Monday Reads: Right Wing America always thinks it’s All about them!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers! 

The Big Easy isn’t so easy at the moment.  I lost my cable and internet again on Saturday.  Right now, I have no water and probably won’t for a few hours.  We’re a case study in aging infrastructure combined with Climate Change disasters and the Republicans aren’t interested in either.  Plus, here we are still watching the neighboring states work really hard to kill people in the cause of crank science and white privilege masked as liberty.  Right-wing grievance basted in white nationalist hatred has always been a problem in our country and always has a terrible cost in both life and liberty for others.

Here’s Michael Beschloss reminding us that it always hangs out in some of our key institutions.  It’s been over 100 years since the communist scare struck their blessed little hearts with fear.  Here’s a reminder of what it looked like around 60 years ago.

We’re well known for basically thinking everyone but a White Christianist male is subservient and not fully human. These white nationalist movements–egged on by the Trumpist regime today–are really frightened of losing the hegemony they’ve enforced for years. They’ve always used over-the-top rhetoric and boogymen.  In those same years, communism was in charge of the fluoridation of water. Remember this scene from Dr. Stranglove?

Despite this seemingly inexorable progression, a vocal opposition has persisted—perhaps most famously embodied in the grizzled and gruff cigar-chomping and gun-toting General Jack Ripper of Dr. Strangelove. In that 1964 film Ripper explains his rationale for inciting nuclear war: “Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water? Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

Though General Ripper’s speech caricatured anti-Red paranoia, right-wing groups like the John Birch Society have long implied dark motives behind fluoridation. But more common are groups raising safety questions. Anti-fluoridation literature goes back over half a century, with titles like Robotry and Water: A Critique of Fluoridation (1959)

We suddenly see communism again in arguing that a past president should still have executive privilege among tons of other things. The Ghost of Roy Cohen should be pleased. Indicting Trump’s crime syndicate is communist too!  Why do we keep coming back to this?

The soldier bath or Artillerymen, 1915, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Now, see how David Leonhardt–writing for the New York Times–studies the patterns of death by thinking communism is in charge of a privately-developed set of vaccines. “Red Covid. Covid’s partisan pattern is growing more extreme.”

During the early months of Covid-19 vaccinations, several major demographic groups lagged in receiving shots, including Black Americans, Latino Americans and Republican voters.

More recently, the racial gaps — while still existing — have narrowed. The partisan gap, however, continues to be enormous. A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 86 percent of Democratic voters had received at least one shot, compared with 60 percent of Republican voters.

The political divide over vaccinations is so large that almost every reliably blue state now has a higher vaccination rate than almost every reliably red state …

How is it that every public health issue still shakes a few little people into thinking their superior genes protect them and jump straight to the communist plot rationale?  Mask mandates are communistic too right?

Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S., Covid has exacted a horrific death toll on red America: In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June, according to Charles Gaba, a health care analyst. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.

And the gap will probably keep growing…

I guess we’re not really joking when we say the Republican Party is killing its base.

It’s also trying to kill our democracy and economy.  Senate Republics are full-on crazy-go-nuts if they think blocking the debt ceiling will do anything but cause chaos in the global economy.  Maybe that is what they want.  Joe Biden must fail for them to replace our democracy with some Trumpy autocrat.  This is from The Washington Post and Tony Romm: “Senate Republicans prepare to block measure to fund government, stave off U.S. default. The expected vote Monday sets up a last-minute scramble ahead of two critical fiscal deadlines.

Senate Republicans on Monday prepared to block a bill that would fund the government, provide billions of dollars in hurricane relief and stave off a default in U.S. debts, part of the party’s renewed campaign to undermine President Biden’s broader economic agenda.

The GOP’s expected opposition is sure to deal a death blow to the measure, which had passed the House last week, and threatens to add to the pressure on Democrats to devise their own path forward ahead of a series of urgent fiscal deadlines. A failure to address the issues could cause severe financial calamity, the White House has warned, potentially plunging the United States into another recession.

They want a recession. Their political goals for the mid-terms demands everything be more awful than they and Trump left us.

Kathe Kollwitz, “Never Again War!”, 1924

Lee Brutman writes this for FiveThirtyEight: “Why Bipartisanship In The Senate Is Dying.”

-So, what changed? Well, pretty much the entire nature of American electoral party politics.

One way to clearly see this change is to map American partisan competition. From the 1960s through the early 2000s, both Democrats and Republicans were genuinely national parties in the Senate. That is, Senate Democrats and Republicans used to hail from all parts of the country.

This was important because it kept both parties politically diverse and thus moderate overall. Moreover, because Senate elections were more about local issues, both parties were able to compete nationally. Voters didn’t care as much whether they sent a Democrat or a Republican to Washington. What mattered was whether they sent somebody who could represent their state well. And senators could prove their worth by bringing home federal funding for roads and bridges — just the kind of issue that used to facilitate bipartisan dealmaking.

But today’s political campaigns and voters care far less about roads and bridges. They care far more about national culture-war issues — and which party controls the majority in Congress. As a result, Democrats can’t win in much of the Southeast and the Mountain West, and Republicans are now perpetual losers in the West and the Northeast. Only the Southwest and the Midwest remain competitive, and that’s only because state populations are currently balanced between liberal cities and conservative exurbs.

It’s also why bipartisanship in the Senate is waning. Republican senators in solidly Republican states do not have to worry about winning over some Democrats; the senators’ general election win is all but assured. Rather, the most likely way they could lose is if they face a primary challenge to their right. And the most likely way they could draw such a challenger is if they were to publicly work with Democrats.

In other words, a bipartisan record has become a liability in today’s electoral environment.

There are a lot of charts and numbers there showing the trends.

FRANZ MARC The Wolves (Balkan War), 1913

So let’s go back to the idea of a Constitutional Crisis as elucidated by The Washington Post Op-Ed Cited in that above tweet.  This is ‘conservative’ Robert Kagan and has been hashed about for days.

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos

I see that word chaos a lot these days and Republican obfuscation of every important issue of the day is at the root. Getting a vaccine should not be this big of a deal. Getting the debt ceiling raised or getting rid of that obscure law that demands it should not be that big of a deal.  Free and Fair elections with expansive access to the vote should not be this big of a deal.  Passing laws that protect women and children from Violence should not be that big of a deal. Passing gun safety laws that get weapons of war off the street should not be that big of all deal.  All of these things have been done before but recently it’s been impossible to renew any of them.  The only policy Mitch McConnell has is to ensure a train wreck every time a Democratic candidate gets the Presidency. This is an anti-democratic position and should be intolerable to any American.

So, that’s my Ted Talk for the day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Fighting the Same Old Fights

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s been nearly a month since Ida turned Southeast Louisiana into a gigantic mess. It’s cooler now and sunny,  Fall seems to have treated us with an on-time appearance. My streets are free from the garbage that was not picked up for weeks on end.  Yesterday, they removed all the tree debris from the neutral ground.   There were some huge trunks there from one of the neighbor’s very old oak trees. They probably were riddled with Formosan Termites.

It continues to be difficult watching White Male Republican Christianists and their enablers tear at the very foundation and dream this country was built on. We should be a country where just about anyone should be able to come, seek refuge, and work their way up into the middle class, at least.  Our outcomes shouldn’t depend on our race, our gender, who we love, and the beliefs we hold. We are fighting the same fights for a more perfect union and watching the white male patriarchal nationalists continue to fix the game in their favor, morally objectionable people get thrown onto court benches for holding extremist positions. We’re reminded daily of this as the same group of suspects in state governorships rev up extremist laws that should be unconstitutional with the purpose of handing the decision to stacked courts.

There is now an intersection between two of the most objectionable and worthless Supreme Court Justices with a penchant for sexually assaulting women.  Anita Hill is back in the headlines with a new book. BB pointed me to this article last night in The Atlantic by Anita Hill herself.  “What It Was Like for Me to Watch Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony. From my own experience in 1991, I knew that her life would never be the same.” No matter what we do by changing laws and providing prevention and legal means to change the situation, predatory men still get rewarded by the system. She views the Kavanaugh hearing through the eyes of Christine Blasey Ford.

I had never spoken with Ford directly, but once the Judiciary Committee chair, Chuck Grassley, who also had heard my testimony about Clarence Thomas three decades earlier, announced that Ford would testify, emails flooded my inbox. Some suggested politely, “I would like to see you sitting behind Dr. Ford as she testifies on Thursday.” Others argued that my presence “would certainly send a message to those, dare I say, incorrigible, ignorant men who did not listen to your honest pleas to be heard those many years ago.”

My instinct told me that those “ignorant men” and many others would make political hay out of any gesture I made to show my support for Ford. I recalled the claims from 1991 that left-wing, pro-abortion-rights feminists had duped me into testifying about Thomas’s behavior. I was certain that Ford was hearing something of the same.

My biggest hope for the day was that it would be a completely different experience for her than it had been for me—that a lot of hard work by activists, researchers, lawyers, and others raising claims and demanding change in their workplace in the 27 years since I had faced that same Senate committee had resulted in the evolution of a new awareness of gender violence. But with some of the same senators from 1991 sitting on the Judiciary Committee and with Grassley in charge, I could not bring myself to be optimistic that the entire committee had evolved.

The 1991 committee was entirely made up of white men, and men in the Senate outnumbered women 98 to two. That the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee included women, one of whom was Black, as well as a Black man, gave me hope for a greater understanding of gender and power, as did the fact that 23 women were Senate members. I wanted to believe that, between 1991 and 2018, enough senators had read the Department of Justice or CDC reports about the prevalence and health consequences of sexual violence to counter the committee’s naysayers.

We know how that turned out.  Margaret Sullivan–writing for The Washington Post–refers to the two women as a “club of two”.

During a recent conversation recorded for a new podcast, Hill, now 65 and a Brandeis law professor, told Ford, 54 and a psychology scholar at Stanford and Palo Alto University, that she felt a sense of overwhelming kinship as she watched the 2018 testimony — a feeling that she knew was shared by a large community of like-minded women.

“A spiritual solidarity,” Hill called it.

Their conversation is a high point in “Because of Anita,” a new four-part podcast series that debuts in October. I listened to a segment of it Thursday and found it moving, instructive and — as podcasts sometimes can be — surprisingly intimate. The two had met and spoken before but not, until now, for the public to hear.

The conversation took place on Zoom in late August with Hill and Ford in their home offices in Massachusetts and California. The podcast hosts — activist and scholar Salamishah Tillet and journalist Cindi Leive, longtime editor of Glamour magazine — were in San Diego and Brooklyn.

Hill and Ford discussed the intensity of their experiences, and how it lingered far beyond their moments in the harsh spotlight — moments remembered by many Americans as a still image of each woman with her right hand raised.

They also agreed on their motivation: that it was not, at heart, to persuade those who would vote for or against the nominees but rather, a desire to be clear and honest about their experiences — to simply say what they knew and not to be attached to the outcome.

The most obvious outcomes, of course, were similar. Thomas and Kavanaugh both were confirmed by narrowly divided Senate votes: 52 to 48, and 50 to 48, respectively.

But both Hill and Ford sound as if they have made their peace with that — and say they would do it again, though they acknowledge how much the searing experiences have changed their lives.

Hill is still fighting the good fight against gender violence.  Samantha Simon has this to say about her in a piece for InStyle.  This is an interview with Hill who is part of a series speaking with “badass women”.

“Once you get on this track, you don’t stop. You just realize there’s something else to accomplish,” she says. “Right now, I’m feeling like I have time. I wish for everyone the feeling I have about how I live my life: I can do things to make the world better for other people, and that’s really a gift. Not everyone feels they have that kind of power.
The concentration of power — who holds it and the ways they use it to harm those who don’t have enough — has been central to Hill’s work all along. “This has been a public crisis long before the #MeToo movement, and people are still facing resistance to their ideas or identities in the workplace and can’t come forward,” she says. “As long as those conditions exist, I will be doing this work.”

That’s what I think it feels like for all of us working on Social Justice Issues. We’re fighting and refighting the same things. For example, some on needs to tell Lindsey Graham whipping black people with a leash went out with the end of the civil war.

There is nothing I can say to folks that try to lessen the impact of that image. It’s just another way we see another era in our country when people could be property.   It’s not supposed to be that way anymore.

I’m going to end here with something that happened to me this week. On Tuesday, I was sitting in my little virtual office online waiting patiently to see students or help students. The usual chat request came in with only the letter e typed in. What followed was this question. “Are you a (n-word)? Of course, the university is investigating it. It rattled me more than I thought possible given the amount of hate I’ve seen all around the Quarter when the White Male Christianists come to hate on women and the GLBTQ community. But, it reminded me that none of us really have a safe space which really, is what everyone wants.  Protecting privilege as vehemently as today’s Republicans do is just hard to deal with day-in-and-out.  But we are the majority.  That is what scares them. We must use our power as the majority and stop them. If I was a Christian, I would sure be pushing back on what they say is the path of Jesus. I’m allied with kindness, compassion, and civility.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Totally Tuesday Reads: Curbing Presidential Powers

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

BB’s had a bad week or so with her pain issues so I’m sitting in for her today.  She’s going to be talking to her doctor so hopefully, she’ll get some relief sometime today!  It’s the last day of summer also. I hope we can get some relief from the heat.

Charlie Savage has written this piece in the New York Times today: “Democrats Begin Effort to Curb Post-Trump Presidential Powers ut to appeal to Republicans, a bill being introduced in the House to impose checks on executive authority may be broken into pieces in the Senate.”

House Democrats are planning to introduce a package of proposed new limits on executive power on Tuesday, beginning a post-Trump push to strengthen checks on the presidency that they hope will compare to the overhauls that followed the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War.

Democrats have spent months negotiating with the Biden White House to refine a broad set of proposals that amount to a point-by-point rebuke of the ways that Donald J. Trump shattered norms over the course of his presidency. The Democrats have compiled numerous bills into a package they call the Protecting Our Democracy Act.

The legislation would make it harder for presidents to offer or bestow pardons in situations that raise suspicion of corruption, refuse to respond to oversight subpoenas, spend or secretly freeze funds contrary to congressional appropriations, and fire inspectors general or retaliate against whistle-blowers, among many other changes.

The legislation’s lead sponsor, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, said he hoped it would receive a floor vote “this fall.”

Here’s another example of things that should not happen.  Thank goodness for courts and prosecutors!

“Tongue Fashion”, from the “Annunciation” series (1969) Wilfredo Lam

Yeah, right “Russian Hoax” Blah. Blah. Blah.  This is from the AXIOS link cited above.

The big picture: The Justice Department alleges that Jesse Benton, 43, the husband of Paul’s niece and a veteran Republican staffer, orchestrated a scheme to conceal the illegal foreign donation with another GOP operative, Doug Wead.

The details: The indictment, unsealed on Monday, outlines allegations of a convoluted money trail from the unnamed Russian national through a consulting firm run by Benton and to a Trump joint fundraising committee.

  • The Russian national was determined to underwrite a Trump fundraising event in order to get a photo with the former president, according to communications between Benton and Weed cited in the indictment.
  • The indictment alleges that Benton received $100,000 from the Russian national and passed on $25,000 to the joint fundraising committee, allegedly pocketing the remaining $75,000.
  • Wead and Benton each face six criminal charges, including conspiracy and abetting illegal foreign political contributions.

For the record: Efforts to reach Wead were not immediately successful. Benton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Benton was previously convicted of filing false statements in connection with a scheme to funnel money from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign to an influential Iowa politician who backed Paul in the state’s presidential caucus.
  • Trump pardoned Benton in December, shortly before leaving office.

Rebecca Shabad of NBC news provides these details: “Many of the bill’s provisions are a response to the way Donald Trump operated as president.”  So this is the type of behavior the bill addresses.

The measure would limit a president’s pardon power, require presidential candidates to be transparent with their tax records, and extend a deadline for prosecuting former presidents and vice presidents for federal crimes committed before or during their time in office, according to the group Protect Democracy, which is advocating for the measure.

It would also ensure that incoming presidents have access to resources for the transition period following an election, and would require the disclosure of contacts between the White House and the Justice Department.

“The proposals respond to longstanding vulnerabilities in our democracy that have allowed for the aggrandizement of presidential power, many of which have been exploited over decades by presidents of both parties, and some of which reached new heights through the actions of the Trump administration,” the group says on its website.

Donald Trump, for example, has refused since his campaign for president to release his tax records, repeatedly claiming that he couldn’t do so because the IRS was conducting an audit of his documents.

Before Trump left office, he pardoned hundreds of people including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his former adviser Roger Stone, his other former campaign manager, Steve Bannon, and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

 

President Biden addresses the United Nations today and is speaking–at this writing–on Climate Change in a quite colorful language.  Here’s that part of the speech.  I can speak directly to climate change.  I’m not sure how long it will take to take care of things after Ida down here in Southe East Louisiana.  There really are some towns that may not come back.  You may thank your rising gas prices to the hurricane’s destructive path that hit Port Fouchon

Twitter is full of horror over a whip being used by a Border patrol officer on people fleeing political chaos in Haiti border patrol.  This is reported in the New York Times. “Mayorkas says he was ‘horrified’ by images of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents confronting Haitian migrants.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that he was “horrified” by images of horse-mounted Border Patrol agents attempting to grab Haitian migrants and use their animals to push them back toward Mexico and promised a “swift” investigation.

“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas said during an appearance on CNN. “I am going to let the investigation run its course, but the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly.”

Mayorkas was responding to scenes captured by news cameras and photographers Sunday along the Rio Grande. In one instance, an agent is heard on video shouting an obscenity as a child jumps out of a horse’s path.

“One cannot weaponize a horse to aggressively attack a child,” Mayorkas said. “That is unacceptable. That is not what our policies and our training require. …Let me be quite clear: That is not acceptable.”

The stench of Trump and Steven Miller are all over the Border Patrol.  I personally feel they should all be fired and made to reapplyou.

It’s going to take a long time to deal with the aftermath of the Trump administration and its culture of grift and dismissal of the rule of law and expected protocol. I’m still amazed we’re still standing some days

So, I hope you feel better BB!  Take care of yourself!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Monday Reads: What do you do with a problem like a)Joe Manchin b)Krysten Sinema c)Senate Parlimentarian d) Mitch McConnell e)All of the above plus more

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, the Biden Agenda–even the watered down parts meant to appease Republicans–is stalled.  Here’s a quick line-up of all that’s not going to get done in the name of ego and the mid-term election politics.  It seems Americans dealing with so many issues like climate-change induced diasters, Covid-19, underemployment and lack of living wages are just going to wait until a few blowhards get their day in the sun.  We sure do have the Troubles in this country.

From Hans Nichols writing at Axios: “Scoop – Manchin: Delay Biden plan to ’22”.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is privately saying he thinks Congress should take a “strategic pause” until 2022 before voting on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s new timeline — if he insists on it — would disrupt the plans by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to vote on the budget reconciliation package this month.

Driving the news: Back home in West Virginia last week, Manchin told a group of employees at a Procter & Gamble facility in Martinsburg he wanted to pause all the talk about the $3.5 trillion bill until 2022, Axios was told.

  • Those semi-public comments track with some of his private conversations about how long he wants to impose the “strategic pause” he floated in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this month.
  • Manchin didn’t give a specific timeline in his op-ed.

Any delay on the Democrat-only reconciliation package could imperil House passage of the separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Pelosi has promised to pass by Sept. 27.

  • House progressive lawmakers are publicly vowing to vote against the infrastructure bill if it’s not paired with the $3.5 trillion bill to be passed through the budget reconciliation process.
  • But centrist Democrats are adamant the House pass the bipartisan bill first — next week.

The big picture: Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are leading the Democratic opposition in the Senate to the size and scope of the reconciliation package.

It’s largely been written by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and would vastly expand the social safety net from cradle to grave, as the New York Times recently put it.

Why is it all things ego-related these days always include Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin?  Oh, and now Kristin Sinema who appears to be part of the stymy everything wing of the Democratic Party.  From Politico and Laura Barron-Lopez: “Sinema tells White House she’s opposed to current prescription drug plan. The Arizona Democrat joined Joe Manchin in giving the president a wake-up call on the reconciliation bill.”  Who likes higher drug prices?  Big Pharma and the pols they own evidently.

The White House has a new headache as it struggles to get its multitrillion-dollar party-line spending bill passed: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s objections to drug pricing reforms that are already struggling to make it through the House.

The Arizona Democrat is opposed to the current prescription drug pricing proposals in both the House and Senate bills, two sources familiar with her thinking said. They added that, at this point, she also doesn’t support a pared-back alternative being pitched by House Democratic centrists that would limit the drugs subject to Medicare negotiation.

Sinema met with President Joe Biden on Sept. 15 to discuss the social spending package, in which party leaders hope to include the Medicare prescription drug pricing proposal. Sinema has made her resistance to the current House prescription drug negotiation proposal clear to the White House, according to one of the sources, but it’s unclear if she’s completely immovable.

Both she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who met with the president the same day, delivered what one source described as a sobering message for the White House about the fate of the reconciliation bill and its $3.5 trillion price tag, which they both say is too high. The social spending plan is designed to pass without GOP votes through budget reconciliation, meaning that Biden will need to win all 50 Senate Democratic votes to secure its passage.

Giorgio de Chirico, Le trouble du philosophe, 1925-26. Museo del Novecento, Milano

AP and Allan Fram report that the “Senate parliamentarian deals blow to Dems’ immigration push.”

Democrats can’t use their $3.5 trillion package bolstering social and climate programs for their plan to give millions of immigrants a chance to become citizens, the Senate’s parliamentarian said late Sunday, a crushing blow to what was the party’s clearest pathway in years to attaining that long-sought goal.

The decision by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan interpreter of its often enigmatic rules, is a damaging and disheartening setback for President Joe Biden, congressional Democrats and their allies in the pro-immigration and progressive communities. Though they said they’d offer her fresh alternatives, MacDonough’s stance badly wounds their hopes of unilaterally enacting — over Republican opposition — changes letting several categories of immigrants gain permanent residence and possibly citizenship.

The parliamentarian opinion is crucial because it means the immigration provisions could not be included in an immense $3.5 trillion measure that’s been shielded from GOP filibusters. Left vulnerable to those bill-killing delays, which require 60 Senate votes to defuse, the immigration language has virtually no chance in the 50-50 Senate.

In a three-page memo to senators obtained by The Associated Press, MacDonough noted that under Senate rules, provisions are not allowed in such bills if their budget effect is “merely incidental” to their overall policy impact.

Citing sweeping changes that Democrats would make in immigrants’ lives, MacDonough, a one-time immigration attorney, said the language “is by any standard a broad, new immigration policy.”

The rejected provisions would open multiyear doorways to legal permanent residence — and perhaps citizenship — for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children, often called “Dreamers.” Also included would be immigrants with Temporary Protected Status who’ve fled countries stricken by natural disasters or extreme violence; essential workers and farm workers.

At the Bottom of the Anxiety Swamp by Jayoon Choi
‘There is a moment when you can’t help but sink deep down. Attacked by spiteful thoughts. But, oh dear! I was the monster.’

So, can we get a WTF? from the Amen Corner? “This Powerful Democrat Linked to Fossil Fuels Will Craft the U.S. Climate Plan. Senator Joe Manchin is already a crucial swing vote in the Democrats’ sweeping budget bill. But he will also write the details of its climate change program.”

Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Mr. Manchin has already emerged as the crucial up-or-down vote in a sharply divided Senate when it comes to Mr. Biden’s push to pass a $3.5 trillion budget bill that could reshape the nation’s social welfare network. But Mr. Biden also wants the bill to include an aggressive climate policy that would compel utilities to stop burning fossil fuels and switch to wind, solar or nuclear energy, sources that do not emit the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Manchin holds the pen and the gavel of the congressional panel, with the authority to shape Mr. Biden’s ambitions.

But Mr. Manchin is also closely associated with the fossil fuel industry. His beloved West Virginia is second in coal and seventh in natural gas production among the 50 states. In the current election cycle, Mr. Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a research organization that tracks political spending.

He profits personally from polluting industries: He owns stock valued at between $1 million and $5 million in Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage firm which he founded in 1988. He gave control of the firm to his son, Joseph, after he was elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000. Last year, Mr. Manchin made $491,949 in dividends from his Enersystems stock, according to his Senate financial disclosure report.

“It says something fascinating about our politics that we’re going to have a representative of fossil fuel interests crafting the policy that reduces our emissions from fossil fuels,” said Joseph Aldy, who helped craft former President Barack Obama’s climate change bill and now teaches at Harvard.

Tiger, Shark and Me Sit Down for Tea by Emma Haddow
‘I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. There have been times when it has crippled me, and I was afraid of everything. I started to face my fears, my demons head on and I still do. It’s scary in the dark but what’s more scary to me is denying and suppressing what lurks beneath the surface. My mental health is good these days. My dark days are still here, but I no longer turn them away.’

Politco question if Democrats can get anything done including in the time left to them. “Dems vow to go the distance as September problems pile upThe party has Herculean levels of work to do in 11 days, and it’s projecting confidence but offering few clues on how.”

The House and Senate return to Washington together this week with Democrats facing four tasks that would be challenging on their own — but, taken together, are the legislative equivalent of Hercules’ labors.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) summed up the party’s wildly urgent to-do list with the drama of a movie trailer: “Keep the government open. Don’t default on the debt. Make sure the president gets a win on the infrastructure bill … and, obviously the mother of all legislation, the reconciliation package,” he said, referring to the mega-bill that Democrats want to pass along party lines to spend trillions of dollars on a panoply of social priorities.

But for all of the party’s awareness of what it needs to do, Democrats are uncertain about how to get it all done. The coming three-week legislative sprint will test their slim majorities and President Joe Biden’s domestic policy chops, with dwindling days to avoid a government shutdown and defuse a politically toxic battle with Republicans over the nation’s borrowing limit.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are also under intense pressure to deliver on the lifeblood of Biden’s agenda: a multitrillion-dollar social spending package and a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which could both see floor votes in the coming weeks.

Already, ideological clashes across the Democratic Party have begun to spill into the open as it begins its final push to turn Biden’s enormous spending plan into law. Last week, a small group of moderates sank a leadership-backed drug pricing initiative in a high-profile committee meeting as they demanded to vote on their own version of the bill.

Across the Capitol, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they will not support legislation that costs $3.5 trillion, setting up a skirmish with progressives who say that top line number is already a compromise. Some Democrats fear those two moderates may not be willing to support the final bill at all.

I do have faith in Pelosi and many of the Democratic leaders to do what they can.  However, I also know that ego mixed with big donations can make a politician pretty useless for the people.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Finally Friday Reads! Trash problems are Everywhere!!!

“East River From the Shelton” (1926), Georgia O’Keeffe

Hi Sky Dancers!

I learned something from the Mayor yesterday.  Every city in the country is having trouble picking up and dumping its trash mostly due to Covid-19.  No one can send excess garbage pick-up capacity to New Orleans because no city has more pick-up ability than trash. It is possible to deliver your trash to the dump if you’re motivated enough to sit in line and mask up as heavily as possible. You can also demonstrate at the Trash Parade tomorrow although I wouldn’t taking any trash to dump at city hall if you go.

With that being said, let’s talk about the big Trash parade in the District and Uncle Clarence Thomas who usually lets the ghost of Antonin Scalia and his wife do all the talking for him.  Oh, and Sarah Palin hasn’t been vaccinated so let’s start the death watch now!  Alaska and Idaho hospitals are so overcrowded they are rationing care!.  Republicans now own Death Panels!

Just like that, the Supreme Court’s judge with the most conflicts of interest pulls an Amy Coney Barret.

Justice Clarence Thomas defended the independence of the Supreme Court on Thursday and warned against “destroying our institutions because they don’t give us what we want, when we want it.”

Thomas, the longest serving justice, acknowledged that the high court has its flaws, comparing it to a “car with three wheels” that somehow still works. But he said the justices are not ruling based on “personal preferences” and suggested that the nation’s leaders should not “allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcome that we like.”

The justice’s remarks came during a lecture at the University of Notre Dame in which he talked about traveling by RV in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee with his wife, Ginni. Thomas reflected on his childhood in the segregated South and his religious faith. He also alluded several times to the political polarization in the United States

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re really good at finding something that separates us,” Thomas told the crowd of more than 800 students and faculty gathered at the school’s performing arts center.

Thomas is the latest justice to add his voice to the mix and publicly come to the court’s defense in the face of growing criticism that the nine justices are merely politicians in robes.

“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference. So if they think you are antiabortion or something personally, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician,” Thomas said in response to a question about public misconceptions of the court.

“That’s a problem. You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions.”

New York Street with Moon, 1925, Georgia O’Keefe

Yes, that made me throw up in my mouth a little too.  So let me get back to the Trash Parade on September 18th and this link to VOX and a piece by Aaron Rupar: “The Justice for J6 rally is Trump supporters’ latest attempt at revisionist history. The September 18 event is prompting officials to raise fencing again around the Capitol. Extremism experts are skeptical.

Two days ahead of a Trump-inspired rally outside the Capitol on behalf of people who have been charged with crimes in connection to the January 6 insurrection, former President Donald Trump released a statement supporting the cause of the Justice for J6 movement.

“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said, invoking his oft-repeated lies about the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden. “In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!”

Trump’s statement tosses fuel on a combustible situation. A Monday statement from the US Capitol Police warning about “concerning online chatter about a demonstration planned for September 18” already raised worries that Saturday’s Justice for J6 rally could spiral out of control and result in violent scenes reminiscent of January 6. But extremism experts are skeptical.

Jared Holt, a domestic extremism researcher with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, wrote recently on his website that online chatter indicates the event is likely to be a bust.

“I am highly skeptical that [right-wing extremists] would appear in any kind of significant numbers without at least some kind of indication of that appearing in the communities they so often frequent,” Holt wrote. Reached this week via Twitter direct message, Holt said he still isn’t seeing indications September 18 will amount to much. In fact, he is seeing members of far-right groups warning that the event is likely to be swarming with informants.

Holt’s assessment is backed up by Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, who told Talking Points memo he’s “not witnessed anything that would indicate large numbers of far-right demonstrators, or Proud Boys in particular, will attend this event.”

But Capitol Police’s warning and decision to mobilize extra law enforcement resources illustrates how much of a concern Trump-inspired extremism remains nine months after the insurrection — as well as how focused law enforcement is on preventing another January 6 from happening.

It’s a long read but worth it.

New York: A Painting, “Radiator Building–Night, New York” by Georgia O’Keefe of American Radiator Building, 1927.

There’s a lot of brief information in that Washingtonian link.

The two main speakers are Joe Kent, who’s challenging GOP Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington state, and Mike Collins, a Republican running for Congress in Georgia. Braynard will host alongside Cara Castronuova, a pro-Trump boxer who appeared on season 11 of The Biggest Loser and founded a group called Citizens Against Political Persecution. Family members of people held on January 6 charges will likely speak, Braynard says.

Members of Congress including Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Louie Gohmert attended Look Ahead America’s DC events in July. Greene and North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn have said they don’t plan to attend, and neither do Gohmert and Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert; none of the other members’ offices have yet responded to queries from Washingtonian about whether they plan to attend or speak. What about Trumpworld? The Daily Beast reported late last month the former President’s circle has been silent about the event so far. Braynard says “we’ve had some mighty allies” but wouldn’t say whether he’s been in touch with anyone in Trump’s ambit: “We will never disclose our conversations we’ve had.”

More extremist Republican figures who refused the vaccine are now severely ill with Covid-19.  As the links above show, they are basically overcrowding hospitals causing people with other emerging issues to be sent home to die or flown to hospitals miles away.  Washington State hospitals are filling up due to Covidiots from Idaho.  The Daily Beast is reveling in every one of them.  “Laura Loomer, Who Once Said ‘Bad Fajitas’ Were Worse Than COVID, Says She’s Tested Positive. The far-right activist said in a Gettr post that she’s experiencing severe coronavirus symptoms.? ”  The Death Watch is real for these kooks.

The far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer says she’s tested positive for the coronavirus, after suffering from severe symptoms that she wrote left her feeling like she “got hit by a bus.”

In a post on the Trumpist social network Gettr, Loomer complained that she started suffering from “fever, chills, a runny nose, sore throat, nausea and severe body aches” on Wednesday that she said felt like “a bad case of the flu… So I took a COVID test and it came back POSITIVE.”

She added: “I have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine, and I don’t plan on ever taking it because it is unsafe and ineffective. Today, I immediately started a treatment of Azithromyacin and Hydroxychloroquine. I’m also taking the OrthoMune dietary supplement.” She said she’s also received the Regeneron antibody treatment used by ex-President Donald Trump.

Yeah, all the rich nuts get the Monoclonal Antibodies developed by Regeneron.  The poorer folks just get to die.

The Shelton with Sunspots, N.Y.Date:
1926,Georgia O’Keeffe

Reuters reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis still hasn’t found the bottom of the moral depravity pit. Hassan Kanu writes that  “Florida governor conflated ‘black joy’ with protest, judge says”. Florida clearly has trash issues. Maybe the Courts can deal with it.

A federal judge on Thursday blocked part of a sweeping anti-protest bill enacted by Florida Republicans and Governor Ron DeSantis, writing that officials’ reaction to peaceful protests in the summer of 2020 is akin to the unlawful racist backlash seen during 1960s protests against Jim Crow laws.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee said that the governor made an embarrassing mistake – or worse – when his offices “conflated a community celebration of a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery with a protest.”

He issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new definition of rioting under the Combating Public Disorder Act.

DeSantis’ lawyers in defending the law had submitted to the court a Facebook post as evidence that Black Floridians continue to freely exercise their protest rights – except the flyer actually announced a “Black Joy” event celebrating America’s first official Juneteenth holiday.

And when Texans cross their borders, it appears it’s not their very best.  This is from NBC News: “Carmine’s hostess attacked after asking diners for proof of vaccination. Cellphone footage obtained by NBC New York shows a brawl outside Carmine’s on the Upper West Side.”

Three people were arrested for allegedly assaulting a New York City restaurant hostess on Thursday after she asked a group of diners visiting from Texas to show proof they had been vaccinated before seating them.

Cellphone footage obtained by NBC New York shows a brawl involving several people outside Carmine’s Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. Staff and bystanders intervened to break up the melee after it broke out around 5 p.m. ET, the station added.

Oddly, enough, the first time I ever saw New York City was on the way to Madrid and smack in the middle of a garbage strike.  People that deal with garbage really need to be paid better.  It was my first but not the last trip to Europe.  There, I learned that the last thing I ever wanted to be identified as was an American. I actually found myself in England at one point explaining that not every one of us is like that couple that just left that table who hailed from Stockton, California.

The ugly Americans are even identifiable down here in New Orleans as they behave rudely everywhere it seems. The only problem is, we have an excess of trash at the moment and not enough of those saintly men who take out the trash.  I’m definitely glad they’re making $20 an hour down here now and that I can still gift them six packs whenever I can.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?