Friday Readings: Vote because Our Lives depend on it

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

The mural to the left is of Georgia gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams located on a building in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta. This building is just blocks from MLK Jr.’s childhood home. White Republicans in Georgia are actively trying to beat her any way they can.

You can tell there is a lot at stake in this election due to the SCOTUS gutting of the Voting Rights Act because there is increasing opportunity and effort to suppress the votes of indigenous peoples in North Dakota and Black people in every southern state and else where.  Republicans are trying to hold power in the Senate to continue the reign of terror and murder of US democracy.

The struggle continues . Dozens of black seniors on their way to early voting in Georgia were ordered off a bus in Jefferson County.

As early voting began Monday in Georgia,a group of black senior citizens gathered for a voter outreach event at Jefferson County’s Leisure Center. Members of Black Voters Matter, one of the groups behind the event, offered to drive the group of about 40 seniors to the polls.

But shortly after the seniors boarded the organization’s bus, county officials stopped the trip, prompting new accusations of voter suppression in a state already dealing with several such controversies.

The event, according to ThinkProgress’s Kira Lerner, was a part of Black Voters Matter’s “The South is Rising” bus tour across seven states to host voter outreach and engagement events. Black Voters Matter is nonpartisan, and the group’s leadership did not encourage the senior citizens to vote for a particular candidate or political party, according to LaTosha Brown, the organization’s co-founder.

Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett countered that the Monday event constituted “political activity,” noting that a local Democratic Party chair helped sponsor it.

“This is voter suppression, Southern style,” Brown told Think Progress. According to recent Census figures, Jefferson County is 53 percent black, and voting rights advocates cite a lack of transportation as a particularly high barrier to voting for black Georgians. Civil rights groups most recently raised this point in August when a majority-black Georgia county proposed closing all but two of its polling places.

 

There seems to be nothing White Republican men will do these days to hold on to power. It’s astonishing but not surprising. It’s not even subtle any more.  One of the more strange things coming out of Georgia is forcing voter registration clerks to “match signatures” as if they’re experts on handing writing analysis.  From Slate: “Georgia Is Using Amateur Handwriting Analysis to Disenfranchise Minority Voters.  The scourge of “signature mismatch” laws strikes again.”

Say you live in Georgia. You’re eager to vote in this year’s election—a tight race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Trump acolyte Brian Kemp—so you fill out an absentee ballot and mail it in. Then, days or weeks after the election, you receive a notice in the mail. The signature on your absentee ballot, it explains, looked different from the signature on your voter-registration card. So an election official threw out your ballot. There is nothing you can do. Your vote has been voided.

If Georgia’s signature-mismatch law remains in effect through the November election, this fate will befall thousands of would-be voters. The statute directs elections officials to apply amateur handwriting analysis to voters’ signatures and reject any potential “mismatch.” Nearly 500 ballots in Gwinnett County alone have already been rejected for mismatch, a disproportionate number of them cast by minority voters. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia is suing, demanding that the state give all citizens an opportunity to cure ballots rejected for mismatch. Its suit will help determine how successfully Georgia will suppress minority votes in the upcoming race.

Signature-mismatch laws are a scourge of American elections. The very premise makes no sense: In a similar lawsuit filed in New Hampshire, a forensic document examiner testifiedthat effective signature comparison requires 10 signature samples “at a minimum” to account for variability. Even then, experts may struggle to verify a signature, because our signatures often change over time. Voters who are disabled or elderly, or are nonnative English speakers, are especially likely to have variation between signatures. That’s one reason why New Hampshire’s mismatch law disproportionately impacted seniors, California’s disproportionately impacts first-generation Asian Americans, and Florida’s disproportionately impacts Hispanics.

But there’s likely something more insidious going on here too. The extreme racial disparitiesamong those affected by mismatch laws may also reflect the broad discretion that election officials have to toss ballots. In states with stringent mismatch rules, a handful of election officials are frequently responsible for the vast majority of ballots voided for mismatch. And those officials routinely work in counties with large minority communities.

One of the most important ways to circumvent being stopped at the polls or slowed down at the polls on election day is to vote early.  Early votes are pouring into Virginia. The number of absentee ballots arriving to be counted is nearly unbelievable. It’s another reason that Republican legislatures are trying to shorten early voting periods and create long drives to early voting sites.

The number of voters in Virginia who have cast early ballots ahead of the November elections is dramatically up compared with last year, suggesting an electorate that is energized by several hotly contested races for Congress that are spread across the state.

Virginia allows voters to cast “absentee” ballots in person if they have valid excuses for not being able to vote on Election Day.

Nearly 78,000 people have completed ballots since absentee voting began Sept. 15 — more than double the number who voted early by this point last year, according to an analysis of voting data by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project.

That number is still shy of the 123,221 absentee ballots cast during the 2014 midterm elections, state data shows.

But with a little less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 elections, local election officials say this year’s absentee totals are on pace to eclipse 2014 and may even approach the turnout for the presidential election of 2016, when a near-record 496,452 Virginians cast their ballots early.

“It’s actually quite shocking,” said Richard Keech, deputy director of the elections office in Loudoun County, which has seen a 239 percent jump in absentee voting this year, with 11,106 ballots either already cast or mailed to voters so far.

“This would be the first time without a president on the ballot that we’ve seen this kind of increase,” Keech said

Fairfax County, the state’s largest jurisdiction, has seen a roughly 100 percent increase since last year, with 21,582 absentee votes cast so far, officials said. Nearby, Prince William County, the ­second-largest jurisdiction, has climbed by about 114 percent to 4,693 absentee ballots cast.

Here’s a suggestion from MIchelle Goldberg to prevent “political despair”.   She suggests we “join the women trying to save America from Trump.”

This week, a friend texted me, “I feel a panic that won’t stop.” I didn’t have to ask what she meant; we are, after all, less than three weeks from the midterms. “#MeToo,” I replied.

Many women I know — though, of course, not only women — are walking around with a churning knot of terror in their stomachs. The confirmation of the cruel former frat boy Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court brought back the anguish and degradation so many of us felt after the 2016 election. Donald Trump grows more thuggish and mendacious by the day; “gaslighting,” a term taken from a play about an abusive husband trying to drive his wife insane, has become a byword of our national life.

Republicans are increasingly explicit about campaigning to preserve male power. Criticizing the #MeToo movementearly this month, Trump said it’s “a very scary time for young men in America.” Republican congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky ran a commercial attacking his opponent, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, for describing herself as a feminist. The Washington Post wrote about how an “outbreak of male resentment” is poised to play a “defining role” in the midterms.

I too have this underlying, nagging anxiety all the time.  No matter how many times I say the mani and take deep breaths. I cannot shake the feeling that the bad guys are pulling out all the stops to stop the rest of us from rising.

Meanwhile, Georgia still stands out as the worst example while the ghost of Lester Maddox grins somewhere from hell.

A handful of states, most of them led by Republicans, are using someone’s decision not to vote as the trigger for removing them from the rolls. No state has been more aggressive with this approach than Georgia, where Brian Kemp, the secretary of state, oversaw the purging of a growing number of voters ahead of his own run for governor, according to an APM Reports investigation. Voting rights advocates call it a new form of voter suppression, and they fear it will soon spread to other states.

Even by Georgia standards, the voter purge of late July 2017 was remarkable. In a single day, more than half a million people — 8 percent of Georgia’s registered voters — were cut from the voter rolls. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump who has described himself as a “politically incorrect conservative,” oversaw the removals eight months after he’d declared himself a candidate for governor.

The purge was noteworthy for another reason: For an estimated 107,000 of those people, their removal from the voter rolls was triggered not because they moved or died or went to prison, but rather because they had decided not to vote in prior elections, according to an APM Reports analysis. Many of those previously registered voters may not even realize they’ve been dropped from the rolls. If they show up at the polls on Nov. 6 to vote in the heated Georgia governor’s race, they won’t be allowed to cast a ballot.

Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, is vying to become the first African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as a governor. The state has undergone a dramatic influx of African Americans and Latinos whose votes could challenge Republican dominance, and her campaign is trying to turn out people of color, who are more likely to be infrequent voters. If the race is close, the July 2017 purge could affect the outcome.

The APM Reports analysis is the first estimate of the so-called “use it or lose it” policy’s possible impact in Georgia. While 107,000 people may seem like a small number in a state with a population of 10.4 million, elections have been decided by far smaller margins. For instance, the 2016 presidential election was decided in favor of Donald Trump by a total of 77,744 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Using someone’s decision not to vote as the trigger to remove that person from the rolls is a highly controversial — yet legal — tactic that voting rights advocates say is a potential tool for voter suppression. And its use is on the rise.

APM Reports found that at least nine states — most of them with Republican leadership, including the key battlegrounds of Georgia and Ohio — have purged an estimated hundreds of thousands of people from the rolls for infrequent voting since the 2014 general election. States with these policies are removing voters at some of the highest rates in the nation, no matter the reason.

People are fighting for our right to vote. They have fought over the years and decades to expand the right to vote for all of us. We have the duty and obligation to honor their hard work. I live in a state that seems hopeless and a city that is well represented by Americans of all backgrounds. This election will send my Congressman Cedric Richmond back to the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. But, I have to admit that I am paying a lot more attention to the judicial races than I used to.  Every race counts these days.

There is one ballot amendment here that will be a statewide vote that would bring significant justice to those incarcerated for major crimes with juries that are not unanimous. Overturning this law would be a significant step forward for Louisiana and I fully support this ballot effort to do so.

What would this ballot measure change about convictions?

Amendment 2 would require the unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies. As of 2018, Louisiana requires the agreement of 10 of 12, or 83 percent, jurors to convict people charged with felonies. Amendment 2 would not affect juries for offenses that were committed before January 1, 2019.[1]

Do other states allow for non-unanimous jury convictions?

As of 2018, Louisiana is one of two states—the other being Oregon—that does not require the unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies. Oregon does, however, require unanimous convictions in murder trials.[2][3]

Have the courts addressed the non-unanimous juries rule?

In Apodaca v. Oregon (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution required unanimous juries to convict persons in federal criminal trials, but that the Fourteenth Amendment did not extend the requirement of unanimous juries to state criminal trials.[4][5]

Oddly enough, the Koch network is supporting this ballot initiative too. As we say, politics can sometimes make for odd bedfellows.

A conservative organization funded by the Koch network launched a digital ad Monday aimed at ending Louisiana’s law that allows split juries to convict people of serious felony crimes, an outreach effort that puts the group at odds with some of its usual allies.

Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana announced the online advertising campaign will be combined with direct-mail pieces and other outreach in support of the constitutional change on the Nov. 6 ballot that would do away with the Jim Crow-era law.

Currently, some serious felony trials in Louisiana, including some murder cases, can be resolved when 10 out of 12 jurors agree on a person’s guilt. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that allow non-unanimous verdicts in felony cases. But even Oregon requires a unanimous verdict in murder trials.

Amendment 2 would require jury verdicts in Louisiana to be unanimous to convict someone in all felony cases.

Americans for Prosperity’s 30-second online ad — set to music and without narration — targets libertarian-leaning and conservative voters with a focus on constitutional rights, saying Amendment 2 will “protect American freedom and liberty.” It says Louisiana’s current law makes it “easier to send innocent people to prison.”

“Louisianans deserve a justice system that values, above all else, the rights of the accused in a jury trial. A system that places a higher value on conviction rates than the pursuit of the truth is a system that has no place in our society,” John Kay, Louisiana state director of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement.

The organization is the main political advocacy group for billionaire Charles Koch, who has supported criminal justice overhauls in several states, including Louisiana. With support of the unanimous jury amendment, along with the criminal-sentencing-law changes, the Koch network has diverged from some other high-profile conservatives in Louisiana, including Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and several tough-on-crime district attorneys.

But Amendment 2 has drawn an unlikely, bipartisan coalition of support across the political spectrum, from conservative and religious groups to liberal activists.

The constitutional amendment required two-thirds support of lawmakers to reach the November ballot. When Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, first proposed the idea, passage during the regular legislative session was seen as a longshot.

The legislation became the surprise measure of the session, reaching a public vote with widespread support from Democrats and Republicans, picking up steam each step of the process.

gettyimages-891268960black_wide-9bc5d0ff764446aa5c26b48114480562347aa416-s800-c85I would like to say the only stand out thing about the Louisiana Election this year is that we are working to remove this Jim Crow Era law . Our Republican Secretary of State has also purged voter rolls. I made sure I checked my registration earlier this week.  Our State AG is a doozy. We pretty much hate him here in New Orleans.  “AG Landry: Free election day bus rides illegal”.

Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque withdrew a resolution from Tuesday’s agenda that would have provided free bus rides in the city of Lafayette on election days.

Conque said he spoke with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry who concurred with city-parish attorneys’ advice that free bus service is not legal.

“Jeff (Landry) … said he considers it a violation of the Louisiana constitution and he would legally challenge it if we moved forward,” Conque said.

Landry told The Daily Advertiser the Louisiana Secretary of State asked for advice on the matter, so Landry sent him a 1996 Attorney General opinion. That opinion said a school board could not use school buses to bring voters to election polls.

Even though the Lafayette buses would not directly bring riders to the polls, Landry said it is not allowed. The facts of the opinion may differ from the Lafayette case, he said, but the principle behind the conclusion is the same.

This impacts the poor and the elderly. Additionally, here’s some evidence of the Secretary of State’s voter suppression tactics from the Daily  Beast.  Rachel Maddow has been focusing on this issue of voter suppression over the country. We have not yet been featured but Louisiana has done it too.  Here’s our experience with voter purges from Louisiana Weekly.

In July 2018, the Brennan Center for Justice released a report analyzing voter purging across the country showing that between 2014 and 2016 officials removed more than 16 million people from voting rolls nationwide. That’s four million more names than states removed between 2006 and 2008 (the last time frame analyzed).

The center attributes this increase in purging to an increase in the use of sometimes flawed data matching software across states to remove names, as well as conservative activist groups lobbying for, and sometimes suing to get, more purges and tougher legislation to protect against potential non-citizen voters.

Louisiana’s last voter purge was in 2017, a routine post-election clean up that resulted in 55,000 names removed from an inactive voter list of more than 100,000. (There are some three million registered voters in total in the state).

Voters become inactive after they don’t vote in a federal election and, “we don’t have a way to reach them by mail or phone,” says Louisiana secretary of state’s spokeswoman Meg Casper Sunstrom. “In other words, we can’t verify they are living where they are registered to vote. As soon as they participate and vote, they can be removed from the inactive list.”

Some voting rights advocates have criticized past purges in Louisiana, particularly a post-Katrina purge that resulted in a federal lawsuit against the state in 2007. Many displaced people registered for driver’s licenses and acquired temporary residences in other states, and data matching systems subsequently flagged their names as potential “double voters” – people registered to vote in multiple states. Millions of people are registered in two places, and research shows that since 2000, around 30 cases of voter fraud have been validated in the United States.

Despite little to no evidence of illegal voting across the country, the Trump Administration has aggressively pursued efforts to curtail even the possibility of fraud – creating a now defunct national voter fraud task force and asking states to turn over detailed information on individual voters. Then, Louisiana secretary of state Tom Schedler declined the task force’s request, offering only the same (less extensive) data available for purchase to political candidates online.

We must stop this dreadful disenfranchisement and removal of rights from citizens.  If we don’t attack it by voting and by bringing attention to voter suppression efforts it will only get worse.  It can only benefit Trump and the white patriarchy who oppresses the majority of people in the country and can only contain them with gerrymandering and voter suppression.  Increased voter participation by the rest of this lessens the chance they are successful.

Don’t forget to vote!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

Advertisements

Monday Reads: WTF did Trump Voters do?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’d like to continue to ignore the absolute breakdown of rule of law and sanity brought on by a group of outraged wypipo that just want their football and lives to be mired in some perverse black and white 50s sitcom, but it’s hard with headlines reading like an Orwellian Dystopia.

While Floridians and other survivors of hurricanes the last 2 seasons struggle to find water, food, and access to the things of basic civilization, T-Rump continues to golf at his various properties and travel to provide Hate Fest opportunities for aggrieved wypipo with random women leaders being targeted for the shouts of “lock her up”.  This kind of behavior would shame any sane person.  The word sane is the key idea here.

I’d like to say who are these people, but then it’s pretty obvious that I went to high school and university with a lot of them and used to sit in church pews surrounded by them. I’m not sure what wiring got crossed in their brains, but I don’t want to understand them, I want them to slink back under their rocks.

That pretty much sums it up.  KKKremlin Caligula just keeps showing himself to the world and about 20% of the population keeps acting like this is great and normal.  But then, most of them also believe in a literal garden of Eden and zombie Jesus born of a virgin when there’s absolutely no proof of any of that. It seems like everything done by Republicans encourages their psychotic breaks so the donor class gets to pillage the country of treasure and resources.  The VOX op ed piece is written by Matthew Yglesias.

President Trump trusts Kim Jong Un but not American climate scientists. He knows more about NATO than Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. He thinks the European Union was created to take advantage of America on trade. And he isn’t sure whether or not Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations.

In short, his sit-down interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl revealed the president of the United States to be grossly dishonest, woefully ill-informed, and congenitally incapable of admitting error or demonstrating any kind of moral or intellectual growth.

He is, in other words, totally unfit for high office and fairly obviously so. Even more amazingly, despite Stahl covering an incredibly wide range of issues, she broke essentially no new ground. Every terrible, disqualifying thing he said was something he’s said before.

Donald Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true

Portrait

That doesn’t include what’s going on with Saudi Arabia which is acting like an entitled Trump Voter with the actual ability to blackmail the country and its Placeholder in the Oval Office. Trump basically said that the murdered Saudi Journalists might have been killed by “rogue” killers and that the King said they didn’t do it. Oh, great!  It’s the believe a crazed dictator over all the evidence SNL skit redux!

For 45 years, it’s been considered out of bounds for Saudi Arabia. But all of a sudden, Riyadh made what many read as a veiled threat to use the kingdom’s oil wealth as a political weapon — something unheard of since the 1973 Arab embargo that triggered the first oil crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, said on Sunday it would retaliate against any punitive measures linked to the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi with even “stronger ones.” In an implicit reference to the kingdom’s petroleum wealth, the statement noted the Saudi economy “has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

Roger Diwan, a longstanding OPEC watcher at consultant IHS Markit Ltd., said the Saudi comments broke “an essential oil market taboo.”

While few think that Saudi Arabia is prepared to follow through, even the suggestion of using oil as a weapon undermines Riyadh’s long-standing effort to project itself as a force for economic stability. Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Inc., said Middle East tensions impacting the oil market have now “broadened to include Saudi Arabia.”

The images today should remind the older among us of the 1970s gas crisis.

In October 1972, a year before the U.S. oil crisis began, Atlantic author Steward Udall issued a warning, predicting a looming fuel shortageUdall, a former Secretary of the Interior for the Kennedy Administration, believed the auto industry was in an unsustainable growth pattern based on the folly that cheap gas prices would persist indefinitely. He saw American oil production reaching a plateau and worried about the stability of the Middle Eastern market:

Meanwhile, back to those “rogue killers” and the man who is totally shameless about spouting alternative facts.

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested that “rogue killers” may be responsible for the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while also dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “With that being said, the king firmly denied any knowledge of it. … I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’ll try getting to the bottom of it very soon. His was a flat denial.”

In case any one needs to be reminded, the Saudi Royal Family are not nice people and the attacks on 9/11 were instigated by Saudis.  And, why do we continually kiss up to brutal regimes?  Are we really still in bed with craven dictatorships?  Of course, we are!!!!

So there was Crown Prince Mohammad at an April soirée at Mr. Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, Calif. Guests included the Walt Disney Company’s chairman, Robert A. Iger; the studio chief at Warner Bros., Kevin Tsujihara; and the actors Morgan Freeman and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who overshared on Instagram that he was “blown away to be told about the level of love the Saudi people have for me.”

As the guest of honor at a Page Six-worthy dinner at the producer Brian Grazer’s Santa Monica home, the crown prince discussed Snapchat’s popularity in his kingdom with the Snap chief Evan Spiegel;Vice’s Shane Smith; Amazon’s chief — and Washington Post owner — Jeff Bezos and the agent-turned-mogul Ari Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel, an organizer of the evening, had reason to celebrate: the Saudis planned a $400 million investment in Endeavor, his entertainment holding company. (In light of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, Endeavor is reassessing the deal, according to a person with knowledge of Mr. Emanuel’s thinking, who shared it only on condition of anonymity.)

Vanity Fair noted at the time that the festivities were not marred by talk of civilian deaths in Yemen from Saudi-led airstrikes; the crown prince’s “anti-corruption” move to imprison scores of Saudi businessmen, including the owners of Saudi television networks and key rivals, at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton; or the five-year prison sentence the Saudi royal court handed the journalist Saleh al-Shehi for criticizing the government.

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.

So much for that little fairy tale happy ending. But one still wonders why the Bible Belt continues to lose its license to smug righteousness with its unholy alliance with D’oh Hair Furor?   I don’t usually quote Maggie Habberman because I think she’s basically an overpaid gossip columnist but here we go. Why don’t the unhinged hatefests that are happening quite a few times a week turn off people who say they believe in the biblical Jesus?  I mean really?  Where in the bible does Jesus say “lock her up”?

Sharon Hurd didn’t know that President Trump had used the phrase “dumb Southerner” to describe his attorney general, but hearing it didn’t bother her.

“We’re ready for somebody to be that outspoken, because he seems to be getting the job done,” said Ms. Hurd, 73, a retiree who once owned a restaurant and a gift shop, standing on a street corner about an hour after Mr. Trump’s rally ended here this month. “He doesn’t try to take his words and make them please everybody, and I think that Southern people are noticing that.”

Few things have appeared to test the bond between Mr. Trump and the South, a political coupling of a thrice-married New Yorker and voters in the Bible Belt that seemed unlikely from the start. The president’s swing this month through deep-red Tennessee and Mississippi, where he basked in the warmth of supporters at political rallies, confirmed that despite the scandals and chaos that have churned out of the White House, their relationship endures.

“It is ironic that the warrior that they have found is a billionaire from New York, but he really speaks their language fluidly,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member and party strategist based in Mississippi.

“I don’t think it’s about any specific set of policy positions, but it’s about somebody being a warrior for folks,” he said.

The relationship offers Mr. Trump benefits as well. In Johnson City, Tenn., and in Southaven, Miss., this month, Mr. Trump was far removed from bruising headlines about the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia, his personal finances or allegations of affairs.

And although Mr. Trump often paints a rosy, and sometimes distorted, picture of his support, his descriptions of mutual love with his voters match reality in parts of the South — particularly outside cities and suburbs. In his 2016 victory, he won every Southern state but Virginia. In Tennessee, public polling shows his approval rating is close to 60 percent, far greater than his national average.

I don’t get it and I’m not sure why continually writing about these people does much good for any of us other warn us that there are zombies living among us.  Oh, and then there’s this little shit show coming to my streets this week.  These walking specimens of human excrement have already terrorized the streets of NYC and Portland this week.  We’re not happy to be hosting them.

Newly released video reportedly shows the moment members of the far-right group the “Proud Boys” attacked anti-fascist protesters.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Metropolitan Republican Club on New York City’s Upper East Side Friday night, where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes was scheduled to give a speech.

As the event was letting out, some of the attendees allegedly assaulted some of the so-called “Antifa” protesters.

Here’s from the Portland event.

Far-right groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer,clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Portland, Ore. on Saturday night.

Patriot Prayer, an Oregon-based group, was holding a rally in downtown Portland yesterday; after several hours of clashes, video footage shows, an antifa protester sprays one of the far-right group members with pepper spray, setting off further violence.

The incident appears to have taken place outside Kelly’s Olympian bar and follows similar violence at the hands of Proud Boys on Friday night in New York City. According to Twitter user @itsmikebivins, the violence in Portland was “way worse” than the violence in New York.

“Right-wingers were clubbing people with clubs,” @itsmikebivins continued. Portland police confirmed that the incident was part of violence that occurred between the groups throughout the day, and involved “hard-knuckled gloves, firearms, batons and knives.”

These idiots are like a cross between Clock Work Orange’s “droogies” and freaking NAZI Brownshirts with a dash of KKK thrown in, but hey, it’s liberals that are angry mobs!

Anyway, I will stay home and away from the TV news as much as possible.  My safe zone is the actual horror movies being shown on SYFY this month instead of the horror reality show that has overtaken our country.

Be excellent to each other.  Oh, and Elizabeth Warren does have Native American Heritage but I don’t want to play in to the all the American Indian Lore that’s floating around this story.   The only question to me is will Trump pony up the million to her chosen charity and will every one just go out and vote already!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 

 


Friday Reads: We’re on the road to Nowhere

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I am moving slowly today. Yesterday was both my Daddy’s birthday and the anniversary of his death and I still miss him very much. I’m reminded these days of him growing up in Oklahoma during the dust bowl and helping his various aunts and uncles work their farms.  He had 7 of them with farms around Oklahoma and only 1 uncle lost theirs and headed to California. I am reminded of farm failures as I read the news about the impact of the newly installed tariffs.

Dad would tell me stories about the old plow horse he’d ride daily that knew the way to the place to feed his older cousins and the hands working the fields.  The farm had no electricity or hot water and he had to take a bath on the porch, He also talked about the Cherokee man who let my Grandad chop wood on his land so they could keep the family warm during the winter.  His one Christmas gift was a pocket knife because even with Grandad’s job with the railroad, they were poor. My favorite stories were how his mother always fed the men that would come to the back door from jumping off the trains even if all she could offer was a mayonnaise sandwich.

Today, I drive some of my neighbors crazy by letting scrappers use my hose for water and offering food. They live in the abandoned navy base and most scrap metal they can sell for cash for the heroin or the meth that they crave. They jump off the rail road tracks by the base and many do eventually overdose. You can tell the EMS people pretty much make lots of calls for overdoses these days.  They nearly mistake everything for drugs. There are hundreds around here and the level of homelessness is overwhelming.  They are a sharp contrast to the wandering burbie tourists.

I also spent the week trying to visualize a huge, strong bubble around the Panama City House of some who who left her cat there.  I kept spending sleepless nights over some one else’s cat I’ve never met. I can’t imagine leaving any of my pets to the mercy of a hurricane.  I know the woman in passing and do not want to even see her face again. Oddly, enough her house appears to be the only one left intact in about a six block radius and even her RV is still in the driveway with out as much of a dent in it.  The entire place is surrounded by shattered wood and cement but there’s the house in the middle of a huge debris field. Some times nature can do the most unbelievable things.  I just hope the cat still has food and water and is safe.  But, I worry.

In some ways, life goes on with hurricanes and lives being lives. I try to do the things I admired about my Granddad and Nana because Dad’s stories inspired me to be like the parents he loved.

Then, I turn on the news and realize we do not live in the country my father wanted for his girls or I want for mine. I see all these raging white faces with agendas that seem so far away from my deeply christian Nana. So many people are being left behind like that little cat by the very people who are responsible for her well-being and like the scrappers sleeping at the base.  They are more human than a fertilized egg. My country has become a daily disappointment. Why are we like this?

Sarah Stillman–writing for The New Yorker–introduces us to a five year old girl “Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights”. How is this even possible in a supposedly civilized and advanced country?

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives; gangs had threatened Noehmi’s teen-age son, Christian, and the family no longer felt safe. Helen’s mother, Jeny, had migrated to Texas four years earlier, and Noehmi planned to seek legal refuge there. With Noehmi’s help, Helen travelled thousands of miles, sometimes on foot, and frequently fell behind the group. While crossing the Rio Grande in the journey’s final stretch, Helen slipped from their raft and risked drowning. Her grandmother grabbed her hand and cried, “Hang on, Helen!” When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

“But where did they take her?” Jeny asked.

“I don’t know,” Noehmi replied.

The next day, authorities—likely from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.)—called to say that they were holding Helen at a shelter near Houston; according to Noehmi, they wouldn’t say exactly where. Noehmi and Jeny panicked. Unable to breathe amid her distress, Noehmi checked herself into a local hospital, where doctors gave her medication to calm her down. “I thought we would never see her again,” Noehmi said. She couldn’t square her family’s fate with the TV news, which insisted that the government had stopped separating migrant families.

Read more of Helen’s story at the link. Both her mother and grandmother have been searching for her.

We not only abandoned children of asylum seekers like Helen and asylum seekers themselves.  We have abandoned people with greencards that work and live in the USA.  The case of WAPO journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his horrendous death in a Saudi consulate in Turkey still horrifies me.

The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.

The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence.

It has to be all about the money.  The Trump family crime syndicate is in deep with the Saudis which is why all the outrage is outside of the white house and not in.

A foreign government — an American ally, no less — can’t just murder a US resident with impunity while he’s on the soil of a NATO member state because they didn’t like his newspaper columns.

And yet that seems to be exactly what President Donald Trump wants to let Saudi officials do, explaining to reporters on Thursday that he does not want to respond to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi because “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money coming into our country” and “I don’t like stopping an investment of $110 billion in the United States.”

After Trump told reporters he didn’t want to lose the billions the Saudis spend on American goods, he suggested that perhaps because Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey, and because he is a permanent resident of the US but not a citizen, it’s all just no big deal.

US intelligence agencies are leaking like sieves trying to make the opposite point, getting word out to the American public that the American government has solid evidence that things are exactly as they appear, and that the Saudi government was behind the mysterious disappearance and likely murder of Khashoggi.

A Washington Post report based on US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials states that MBS personally “ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him.”

Meanwhile, the United States has no ambassador accredited in Riyadh. Instead, the relationship is in the hands of Kushner, an unqualified nobody whose personal finances are shot through with conflicts of interest.

It’s a situation no normal president would tolerate. But no normal president would have Trump’s level of financial conflicts of interest.

Aaron David Miller writing for The Atlantic says that “The U.S.-Saudi Relationship Is Out of Control. But even Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance may not force the Trump administration to recognize that fact.”

The administration’s identification with the 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as a modernizer determined to open up the kingdom and tame its religious extremism has now been undermined by a crueler reality—that of a ruthless, reckless, and impulsive leader willing to repress and silence his critics at home and abroad.
Whatever happened to Khashoggi is first and foremost on the Saudis. But in kowtowing to Riyadh in a fanciful effort to make it the centerpiece of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, the Trump administration has emboldened MbS, as the crown prince is known; given him a sense of invincibility; and encouraged him to believe there are no consequences for his reckless actions. And it is likely, unless confronted with incontrovertible evidence of Saudi responsibility for Khashoggi’s death or serious pressure from Congress, the president would be reluctant to impose those consequences even now.
Donald Trump’s enabling of Saudi Arabia began even before he became president. He talked openly on the campaign trail about his admiration for Saudi Arabia and how he couldn’t refuse Saudi offers to invest millions in his real-estate ventures. His predecessors may have gone to Mexico or Canada for their first foreign foray; Trump chose Saudi Arabia. In a trip carefully choreographed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who quickly established close personal ties with the soon-to-be crown prince,
Trump was feted, flattered, and filled with hopes of billions in arms sales and Saudi investment that would create jobs back home. Trump’s aversion to Barack Obama’s Iran deal also fueled the budding romance. Trump used his anti-Iranian animus (even while he boasted that he’d make a better deal with the mullahs) to energize his ties with Riyadh, and MbS was only too happy to exploit his eagerness. Reports that MbS saw Trump’s team, particularly Kushner, as naive and untutored should have come as no surprise.Previous administrations—both Republican and Democratic—also pandered to the Saudis, but rarely on such a galactic, unrestrained, and unreciprocated scale.
Through its silence or approval, Washington gave MbS—the new architect of the risk-ready, aggressive, and repressive Saudi policies at home and in the region—wide latitude to pursue a disastrous course toward Yemen and Qatar. The administration swooned over some of MbS’s reforms while ignoring the accompanying crackdown on journalists and civil-society activists.
Indeed, The Guardian and other outlets reported that MbS had told Kushner in advance of his plans to move against his opponents and wealthy businessmen, including some royals, in what might be termed a “shaikhdown.”

Monday Reads: Losing Ground but Finding Strength

Coyote Buttes South. Photo: John Fowler

I keep fighting back the urge to sing “It’s the end of the world as we know it” even though it seems like that way on so many fronts. The most dreadful of all gaslighting tricks fills the airwaves.  Brett Kavanaugh and his republican enablers are pretending that they are the victims of women’s hysteria while Dr. Ford can’t return to her home because of actual threats. Then, there are the rest of us. The people that aren’t white males or white male enablers.  How many more rights can they strip?

We’re looking to a future of having our voting rights stripped, our right to self determine our access to health care removed, and the enabling of police to shoot unarmed black men while white men complain they can’t watch their football without seeing folks bending a knee to remind them of the injustice. We’re looking to a future of likely seeing a President put above the law even though his obstruction of justice, theft of public property, and cooperation with Russian agents is there for nearly all to see. We’re going to continue to watch children and babies thrown into tents in the middle of deserts and jail cells after being ripped away from their parents.  We’re going to see the folks that need protection from our bad foreign policy flee to our borders only to be incarcerated for asking for refuge. We’re looking to losing spouses, jobs, and rights because of who we love and wish to marry.  In each of us, there is all of us.

We have to take one of the Houses of Congress away from the Republicans to turn this around.

There are other things we have to turn around too and I fully admit that I’ve thrown myself at the wall a few too many times to rise again. And yet, like every one else, I must.  We must.

Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park

From WAPO: The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say. “There is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes required, the body found.”

The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take “unprecedented” actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, according to a landmark report by the top scientific body studying climate change.

With global emissions showing few signs of slowing and the United States — the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide — rolling back a suite of Obama-era climate measures, the prospects for meeting the most ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris agreement look increasingly slim. To avoid racing past warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels would require a “rapid and far-reaching” transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before, the group found.

Gros Morne National Park

NYT: Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040″

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris agreement, the 2015 pact by nations to fight global warming.

The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty. Previous work had focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by a larger number, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), because that was the threshold scientists previously considered for the most severe effects of climate change.

The new report, however, shows that many of those effects will come much sooner, at the 2.7-degree mark.

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

The Guardian: “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN”

At 2C extremely hot days, such as those experienced in the northern hemisphere this summer, would become more severe and common, increasing heat-related deaths and causing more forest fires.

But the greatest difference would be to nature. Insects, which are vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2C compared with 1.5C. Corals would be 99% lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10% have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached.

Sea-level rise would affect 10 million more people by 2100 if the half-degree extra warming brought a forecast 10cm additional pressure on coastlines. The number affected would increase substantially in the following centuries due to locked-in ice melt.

Oceans are already suffering from elevated acidity and lower levels of oxygen as a result of climate change. One model shows marine fisheries would lose 3m tonnes at 2C, twice the decline at 1.5C.

Sea ice-free summers in the Arctic, which is warming two to three times fast than the world average, would come once every 100 years at 1.5C, but every 10 years with half a degree more of global warming.

l Capitan looms over the Merced River in California’s Yosemite National Park.

Back to Judge Bad News and Worse Temperament … Sarah Kendzior writes this for Canada’s Globe and Mail: “Kavanaugh’s appointment isn’t a step backward. It’s a head-first plunge into an ugly past”.

The confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh was, at heart, a referendum on the integrity of U.S. institutions and of the impunity of elites – and the U.S. failed. Senators who purport to believe in rule of law vouched for a judge who sees himself as above it. Senators who purport to believe in democracy honoured a man who degrades it, and did so in deference to a man seemingly attempting to destroy it – President Trump.

Checks and balances are nearly gone. The executive branch was long ago corrupted; the independent legislature neutered by a GOP majority nakedly seeking one-party rule. Until now, the judiciary had been the strongest bulwark against autocracy, having struck down many of Mr. Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders during his first year. The Trump administration responded by packing the courts, appointing right-wing judgesto lifetime appointments and purging attorneys they view as opponents. Justice Kavanaugh is the final nail in that coffin.

This is now Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court of the United States, run on white male entitlement and alternative facts. Justice Kavanaugh is expected to act as Mr. Trump’s legal lackey, exonerating him regardless of the charge or the evidence. His appointment may not only end the efficacy of the Robert Mueller probe, but curtail other attempts to prosecute Mr. Trump or his aides on state charges, due to a case, Gamble v. The United States, that the Supreme Court is set to hear this term.

Autocrats rewrite the law so they are no longer breaking it, and they hire and fire accordingly. This is why I have been warning for years that Donald Trump, whose seemingly autocratic consolidation grows stronger every day, was akin to a criminal able to someday select his own judge or delay his own trial – and now he has. This is why a purge of the FBI was followed by a sham FBI investigation into Justice Kavanaugh, reminiscent of those of authoritarian states, with key witnesses and evidence ignored.

For the President, the confirmation of this judge is a hand-picked gift, but for ordinary Americans, he marks the end of truths we deemed self-evident. Justice Kavanaugh marks the imposition of a corrosive new reality. The Supreme Court is likely to roll back decades of hard-earned rights, particularly voting rights, civil rights and women’s rights.

Also, a lot of Trump’s thug buddies in thuggish countries are disappearing journalists and others.

 

 

 

The silence is showing exactly what kind of country we’ve become.  We’re just another one of those ugly countries where the ruling class can’t possibly be bothered with human rights and hates the idea of a free press.

That’s all I can stomach today.

I’m trying to stay focused on the city around me because it’s kinda where I am right now and it appears the housing market has shifted against me in the last six months.  It’s one of those signs that tells me that the economy is likely to get pretty ugly pretty fast.   So, hug the ones around you, be thankful for what you have, and drag at least 10 people with you to the voting both in November.

It’s a matter of life and death for all of us.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: In Other news, POS sticks to toilet paper and 30% of the population votes for 70% of the Senate

download (4)I’ve been blogging over 10 years and we’re up to another birthday for sky dancing. I’m looking at the bill from word press for the blog gee gaws and I keep thinking I’d go nuts without this community of good people.  But as for adulting and blogging,  I just cant today.

The state of our Nation is summed up by the piece of toilet paper stuck to the Russian’ Potted Plant’s shoe. He’s busy unraveling everything done by Obama and yet, he rides the crest of an economy left to him.  He’ll own our economy next year and watch what happens.

He gleefully led his vindictive and cruel bunch of white ragers in another chant made to bully another woman. Mississippi Goddam.  I expect more attacks on women, immigrant children, and the voting rights of POC as he drags his knuckles and more toilet paper from sea to shining sea in search of a group of scared angry, hyperreligious white people who will wave signs, adore him, and vote for his agenda of greed and disruption.

As per usual, he’s oblivious to his trail of shit and garbage.

In a week consumed by a fraught Supreme Court confirmation battle, you could probably use a little levity. To that end, on Thursday, a video of Trump boarding Air Force One with toilet paper apparently stuck to his shoe surfaced. And it’s everything you imagined.

Nothing to see here. A “hanging will not” always sticks to TP.   But … here’s the Trump future …

Still the vile hubris and the gut choking debris …

The cloture vote passed but the confirmation vote is out there.  It’s important to recognize that there were some folks that voted for the right thing.

Fifty-one senators voted for cloture, and 49 against. Among the notable votes, Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona voted yes, while Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, voted no. Only one Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, voted for cloture.

The final vote on Kavanaugh is expected Saturday afternoon, assuming there are no snags, but it’s still unclear how a few key senators will vote

Heidi Heitkamp voted no and called it one of the most difficult votes she’d had ever cast.  As BB mentioned yesterday, this could cost her the seat. She’s going to see it through.

Heitkamp added that she did think of the people of North Dakota when making her decision, “Countless North Dakotans and others close to me have since reached out and told me their stories of being raped or sexually assaulted—and expressed the same anguish and fear. I’m in awe of their courage, too,” she said. “Some of them reported their abuse at the time, but others said nothing until now. Survivors should be respected for having the strength to share what happened to them — even if a generation has since passed. They still feel the scars and suffer the trauma of abuse.”

Heitkamp also made sure to say that she was willing to cooperate and work with the president on any other Supreme Court candidate he nominates. “There are many extremely qualified candidates to serve on the Court. I’m ready to work with the President to confirm a nominee who is suited for the honor and distinction of serving this lifetime appointment,” she said.

Meanwhile, the question is do they have 50 for the confirmation?  It has become deeply amazing to me that such a small number of states can elect bugfuck crazy senators that represent fewer people than one  neighborhood in greater LA and the rest of us have to live with it.  From Axios:

Sources involved with Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation were nervous going into today’s 10:30 a.m. test vote, Jonathan Swan reports:

  • Four senators are undecideds: Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

A senior source involved in the process told Swan fairly late last night:

  • “We’re going into this vote and we don’t have 50 right now.”
  • “There’s been a lot of work that was done today, by members wading through this material. I don’t want to put my thumb on the scale. Things keep moving — so much, it feels like we’re walking on quicksand. So I don’t even want to say confidence or not confidence.”

“Sometimes you just have to vote,” the source added. “But what if … something f—g happens in the morning? This whole process has just been … so much drama, so many balls coming out at the last minute.”

At 7:30 last night, Kavanaugh gave his final argument in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “I Am an Independent, Impartial Judge: Yes, I was emotional last Thursday. I hope everyone can understand I was there as a son, husband and dad.”

  • “I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”
  • Be smart: The piece looks wildly desperate. It’s a sign of how worried Team Kavanaugh is that a Supreme Court nominee felt he had to publish a last-minute op-ed to promise he’s not going to be emotional, but rather an independent, impartial Supreme Court justice.

As long as it can be prolonged, even if its for a Senator I’ve never heard of going back to the outback for his daughter’s wedding, more lawyers come out against him and we see more of this like today in WAPO:  “We were Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking buddies. We don’t think he should be confirmed.”

We were college classmates and drinking buddies with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. In the past week, all three of us decided separately to respond to questions from the media regarding Brett’s honesty, or lack thereof. In each of our cases, it was his public statements during a Fox News TV interview and his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that prompted us to speak out.

We each asserted that Brett lied to the Senate by stating, under oath, that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. We said, unequivocally, that each of us, on numerous occasions, had seen Brett stumbling drunk to the point that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk.

and a few senators that keep trying to do the right thing but can’t seem to find it in them  … with the exception of Heidi from North Dakota who decided that it’s was the only thing she could do to face herself in the mirror each day.  Lisa Murkowski evidently listened to her heart and constituents and voted no also. This man would be disastrous for indigenous Alaskans.

For a moment we hoped that Colorado’s Cory Gardiner would man up.  Gardiner’s office is one of the few senators still accepting phone calls though so it’s worth a shot.

The senator wants to finish reading the FBI report before making a decision, spokesman Casey Contres said. Gardner said he’d vote yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation after meeting with the judge in July. However, that was before several women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Later Thursday, Politico reporter Burgess Everett tweeted that Gardner was sticking with Kavanaugh: “New statement: ‘Senator Gardner has been supportive of Judge Kavanaugh throughout the nomination. He had the opportunity to review the FBI report tonight. Nothing in the report changed his mind and he remains supportive of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.’”

Gardner’s office didn’t respond to a request to confirm whether the tweet was accurate.

Most of them are like silly Ben Sasse from Nebraska who talks a good game but goosesteps right down the path to plutocracy.  Don’t even get me started on Flaky Jeff.  Then, there is my Senator Kennedy who should just eat shit and die.  The nonsense spewing from his mouth is downright embarrassing unless you’re a duckbilly from Monroe.

 From ” The Fix : ‘I don’t think their mother breast-fed them’: GOP senator attacks Democrats who oppose Kavanaugh”

It kept getting worse: “With FBI report on Kavanaugh, John Kennedy says ‘put down the bong’ if you think concern is genuine”

It’s tough living in a state full of religious whackos and racists.  I was born in one (Oklahoma), raised in two (Iowa and Nebraska), and the only thing I found that’s possible for me to do down here in Louisiana is stay in Orleans Parish or fear the white plague. The rest of the state is full of a few good people and a lot of really fucked up ones.

Sen. Kennedy: Kavanaugh ‘just didn’t do it’ Louisiana’s other U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, also a Republican, said he came to the same conclusion following a review of the FBI report.

White men do not seem to understand modern sexual assault laws passed in the 1970s.  They have no apparent knowledge that outcry witnesses count more than any “he said”.  They frighten us into silence no more. Any one lays a hand on me today. I out cry to my two friends and head to the police.

 

I’m done for the day. I’ll pop in to see what you say because we’re a safe space.  I’m afraid the rest of the country isn’t.  If you see a white man, run for your life unless he identifies himself as a friend of woman and people of color or announces he is or knows what it is to be a friend of Dorothy clearly. Hide your daughters, your mothers, your cousins, and your aunties away from the likes of Brent Kavanaugh and my Senator Kennedy. Women’s lives are increasing endangered.

We must continue to stand with each other and with the other targets of white patriarchy.  We must value the lives and rights of all oppressed peoples more and learn to leave whatever whiteness buys us in the dust. We cannot enable this.  We must fight along women of all colors and disenfranchised men for an equal presence and voice in our country and we must work to see if our white identities prevent us from doing so.  We must listen more to women of color and establish their unique positions in the struggle for women’s equality.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Be excellent to each other.

 


Monday Reads: Sex, Lies, and Republicans

Good Morning Sky Dancers! 

Republicans continue to act as though the US is not a constitutional Republic run by rule of law. They scheme to find end runs around everything.  The Kavanaugh appointment continues to amaze as a small group of radical religionists, gun fetishists, and greedy wealthy people drive the party to further extremes.  The worst thing is our system is actually set up to give over representation to states that resemble little more than outback territories, making them equal to states with much larger populations and economies.  We continue to subsidize the Republican base and their rapacious lifestyle choices.

In keeping with making a toothless show of oversight and justice, the week-long Kavanaugh investigation appears to be an effort to minimize the chance of actually getting to the bottom of things.  From The New Yorker today comes this bit of information about the constraints placed on the FBI by Trump regimist groupies.

As the F.B.I. began its investigation this weekend into allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, several people who hope to contribute information about him to the F.B.I. said that they were unable to make contact with agents. President Trumphas promised to give the F.B.I. “free rein” in its probe, but the Times reported on Saturday that the White House had asked the F.B.I. to question only four witnesses. In the course of the next day, confusion spread about whom the F.B.I. would be interviewing, and Senate Democrats demanded that the White House provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with a copy of the written directive that it had sent to the F.B.I. regarding the investigation.

With a one-week deadline looming over the investigation, some who say they have information relevant to the F.B.I.’s probe are suspicious that the investigation will amount to what one of Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmates called a “whitewash.” Roberta Kaplan, an attorney representing one potential witness, Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Kavanaugh’s high-school friend Mark Judge, said her client “has repeatedly made clear to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to the F.B.I. that she would like the opportunity to speak to them.” But, Kaplan said, “We’ve received no substantive response.”

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Judge of being an accessory to Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault on her, in 1982, when they were all in high school. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied any role in the assault, and Judge, through his attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, also has denied any recollection of it. Kaplan said that early this past week she began reaching out to the F.B.I. and to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Rasor’s behalf. “She feels a sense of civic duty to tell what she knows,” Kaplan said. “But the only response we’ve gotten are e-mails saying that our e-mails have been ‘received.’ ” At one point, she said, an F.B.I. official suggested she try calling an 800-number telephone tip line.

Debra Katz, the lead attorney for Ford, said that her client, too, had been willing to coöperate with the F.B.I.’s investigation, but as of Sunday the F.B.I. had not contacted her, despite Ford’s central role in the controversy. “We’ve tried repeatedly to speak with the F.B.I, but heard nothing back,” Katz said.

Meanwhile, some Kavanaugh school mates have taken to speaking to the press. It is likely the press finds more than the FBI which may be the one good thing from this brief respite from the Republican ramrod seeking a quick vote.  Yale class mate Chad Luddington provided a statement to the NYT documenting Kavanaugh’s ongoing love affair (aka heavy drinking) with beer. We could tell from that display on Thursday that this judge appears to be a raging alcoholic red nose and pink chinks included.

In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When I watched Brett and his wife being interviewed on Fox News on Monday, and when I watched Brett deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, I cringed. For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him. On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.

I do not believe that the heavy drinking or even loutish behavior of an 18- or even 21-year-old should condemn a person for the rest of his life. I would be a hypocrite to think so. However, I have direct and repeated knowledge about his drinking and his disposition while drunk. And I do believe that Brett’s actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter. If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences. It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges.

I believe a know a bit of where the O’Kavanaugh behavior comes from having two parents each with a parent that lived with the absolute, utterly horrid fallout of drunken Irish fathers.  One of them was murdered walking home from the bar and my grandmother was left to raise her two younger sisters.  The other just up and left his family leaving my grandfather to quit school in 8th grade to work for the railroad laying track to take care of his mother and two sisters. You grow up with the stories and the hand me down trauma.

Kavanaugh appears to be a bit more than your drunk on the holidays uncle than he pretends to be.  Just the horrific attack on Senator Klobucher–the daughter of a long term recovering alcoholic–was enough to trigger any one raised around alcoholics certainly.  That I can only imagine with horror.

Klobucher told CNN on Sunday she was “stunned” by his behavior.  His lying and vicious verbal attacks were enough to make the Blarney stone blush.

On Sunday, Klobuchar explained the idea behind her line of questioning.

“One idea here is that he simply was drinking more than he was saying over this time period and that he didn’t remember what happened, and so I was just simply trying to get at that and really couching it in the fact that I had alcoholism in my own family,” she told Tapper.

Klobuchar said Kavanaugh’s denial of ever forgetting something after a night of drinking doesn’t add up.

“It doesn’t quite make sense to me, because, first of all, you have these other people from parts of his life who have said that he was belligerent when he was drunk and other things.”

Luddington is now expected to tell the FBI about Kavanuagh’s “violent drunken behavior” per NBC.  I wonder if any of this explains the look on the face of Kavanaugh’s wife. It’s fixed and not supportive looking at all. She has the look of some inner terror.

Kavanaugh has been caught in yet another whopper. He tried to sound as if his entry to Yale was of his own making.  Kavanaugh, in fact, was a legacy.  The man has serious issues with how he has presented himself to people and how he views himself. From Newsweek:

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said underoath that he had “no connections” to Yale prior to attending, arguing that hard work and ambition were the sole factors leading him to study at the prestigious institution of higher education.

However, that statement is verifiably untrue. In fact, Kavanaugh would be classified as a legacy student, because his grandfather Everett Edward Kavanaugh also attended Yale as an undergraduate student, The Intercept reported on Saturday, sharing an image of a 1928 yearbook.

“I have no connections there. I got there by busting my tail,” Kavanaugh, who currently serves as a federal judge, said while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Lying under oath should be disqualifying on its own merit.  And, it should bring in to question everything Kavanaugh has testified about.  From the link above at Current Affairs:

In this case, when we examine the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford honestly, impartially, and carefully, it is impossible to escape the following conclusions:

  1. Brett Kavanaugh is lying.
  2. There is no good reason to believe that Christine Blasey Ford is lying. This does not mean that she is definitely telling the truth, but that there is nothing in what Kavanaugh said that in any way discredits her account.

I want to show you, clearly and definitively, how Brett Kavanaugh has lied to you and lied to the Senate. I cannot prove that he committed sexual assault when he was 17, and I hesitate to draw conclusions about what happened for a few minutes in a house in Maryland in the summer of 1982. But I can prove quite easily that Kavanaugh’s teary-eyed “good, innocent man indignant at being wrongfully accused” schtick was a facade. What may have looked like a strong defense was in fact a very, very weak and implausible one.

Let’s begin with Kavanaugh’s denial.

Here is what he says: “I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation.”

And here is the gathering as Ford describes it:

After a day of diving at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember specifically being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, a boy named P.J., and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I also remember my friend Leland attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur-of-the-moment gathering… People were drinking beer in a small living room/family room-type area on the first floor of the house.

Kavanaugh says that he never attended any event like this. Like what, though? He never attended a small gathering in Bethesda where people were drinking beer? Kavanaugh submitted his own calendars from the summer of 1982 into evidence for the Senate. As he said himself, “the calendars show a few weekday gatherings at friends’ houses after a workout or just to meet up and have some beers.” He says that he never attended a gathering like this, but that’s obviously false, because the type of gathering he says he did attend is exactly the kind she describes.

Coverage of Ford’s allegations has often implied that the “party” at which she alleges she was assaulted was a kind of large Bacchanalian house party. This is a crucial part of Kavanaugh’s “calendar” defense: If there had been a big party, lots of people would have been there, it would probably have been on his summer calendar under “PAR-TAY!” It would have been notable, and since nobody seems to remember it and he even wrote far less significant events on his calendar, Ford must be misremembering.

But Ford has been clear: She is not talking about a big event. She is talking about a few friends and acquaintances hanging around drinking some beer in a living room:

It was not really a party like the news has made it sound. It was not. It was just a gathering that I assumed was going to lead to a party later on that those boys would attend, because they tended to have parties later at night than I was allowed to stay out. So it was kind of a pre-gathering.

It’s impossible to believe Kavanaugh when he says he never attended any event “like the one Dr. Ford describes.” It was a very typical low-key high school event, and it would have been shocking if Kavanaugh never attended such a thing. Indeed, he admits it himself.

You can read the rest at the link. It is a long and compelling argument.

So,this drama continues as well as the Trump/Rosenstein meeting.  I can’t imagine what we’ll hear and see by Friday. I only know what’s at stake and this makes me extremely anxious.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Reads: Judicial Temper Fit

I’m fucking triggered today and I’m exhausted. I have that limpness that comes from a huge long crying jag without even having that huge long crying jag and its emotional release.

The display of white male fragility and rage at not having a unencumbered, petal strewn path to power yesterday has left me feeling drained and sad. It’s difficult to understand how we’ve arrived at this point. We appear doomed to spend the rest of our lives trying to undo it all over again.

It is truly a sad day for any one that cares about civil rights.

The current state of the US Senate will probably embolden Trump to go after Sessions, Mueller and Rosenstein and Lindsey Graham will be installed as the next AG as a reward for his shameful behavior yesterday. It was an all day display of Rageholics and spoiled brats that will do anything to maintain their wealth and power over others.

All kinds of organizations are calling for Kavanaugh’s name to be withdrawn or a launch of a full investigation but I seriously doubt that will happen. There are only baby men and their enablers in the Republican party. Any show of statesmanship and patriotism has left the building.

Here are some headlines because I feel quite drained and sad. Women are being given the bum’s rush back to the 19th century. I’m just waiting for them to repeal our voting rights. Next move will be to reinstate slavery, I’d bet. Just repeal all those inconvenient amendments to the Constitution that make the rest of us a little less fearful for our lives and then enshrine us as less than human; less than any white straight rich powerful male.

From the New Yorker: E-Mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser’s Effort to Give Testimony

The e-mails show that Mike Davis, a senior Republican committee staffer, approached Ramirez’s attorneys on Sunday evening, shortly after The New Yorker published a piece about Senate Democrats investigating her allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during their college years. Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Kavanaugh has repeatedly said that the allegations are false.

From the start, Ramirez’s legal team had called for the F.B.I. to conduct an investigation. Her attorney John Clune told Davis that Ramirez was seeking an F.B.I. investigation and said that, “on appropriate terms, she would also agree to be interviewed in person.” But when Clune proposed a phone call several times, Davis repeatedly insisted that Clune answer two questions: Did Ramirez possess evidence in addition to what was in the New Yorker article? And was she willing to provide testimony to the committee’s investigators?

Clune answered the Republican staffer’s questions, suggesting that Ramirez did, in fact, have additional witnesses and other evidence. And, he said, of Ramirez’s willingness to testify to the committee’s investigators, “We couldn’t answer without learning more from you about the details of whatever process you are contemplating. After hearing more, we would advise the client accordingly.” Davis then requested that Ramirez’s team provide evidence in the form of a letter, e-mail, or statement to the committee’s investigators before he would consider a call. Clune continued to try to schedule a call with a Democratic staffer on the e-mail thread, but Davis wrote back to him, saying that, “before we discuss a phone call or any other next steps, again, we need to have the following information,” and reiterated the two questions.

At that point, Heather Sawyer, the Democratic staffer who was copied on the e-mails in accordance with committee policy, wrote to Davis, “As you’re aware, Ms. Ramirez’s counsel have repeatedly requested to speak with the Committee, on a bipartisan basis, to determine how to proceed. You refused. I’ve never encountered an instance where the Committee has refused even to speak with an individual or counsel. I am perplexed as to why this is happening here, except that it seems designed to ensure that the

Majority can falsely claim that Ms. Ramirez and her lawyers refused to cooperate. That simply is not true.”

From CNN: American Bar Association: Delay Kavanaugh until FBI investigates assault allegations

The American Bar Association is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the consideration of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation is completed into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled his nomination.

In a strongly worded letter obtained by CNN Thursday, the organization said it is making the extraordinary request “because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” siding with concerns voiced by Senate Democrats since Christine Blasey Ford’s decades-old allegations became public.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson wrote. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”

From Axios: The next ugly fight: Impeachment(s)

In a foreshadowing of how much uglier U.S. politics could get, top Democratic operatives are already talking about impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue if he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The impeachment talk reflects the conclusion of Democrats and Republicans close to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh’s confirmation is more likely than not — and certainly more likely than it was 24 hours ago.

  • A well-known Democratic strategist says the “only question is who calls for it first.”
  • And top Republicans expect President Trump to begin making an even bigger issue of his own possible impeachment as a way of whipping up supporters in the final month of this fall’s midterm campaigns.
  • A veteran Republican close to Senate leaders and the White House: “Impeachment of Trump and Kav will be an animating issue on both sides.”

Why it matters: Yesterday’s epic hearing — a tearful, outraged Kavanaugh following a tearful, credible Christine Blasey Ford — will likely stand as a nine-hour distillation of our toxic era.

What to watch: “Democrats tonight are depleted, raw, furious, and churning,” emails an adviser to Ford’s camp.

  • A Republican insider texted his belief that Kavanaugh will make it (something the insider had doubted earlier in the day) and added: “What ugly times. We may be doomed.”

The war was embodied by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who rallied the GOP by caustically accusing Democrats: “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020.”

  • The N.Y. Times’ Jeremy Peters tweeted: “[W]hat I saw today was a fury between members of opposite parties that is as profound and unnerving as I’ve ever seen. They’re not faking it.”

Be smart: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats could be expected to question the legitimacy of his swing Supreme Court vote. Congress degraded itself yesterday. And the Trump White House of course has serious credibility issues.

  • So the United States of America will be three-for-three in diminished trust in its branches of government.

From Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post: The most telling moment: Kavanaugh goes after Sen. Klobuchar

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh decided that to have any chance to reach the court, he would have to shed the pretense he was a fair-minded, calm, judicious thinker. He came out in the afternoon filled with venom, screaming at the committee. His life was being ruined, he claimed. This was a Clinton-like smear. His anger was both frightening and unexpected — if you thought he was that intellectual whom conservatives have swooned over. He yelled, and he cried. If you thought he was sincere, one could also appreciate how partisan and emotional he had become.

The shouting didn’t end with his opening statement. He barked at the ranking Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Then the Republicans got into the screaming act, pushing their outside lawyer Rachel Mitchell aside in favor of histrionics from Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.). If President Trump loved the nasty, male grievance game, the rest of us had reason to wonder if anyone of this temperament — Cornyn, Graham or Kavanaugh — should be in a position of power. If they were women, they would be called “hysterical.”

Kavanaugh, as of this writing, made a couple major errors.

First, he refused to call for an FBI investigation (even when Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois invited him to ask it of White House counsel Donald McGahn). When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) questioned about his friend Mark Judge, Kavanaugh slipped and said “you’d have to ask [Judge]”, who of course the Republicans refuse to summon as a witness. The refusal to get the facts is both a telling admission of concern about what they would find and a violation the judicial goal of truth-seeking. It’s a political calculation, exactly what you don’t want to see from a judge.

The worst moment was his confrontation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who questioned him about blackout drinking. She explained that she understood alcohol abuse because her father was an alcoholic. Have you ever blacked out? she asked. He sneered in response, “Have you?” It was a moment of singular cruelty and disrespect. One saw a flash in the exchange with Klobuchar the same sense of entitlement, cruelty and lack of simple decency that Christine Blasey Ford allegedly experienced way back when, the memory seared in her brain of two obnoxious teens laughing at her ordeal.

From Huffpo: Brett Kavanaugh’s Testimony Was A Spectacle Of Angry Male Bonding. Anger, like laughter, really can bring men together at women’s expense.

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the allegations of sexual assault made against him by Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh harangued the committee in a plaintive squawk. He seemed perpetually on the verge of tears ― especially, for some inscrutable reason, when he lovingly recalled how well-organized his father’s daily calendar was ― yet also incandescent with partisan fury and petulance about the injustice being done to him.

And Republican men, from pundits to the president, apparently reveled in it. Those in the room, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch and Ben Sasse, used their questioning time to apologize fulsomely to the judge and to shout imprecations against government overreach, Democratic perfidy and the great cruelty being done to Kavanaugh by investigating credible assault allegations against him prior to confirming him to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the nation.

I’m really afraid we’re going to be stuck with him the same way we’re stuck with Trump. Putin is probably serving champagne at the St Petersburg Troll Farm as we speak.

Okay, that’s about all I can take of this for the moment. Vent away! Cry! Do whatever you have to do! Be excellent to yourselves. We have each other and I love you all!