We’ve grown accustomed to the depths to which former AG Barr and all those involved in the Trumpist family and Republican Crime syndicate had gone to subvert our institutions. It amazes me that so many folks with a sworn duty to our Constitution could so easily set it on fire.  It did not surprise me that the ‘s Justice Department’s Katie Benner broke the story along with support from others.  Michael Schmidt had actually been the target of an earlier discovery of Trump’s justice department stalking reporters while finding a Judge to cover it up.  Last night we found out those antics extended to key Democratic Congressmen, staff, and even a juvenile family member of one of them.

This is the shocking headline: “Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress. The Justice Department seized records from Apple for metadata of House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family members.”

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had been subpoenaed.

Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

The zeal in the Trump administration’s efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly unheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one.

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month.

Prosecutors also eventually secured subpoenas for reporters’ records to try to identify their confidential sources, a move that department policy allows only after all other avenues of inquiry are exhausted.

The subpoenas remained secret until the Justice Department disclosed them in recent weeks to the news organizations — The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN — revelations that set off criticism that the government was intruding on press freedoms.

We found out that the main Congressman stalked by Former AG Barr and Trump was the man Trump constantly called “Shifty Schiff”. Congressman and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who immediatlely asked if any of the targets were Republican.  No answer has been provided by anyone on that.  At the moment, it looks like the use of government resources and the DOJ to hunt down political opponents.  The legal community is as stunned as the media.

Raw Story‘s Bob Brigham writes this: “‘William Barr was truly out of control’: Legal experts stunned by Trump’s DOJ spying on Democrats.”

“Prosecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry,” the newspaper reported. “But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.”

There are plenty of places to read about this.

The continuing fall out from the destructive Trumpist years continue. This is from Reuters and Linda So: “Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers ”  This, too, is not surprising.  Any of us that have been stalked by forced birthers have experienced this.

Note: This story contains offensive language

Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”

A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.”

That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.”

Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics.

Trump’s relentless false claims that the vote was “rigged” against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide – from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump’s stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say.

In an exclusive interview, Tricia Raffensperger spoke publicly for the first time about the threats of violence to her family and shared the menacing text messages with Reuters.

The Raffenspergers – Tricia, 65, and Brad, 66 – began receiving death threats almost immediately after Trump’s surprise loss in Georgia, long a Republican bastion. Tricia Raffensperger started taking precautions. She canceled regular weekly visits in her home with two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5 – the children of her eldest son, Brenton, who died from a drug overdose in 2018.

“I couldn’t have them come to my house anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff.”

In late November, the family went into hiding for nearly a week after intruders broke into the home of the Raffenspergers’ widowed daughter-in-law, an incident the family believed was intended to intimidate them. That evening, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers – a far-right militia group that has supported Trump’s bid to overturn the election – were found outside the Raffenspergers’ home, according to Tricia Raffensperger and two sources with direct knowledge of the family’s ordeal. Neither incident has been previously reported.

“Brad and I didn’t feel like we could protect ourselves,” she said, explaining the decision to flee their home.

Brad Raffensperger told Reuters in a statement that “vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone.”

You may read more at the link if you can stomach it.  And more fall out with links via memeorandum.

Julia Carrie Wong / The Guardian:
Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats  —  FEC investigation failed to uncover link to Rally Forge, a firm with close ties to Turning Point USA  —  digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible …

Ryan J. Reilly / HuffPost:
‘Traitors Need To Be Executed’: ‘Stop The Steal’ Organizer Indicted In Jan. 6 Conspiracy Case  —  Alan Hostetter, a police chief turned yogi, was indicted along with Three Percenter extremists in a conspiracy to attack the Capitol.  —  Alan Hostetter was “in the middle of nowhere in Arkansas” when he hit the record button.

Los Angeles Times:
Former O.C. police chief, five others indicted on Capitol riot conspiracy charges

Jeff Schogol / Task & Purpose:
Racism didn’t exist in the military before Biden, US Senator says with straight face  —  ‘Growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago’  —  A White senator from the South told America’s first Black defense secretary on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s …

We’ve just got a potpourri of Trump-inspired attacks on our Democracy.  It’s disgusting and frightening!  Ronald Brownstein–writing for The Atlantic–has this analysis: “Democracy Is Already Dying in the States.  Republicans around the country are proving Joe Manchin wrong.”

In places such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, the most restrictive laws approved this year have passed on total or near-complete party-line votes, with almost all state legislative Republicans voting for the bills and nearly all Democrats uniting against them, according to an analysis of state voting records provided exclusively to The Atlantic by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.

That pattern of unrelenting partisanship has left many state-level Democrats incredulous at the repeated insistence by Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, that he will support new federal voting-rights legislation only if at least some Republican senators agree to it.

Manchin is “acting like Republicans and Democrats are working together on this stuff, and Republicans in Arizona have completely shut the Democrats out of the [legislative] process,” Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state there, told me in an interview. Similarly, Jennifer Konfrst, the Democratic whip in the Iowa House of Representatives said, “It is unfathomable to me that we would look at this issue and say we have to bring Republicans along, in this political climate, in order to make true change. I don’t see anywhere where Republicans are inviting Democrats along, or inviting Democrats to the table. Why are some Democrats saying ‘I won’t do this unless it’s bipartisan?’”

n its latest tally of state voting laws, the Brennan Center says that since January, 14 states have passed 24 laws restricting voting access. (That’s not likely to be the final tally, because the center also reports that dozens of other restrictive bills are still pending across another 18 states.) Of the new restrictions that have already passed, the Brennan Center qualifies 17 in nine states as “highly restrictive,” imposing the greatest barriers to participation. In all of those nine states, Republicans hold unified control of both the state legislature and the governorship, except for Kansas, where the GOP-legislature overrode Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of their voting changes.

Every state-legislative Democrat casting a ballot voted against 13 of those 17 laws, according to the Brennan analysis. A single Democratic state House member in Arkansas and Montana, and a single state senator in Wyoming, voted for three of the other bills. The only bill Brennan classifies as restrictive that drew meaningful Democratic support was a second bill in Arkansas, narrowing the forms of identification voters could use at polling places, which a significant number of Democrats from both legislative chambers backed.

Apart from that Arkansas voter-ID bill, the other 16 restrictive Republican measures won support from just two of the 509 state House or Assembly Democrats who voted on them, and just one of the 207 Democratic state senators. No Democrat co-sponsored any of these restrictive bills, the Brennan Center found.

Meanwhile, no more than a single Republican in either legislative chamber voted against any of these bills, other than two measures in Montana (one of which was opposed by two Republican state House members; the other by two GOP state senators) and an absentee-voting bill in Arkansas (that six in the state House opposed). Of the 1,143 state House or Assembly Republicans who voted on these restrictive bills, just 12 voted no (including the six on that one Arkansas bill); among state Senate Republicans, just seven of 458 voted no on any of these measures, the Brennan analysis found. “This was overwhelmingly a Republican partisan push and effort in the states,” says Wendy Weiser, the vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center.

Keep reading that too if you can stomach it.

We’re a group of voices over here out of many who see all this as the continuing march to an authoritarian regime.  We may have only a few months or years of Joe Biden’s time to cancel all of this.  There are many who think that current AG Merrick Garland may not be up to the job.  I certainly hope that’s not true but some of this latest stuff seems to be radical and there’s not a time for his subtle approaches.  Even, the usual  Nixonists agree.

Well, it’s time for your thoughts and shared reads. I’m getting overwhelmed by all of this. It seems ominous at the very least. I still believe we may see another attempt at insurrection in August.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

I pulled up behind a Cadillac
We were waiting for the light
And I took a look at his license plate
It said, “just ice”
Is justice just ice?
Governed by greed and lust?
Just the strong doing what they can
And the weak suffering what they must?
Oh, and the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
Sex kills


Monday Reads: Of Insurrectionists and Fools

Good Monday Sky Dancers!

Anita Malfatti, The Fool, 1913, (Museum of Contemporary Art of University of São Paulo, Brazil)

The Republican Insurrection Show continues.  Watching the Cult of the Stupid hurts my head but we must see these things. First up is what I consider a “big fucking deal”.  We’ve heard that many members of Congress and their staff felt that there were colleagues handing out free tickets and maps to the building.  CNN has evidence of it: “Video appears to show GOP Oregon lawmaker telling protesters how to enter closed state Capitol”.

An Oregon state lawmaker who has been charged after he allegedly allowed protesters into the closed state Capitol building during a debate over Covid-19 restrictions is seen in new video appearing to give insights into how to access the Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police.

Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican, appears in a 78-minute video in which he is speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up “Operation Hall Pass,” according to a clip reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting that is posted on YouTube and says it was streamed on December 16, 2020.

It is unclear if he is aware he’s being recorded.

At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance this will allow them to “develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing.

Later in the video, the Oregon state representative and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access into the building and whom to call.

“We are talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about; and if you accuse me of knowing something about it, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be … but that is just random numbers that I spewed out; that’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say, ‘I’m at the west entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there. But I don’t know anything about that, I don’t have anything to do with that, and if I did I wouldn’t say that I did. But anyways that number that I didn’t say was … So don’t text that number but a number like that,” Nearman says to an undisclosed audience.

Franz Kline
Large Clown (Nijinsky as Petrouchka) c.1948

There’s more.  It’s becoming abundantly clear that this was a premeditated event, well planned, and included elected officials.

Amanda Taub and From Doomsday Preppers to Doomsday Plotters.  Far-right movements have long dreamed of a moment that ends society as we’ve known it. Now, experts say, so-called accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could destabilize democracy.”

For QAnon it is “The Storm,” when mass violence will topple the elite cabal of pedophiles who they imagine to be running the government. White-power groups in the United States have long promised a catastrophic race war. And in Germany and Austria, neo-Nazis herald an imagined putsch on “Day X” — when the democratic order collapses and they take over.

All are examples of “accelerationist” ideologies, which promise a moment when the institutions of government, society and the economy will be wiped out in a wave of catastrophic violence, clearing the way for a utopia that will supposedly follow.

Accelerationism has long been a feature of white-power groups and other far-right militias. But now, experts say, accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could threaten not just public safety, but the stability of democracy itself.

“In many ways we can see how Jan. 6 was a kind of loosely formed coalition around this idea of accelerationism,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, said of the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last January.

Mainstream leaders, she believes, are failing to heed the risk that coalition could pose. “My fear is that we are, as a country, starting to treat that like a one-time fluke rather than as a potential turning point.”

“I have thought a lot about the parallels with the Weimar Republic,” the fragile period of democracy in Germany whose collapse allowed the Nazis to take power, she said. It was marked by a series of attacks, failed coups and other efforts to undermine democracy. And even though actions like Hitler’s beer-hall putsch failed, German democracy was ultimately not strong enough to withstand the chaos.

The poor fool (c.1914-1915) – Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso(1897-1918)

CNN also reports that Congressman Eric Swalwell has served Mo Brooks with a lawsuit.  This is the lede: “Rep. Mo Brooks served with lawsuit related to his role in Capitol insurrection”.  This is a wild little story you can watch if you’d prefer.

Alabama GOP Rep. Mo Brooks was served with a lawsuit filed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell seeking to hold him partially accountable for the January 6 insurrection, according to a tweet from Brooks and an attorney for Swalwell.

“Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!” Brooks wrote on Twitter.

Swalwell’s legal team had had difficulty serving Brooks and hired a private investigator to give him the papers, according to court filings. Swalwell’s attorney, Matthew Kaiser, told CNN Sunday that a private investigator had left the papers with Brooks’ wife at their home in Alabama.

CNN is unable to corroborate Brooks’ claim that Swalwell’s team committed a crime. CNN has reached out to the offices of both Brooks and Swalwell for comment.

The Swalwell legal team has not formally notified the court that Brooks has been served, but that likely will be coming soon. The process server will have to provide a sworn affidavit to the court, as is typical in this procedural phase of a lawsuit. Serving the papers is important because it starts a clock in court for Brooks, the defendant, to respond to Swalwell’s accusations, which seek to hold him, ex-President Donald Trump and others liable for the January 6 attack on Congress. If Brooks doesn’t believe he was properly served, he will have the opportunity to contest it in court. >

Outcast Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is still at it. From Mychael Schnell at The Hill: Cheney compares Trump claims to Chinese Communist Party: ‘It’s very dangerous’.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is comparing former President Trump‘s election claims to those of the Chinese Communist Party, concluding “it’s very dangerous and damaging.”

“When you listen to Donald Trump talk now, when you hear the language he’s using now, it is essentially the same things that the Chinese Communist Party, for example, says about the United States and our democracy,” Cheney said on “The Axe Files” podcast, which was released on Monday.

“When he says that our system doesn’t work … when he suggests that it’s, you know, incapable of conveying the will of the people, you know, that somehow it’s failed — those are the same things that the Chinese government says about us,” Cheney continued. “It’s very dangerous and damaging … and it’s not true.”

Cheney’s remarks come nearly one month after she was removed from her leadership position, in part because of her anti-Trump stance. She repeatedly called out Trump for his false claims of election fraud and refused to give credibility to his belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

Cheney was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as House GOP Conference chair. Minutes after her ouster, Cheney vowed to “do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

“In the Studio” (1975). Philip Guston

Well, that’s not subtle at all.

In other news, Dixicrat Joe Manchin continues his performance art as the last fool standing.   From WAPO and James Downie: “Joe Manchin’s mighty delusions”.

Sen. Joe Manchin III is at it again. In the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, the West Virginia Democrat announced his opposition to the For the People Act and doubled down on his commitment to keeping the Senate filibuster. He coupled the op-ed with appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’s “Face the Nation” — a media tour that cemented his status as the country’s most infuriating politician.

What makes Manchin’s stances so aggravating? It’s not that his views are insincere. Unlike with some other senators, there’s no doubting the West Virginia senator’s earnestness. He hasn’t changed from running as a Green Party candidate and ardently backing a higher minimum wage to merrily voting against it, as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has. He hasn’t consistently promised to put principle over party only to fall in line when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) commands, like Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) or a number of other Republicans have.

Perhaps the issue is the laziness of Manchin’s centrism. Rather than a mix of substantive policy stances, some left and some right, Manchin simply takes the middle of the two parties’ stances. For example, President Biden wants a 28 percent corporate tax rate, while Republicans want 21 percent. So Manchin backs 25 percent. Democrats want a $15-an-hour minimum wage, while Republicans want $10? Manchin supports $11. One gets the sense that if Manchin were told one side believes two plus two equals four and the other side believes it equals eight, he’d conclude that it equals six — and that saying otherwise divides the country. But this approach is not unusual in Washington, particularly among media voices who cling to a “both sides” view of politics. So that is not the crux.

The rich fool
Rembrandt
Original Title: De rijke dwaas
Date: 1627

The Supreme Court’s latest move as provided by NBC: “Supreme Court declines to hear lawsuit challenging male-only draft. Three justices said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering changing the law.”

The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider the constitutionality of a federal law requiring men, but not women, to register for the military draft when they turn 18.

As is its usual practice, the court didn’t say why it wouldn’t take the case. But three justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh, said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering whether to change the law.

federal judge in Texas said the law violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. But a federal appeals court overturned the ruling, concluding that it was bound by a 1981 Supreme Court decision upholding the men-only requirement.

One last thing and it’s your turn to respond and share!

So have a good week! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: The party of kooks and nutters

Hi Sky Dancers!

I really was looking for something meaty to post about today but there seems to be mostly about the slide of the Republican Party into abject delusion and insanity.  Last night, on Brian Williams, I had to look twice at the sight of Rudy Guiliani basically being a hype man for the My Pillow psycho.  Guiliani evidently has a youtube channel and last night’s performance of abject fellating of a man that could help him with his legal bills was eye-opening.  I thought it resembled that old Dan Ackroyd SNL character.

This is from Newsweek: “Rudy Giuliani Features MyPillow Ads as Mike Lindell Says Donald Trump Will Be President in August’.

Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Republican former President Donald Trump, is running advertisements for MyPillow on his YouTube show. Meanwhile, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has publicly said that Trump will return to the White House in August despite losing the 2020 election.

“I’m been sleeping on MyPillows for some time. I love them. They’re simply the very best pillows ever made,” Giuliani said in the most recent episode of his YouTube show, Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense. The 53-minute episode asked whether UFOs are real, in reference to a forthcoming Pentagon report on UFOs.

Giuliani continued the ad by stating that he “just found out” that MyPillow also offers other non-pillow products. When mentioning their slippers, he brandished a pair at the camera.

GEORGES ROUAULT (1871-1958) Clown de profil

BB talked about some of this craziness yesterday.  I think he’s doing his usual signalling to the hounds of hell to give him another coup attempt in August.  This is Amanda Marcotte’s take:”How do we report on Trump’s dastardly schemes without amplifying his lies and incitement? Trump’s blog failed, so he’s inciting followers through media leaks. Does that make journalists his accomplices?”

It is likely no coincidence that right around that time, stories based on claims by anonymous sources “close to Trump” (which often means Trump himself) started to tick up. It began when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, a longtime outlet for Trump “leaks”, tweeted that Trump has been telling people close to him that he believes he’ll reinstated as president in August. This tweet echoed a conspiracy theory from the QAnon and Q-adjacent world, and coincided with an uptick in far-right chatter about how the American right should look to Myanmar’s February military coup for inspiration.

After Haberman’s tweet, the Washington Post strengthened this narrative with a story about how Trump is “increasingly consumed with the notion that ballot reviews pushed by his supporters around the country could prove that he won” and is peddling the idea that such “audits” — which are deliberately messy and nonsensical affairs — “could result in his return to the White House this year.” The Daily Beast confirmed that “the ex-president had begun increasingly quizzing confidants about a potential August return to power.” This reporting gave Fox News all the excuse they needed to amplify the message. Even though that came in the form of Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, denying the reporting, the end result was another round of news stories reinforcing the basic concepts: August is the month. A violent coup. Trump’s miraculous reinstatement.

This is entirely too similar to the way Trump got the message out to his followers to stage a revolt on Jan. 6, through winking and nudging. So far, the big difference is that no exact date and location, as far as I can tell, has been established for a MAGA uprising.

As much as liberals resist the idea that Trump has any wits at all, what he’s doing is not exactly mysterious. He wants to get this particular message out, vaguely claiming that a glorious revolution will restore him to power later this year, and he’s using the mainstream press to do it. To make things worse, he’s exploiting the liberal desire to point at him and laugh to spread the message further. Every time a liberal shares one of these stories and calls Trump and his followers “delusional” for thinking that some extra-constitutional return to power is possible, they help spread the word — while also reminding Trump supporters how “owned” liberals would be if there really were a “storm” that swept Trump back into the White House in August.

Is it to avoid this too?

But the nutter parade continues with the ever-shrinking numbers of screeching, hateful, white nationalist evangelical Christians.  This is good news.  Their numbers are shrinking.  This is from NPR: “How Is The GOP Adjusting To A Less Religious America?” My days in that party got limited the minute they come in riding the tails of Ronnie Raygun and Pat Rob’em all Robertson.  Talk about another grift operation.  No wonder they grabbed onto Mister Two Corinthians.

The Clown by Auguste Renoir, 1868

In fact, the U.S. recently passed a religious milestone: For the first time, a majority of Americans are not church members, Gallup found this spring.

Over the last decade, the share of Republicans who are church members fell from 75% to 65%, according to Gallup. That’s a solid majority but also a sizable fall.

The key bloc of white evangelicals is also shrinking as a share of the population, while the share of religiously unaffiliated Americans grows.

This makes religion one key part of a looming, long-term demographic challenge for Republicans, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans clearly have a stronger hold among the religiously affiliated, especially evangelical Protestants. And consequently, any decline in evangelical Protestant affiliation is not good news for the GOP,” he said.

The upshot, to Ayres, is that a party still deeply entwined with conservative Christianity and, particularly, white evangelicals will eventually have to win over more Christian conservatives — for example, among the growing Hispanic electorate — or make gains among substantially less-religious groups, like young voters.

Already, they’re directly inserting themselves in the Israeli ousting of Bibi. This is from All Israel News. “Will Christians support new Israeli government? Many will. But one prominent Evangelical has declared war on Naftali Bennett, sent scathing letter denouncing him with profanity – ‘I will fight you every step of the way'”.  They just can’t seem to stick to clothing and feeding the poor and homeless.

The apparently imminent demise of the Netanyahu government is coming as a shock to the 60 million pro-Israel Evangelical Christians in the United States.

In recent days, I have received many concerned emails and text messages from Evangelical leaders asking me what is happening, why, and what the implications of this political earthquake are likely to be.

By and large, Evangelicals have come to love and respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving premier in the history of modern Israel.

By contrast, most have never heard of Naftali Bennett, the right-wing former chief of staff to Netanyahu and former defense minister in Netanyahu’s Cabinet, who now appears poised to replace Netanyahu as the nation’s next prime minister.

Most have not heard of Yair Lapid, the centrist former finance minister and incoming foreign minister, either.

But they will soon.

To be clear, it is far too early to be sure that Bennett and Lapid and their colleagues will actually be sworn into office.

They have many opponents, who are working feverishly to derail their nascent new government.

But if they do come to power, one key question is whether Bennett and Lapid can quickly build relationships and trust with American Evangelicals – and Evangelicals worldwide – who are among the most important strategic allies that the State of Israel has.

There’s also one less congregation in Tennessee.  This former California TV star–who I never heard of–and his now late wife preached fat people could not get into heaven because of the sin of gluttony.  Their schtick was a diet.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll see this poor woman had body dysmorphia.   These kinds of things really confuse me.  Guess where they were going?

Clown tragique
Georges Rouault
Date: 1911
Style: Expressi

You have to wonder what the discussions these days are between George and brother Jeb Bush on this. From WAPO: “George P. Bush is running for attorney general in Texas — and courting Trump.”  Trump was brutal during the first primary and “low energy Jeb” took a lot of hits.

George P. Bush’s campaign video does not mention the Republican political dynasty that preceded him. Not his father, the former governor of Florida. Nor his uncle, the 43rd president of the United States. Nor his grandfather, the 41st.

The video does pay homage to former president Donald Trump.

“Under the leadership of President Trump our country was strong and vibrant again, but because of the failed leadership of liberal ideas, our country is suffering,” said George P. Bush, who this week launched a 2022 bid to become Texas attorney general. The state land commissioner is channeling and courting Trump despite the 45th president’s past attacks on elder members of the Bush family — a sign of Trump’s still-strong hold on a transformed GOP.

Scholars of Texas politics said the Bush name can still be a plus in the state, but also saw Trump’s endorsement as a big prize in the GOP primary for attorney general, where George P. Bush will face incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton is staunchly pro-Trump and last year.

Okay, enough of this!  Hopefully, you’ll see me on Monday with something newsy and less sleazy!  Have a great weekend!  I’m still feral but going to get my eyes checked this afternoon.  My post-vaccine life means catching up with doctor appointments, etc.  Have you dressed up and gone out into civil society yet?

Oh, wait, one more idiot before I go.

Evidently, you pay $19.99 to Direct Message him and he may or may not answer.   Cocaine is a helluva drug.  It’s also not cheap and neither are lawyers.  So, we’ve got the grift going.  Enjoy the laugh!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

And now, not going down the “Send in the Clowns” road!


Memorial Day: A Day to Remember those who fell in Battle for our Country

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Today, we remember and pay tribute to those who died in battle. This is a tradition started by freed slaves after the Civil War. It’s had some controversy because there were and still are dead-enders on the confederate side of history. This year has been filled with examples where we have been treated with an obvious need of history being rewritten or forgotten or replaced with lies.

We lost Capitol Police officers defending the halls and grounds of Congress this year. This adds to our already bloody, war-filled history. Just this last week we saw the Republicans vote to deny and continue to try to rewrite history. Republican officials are trying to rewrite history and the sacred terms of democracy in every red state in the country.  This term Louisiana was treated to a diatribe by the Representative who was serving as the head of the education committee.  He insisted that there were good things about slavery as he was attempting to ensure critical race theory couldn’t be taught in classes across the state.  This reminds me of Mississippi and its adherence to “the confederate memorial day”. The state refused to acknowledge the federal holiday right into this century.

However, this kind of thing remains front in my mind while I honor those fallen Capitol Police officers as part of our war dead.

 

Fortunately, and I believe only for the moment, this battle has gone to our courts. Truthtelling Republicans believe it likely to happen again.  This is from VOX: A bipartisan January 6 commission is probably dead. Democrats have a backup plan. A House committee could be less vulnerable to GOP obstruction.” Will have any chance to learn more about the insurrection?

Such a committee would differ from the proposed bipartisan commission in several key ways, but it could still take steps to ensure accountability for those involved in the insurrection. Notably, a select committee would be composed of members of Congress rather than outside experts, and the subpoena power would function differently — but, crucially, it could also be created with only a simple majority vote in the House.

At the same time, a select committee could cast an inescapable partisan shadow over the investigation — and the failure of the independent commission bill underscores the alarming depths of Republican fealty to the Big Lie.

Several Democratic members of the House have publicly voiced their support for the backup plan, which follows the defeat on Friday of the bipartisan commission bill in a 54-35 vote. The bill would have needed 60 votes to bypass the controversial Senate filibuster.

For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hasn’t publicly declared her next move. But in a statement released after Senate Republicans successfully filibustered the bipartisan commission bill on Friday, Pelosi pledged that “Democrats will proceed to find the truth.”

“Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans’ denial of the truth of the January 6th insurrection brings shame to the Senate,” she said. “Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and our country less safe.”

So, let’s check this headline out from HuffPo: Trump’s Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Calls For Myanmar-Type Coup In U.S.“It should happen,” Flynn declared of the violent, deadly military coup at a wild QAnon conference in Dallas for “patriots.”

Avowed QAnon disciple and confessed felon retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has called for a Myanmar-like military coup in America.

“It should happen,” Donald Trump’s former national security adviser said in an astonishing declaration at a QAnon conference Sunday.

Myanmar’s military violently seized control of the country from its civilian government in late January, detained democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and top party members, and killed more than 700 protesters as of early this month. The military justified its action by claiming unproven “election fraud.”

Flynn presented his dark vision of a military coup and dictatorship in the U.S. in response to a question from the audience at the conference.

″I wanna know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?” an unidentified member of the audience asked Flynn, though he pronounced the nation as “Minnimar.”

“No reason,” Flynn responded to wild screams of approval. “It should happen.”

This should give us all pause.  It also means the best way of remembering and honoring our war dead is to ensure our folks in uniform do not have to face another group of insurrectionists.  Everyone needs to call out the “Big Lie” including republicans.  Everyone needs to ensure Liberty and Justice is for all including Republicans.  Everyone needs to fight to protect the myriad of civil rights protected by the right to privacy to include Republicans.

Today is a good day to consider what duties we all have as citizens as well as remembering those who died to fight for them.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

I actually have this sheet music as well as the 78.  My grandfather was in charge of the War Bond programs for the Kansas City Federal Reserve District so we also have the same for “Any Bonds Today?” which was popular during World War 2.  Today was the day my family picnicked in some very small cemeteries in some very small towns in Kansas and Missouri and cleaned the family plots and memorials.  We took Decoration Day seriously having had family serve in every war since the Revolutionary War and all of them on the right side of the Civil War itself.  We have a lot to be thankful for to include those freed slaves who started the entire day of memory.