Monday Reads: Another Day, Another Couple of Hurricanes

Green Madonna, Olaf Hajek,2020

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I really am trying to adult today but at some point yesterday I reached peak hurricane exhaustion and brain.  I just want to zone out.  Anyway, I’ve just been glancing at Nicholas and what he’ll do to swipe at us. If you are looking for places to donate items or funds for hurricane Ida relief please consider the indigenous peoples in SE Louisiana. The Choctaw and smaller coastal tribes need lots of help as they are located in some of the worst-hit areas

This little headline from NBC News really frosted my cupcakes today: “Supreme Court Justice Barrett expresses concerns that the public may increasingly see the court as a partisan institution.”  Surely, she jests. Clarence “Uncle” Thomas’s wife’s behavior and the nature of hers and the other Trump appointments hasn’t given her the idea that their merry rampage through court precedent is something other than judicial largess?   However, “Judges must be “hyper vigilant” to keep personal biases out of their decisions, said Barrett, who would not comment on the court’s vote not to block Texas’ abortion ban.” is the quote/lie of the day as she works to inflict her Christoban views on the rest of us totally ignoring US history and law.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concerns Sunday that the public may increasingly see the court as a partisan institution.

Justices must be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too,” Barrett said at a lecture hosted by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

Introduced by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who founded the center and played a key role in pushing through her confirmation in the last days of the Trump administration, Barrett spoke at length about her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as nonpartisan.

Barrett said the media’s reporting of opinions doesn’t capture the deliberative process in reaching those decisions. And she insisted that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”

“To say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner,” said Barrett, whose confirmation to the seat left open by the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented conservative control of the court. “I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms.”

Barrett’s comments followed a high-profile decision earlier this month in which the court by 5-4 vote declined to step in to stop a Texas law banning most abortions from going into effect, prompting outrage from abortion rights groups and President Joe Biden.

Barrett was asked about that decision by students who submitted questions in advance and also asked about another recent decision by the court in which it refused to block a lower court ruling ordering the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era program informally known as the Remain in Mexico policy. Barrett said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on specific cases.

Several supporters of abortion rights demonstrated outside the Seelbach Hotel, where the private event was held.

Madonna, Edvard Munch,, circa 1892

Right-Wing Watch reports that; “Lauren Boebert Says Government Should Be Run by ‘Righteous Men and Women of God’.”  Again, we have the Christoban off on the same nightmare operating in Afghanistan now. Whose GAWD Laruen?  Allah?  Jehovah?  Could it be Satan?  Frankly, I say it should be the Greek Gods with their hubris and humorous treatment of humans.

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado spoke Saturday at a conference held by the Truth & Liberty Coalition, a religious-right political organization founded by right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack.

Addressing a crowd of conservative Christian activists gathered in the auditorium at Wommack’s Charis Bible College, Boebert called on the audience to put faith into action by calling on God to remove ungodly leaders in Washington, D.C., and replace them with “righteous men and women of God” who realize that the government should be taking orders from the church.

“When we see Biden address the nation and the world and show more contempt and aggravation and aggression towards unvaccinated Americans than he does terrorists, we have a problem,” Boebert said. “And that’s why I have articles of impeachment to impeach Joe Biden, Kamala Harris.”

“We cannot take another 18 months, we cannot take another three years of this poor, failed leadership,” she continued. “We are sons and daughters of revolutionaries. They went to battle for a lot less. They took a stand for a lot less. And it’s time we get involved. I need you involved in every local level. I need you speaking up. I need the world to hear your voice. You know the word of God, and you know that there is power in your words, that the world was framed by words. You have the Lord God Almighty on your side. I need you to use your voice and speak.”

“What if Jesus showed up today and said, ‘From this point forward, everything you say you will have it’?” Boebert asked rhetorically. “He said it! That’s exactly what he said to us. So, what are we saying? Are we going to sit and agree with the enemy? Are we going to agree with what the enemy is doing? Are we going to sit back and complain and murmur? Or are we going to speak life into this nation? Are we going to speak victory? Are we going to declare that God removes these unrighteous politicians, these corrupt, crooked politician, and installs righteous men and women of God?”

“You have the God kind of faith, and that faith speaks,” she added. “That faith speaks to mountains, those impossible, immovable situations, and I think there’s some mountains they need to hear your voice. … It’s time the church speaks up. The church has relinquished too much authority to government. We should not be taking orders from the government; the government needs to be looking at the church and saying, ‘How do we do this effectively?’”

Chris Ofili, “The Holy Virgin Mary,” 1996

From which rock do these women hatch? And why do they hate themselves so much?  All they are is partisan shill for toxic patriarchy.

Jelani Cobb writes in The New Yorker today about “The Man Behind Critical Race Theory. As an attorney, Derrick Bell worked on many civil-rights cases, but his doubts about their impact launched a groundbreaking school of thought.”

For the past several months, however, conservatives have been waging war on a wide-ranging set of claims that they wrongly ascribe to critical race theory, while barely mentioning the body of scholarship behind it or even Bell’s name. As Christopher F. Rufo, an activist who launched the recent crusade, said on Twitter, the goal from the start was to distort the idea into an absurdist touchstone. “We have successfully frozen their brand—‘critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category,” he wrote. Accordingly, C.R.T. has been defined as Black-supremacist racism, false history, and the terrible apotheosis of wokeness. Patricia Williams, one of the key scholars of the C.R.T. canon, refers to the ongoing mischaracterization as “definitional theft.

Vinay Harpalani, a law professor at the University of New Mexico, who took a constitutional-law class that Bell taught at New York University in 2008, remembers his creating a climate of intellectual tolerance. “There were conservative white male students who got along very well with Professor Bell, because he respected their opinion,” Harpalani told me. “The irony of the conservative attack is that he was more respectful of conservative students and giving conservatives a voice than anyone.” Sarah Lustbader, a public defender based in New York City who was a teaching assistant for Bell’s constitutional-law class in 2010, has a similar recollection. “When people fear critical race theory, it stems from this idea that their children will be indoctrinated somehow. But Bell’s class was the least indoctrinated class I took in law school,” she said. “We got the most freedom in that class to reach our own conclusions without judgment, as long as they were good-faith arguments and well argued and reasonable.”

Republican lawmakers, however, have been swift to take advantage of the controversy. In June, Governor Greg Abbott, of Texas, signed a bill that restricts teaching about race in the state’s public schools. Oklahoma, Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Arizona have introduced similar legislation. But in all the outrage and reaction is an unwitting validation of the very arguments that Bell made. Last year, after the murder of George Floyd, Americans started confronting the genealogy of racism in this country in such large numbers that the moment was referred to as a reckoning. Bell, who died in 2011, at the age of eighty, would have been less focussed on the fact that white politicians responded to that reckoning by curtailing discussions of race in public schools than that they did so in conjunction with a larger effort to shore up the political structures that disadvantage African Americans. Another irony is that C.R.T. has become a fixation of conservatives despite the fact that some of its sharpest critiques were directed at the ultimate failings of liberalism, beginning with Bell’s own early involvement with one of its most heralded achievements.

And just like that, another anti-vaxxer dies and takes up valuable ICU space in a hospital.

Caritas (Madonna with Child) by Stanisław Wyspiański, 1904, pastel, photo: National Museum in Warsaw

This headline puts a face to the number of people dying because there are no hospitals available. “Alabama man dies after 43 hospitals with full ICUs turned him away; family urges COVID-19 vaccines.”  This is reported out of a local TV station.

The family of an Alabama man who died of heart issues more than 200 miles from his home is asking people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus after more than 40 hospitals across three states were unable to accept him due to full cardiac ICUs.

Ray Martin DeMonia died Sept. 1; three days before his 74th birthday, his family said.

DeMonia suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the nearest available bed, which was more than 200 miles away at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.

In his obituary, his family urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Economist warns us In America, even full local hospitals do not dent vaccine scepticism. Full hospital wards have little effect on vaccine take-up. 

Some optimists had hoped that the spread of the Delta variant, though regrettable, might eventually persuade the naysayers to get vaccinated. Local news sites and stations have profiled people who had been sceptical and have now had their jabs. The Douglases in South Central Pennsylvania were vaccine-hesitant until “the Delta variant changed that”. The Columbus Dispatch wrote about a supervisor at a local plant who said: “The Delta variant was what really got me out.” In Oklahoma, Grace Zeiba, an emergency-room nurse, told her local station that because of Delta she decided “it’s time to be vaccinated”. But these anecdotes are not representative of the overall picture.

One way of measuring whether people are more likely to get vaccinated when their neighbours are very ill with covid-19, is to compare county-level icu capacities (which tell you whether a hospital is full of covid-19 patients) with the change in vaccination rates in the ensuing weeks. The Economist did this while controlling for potentially confounding variables, like state-level vaccination rates.

Our calculations show that full hospitals lead to only a slight increase in the number of people getting vaccinated. For every 10% decrease in available icu beds, there were roughly 14 additional first doses administered per 100,000 people in a county the next week. For a median-sized American county with a population of 26,000, that translates to 3.5 additional first doses, or just half a dose per day.

Counties with icus that were 80% full or more saw only an additional 104 first doses administered per 100,000 people the next week, compared with counties where icus were 20% full or less. That is consistent with what happened this summer, when areas hit by the Delta variant saw only slight upticks in vaccination rates compared with other counties.

Polls paint the same picture. As many Americans have scrambled for futile cures like ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, interest in the most effective solution—the vaccine—is stuck. Polling from Morning Consult shows that the share of individuals who say they are unwilling to get the vaccine, or are uncertain if they will, has fallen only slightly—from 31% at the end of May (the month the World Health Organisation declared Delta to be a variant of concern) to 28% on August 30th. By contrast, the average share saying the same across the other 14 countries Morning Consult has surveyed fell from 25% to 14% (see chart).

The remaining Americans who have not had their jabs are not just hesitant but rather hardened—committed to shunning the vaccine despite its availability, safety and efficacy.

And, back to other Trumpist conspiracy theories that just won’t die, file these two.

I just cannot get used to the absolute fantasyland these folks evoke for partisan political reasons.  This includes the Christoban goons that sit on the supreme court to include Amy the Insane.  There are more sources than Fox News and some grifter’s concept of the New Testament.  Really!  Death,  Wars, massive debt to subsidize rich people, and fairy tales are all the Republicans offer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today! 


Finally Friday Reads!

Kooning, Willem de (1904-1997) © Museum of Modern Art, New York Painting 150×109,3 Portrait, Genre Woman, II

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Everywhere I look, massive numbers of Trumpy wipipo are basically staging an overthrow of everything that makes rules they don’t want to follow, even if it protects their children and others from death and suffering from COVID-19 or virulent gun violence.  This is accompanied by blatant unconstitutional attacks on women’s moral agency and the voting rights of everyone who is not them in skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religious persuasion.

Mike Allen puts it bluntly. He calls it “America’s civil war of 2021” in response to President Biden’s expanded efforts to get folks to stop killing themselves and others by refusing a simple vaccine.

Top Republicans are calling for a public uprising to protest President Biden’s broad vaccine mandates, eight months after more than 500 people stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to overturn the election.

Why it matters: It has been decades since America has witnessed such blatant and sustained calls for mass civil disobedience against the U.S. government.

J.D. Vance — author of “Hillbilly Elegy” and a candidate for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Ohio — urged “mass civil disobedience” to Biden’s plan to use federal authority to mandate vaccination for roughly two-third of America workers.

  • “I have a simple message for America’s business community,” Vance wrote. “DO NOT COMPLY.”

Biden said in his remarks: “Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans — two thirds of all workers.”

  • Several Republican governors say they’ll go to court to try to stop the mandate for federal employees, contractors and private employers with 100+ workers (enforced by OSHA).
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem told Sean Hannity on Fox News: “In South Dakota, we’re going to be free. … We will take action. My legal team is already working.”

A top House Republican aide tells me: “Every Republican in the country — especially those running to the right in primaries — is salivating over Joe Biden [igniting] the vax debate.”

  • “Republicans think that he’s made even pro-vax conservatives into ‘anti-vax mandate’ Americans.”

An official close to Biden tells me the West Wing “knew there would be strong backlash. But unless someone took this on, we’d be in a pandemic forever.”

  • “Biden beat Trump by promising strong action based on science. He can’t let Abbott/DeSantis block tough action.”

Invoking a civil-rights parallel, the official added: “Basically Biden is staring down Southern governors (and some Northern allies). … Is America divided? Yes. But Biden is uniting the 75% vs. the 25% that is in opposition.”

  • The official’s bottom line: “That is unity politics in a divided nation — unifying the overwhelming majority threatened by an unruly minority.”

🐦 Twitter’s top U.S. trends last night had “#IwillNOTComply” at No. 6 — with the NFL’s season kickoff in the top four slots, followed by “Big Brother” on CBS at No. 5.

  • #VaccineMandate was No. 8, with #DoNotComply as a trend.

What’s next: Fencing will be reinstalled around the Capitol before a Sept. 18 rally, “Justice for J6,” supporting those charged in the Jan. 6 riot. Far-right extremist groups plan to attend.

Dana Schutz’s “Swim Smoke Cry”, 2009

You may read The Biden Covid-19 Plan at the White House site.

There are several places to read some analysis and summaries.  Will this end the forever plague? Will more Republicans seek an end to our democracy and go back to the entire state’s right’s approach that sanctioned slavery and other heinous episodes in US history?

From WAPO: “Biden announces sweeping new vaccine mandates for businesses, federal workers.”

President Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday designed to affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing.

Biden also said that he would require most health-care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to vaccinate their employees, which the White House believes will cover 50,000 locations.

And the president signed an executive order compelling all federal employees to get vaccinated — without an option for those who prefer to be regularly tested instead — in an effort to create a model he hopes state governments will embrace. He is also ordering all staffers in Head Start programs, along with Defense Department and federally operated schools for Native Americans, to be vaccinated.

“We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while,” Biden said in an address from the White House. He added, “What makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat covid-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner.”

Taken together, the moves represent a major escalation by Biden of the pressure against those who have resisted vaccination. The announcement comes amid growing signs that the highly contagious delta variant, and the persistence of vaccine resistance, are combining to drag out the pandemic, slow the economic recovery and prevent Biden from turning his focus to other matters.

Biden adopted a newly antagonistic tone toward the unvaccinated Thursday, underlining his shift from cajoling to coercion as he placed blame on those still refusing to get shots for harming other Americans. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Biden said. “And your refusal has cost all of us.”

Kevin D Williamson writes this for the New York Times: “The Trump Coup Is Still Raging.”

What happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was not a coup attempt. It was half of a coup attempt — the less important half.

The more important part of the coup attempt — like legal wrangling in states and the attempts to sabotage the House commission’s investigation of Jan. 6 — is still going strong. These are not separate and discrete episodes but parts of a unitary phenomenon that, in just about any other country, would be characterized as a failed coup d’état.

As the Republican Party tries to make up its mind between wishing away the events of Jan. 6 or celebrating them, one thing should be clear to conservatives estranged from the party: We can’t go home again.

The attempted coup’s foot soldiers have dug themselves in at state legislatures. For example, last week in Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini introduced a draft of legislation that would require an audit of the 2020 general election in the state’s largest (typically Democratic-heavy) counties, suggesting without basis that it may show that these areas cheated to inflate Joe Biden’s vote count.

Florida’s secretary of state, a Republican, knows that an audit is nonsense and has said so. But the point of an audit would not be to change the outcome (Mr. Trump won the state). The point is not even really to conduct an audit.

The obviously political object is to legitimize the 2020 coup attempt in order to soften the ground for the next one — and there will be a next one.

It looks like South Carolina has fired the first shot again in the form of this twitter nonsense from its Governor.

‘Portrait of My Uncle,’ the 1910s, David Burliuk

ABC News reports that “Fence going up around US Capitol, as law enforcement braces for Sept. 18 protest. The fence, erected after the Jan. 6 riot, was removed in July.”

Fencing outside U.S. Capitol is expected to return ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to ABC News.

The fencing, erected after the Jan. 6 riot, was removed in July.

“Justice for J6” is being billed by organizers as a protest for defendants who are being detained by the government in connection to the January insurrection at the Capitol.

The fencing is just the latest security measure for a rally that has some in law enforcement on high alert.

Meanwhile, schools and school boards are the targets of many angry parents.  This is one of the worst situations I’ve witnessed.  This is from Insider Paper: “Video shows Michigan parents encouraging kids to violate school mask mandate after the county updated its COVID-19 policy.”

A group of Michigan parents urged several unmasked high school students to defy the district’s mask mandate and bypass school officials to enter campus maskless, a viral video shows.

Video of the incident, which occurred at Manchester Junior & Senior High School in Washtenaw County, Michigan, on Tuesday, shows a sheriff’s deputy telling parents that he is unable to enforce the order in place requiring people entering the school to wear masks.

“I’m not going to force anybody. I’m not putting masks on anybody. That’s not my job,” the deputy can be heard saying. “This is a county health department order and a policy of this school.”

I have one other thing to share today, and it’s highly personal.  I have lost three friends this week. Will Samuels was a loving father who was unable to get his cancer treatment recently because of the state of the hospitals that created a worse situation the last two weeks.   We are overcrowded with out-of-parish  Covidiots.  Mardi Gras will not be the same without him.  Two of my friends died at home in the heat here in my neighborhood. Todd Mollock was the “Norm” of the local watering hole.  He’d enter and every one would shout “Todd!”.  He played a mean guitar and it was nearly always metal.

This is about my friend and neighbor Laura Bergerol.

“Neighbors of New Orleans photographer Laura Bergerol suspect her death is an Ida casualty. Neighbors fear heat amid extended power outage sealed her fate.” 

Laura Bergerol wanted to evacuate the city ahead before Hurricane Ida. And after. But she never managed to get out.

Without power, the 65-year-old photographer struggled in her Bywater house for days in brutal summertime conditions. Her migraines were persistent, she told neighbors who were checking on her.

Then, on Sunday, she stopped returning texts and didn’t answer a knock on the door. A neighbor found her lying on the floor of her apartment dead.

As of Wednesday, at least 26 people had died in Louisiana as a result of Ida. Thirteen of those casualties occurred in New Orleans, including 10 who were killed by excessive heat during the extended power outages caused by the storm, state officials said.

Laura spoke French fluently. She had just lost her dog companion–Bianca–not long ago and was bereft without her. She lived in the Bywater Artist Lofts around the corner and down the street some. She moved here after Katrina and became a wonderful part of our creative culture. Her photography was key to understanding how she saw things as an activist. To know her was to love her. She and Bianca are together again.  I will miss you! Repose en paix.

So, there’s lots of other news out there today. I hope you’ll add some to the thread below.

I’m okay now.  I double-bleached the refrigerator, and now I just need to fill it!  My magnolia tree limb has been removed, and we’ll have to see if the tree makes it without a huge section of its branches. It was really cool last night.  I woke up to grab a long-sleeved shirt and PJ pants.  It got down to 72, and it’s still 75F right now.  It’s the first whiff of fall in the day that’s considered the peak of the hurricane season.  The backyard is still a small disaster, but I have a few other things like the mold on the ceiling in the bathroom to deal with today.  I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed by the scent of bleach around here.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


It’s Thursday Right? (Reads)

Hello Sky Dancers!

Things are partially back around the little Kathouse on the Mississippi River. Wow, it’s been a while! I’ve had the power on for about a day and 1/2 but the cable TV and internet are still down with no ETA.  I’m using my neighbor’s wifi right now. She has a different provider.  There’s a convergence of anniversaries this month.

It’s been 20 years since we experienced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  I know JJ has much more vivid memories of that than me since her husband was in the tower. I await her thoughts as we approach the anniversary.

I was awakened by my neighbor Bryan who told me to turn on the TV and then from phone calls from the University telling me classes are canceled so stay home.  I turned the TV just in time to see the second plane hit the towers.  Shortly after that, we all watched the Towers fall. This led to a series of bad political/foreign policy decisions and the last 20 years of endless war in the Middle East. Bungalo Bush’s tenure was his own form of disaster and the Russian Potted Plant is the Disaster that keeps on killing.

Sixteen years ago, a zombie version of myself was parked on my late friend Jane’s sofa screaming at CNN to figure out the difference between the lower 9th ward and the upper 9th ward. The levees had failed and Hurricane Katrina became the next huge Dubya Bush failure. That was the year the Bad Hands people slapped a $10,000 named storm deductible on my home insurance policy that plagues me at least every several years and especially today.

Ah, today, America, land of massive hurricanes, massive fires, and can’t we all just agree this is the result of Climate Change and aim some torches and pitchforks at Exxon Mobile and captured pols?  Mexico gets a massive earthquake today and legal abortions.  Well, you know what Texas gave us, what Florida is doing to kill us, and what is going to happen on the 18th which could be another attempt at an insurrection by white Christian nationalists.

So, watching the news just keeps getting more stressful. Part of me is glad I didn’t get mine for about 10 days. My friend, a retired CNN news producer, keeps telling her colleagues to stop being part of the problem that what is going on right now is important and choose the right side and report on it. I keep thinking all these events call for us to stand up for humanity, justice, and democracy. The Republican Party is lost to its worst instincts.  Acknowledge they are not capable of governing us out of any crises and are responsible for most of them.  They seem to be doing Darwin’s work already thought with Covid-19.  Why do they want their base to basically die and kill others?

Lineworkers from Northern Wisconsin working to restore power to my street on September 7.

So, here comes the enemies of democracy again.  From Roll Call: “As Sept. 18 rally approaches, violent language ramps up online. Capitol Police chief will brief congressional leaders about situation.”

As Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger prepares to brief congressional leaders on a potentially violent rally scheduled for Sept. 18, an internal department assessment reveals more violent online discussion around the event and increased attendance numbers for the demonstration.

The intelligence assessment, dated Sept. 7, notes that in recent days, the department and partner agencies have found more violent online talk surrounding the #JusticeForJ6 rally, organized by Look Ahead America. The event seeks to support pro-Trump rioters who were jailed for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

A discussion thread on the far-right site 4chan includes calls to “do justice” against “local jews and corrupted officials.” It also says the demonstration should be used as a vehicle to participate in violent acts against local “Jewish centers and Liberal churches” while law enforcement is distracted.

Another comment from the thread reads, “I will be there with my AR15 even though legally I can’t have one f*** the Demonrats.” (ed. note: asterisks inserted by CQ Roll Call)

Look Ahead America, a group led by former Trump campaign employee Matt Braynard, asked for a permit in Union Square at noon on Sept. 18 for 700 participants, a number that has risen from 500.

The city, state, and FEMA were all present throughout the neighborhood rec centers with cooling and charging stations, hot meals, and supplies. This has been my morning retreat for days. September 7 with neighbors at the Stallings Center.  FEMA is there helping with registrations.

Again, CNN reports that “Capitol Police memo warns of potential for violence during September 18 rally.”  They are preparing this time for trouble.

Law enforcement officials are bracing for potential clashes and unrest during an upcoming right-wing rally in Washington, DC, as violent rhetoric surrounding the September 18 event has increased online and counterprotests are being planned for the same day, according to an internal Capitol Police memo reviewed by CNN.

The latest intelligence report on the “Justice for J6” rally — which aims to support insurrectionists charged in the Capitol riots — notes that online chatter in support of the event started increasing after the officer who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt went public with his identity in a recent interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.

There’s been a noticeable uptick in violent rhetoric around the event and heated discussions centered on Babbitt’s shooting on social media and discussion boards, according to the memo. The document warns that many individuals may also see September 18 as a “Justice for Ashli Babbitt” rally, which could be cause for concern, and it’s not unreasonable to plan for violent altercations. There have been additional discussions of violence associated with the event, with one online chat suggesting violence against Jewish centers and liberal churches while law enforcement is distracted that day.

The Capitol Police have formally asked the Capitol Police Board that temporary fencing be put in place again around the complex ahead of the rally, a source familiar with the planning told CNN. The Capitol Police Board will make the final call, but the recommendation will weigh heavily in its final decision.

There’s a list of those arrested for the US Capitol Breach on January 6 here at the website of the US District Attorney of the DC.  These are the insurrectionists that are the targets for the September 18th rally.  USA Today maintains a continuously updated list of these traitors here. This list has pictures and narratives for each of the individuals.  You can also check out the ones from your state!

So, thanks again to BB who held up my end of the deal here. Also, thanks to JJ who offered to put me and the Kathouse critters up. We have a wonderful family here and I appreciate and love each and every one of you!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Riders on the Storm

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I first heard this song in Junior High School.  My neighbor and playmate is a Doctor now, but she introduced The Hobbit to me in the 4th grade when she was in 5th grade, and our favorite play activity was building clouds from white sheets and playing goddesses.  So, when she got her first Doors album, she immediately ordered me to her bedroom for initiation into the fans of Jim club. It wasn’t like I wasn’t playing the entire The Doors album until the grooves disappeared already.

I was in 8th grade, forced into a cotillion weekly dance class, and my only treat was getting either that album or Inna Gadda Da Vida played as the last song of the night where we could actually dance.  But, Janet was particularly interested in sitting me down to hear Riders in the Storm because she insisted it was next level.  Yeah. She was right.  That and “Blowing in the Wind” became my official stuck in the basement during a tornado song set. My guitar went everywhere with me during those years. Well, actually it is still here sitting in that corner over there.

So, why am I all over this song today? It’s not 1971.  But, I’m staring at a Cat 3 Hurricane coming right at us on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and like all good children with a music obsession, I need a fight song to deal with the PTSD. So, enjoy!   I may have to trade my Monday blog duties for Tuesday if our infrastructure does its usual thing.

The Doors were also a big deal during the Vietnam War, as was another obsession of mine,  Creedance Clearwater Revival and “Run through the Jungle.” I actually knew a sniper/medic who took that as his fight song while doing active duty in Somalia.  I always play 70s music when stressed. It’s my Wayback Machine.  I will see you on the other side of this.  At least it’s in the 70s temperature-wise today.

That’s my sewerage and water board building with pumps from the World War I era.  Fortunately, I’m still on high ground, and our dedicated pump is up and running!  I will be ‘Riding the Storm Out’.

A US Army soldier holds his 1-year-old son after returning from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on December 10, 2020. John Moore/Getty Images

So, this is your diversion from all the craziness.  The Republicans are running amok with our democracy.  They’re trying to impeach Secretary of State Blinken for the misdeeds of Secretary Pompeo.  They’re calling for President Biden to resign over a deal with the Taliban struck by Trump and Pompeo.  Writing for Slate, William Saletan has this to say: “The GOP’s Phony Complaints About Afghanistan. Nearly everything Republicans are decrying happened under Trump“.

On Thursday, suicide bombers killed scores of people outside the Kabul airport, including at least 12 American service members. Congressional Republicans snapped into action, demanding that President Joe Biden resign or be impeached. It’s the latest outburst in a string of political opportunism. For weeks, Republicans have been all over cable TV, lambasting Biden for withdrawing troops. They’ve professed dismay that thousands of jailed Taliban fighters were released from prison, that al-Qaida operatives are still in Afghanistan, and that the American president accepted a Taliban deadline to get out. All of these complaints are phony. Nearly everything the Republicans are decrying happened last year. But Republicans defended or ignored it, because the president who engineered those concessions was Donald Trump.

On Feb. 29, 2020, the Trump administration signed a deal with the Taliban to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. The deal also required the Afghan government to release 5,000 imprisoned Taliban fighters. Hawks called the agreement weak and dangerous, but Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, advised them not to speak out against it. In March 2020, at hearings of the House Armed Services Committee, some lawmakers worried about the deal, but most, including Reps. Jim Banks and Matt Gaetz, said nothing about it. Another Republican member of the committee, Rep. Mo Brooks, expressed his impatience to pull out, noting that American forces had long ago “destroyed al-Qaida’s operational capability” in Afghanistan.

In July 2020, the committee took up the National Defense Authorization Act, which would fund the military for the next year. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow presented an amendment that would make the Afghan pullout contingent on several requirements. These included “consultation and coordination” with allies, protection of “United States personnel in Afghanistan,” severance of the Taliban from al-Qaida, prevention of “terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan,” and adequate “capacity of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces” to fight off Taliban attacks. The amendment also required investigation of any prisoners, released as part of the deal, who might be connected to terrorism. In short, the amendment would do what Trump had failed to do: impose real conditions on the withdrawal. Crow told his colleagues that he, too, wanted to get out, but that Afghan security forces weren’t yet “ready to stand on their own.”

Gaetz dismissed these warnings. The Taliban was already taking over the country, he argued, and imposing conditions would just get in the way of the pullout. “I don’t think there’s ever a bad day to end the war in Afghanistan,” he said.

Eleven members of the committee, including Banks, Brooks, and Gaetz, voted against the amendment. It passed, but Trump refused to accept it. In December, he vetoed the whole defense bill, complaining that it would, among other things, “restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.” Steve Scalise, the minority whip, voted to uphold Trump’s veto. McCarthy, who had to miss the vote for medical reasons, said he, too, stood with the president. Congress overrode the veto, but Trump essentially ignored the amendment.

In this December 1965 photo shot by Horst Faas, a US 1st division soldier guards Route 7 as Vietnamese women and schoolchildren return home to the village of Xuan Dien from Ben Cat. Photograph: Horst Faas/AP

I keep thinking that BB and I have written our faces blue on this but the evidence is out there and coming out all the time.  We’re both livid about the press treatment. Flights from Kabul have resumed after the deadly attack this week despite more information about possible future ISIS-K suicide bombers.  This is from the New York Times and is updated constantly.

After a blast that killed 13 U.S. troops, evacuation flights have resumed. With four days remaining until an Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. withdrawal, the window for airlifts is narrowing.

RIGHT NOW

After one of the deadliest attacks in 20 years of war, many people are still trying to reach the airport.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Kabul attack recalls the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, a decade ago.

  • Biden faces a tragedy he worked to avoid.

  • A baby born on an evacuation flight is named Reach, after the aircraft’s call sign.

  • How strong are ISIS and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

  • Aid groups work to find ways into Afghanistan amid the chaos in Kabul.

  • Devastation at one airport left many fearful at another across the world.

Burst of Joy,” 1973. Photo by Slava “Sal” Veder

President Joe Biden was visibily moved by the airport carnage and loss of American life. As you can see in the Takei tweet, the Trump family is ready to take political advantage of dead american soldiers and Afghani children.   This analysis is from WaPo and was written by Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan.  It starts with an unnecessary stab at Biden.

President Biden on Thursday confronted the most volatile crisis of his young presidency, the deaths of at least 13 Americans in Afghanistan that threatened to undermine his credentials as a seasoned global leader and a steady hand.

In emotional comments at the White House, Biden made clear that the attack would not cause him to rethink his strategy. Rather, he said, it reinforced his belief that the war must end and that the evacuation must proceed. He framed the deaths as the sacrifice of heroes performing a noble mission, and he suggested that any move to cut short the evacuation of Americans and their Afghan supporters would amount to caving to the terrorists.

“I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that has happened,” Biden said, addressing the nation hours after the deadly attack. His voice broke as he invoked Scripture, history and personal loss to decry the double suicide bombing at the entrance to the Kabul airport, which stands as the last small acreage controlled by the United States in Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the war began.

Biden promised to track down the killers responsible for the massacre, who he suggested were members of the terrorist group ISIS-K. “To those who carried out this attack: We will not forgive,” he said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

These paragraphs are then followed by a litany of Republicans blaming Biden and Blinken’s actions instead of remembering that Trump and Pompeo rolled this ball of dung to the next adminstration.  The best source of why the Kabul evacuation was superior to the Saigon evacuation continues to be presented by Lawrence O’Donnell.  He also highlights the difference between the response by Biden to Ford.  When you read all those headlines today asking Biden to take full responsiblity, you shoud also ask yourself has he not already done that several times?

Well, we`ve been through this only once before in our history. Before the evacuation in Afghanistan, the American military had carried out only one evacuation from a war that we lost. That was from Vietnam in 1975, and Vietnam, when the airport we were using came under rocket fire from the north Vietnamese army and two marines were killed, the final two soldiers killed in combat in Vietnam, Republican President Gerald Ford immediately ordered the abandonment of the airport and the switch to helicopters dangerously taking people from the tops of buildings to finish the evacuation.

President Ford immediately ordered the evacuation speeded up. The president never gave a thought to trying to a avenge deaths of those two marines or in any way prolonging the dangerous situation and extending his deadline for evacuating from Vietnam. President Ford speeded it up. But President Ford did not tell us any of that at the time.

President Ford did not say a public word about the evacuation while it was going on or immediately after its end. Not one word. And not one word about the deaths of those marines in the evacuation of Vietnam.

Today, when tragedy struck in Afghanistan and 13 marines were killed, 18 marines were injured, President Biden said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that`s happened of late.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The Pentagon estimates that at least 60 Afghans were killed in the suicide bombing outside the airport in Kabul. President Biden`s first message today was one of condolence to the families and to the loved ones of the marines who were killed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: My heart aches for you. I know this. We have a continued obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, families of those heroes. That obligation is not temporary, it lasts forever. The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others and the service of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president`s second message was to the people who carried out he attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: For those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I`ll defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president then explained what happens next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.

I`ve also ordered my commanders to develop operational plans to strike ISIS-K assets, leadership and facilities. We will respond with force and precision at our time at the place we choose in a moment of our choosing.

Here`s what you need to know: these ISIS terrorists will not win.

[22:05:06]

We will rescue the Americans in there. We will get our Afghan allies out. And our mission will go on.

America will not be intimidated. I have the utmost confidence in our brave service members who continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives and get Americans, our partners, our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

So, keep riding through all these American Storms and remember there are good guys and gals out there.  If only people would solve the problem insteading of being one.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Playing Hot Potato with a Costly War

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s hard to explain how much of what’s going on in Kabul today should rest directly and squarely on the bad faith negotiations of Trump’s Secretary of State–steal all the government booze–Pompeo.  Please watch this smug, smarmy, man laugh while under questioning by Representative Allred who asks what we’re doing to ensure that our conditions will be good as we leave Kabul.  It amazes me that more isn’t being made about Pompeo’s role in the chaos we experience now.  It’s worth remembering that all this was negotiated about a year ago.   Oh, wait, it was supposed to be negotiated at Camp David with Trump on the anniversary of 9/11 last year.  President Tin Ear was stopped on that one however.

Here’s Chris Wallace on Fox News dumping on the man who created this mess as he lies his way to a nonanswer.

Jennifer Ruben’s opinion piece today at WaPo discusses “Why so many people find Biden an easy target.” 

The vehemence with which many politicians and media pundits on the left and right have attacked President Biden should not be surprising. Given the chaotic and heart-wrenching scenes in Afghanistan, the commander in chief becomes an obvious target, especially for a press corps desperate to show they do not have a liberal bias.

But “chaotic” does not equal “failed,” and just because our intelligence community blew it big time — again — does not mean the United States has abandoned its Afghan partners. Since Aug. 14, we have evacuated over 37,000 people. The United States has enlisted a slew of allies to help receive refugees. And our allies remain united that they will not recognize nor extend aid to the Taliban until we are satisfied they have not hindered our evacuation and are respecting human rights.

Despite the torrent of angry media coverage, a recent CBS News poll found that 63 percent of Americans still want out of Afghanistan. And while Biden’s approval ratings have dipped (largely due to the covid-19 surge), the decline is less than one might expect. In NBC News’s poll, for example, he has dropped only one point among registered voters — from 51 to 50 percent — since April. So why is the media so determined to convey that Biden’s effort has “failed”?

Too many reporters adopt the talking points of critics of an administration, even when those critics have an interest to make Biden the fall guy. The media, for example, have parroted the right wing’s deliberate effort to impugn the Biden administration’s motives about “abandoning Afghans” (as it airlifts tens of thousands of them out the country) while ignoring the Trump team’s destruction of the visa system. With a straight face, reporters ask for the judgment of politicians and those in the military who lied for two decades about progress in Afghanistan — as if they and the reporters themselves hadn’t contributed to the rosy, false narrative about the Afghan army’s viability. And the media have run with the notion that the Biden administration broke Afghans’ “morale” rather than focusing on our utter failure to forge a national army, the endemic corruption in their government and Afghan leaders’ selling out to the Taliban for money.

The media almost by definition operates on anecdotes. They see European back-benchers criticizing Biden and squawk about a crisis among our allies. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday:

From the get-go, I’ve spent more time with our NATO partners in Brussels, virtually, from before the president made his decision, to when he made his decision, to every time since. We’ve been working very, very closely together. We’ve gotten the G7 together, NATO together, the U.N. Security Council together. We had 113 countries, thanks to our diplomacy, put out a clear understanding of the Taliban’s requirements to let people leave the country. … I’ve heard, across the board, deep appreciation and thanks from allies and partners for everything that we’ve done to bring our allies and partners out of harm’s way. This has been a remarkable part of the effort. I’ve seen them stand up, step up to help out, including, as I said, agreements with more than two dozen countries now to help out on transit. And beyond that, we’re very focused together on the way forward, including the way forward in Afghanistan, and setting very clear expectations for the Taliban in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Which is the better indicator of our allies’ sentiments: stray comments to the media, or all of the actions Blinken outlined?

A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) provides fresh water to a child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)

Listening to the people who served there is a good way to get out of the damn media’s obsessions with creating tempests in teapots and seeing what was going to be a difficult process–even if perfectly planned–as the problem of the guy who’s only had 7ish months of holding a 20-year-old hot potato.  This is from the Kansas City Star and was written by  Veteran Lucas Kince who served in that theatre: “I served in Afghanistan as a US Marine, twice. Here’s the truth in two sentences.”

What we are seeing in Afghanistan right now shouldn’t shock you. It only seems that way because our institutions are steeped in systematic dishonesty. It doesn’t require a dissertation to explain what you’re seeing. Just two sentences.

One: For 20 years, politicians, elites and D.C. military leaders lied to us about Afghanistan.

Two: What happened last week was inevitable, and anyone saying differently is still lying to you.

I know because I was there. Twice. On special operations task forces. I learned Pashto as a U.S. Marine captain and spoke to everyone I could there: everyday people, elites, allies and yes, even the Taliban.

The truth is that the Afghan National Security Forces was a jobs program for Afghans, propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars — a military jobs program populated by nonmilitary people or “paper” forces (that didn’t really exist) and a bevy of elites grabbing what they could when they could.

You probably didn’t know that. That’s the point.

And it wasn’t just in Afghanistan. They also lied about Iraq.

I led a team of Marines training Iraqi security forces to defend their country. When I arrived I received a “stoplight” chart on their supposed capabilities in dozens of missions and responsibilities. Green meant they were good. Yellow was needed improvement; red said they couldn’t do it at all.

I was delighted to see how far along they were on paper — until I actually began working with them. I attempted to adjust the charts to reflect reality and was quickly shut down. The ratings could not go down. That was the deal. It was the kind of lie that kept the war going.

So when people ask me if we made the right call getting out of Afghanistan in 2021, I answer truthfully: Absolutely not. The right call was getting out in 2002. 2003. Every year we didn’t get out was another year the Taliban used to refine their skills and tactics against us — the best fighting force in the world. After two decades, $2 trillion and nearly 2,500 American lives lost, 2021 was way too late to make the right call.

What I have read repeatedly from folks on the ground is that the only people that try won the 20 year-long war were military contractors and corrupt government officials in Afghanistan.  You can read my Friday reads for more on that from former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes.

The reality of Biden’s follow through with the result of the Trump/Pompeo man-crushes on the Taliban is explained by CNN’s John Harwood. “Why Biden’s Afghanistan exit wasn’t about good politics”.  We always knew what Biden wanted because he stated his opposition to the failed Obama Surge while he was VEEP.

In ending America’s longest war, President Joe Biden did something popular. It was never going to help him politically.

That was true before damaging images of chaos and desperation filled American television screens last week. The reason is that public opinion about the Afghanistan conflict, as with most overseas events and issues, remains ill-defined and loosely held.

Even after 20 years, the conflict that ended with the lightning Taliban takeover represents a distant blur for most Americans. Only a small sliver of the US population has a personal connection to the war through service in the all-volunteer military. Its duration through years of diminishing troop levels and casualties led much of the public to tune the story out.

Pollsters who have tracked the subject describe opinions no firmer than jello. Asked whether the American military should stay or leave, majorities say leave. Asked whether the military should leave or stay to continue counterterrorism operations, majorities say stay.

Either way, voters have not counted Afghanistan among their top-priority concerns. Survey research on foreign policy, observed Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, “is always very fluid.”

That reality means that neither side of the long-running debate on the war can unambiguously claim the upper hand in public sentiment.

Afghans crowd at the tarmac of the Kabul airport on August 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and conceded the insurgents had won the 20-year war. AFP PHOTO

From the initial push for war by the Bush administration to the idea of a surge by the Obama administration to the total dump it on the Taliban and let Biden deal with it by the Trump administration there has been one bad commitment to bad ideas after another. You all know I’ve never been a big Biden fan.  I have to say he’s the only President that just decided to get it done and be done with it.  The collapse of Kabul was always inevitable since the Afghanistan people and their regionalism vs federalism approach to things has seriously been misunderstood by many “experts”. It still seems this was another nation-building opportunity that only enriched the military-industrial complex.  That’s my thoughts.

In other news, the FDA has given the Pfizer vaccine full approval.

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.” 

Since Dec. 11, 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been available under EUA in individuals 16 years of age and older, and the authorization was expanded to include those 12 through 15 years of age on May 10, 2021. EUAs can be used by the FDA during public health emergencies to provide access to medical products that may be effective in preventing, diagnosing, or treating a disease, provided that the FDA determines that the known and potential benefits of a product, when used to prevent, diagnose, or treat the disease, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.

FDA-approved vaccines undergo the agency’s standard process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness of medical products. For all vaccines, the FDA evaluates data and information included in the manufacturer’s submission of a biologics license application (BLA). A BLA is a comprehensive document that is submitted to the agency providing very specific requirements. For Comirnaty, the BLA builds on the extensive data and information previously submitted that supported the EUA, such as preclinical and clinical data and information, as well as details of the manufacturing process, vaccine testing results to ensure vaccine quality, and inspections of the sites where the vaccine is made. The agency conducts its own analyses of the information in the BLA to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective and meets the FDA’s standards for approval.

I am without patience for anyone not getting the vaccine.  I’m still ready to tell them to go to their crazy places–churches, Republican Party National Headquarter, Mara Lago, etc.– to get treatment and stay away from our children and healthcare workers.  More and more employers are mandating vaccines and I’m really down with that.

So, what’s on your blogging list today?  This war and pandemic stuff is wearing me out!