Frantic Friday Reads: Back to Work Edition

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Apricot dryers labor in Coit Tower mural (WPA art)

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

So a morning scan of the headlines has me convinced we’re already circling the drain and it’s of the utmost importance we get this administration out of the Executive Branch. First, the economic news keeps being worrisome.

The jobs numbers released yesterday were boosted by the addition of temporary Census workers while the overall numbers in the private sector were weaker than expected. It’s coming. That’s all I can say.  Via Bloomberg: “Jobs Report Shows U.S. Labor Market Cracking But Not Crumbling.”  

Weak August job gains signaled the U.S. labor market’s slowdown is deepening as the trade war with China takes a toll on the economy, even as some details of the report suggested a recession is far from imminent.

Private payrolls rose 96,000, a three-month low, according to Labor Department figures Friday that trailed the median estimate of economists for a 150,000 gain. Total nonfarm payrolls climbed a below-forecast 130,000, which was boosted by 25,000 temporary government workers to prepare for the 2020 Census count.

While average monthly job gains of 158,000 this year are down sharply from 223,000 in 2018, the pace is still more than enough to keep pace with population growth. In addition, the jobless rate held near a half-century low and average hourly earnings topped forecasts.

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Coit Tower mural grape pickers

The news from the Farm Belt is not encouraging at all,  This is via US News and WR:  “Farm Loan Delinquencies Surge in U.S. Election Battleground Wisconsin”.

Farm loan delinquencies rose to a record high in June at Wisconsin’s community banks, data showed on Thursday, a sign President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and other countries are hitting farmers hard in a state that could be crucial for his chances of re-election in 2020.

The share of farm loans that are long past-due rose to 2.9% at community banks in Wisconsin as of June 30, the highest rate in comparable records that go back to 2001, according to a Reuters analysis of loan delinquency data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Then there’s the rust belt where Trumpist policies are basically killing US Manufacturing.  It’s enough to make an economist weep.  We saw this all coming. This is from the LA TImes written by Michael Hiltzick.

U.S. manufacturers must be asking themselves just now: If President Trump is our friend, what would an enemy look like?

That’s the question raised by the latest statistic on the manufacturing economy, the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers index for August, released Tuesday.

The index, in which a figure below 50 indicates that manufacturing is contracting, unexpectedly fell to 49.1. That’s down from 51.2 in July — the first decline in 35 months.

The gloom may be spreading. Comments by the ISM’s panel of purchasing executives “reflect a notable decrease in business confidence,” the institute said.

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Industries of California, Coit Tower Murals WPA art

University of Michigan’s famous consumer confidence index plummeted last month and I do mean mean plummeted.

The Consumer Sentiment Index posted its largest monthly decline in August 2019 (-8.6 points) since December 2012 (-9.8 points), according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

The 2012 plunge reflected widespread fears among consumers that they would be pushed off the “fiscal cliff” due to rising taxes and falling government spending, said U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys.

The recent decline is due to negative references to tariffs, which were spontaneously mentioned by one-in-three consumers, he said. Unlike concerns about the fiscal cliff, which were promptly resolved, Trump’s tariff policies have been subject to repeated reversals amid threats of higher future tariffs.

Such tactics may have some merit in negotiations with China but act to increase uncertainty and diminish consumer spending at home, Curtin said. Unlike the repeated tariff reversals, negative trends in consumer sentiment cannot be easily reversed.

“The August data indicate that the erosion of consumer confidence due to tariff policies is now well under way,” Curtin said. “Compared with those who did not reference tariffs, consumers who made spontaneous negative references to tariffs also voiced higher year-ahead inflation expectations, more frequently expected rising unemployment, and expected smaller annual gains in household incomes.

“While the overall level of sentiment is still consistent with modest gains in consumption during the year ahead, the data nonetheless increased the likelihood that consumers could be pushed off the tariff cliff in the months ahead. This could result in a much slower growth in consumption and the overall economy.”

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“Richmond Industrial City,” created by Victor Arnautoff commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts, had been installed at the downtown post office in April 1941.

Meanwhile, Trumpers and his crime family syndicate maintain their grifter status as we delve more into the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors” that they’ve committed.  Here’s a new one from Business Insider: “Trump may have committed tax fraud by fabricating a loan to avoid paying income taxes on nearly $50 million” that briefs us on a big MOJO expose.  Congress must be overwhelmed by its choice of scandals and misdeeds to investigate.

President Donald Trump may have fabricated a loan to avoid paying taxes on nearly $50 million of income, Mother Jones reported in a bombshell investigation published on Thursday.

The controversy appears to be related to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and a shadowy shell company Trump owns called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. Media reports have found that the company does not earn revenue and is essentially worthless. Trump has said on his financial-disclosure forms that he owes more than $50 million to the company, which he controls.

Trump and the Trump Organization have not commented much on the loan, but Mother Jones noted that the president, then a Republican candidate, told The New York Times in 2016 that he bought the loan from a group of banks several years ago and that instead of retiring it, he decided to keep it outstanding and pays interest on it to himself.

Meanwhile, Congressional probes deepen into a long list of ethics and criminal actions. Here’s a few listed today.

Democrats widen impeachment probe as they confront roadblocks  —  Impeachment may be tough sell for Dems in red districts  —  (CNN)Faced with a time crunch ahead of the 2020 election season, the House Judiciary Committee is broadening its investigation beyond special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings …

Mary Clare Jalonick / Associated Press:
House Democrats probe use of taxpayer money at Trump hotels

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Part of Coit Tower Murals’“California Industrial Scenes” . Workers at a May Day demonstration.

and via Reuters: “Exclusive: U.S. congressional probe finds possible lapses in Deutsche Bank controls”

The congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman, Troy Gravitt, said the bank cannot comment on the work of the congressional committees but remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.

The Democrat-controlled House began examining possible money laundering in U.S. property deals involving President Donald Trump, a Republican, earlier this year. The lawmakers are also looking into whether Trump’s dealings left him subject to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

Of course, the Republican response to all of this craziness is basically to ignore it and try to remove the voting franchise from more voters.  Via Huff Po and Sam Levine: “Ohio Set To Remove More Than 200,000 People From Its Voter Rolls. Voting rights groups want the state to pause the removals, noting that thousands of eligible voters are at risk of having their voter registrations canceled.”

Notice which states are hard at work on this?

Ohio is set to cancel hundreds of thousands of voter registrations on Friday, even though the list of voters it is using was found to have mistakes.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) published a list of 235,000 voters at risk of losing their registrations in August but soon discovered there were errors and corrected them. The following month, in August, voting rights groups said they identified an additional 4,000 people who were incorrectly added to the list. The Columbus Dispatch also reported more than 1,600 people who were erroneously added because of a technical error.

Since early August, voting rights groups have been combing through LaRose’s list in a mad dash to urge voters to check their registrations. Part of that effort includes a plan to text many people on the list to check their voter records. Voting rights advocates say LaRose should pause the removals to give people more time to check the list.

“There are new questions, it seems like every week, about what’s going on with this list, and various inaccuracies with the list,” said Mike Brickner, the Ohio state director of All Voting is Local, one of the groups working on contacting voters. “If we’re going to purge people, we better make sure that it be accurate and fair. As of right now, with new questions arising just about every day, many people in the state just don’t have a lot of confidence that this is a correct list.”

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“Railroad and Shipping” by William Hesthal

So, MIchelle Goldberg gives us a little hope via pollster Stanley Greenberg Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.? In a new book, the pollster Stanley Greenberg predicts a blue tidal wave in 2020.”

Greenberg suggests that Clinton erred by focusing too much on multiculturalism at the expense of class, and by trying to discredit Donald Trump as a vulgarian rather than a plutocrat. As Clinton wrote in “What Happened,” her post mortem of her shattering loss, Greenberg “thought my campaign was too upbeat on the economy, too liberal on immigration, and not vocal enough about trade.”

Yet going into 2020, Greenberg believes that what he calls the “rising American electorate” — including millennials, people of color and single women — will ensure Democratic victory, almost regardless of whom the party nominates. “We’re dealing with demographic and cultural trends, but we’re also dealing with people that are organizing and talking to one and another and becoming much more conscious of their values,” he said.

In his polling and focus groups, he’s seeing that the reaction to Trump is changing people. “The Trump presidency so invaded the public’s consciousness that it was hard to talk to previously disengaged and unregistered unmarried women, people of color and millennials without them going right to Trump,” he writes. A few months after the election, he realized he could no longer put Clinton and Trump voters in focus groups together because indignant Clinton voters, particularly women, so dominated the conversations. “This turned out to be an unintended test of the strength of their views and resolve to resist,” he wrote.

USA Today’s Jason Sattler warns: “Dismissing Trump as a crumbling, unfit fool will get us four more years. Don’t buy it.”

Trump is actually getting better at the worst things that matter most, like avoiding accountability for high and low crimes, capturing the courts for the far right, and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to “carpet-bomb” Democrats. The institutions that were supposed to rein him in have done more to restrain his critics than him. Meanwhile, what reigns is the belief that this nightmare is bound to end on its own — what writer Sarah Kendzior calls “normalcy bias.”

By now, we should know better.

Cognitive scientist George Lakoff warned in 2016, “Trump is a master salesman with a history of selling deals good for him but not so good for most others.” But it may be “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, the author of a book that claims Trump is a “master persuader,” who nailed Trump’s strategy: “When it comes to unfavorability, you don’t need to outrun the bear. You only need to outrun your camping buddy.”

The exciting "City Life" mural by Victor Arnautoff. Watch out for the fatal accident in the upper right. Other scenes off camera include left-wing newspapers for sale and a gun-toting pickpocket. San Francisco, United States, North America.

“City Life” mural by Victor Arnautoff.

Indeed, Trumperz’ cult seems addicted to the poison.  This is frightening:,  Several States are working to cancel Republican Primaries   via Politico.

Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers.

Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans.

The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination — or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him.

Trump advisers are quick to point out that parties of an incumbent president seeking reelection have a long history of canceling primaries and note it will save state parties money. But the president’s primary opponents, who have struggled to gain traction, are crying foul, calling it part of a broader effort to rig the contest in Trump’s favor.

It’s a crazy mixed up country out there.  That’s all I can say.  And, don’t even get me started on SharpieGate.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: When will it Ever End?

“Are you the boss? What makes one a boss? People need the stuff to prove themselves. Big houses, sports cars, jewelry. The stuff is never enough. Once you out-wealthy the people around you, you will have to compare with a new group. Even you’re the most wealthy person, you still have to worry about the No.2 catching up. Owning big guns, having beasts as pets, even having huge muscles can’t boost your masculinity either. As long as you’re still seeking compliments and recognition from others, you’re wimpy inside. At the end of the day, you let people decide who you are. They’re the boss. It’s your life. Be your own boss.” Gray Zao , “Whose the Boss” from the Collection Women, Guns, Oil Paintings

Good Morning Sky Dancers

USA Today‘s Ryan Miller  writes “3 mass shooting plots stopped around the country in separate incidents, police say”.

Three mass shooting plots were thwarted in recent days with the arrests of three men in unrelated cases, authorities in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio said.

Tips from the public aided in the three arrests, which occurred from Thursday and Friday. Police in each case said the men, all white and in their 20s, posted online or sent text messages with threats of committing mass shootings.

The arrests come amid renewed cries for legislation to change the country’s gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio. Multiple false alarm and hoax shooting scares have also kept the nation on edge in recent weeks.

From Alexander Ma at Insider we find out “Police arrested 3 men in their 20s in Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut last week on suspicion of planning mass shootings”.  Guess their race?

Details of the cases show apparent similarities with recent actual mass shootings, in the US and elsewhere, which go beyond the demographics of the suspects.

One man is suspected of building his own rifle, another of trying to “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever,” and the third of threatening on Instagram to attack a Jewish community center.

Think about that.  There could have been three more mass shootings had the police not stopped the shooters via CNN.  At least one is part of the extremist White Nationalist movement riled up by the occupant of the White House.

… in Ohio, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon was arrested for allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center.
An Instagram account belonging to Reardon shared a video that showed a man firing a gun, New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio told CNN. The post — which was shown to an officer out on an unrelated call — tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, D’Egidio said.

It’s unclear whether the man shooting the gun was Reardon or someone else.

Andy Lipkin, the executive vice-president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said the post was accompanied by a caption that read, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon” — Seamus being a Gaelic version of Reardon’s name.

The rest of the Instagram account contained anti-Semitic comments, white nationalist content, and images of Reardon or someone else shooting guns, D’Egidio said.

A search warrant was executed and authorities found a cache of weapons and ammunition, D’Egidio told CNN.

The Occupant of the White House’s response to questions about the arrests was pure word salad.

“It’s hard when nothing happens. Dramatic life is easy. When there are laughs and tears, time flies by. Even when you’re struggling, you feel alive. People fulfill their lives by solving problems after problems. The real challenge comes when life is only normal. The regular, average daily life is dull. People can’t stand that doing average chores and getting average rewards. That’s why people make trouble and do stupid things. People don’t cherish peaceful life. You have to admit that, messing up life is intriguing. It’s dangerous but interesting. Driving on a straight highway makes people sleepy. They rather drive on a curvy bumpy road.” Gray Zao, “At Ease” from the collection Women, Guns, Oil Paintings

Meanwhile, an important demographic key to Republican success in 2020 is beginning to turn on their agenda. Taegan Goddard’s Politic Wire Reports that a” Big Majority of Suburban Women Back Stricter Gun Control”. What parent would want to send their child about in a world like we have now?

A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) survey finds that 72% of suburban women think gun laws should be stricter, compared to 4% percent who said they should be less strict and 23% who said they should be kept as they are now.

In addition, 55% said they think stricter gun laws would help prevent gun violence. And 90% support requiring universal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales, which would require all gun owners to file with a national firearms registry.

Furthermore, 76% said they would ban the purchase and use of semi-automatic assault-style weapons like the AK-47 and the AR-15.

It might be time to take note of the artist I found today and the gallery of the collection “Women, Guns, Oil, Paintings”.  This artist is beyond talented with eyes and brush.  There’s some inner voice that connects beauty to the pain of living in a world of wars and other causes of human suffering. Please go explore the gallery.  It’s totally worth your time.  The narrative of each painting is by the artist.

The BBC reports today on “How online extremists are shaping the minds of white teens”.

In an age where anyone can access just about anything on the internet, white boys in the US seem particularly at risk from dangerous radicalisation online.

Many mass shooting suspects in the US have three things in common: They are young, white and male.

The suspect behind the El Paso shooting that killed 22 people in Texas is believed to have posted a racist manifesto online.

Police investigating a deadly attack in Dayton the following day said the gunman was influenced by a “violent ideology”, although no motive has been disclosed.

The dangers of the internet are not a novel talking point for parents and teachers, but these most recent tragedies have sparked renewed debate over what families can – and should – do when it comes to raising white boys in America.

“The red flags started going up for us when, a year or so ago, [our kids] started asking questions that felt like they came directly from alt-right talking points,” says Joanna Schroeder, a Los Angeles-based writer, media critic and mother of three.

She tells the BBC one of her two sons began to argue “‘jokey’-toned alt right positions”, asking questions like why black people could “copy white culture but white people can’t copy black culture”. She began learning about how other boys their age were sharing sexist and racist memes – likely spreading from online forums.

Last week, Ms Schroeder’s Twitter thread about parenting white boys in a world rife with easy access to extremist viewpoints by monitoring their social media and teaching empathy became a widespread talking point, amassing nearly 180,000 likes, 8,500 comments and shares across social platforms.

““Can I sit next to you?” Said the girl. “What? Who are you?” Said the woman. “I don’t know. A girl?” “How old are you?” “6, I guess.” “Oh, you’re a war baby.” “What’s that?” “You’re born and have lived your whole life in wartime.” “Are you a war baby, too?” “No.” “You’re a peace baby?” “Y…Yes. Everyone used to be a peace baby.” “What’s peace like?” “It’s like…um..normal?” “War is normal.” “Oh… Then peace is the opposite of normal.” “Like having a family?” “Yes… Hey, you need a mom?” Gray Zao, “Train Trip” from the collection “Women, Guns, Oil Paintings”

Is there any hope for sensible gun control laws in September?  Axios reports that this may be a deadine if anything is to occur prior to the 2020 elections cycle.

If new gun legislation doesn’t pass in September, it won’t get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios.

The bottom line: “It’s September or bust,” said a source involved in the discussions. “We’ll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it.”

The state of play: The president genuinely wants to expand background checks, according to White House and Hill officials. He’s directed the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Legislative Affairs to provide him with options for a reform package, these sources said.

  • As of now, Trump has expressed support for big, vague ideas — including tougher background checks and restrictions on firearms access to the mentally ill — but on the gun issue, consensus typically evaporates when lawmakers dive into the details.
  • It’s also still unclear whether House Democrats, who have already passed a bill to extend background checks to all gun purchases, would support a slimmer package.

WAPO’s Amber Phillips believes that “It sounds as if Trump has no intention of pushing for gun-control laws.”

We’ve reached an inflection point on the gun debate, with Republicans openly talking about passing laws to limit people’s access. That doesn’t mean that will happen. There’s only one person who can push the party to support gun-control laws, and it’s President Trump.

And as the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, fade into the background, it seems as if Trump has little appetite for taking on such a heavy lift, and every intention of resuming his position in line with the National Rifle Association: no new gun-control laws.

Two comments Trump made recently make that evident:

On Sunday, while talking to reporters in New Jersey, he was asked where gun control stands. His answer indicated that he’s not really involved in these negotiations.

So, Congress is working on that. They have bipartisan committees working on background checks and various other things. And we’ll see. I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem. I don’t want them to forget that, because it is. It’s a mental health problem. And as I say — and I said the other night in New Hampshire; we had an incredible evening — I said: It’s the people that pull the trigger.

The problem with that, from the perspective of those who want expanded background checks and red-flag laws, is that Congress hasn’t passed gun-control laws in more than two decades. Democrats have come around recently to prioritizing gun-control laws. A package of background-check bills was one of the first things the newly Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed earlier this year.

But not Republicans. They need a president to lead them before taking on such a politically perilous endeavor. Otherwise, their leaders are just as happy to set this debate aside. A key player in letting gun-control laws pass the Senate is a politician who is up for reelection next year in a pro-gun state, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Maybe Trump was being noncommittal in public and is in extensive talks in private with Republican leaders on gun control. But if that’s the case, these talks are unusually secretive.

“Don’t scare, it’s me.”
The girl and the cat have been closed for a while. “Come here. Let’s find something for you.” The cat let her hold it up and lied on her shoulder.
“What were you looking for? Birds? Mice?” They couldn’t find anything. The area wasn’t just no man’s land. It should be no life’s land.
“Well, do you eat bugs? I don’t think so.”
The cat jumped off her shoulder and started rummaging dead bodies.
“No, you don’t eat human flesh. No way.”
“See what you found. Beef jerky! You scared me.”
Gray Zao, “Girl Soldier holding an RPC and a cat on her shoulder” from the Collection “Women, Guns, Oil Paintings”

This is most of the problem in all of this.  The Republicans enable Trump and do not question his judgement or actions.  They simply do nothing.  Paul Waldman writes this in The America Prospect:  “There Will Be No Justice for Trump’s Enablers”.

There is Trumpite here or there who has really suffered from their identification with this president, like Sanders’s predecessor, Sean Spicer. What got Spicer in such trouble, however, was the fact that he felt shame for his service to Trump. Everyone knew he was lying whenever he went before the cameras, and he obviously knew that everyone knew, and felt bad about it. That’s what made his brief tenure so embarrassing, and why he’s one of the few that left the White House with his reputation having suffered the proper degree of damage.

There are others who fared as poorly, if they pled guilty to crimes, or were accusedof domestic abuse, or undertook a spree of penny-ante corruption. But they’re still the exceptions, when true justice would demand that every last one of them be ostracized and denounced. Sure, one sees the occasional story about something like young Trump staffers complaining that no one wants to date them. But there will be no truth and reconciliation commission, no universal condemnation, no shunning of even the worst offenders.

The reason is that the entire Republican Party will make sure it doesn’t happen, because nearly all of them are implicated.

Consider someone like Stephen Miller, probably the most villainous figure in the administration. The latest revelation about Miller is that he tried for some time to find a way to get states to bar undocumented immigrant children from going to school; he was thwarted not because other officials said, “My god, what kind of monster are you?” (they didn’t) but because the scheme was obviously illegal.

Now try to imagine the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute saying to Miller in 2021, “We’re sorry, but we cannot offer you a senior fellow position, because your actions during the last four years were so morally abhorrent that we do not wish to associate ourselves with you.” The very idea is ridiculous. We know what will happen: Heritage, AEI, and any number of other prominent conservative organizations will fall all over themselves to offer Miller a comfortable sinecure from which he can continue to advocate a whiter future for America.

In fact, they’ll undertake a massive project of historical revisionism to convince the country that what we just lived through was all a figment of our imagination. “Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said last year, and this project will attempt to convince us that what we saw, read, and experienced never actually happened. Donald Trump was a fine and responsible president, they’ll say, and even if he might have gotten a little silly on Twitter from time to time, anyone who supported him should take pride in their service to the GOP and to America.

And since the entire Republican Party will repeat this line again and again and again, it will become, if not conventional wisdom, at the very least a respectable position to hold. At worst, if Trump leaves office in disgrace Republicans will say what they did when George W. Bush slinked off in 2009 with the two wars he started still dragging on and the country experiencing the worst economic crisis in 80 years: I never liked him anyway. He wasn’t a real conservative. And of course I didn’t figure that out until it was all over, so don’t blame me.

Voters must hold every one public official accountable in November 2020.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Finally Friday Reads: Short Fingered Vulgarian is Vulgar meanwhile Back in the USSovietRepubliklans

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s Friday, so of course the news is off the wall. I miss my Daddy terribly but I’m really glad that he didn’t live to see the World he fought a war to create crumble at the hands of the Russian potted plant in the Oval Office and his enablers like #MoscowMitch and #LeningradLindsey.

Here’s something you shouldn’t share with your grandchildren ever!  But, hey, he’s the new Evangelical Christian Savior so maybe it’s now a sacred gesture!

 

Trigger Warning:  Icky Vulgarian hand gestures.

 

The big question we have to ask ourselves now is Who are We as a Country? No, really, after all these years as a some what flawed but better than anything else out there constitutional democracy with aspirations towards a more perfect union we now face a group of fanatics who are redefining us into a theocracy and an authoritarian kleptocracy. What has a small group of white republicans and their greedy, power hungry representatives made us into? Will we be able to stop this?

Will Wilkinson writes this Op Ed for the NYT today: Conservatives Are Hiding Their ‘Loathing’ Behind Our Flag. The molten core of right-wing nationalism is the furious denial of America’s unalterably multiracial, multicultural national character.”

The Republican Party under Donald Trump has devolved into a populist cult of personality. But Mr. Trump won’t be president forever. Can the cult persist without its personality? Does Trumpist nationalism contain a kernel of coherent ideology that can outlast the Trump presidency?

At a recent conference in Washington, a group of conservatives did their level best to promote Trumpism without Trump (rebranded as “national conservatism”) as a cure for all that ails our frayed and faltering republic. But the exclusive Foggy Bottom confab served only to clarify that “national conservatism” is an abortive monstrosity, neither conservative nor national. Its animating principle is contempt for the actually existing United States of America, and the nation it proposes is not ours.

Bitter cultural and political division inevitably leads to calls for healing reconciliation under the banner of shared citizenship and national identity. After all, we’re all Americans, and our fortunes are bound together, like it or not.

Yet the question of who “we” are as “a people” is the central question on which we’re polarized. High-minded calls to reunite under the flag therefore tend to take a side and amount to little more than a demand for the other side’s unconditional surrender. “Agree with me, and then we won’t disagree” is more a threat than an argument.

The way the nationalist sees it, liberals always throw the first punch by “changing things.” When members of the “Great American Middle” (to use the artfully coded phrase of Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri to refer to nonurban whites) lash out in response to the provocations of progressive social change, they see themselves as patriots defending their America from internal attack.

The attackers — the nature-denying feminists, ungrateful blacks, babbling immigrants, ostentatiously wedded gays — bear full responsibility for any damage wrought by populist backlash, because they incited it by demanding and claiming a measure of equal freedom. But they aren’t entitled to it, because the conservative denizens of the fruited plain are entitled first to a country that feels like home to them. That’s what America is. So the blame for polarizing mutual animosity must always fall on those who fought for, or failed to prevent, the developments that made America into something else — a country “real Americans” find hard to recognize or love.

The practical implication of the nationalist’s entitled perspective is that unifying social reconciliation requires submission to a vision of national identity flatly incompatible with the existence and political equality of America’s urban multicultural majority. That’s a recipe for civil war, not social cohesion

I see nothing driving the Republican party today but Racism and personal greed.  What does it mean to reject pluralism?  Remember when our national motto was not about some angry sky fairy that wasn’t supposedly a commie but “E pluribus unum?”

Nothin’ says Statue of Liberty quite like this: “Trump Supporters Cheer As Immigration Rights Sign Gets Torn At Rally. Protesters with banners that read “Immigrants Built America” and “Chinga La Migra” were escorted out of the event in Ohio” via HuffPost.

People at President Donald Trump’s rally in Ohio grew rowdy as they clashed with demonstrators advocating for immigration rights on Thursday, cheering when a protest sign got ripped.

Protesters chanted and held banners that read “Immigrants Built America” and “Chinga La Migra,” which is Spanish slang for “Fuck Border Patrol/Immigration.”

At the time, Trump was falsely accusing Democrats of caring more about inhumane conditions for migrants detained at the border than about the conditions of U.S. citizens.

The president paused his speech for almost three minutes as the scuffle broke out and one of the protesters’ banners was ripped. Security guards eventually escorted the demonstrators out of the stadium.

The crowd roared when the small group of protesters left, and almost the entire arena broke into chants of “Na-na-na-na, hey-hey, goodbye!” and “USA!”

“Cincinnati, do you have a Democrat mayor?” Trump asked sarcastically as he resumed his remarks.

Image result for leningrad lindseyAnd that follows this horrifying act by Leningrad Lindsey yesterday: “#LeningradLindsey trends after Graham forces asylum bill through Senate committee.” via The Hill.

The hashtag “LeningradLindsey” trended on Twitter Thursday after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) forced a controversial asylum bill through committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced a bill to overhaul U.S. asylum laws, waiving committee rules to force the bill through to the full Senate, where it likely won’t get the 60 votes it needs to pass.

But Graham’s move to push the bill through the panel outraged Democrats who say the South Carolina senator broke the rules on how lawmakers take up legislation in order to move a partisan bill along.

Image result for putin's puppetAnd KKKremlinCaliguala insists the Russians didn’t interfere in one of the most bizarre pressers of his Mad King Rule to date.  “Donald Trump doubts Russian meddling in 2020 election, disputing Robert Mueller” via USA Today.

President Donald Trump on Thursday questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller’s assessment that Russia is already interfering in the 2020 presidential election, dismissing the notion just as he did after the 2016 election.

“You don’t really believe this. Do you believe this?” Trump told reporters at the White House as he prepared to leave for a political rally in Cincinnati.

His words were in response to a direct question about whether he raised Mueller’s assessment during a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump said he did not discuss election interference with Putin during a phone call Wednesday.

Mueller, whose staff prepared a report detailing efforts by Russians to hack Democrats and manipulate social media platforms during the 2016 election, said last week they will try it again in 2020.

“They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller said during high-profile House hearing.

Image result for moscow mitchAnother unbelievable headline was made by Icky Lizzy Cheney : “REP. CHENEY ACCUSES TRIBES OF “DESTROYING OUR WESTERN WAY OF LIFE” OVER SACRED GRIZZLY PROTECTIONS.”  This story is via Native News Online Net.

On a momentous day for Tribal Nations, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chairwoman, stated that the successful litigation by tribes and environmentalists to return the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “was not based on science or facts” but motivated by plaintiffs “intent on destroying our Western way of life.”

One of the largest tribal-plaintiff alliances in recent memory prevailed in the landmark case, Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke last September, when US District Judge Dana Christensen ruled in favor of the tribes and environmental groups after finding that the Trump Administration’s US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to abide by the ESA and exceeded its authority in attempting to remove federal protections from the grizzly. Tuesday, USFWS officially returned federal protections to the grizzly.

Removing protections from the bear, revered as sacred to a multitude of tribes, would have left the grizzly vulnerable to high-dollar trophy hunts and lifted leasing restrictions on some 34,375 square miles. Extractive industry, livestock and logging interests are among those desirous of capitalizing on the area, a region comprised of tribal treaty, reserved rights and ceded lands.

“IF THIS WASN’T LIZ CHENEY AND THE ERA OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, YOU MIGHT BE RENDERED SPEECHLESS BY THE INSENSITIVITY AND MENDACITY OF THE STATEMENT,” SAID TOM RODGERS, A SENIOR ADVISER TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRIBAL LEADERS COUNCIL (RMTLC), WHO TESTIFIED AT MAY’S CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON THE TRIBAL HERITAGE AND GRIZZLY BEAR PROTECTION ACT. HR 2532, INTRODUCED BY HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RAUL GRIJALVA, WAS INSPIRED BY THE GRIZZLY TREATY SIGNED BY OVER 200 TRIBAL NATIONS.

“So, in striving to protect our culture, our religious and spiritual freedoms, our sovereignty and our treaty rights – all of which are encapsulated in the grizzly issue – we are ‘destroying’ Cheney’s idea of the ‘Western way of life’?” questioned Rodgers. “I would remind the Congresswoman that at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition an estimated 100,000 grizzly bears roamed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. That was all Indian Country. Now there are fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears and our people live in Third World conditions on meager reservations in the poorest counties in the US. Does she really want to talk about ‘destroying’ a ‘way of life’?” asked Rodgers.

So-called Party of Reagan:  WHY WHY WHY this? “US-Russia arms control treaty dies; US to test new weapon” via ABC.  Which side are we on these days?  I don’t get it at all

The United States plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under a landmark, 32-year-old arms control treaty that the U.S. and Russia ripped up on Friday.

Washington and Moscow walked out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed in 1987, raising fears of a new arms race . The U.S. blamed Moscow for the death of the treaty. It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the United States and its allies, particularly in Europe.

“Russia is solely responsible for the treaty’s demise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement released on Friday.

Russia pointed a finger at America.

“The denunciation of the INF treaty confirms that the U.S. has embarked on destroying all international agreements that do not suit them for one reason or another,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday. “This leads to the actual dismantling of the existing arms control system.”

Related imageBB sent this link to me to read and it’s as scary as anything I’ve seen in a while. It’s from the UK site Church and State and it shows us what an obscenely right wing religious nutter we have as AG Barr: “Trump’s attorney general wants god’s moral order enforced by government”.  This is still giving me nightmares.  He’s actually a living breathing THEOCRAT.

J. Beauregard Sessions was a legitimate threat to America’s secular government as Trump’s attorney general, but his theocratic aspirations paled in comparison to Trump’s latest theocratic cabinet member – a conservative Catholic malcontent who is unlikely to ever defend the U.S. Constitution because it is a secular document. It is noteworthy that Sessions only stated that, according to his mind, the separation of church and state in the Constitution is a concept that is unconstitutional. However, his replacement ardently believes that America’s government is duty-bound to enforce god’s laws because there is no place for secularism.

In a 1995 essay, Barr expressed the extremist Christian view that “American government should not be secular;” secularism is an abomination in Barr’s theocratic mind despite the law of the land is unmistakably secular. Furthermore, Barr contends America’s government is supposed to be imposing “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that flows from God’s eternal law;” eternal law best dictated by the Vatican and taught in public schools at taxpayer’s expense.

It is true that as attorney general William Barr will defend Trump’s criminality and corruption; it is one of the only reasons Trump nominated him. However, the real danger to the nation is Barr’s belief that the government’s primary function should be defending and enforcing his god’s moral edicts while ardently opposing any legislative branch effort to make secular laws according to the secular Constitution.

As noted by Michael Stone a couple of weeks ago, in addition to the racism and misogyny one expects from a radical conservative Christian, “Barr is also a bigot when it comes to non-religious people and others who respect the separation of church and state.”

Barr epitomizes the typical extremist religious fanatic by blaming everything from crime to divorce to sexually transmitted diseases on what he alleges is “the federal government’s non-stop attacks on traditional religious values.” In fact, he joins no small number of Republican evangelical extremists who demand that taxpayers fund religious instruction, specifically Catholic religious instruction, in public schools. Barr, as a matter of fact, has called for the United States government to subsidize Catholic education and categorically called for federal legislation to promote Vatican edicts to “restrain sexual immorality;” an explicit reference to his religion’s ban on homosexuality, extramarital sex, and “artificial” birth control. Don’t believe it?

In an address to “The Governor’s Conference on Juvenile Crime, Drugs and Gangs,” Barr condemned the idea of adhering to the U.S. Constitution’s mandated separation of church and state in the public education system. The theocrat said:

“This moral lobotomy of public schools has been based on extremist notions of separation of church and state or on theories of moral relativism which reject the notion that there are standards of rights or wrong to which the community can demand adherence.”

Barr also penned an article in The Catholic Lawyer where he complained vehemently about what he asserted was “the rise of secularism;” something he claims is anathema to a nation he believes should be ruled by theocrats. Barr attempted to give an answer to “the challenge of representing Catholic institutions as authorities” on what is considered right and wrong, or morally acceptable in a secular nation. In discussing what Barr termed was “The Breakdown of Traditional Morality,” the new attorney general complained thus:

“We live in an increasingly militant, secular age… As part of this philosophy, we see a growing hostility toward religion, particularly Catholicism. This form of bigotry has always been fashionable in the United States. There are, today, even greater efforts to marginalize or ‘ghettoize’ orthodox religion…”

Barr is also a bigot when it comes to people who respect the Constitution’s separation of church and state in providing equal rights for all Americans whether theocrats agree or not. Barr’s belief that government is bound to enforce Vatican dictates is what drives his assertion that, for example, equal rights laws demanding that colleges treat homosexual groups like any other student group is inherently wrong.

He claims treating LGBTQ people like everyone else is detrimental because:

“[Equality] dissolves any form of moral consensus in society. There can be no consensus based on moral views in the country, only enforced neutrality.”

Image

Yeah, stuff of nightmares, isn’t it?  Try this read on for reasons to run away from your Trump loving whackado relatives and any one else invading your environs with propaganda.

 

So are they going to keep getting away with all of this?   How long will Trumpist insanity define our country?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Live Blog: Second night of Second Debates

Image result for images democratic debates 2019 tonightYup Sky Dancers!  It’s happening again!

 

Will tonight be any better or will Jack Tapper out dud the Chuck Todd?The first night didn’t got so well … or says us all and The Atlantic: “CNN Was Ill-Equipped for This During the debate it hosted yesterday, the news network made its best effort to convert discussions of policy into the thing it knows best: punditry.”

The melodrama, it would turn out, was fitting. Throughout the debate, the first of a two-night doubleheader set at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, the event’s moderators—Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon—did what the network’s trailer suggested they would: They asked questions that might turn this fight for the heart of the party into a plain old fight.

One of their questions: “Senator Warren, you make it a point to say you’re a capitalist. Is that your way of saying you’re a safer choice than Senator Sanders?” Another: “Congressman Ryan, are Senator Sanders’s proposals going to incentivize undocumented immigrants to come into the country illegally?” Another: “Congressman O’Rourke, you live near the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso and disagree with Mayor Buttigieg on decriminalizing the border crossings. Please respond.” The chyrons gave away the game: “QUESTION: Congressman Delaney, do you think Sen. Warren’s wealth tax is a fair way to fund child care and education?” Here was another: “QUESTION: Sen. Klobuchar, who are you referring to when you say candidates are making promises just to get elected?”

Let’s get READY to RUMMMMMMMBle!!!!


Monday Reads: Fired up! Ready to GO!

Rev Al Sharpton and Trans Activist Ashley Marie Presley introduce Senator Elizabeth Warren to the Power Stage (my photo)

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I had the opportunity to attend the 25th annual Essence Fest this weekend.  It was a great experience and a good way for me to hear some of the Democratic Presidential candidates in person.  There were unexpected visits by Colorado Senator Bennet and New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio.  They addressed those of us assembled in front of the Power Stage.  Later, I heard Senators Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, and Elizabeth Warren who spoke and then took questions from a panel led by Rev Al Sharpton.  There were a lot of things going on, as usual, all over the Morial Convention Center but I want to make sure you got to hear and see a bit of what I saw in these candidates as they addressed the crowds.

Just a few notes. I left before Beto hit the stage and did not come back Sunday for Mayor Pete.  Biden and Bernie were no shows which I believe was a serious mistake.  I’m not sure about the others but Biden and Bernie made the usual “previous commitments” out

I have to admit that there were several moments that really thrilled me including the short speech from Auntie Maxine who was introduced by my former mayor Marc Morial.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a national treasure.  From the Essence: “Rep. Maxine Waters Reminds Black Women At Essence Festival: ‘We Don’t Take S— From Nobody’”.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters brought the heat to the Essence Festival Power Stage on Saturday afternoon. In a stirring address, she told thousands of attendees that the time for Black women is now.

As the nation readies for the 2020 elections, Waters did not mince words about the power of the specific voting bloc and the community as a whole. The veteran politician from California also used herself as a blueprint for what needs to be done to remove Donald Trump from office.

“I’m not intimidated. I’m not afraid,” Waters said about opposing the man in the Oval Office. “All of my life I have been trained to deal with demagogues like him. I will take him on any day of the week. And so what I want to leave with you today is this is our time, ladies.”

Waters pointed to the many ways in which Black women have proven that they are ready to step up to the challenge of not only removing Trump from office but also taking on the harmful policies that have been created since his election.

“Black women are moving forward,” Maxine triumphantly stated before adding that we are getting elected to public office in record numbers, remaining civically engaged in our organizations, leading the fight in our educational institutions, and being all-around change agents in our cities and neighborhoods.

“Don’t be discouraged.

“Don’t be disgusted.

“Don’t give up.

“Show Donald Trump who we are!” Waters said to cheers.

All of the candidates spoke to empowering black women to become entrepreneurs by giving better access to capital for their business ventures. There was also a lot of emphasis on closing the gap between wealth accumulation of white and black families with each candidate having a somewhat similar approach. Corey Booker suggested “baby bonds” be available to all families on the birth of a child with income-indexed contributions provided each birthday until that child is 18.  This would be available to all babies born in the US.  The two women definitely brought the excitement to the audience but Booker was well-received.  He also had the home court advantage since he was born and raised here.

This is also from Essence.

Even with this shifting demographic, Black women still overwhelming vote Democrat, and still have the power to determine election outcomes, something of which Booker is keenly aware.

“Black women are going to be the highest voters in this country, then the agenda of African American women has to be at the center of the Democratic Party’s agenda…because right now the reality is unacceptable,” Booker insisted from the Essence Festival Power Stage to loud applause.

Reading from his notes, Booker itemized the oppression of Black women in this country:

“Black women have the highest level of workforce participation. Eighty-percent of Black mothers are the breadwinners for their families. But still the pay gap for Black women making only 61 cents of every dollar that a white male makes is unacceptable in our country. The fastest growing group of entrepreneurs are African American women who don’t get the access to capital that they deserve. Black women have four times the maternal mortality rates of white women. This is unacceptable.

Channeling James Baldwin, who wrote in Notes of a Native Son (1955), “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually,” Booker located Black women’s pain within the larger white settler-colonial project known as the United States, telling the Essence Festival audience, “If America hasn’t broken your heart, you don’t love her enough.”

In his closing pitch, the senator from New Jersey set his sights on Donald Trump, the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., saying, “We are in a time right now where a person in the White House is spewing bigotry and racism…a person pushing policies that hurt communities of color.”

“But, the existence of demagoguery and hate has never defined us as a nation,” Booker claimed. “What defines us is how we choose to respond to the challenges before us.”

Senator Booker’s speech is here at MSNBC.  I continue to like the Senator but I’m not sure he has the fire required to do this election.  Both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris left me with no doubt.

My shot of Senator Bennet. I was in the middle of the room but far away from the stage. Thank goodness for the big screens!!

A good capsule of the weekend can be found at WAPO where, for some reason, Biden still got the freaking headline.  They just can’t help themselves I guess.

Arriving to a smattering of polite applause from the thousands of women in the room, Buttigieg, whose campaign has struggled with black voters, immediately began trying to win over the audience. “I stand here knowing that black women aren’t just the backbone of the Democratic Party, you are the bone and sinew that make our democracy whole,” Buttigieg declared. “When black women mobilize, outcomes change. And we need some different outcomes at a time like this.”

Buttigeig’s appearance came a day after six other candidates spoke at the festival, each appealing to black women in different ways.

Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) pitched policy proposals aimed at closing the racial wealth gap. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio argued for universal health care. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) championed his support for a new voting rights act. And Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) invoked the road trip he’d taken to the festival through impoverished areas of rural Mississippi to pitch his plan to improve the nation’s education system.

I had the pleasure to sit next to a retired black woman from my families’ home of Kansas City.  She gave polite applause to every one.  Polite applause went to every one including Kamala whose #KHive section was filled with enthusiastic sign waving supporters from the sorority sisters at HBCs.  She was basically for Biden but had also was warmed up to Elizabeth Warren.  I asked her if Biden’s history of supporting state’s rights bothered her.  She shrugged and said it was a long time ago and that if Biden was good enough for Obama that was good enough for her.  She proudly told me that she had paid off her own home and talked about what happened when Kansas City Power and Light–her old employer–got bought out by a private provider.  She was just the perfect example of a Kansas City, church going lady that I saw every weekend we visited the family.  She did remind me that there would’ve been no gay marriage without Joe’s push.  I nodded and said yes, there is that.

Bill DiBlasio was a fiery speaker and made certain he gave a shout out to his wife the first lady of New York.  He came out from behind the podium and addressed a lot of issues in his short period of time. (Via NY1)

Mayor de Blasio looked to raise his profile with black voters Saturday while speaking at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

The annual event is always one of the largest gatherings of African American women in the country.

After being introduced by the Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday, de Blasio touted First Lady Chirlane McCray’s mental health initiative, Thrive NYC.

“She is taking away the stigma related to mental health. She is making people realize that we have to do something different in this country and get people the help they need,” de Blasio said. “There is nothing wrong with having a mental health condition. There is something wrong when people can’t get the help they need. Right? So join me in thanking the first lady of New York City, the love of my life, Chirlane McCray.”

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, standing and indoor

I caught Senator Harris on one of the big screens. You can tell she was having fun and in her element. She’s looking straight at the #KHive

Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado is wonky as it comes. I’m not sure he has a plan for it all but he sure can speak to the issues. This is from Essence.   Bennet’s background is in Public Education and he basically spoke to his strength.

Democratic Candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) took to the Power Stage at the 2019 Essence Festival to remind us all about the importance of education when it comes to transforming the economy and creating a better future.

“There was a time in America when Public Education was the wind at our back in transforming our economy but today, taken as a whole, our education system is reinforcing the income inequality that we have, not liberating people from it,” Bennet told the crowd Saturday morning.

Income disparity and access, Bennet pointed out, are the main issues when it comes to the quality of education a child receives. And unless everyone has access, “equal is not equal,” as he pointed out.

“When one group of children has access to preschool and the other through no fault of their own does not, when one group has access to $1 million house and therefore a quality K-12 education and the other does not, when one group has access to tutors and counselors and parents who went to college themselves and the other does not then even equal is not equal and we need to make a change,” he said.

Democratic Candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) took to the Power Stage at the 2019 Essence Festival to remind us all about the importance of education when it comes to transforming the economy and creating a better future.

“There was a time in America when Public Education was the wind at our back in transforming our economy but today, taken as a whole, our education system is reinforcing the income inequality that we have, not liberating people from it,” Bennet told the crowd Saturday morning.

Income disparity and access, Bennet pointed out, are the main issues when it comes to the quality of education a child receives. And unless everyone has access, “equal is not equal,” as he pointed out.

“When one group of children has access to preschool and the other through no fault of their own does not, when one group has access to $1 million house and therefore a quality K-12 education and the other does not, when one group has access to tutors and counselors and parents who went to college themselves and the other does not then even equal is not equal and we need to make a change,” he said.

So, that leaves me down to Harris and Warren who were basically the two candidates that got the most enthusiasm that I could see.  I sat with a friend my daughter’s age who has been politically active as a New Orleans native.  I also sat in front of a older black couple from Detroit and next to a black woman and her daughter from here.  I was surrounded by Warren Fans.  Literally. Warren’s volunteer desk even was handing out Warren Planners!  She and Kamala definitely had the best swag.  There was a desk in the middle that rotated from Booker to Beto as the day wore on but all my friends were either at the #KHive or All in with Warren.

So, let me just put their speeches up.

 

You can hear the Kamala Chants and feel the excitement as she speaks to things she feels strongly about.  This is from ABC News. “Kamala Harris stars as 2020 presidential candidates pitch African American voters at Essence Fest”.  

Harris, the only black woman running for president, and the only black woman in the Senate, hit the stage to Tupac’s “California Love,” a nod to her home state, and got an enthusiastic “Skee Wee” from the large number of sorority sisters from Alpha Kappa Alpha — a black sorority founded at Howard University, Harris’s alma mater — in attendance.

“Good morning, my beautiful sisters,” Harris said, before launching into her plan to boost home ownership among African Americans.

This is from Essence and takes from the Campaign that has the plans. I also have to say that I met with Warren campaign staff on Friday night. There were two things that impressed me. First, they come from Stacey Abrahms’ campaign. Second, they asked each of us what we want Elizabeth to know about what’s important to our community. By the next afternoon, Warren addressed those items in her speech. The audience for Warren was much older. Both women had a following among white gay men and white women who both showed up in the volunteer desks and in the audience. Both campaigns have diverse volunteers and staff.

“It is good to be at a party with purpose and I am here with purpose. Our purpose is to take back the White House in 2020,” Warren said as she opened her remarks. “We must win, but winning is not enough. When we win we must make real change in this country, and yeah, I got a plan for that.”

Warren started telling her own personal story of grappling with access to childcare as a young professional, struggling to find work-life balance only to have babysitters quit on her and childcare centers not work out. She came out on the other end thanks to the help of one of her aunts. But not everyone has an aunt like she did, Warren acknowledged.

“How many women of my generation were just knocked off the tracks because of childcare, how many women of my daughter’s generation were knocked off the tracks, how many women and how many men today just get knocked off the tracks because childcare today is harder than it was two generations ago,” Warren said. “I’m running for president of the United States and yeah I got a lot of plans because [if] you want to get something done, you better have a plan to do it.”

At the top of Warren’s plans, as many of us already know, is her wealth tax – a tax on the top one-tenth of the one percent which would require the super-rich to give two cents on their 50 millionth and first dollar, and an additional two cents on every dollar after that.

“You know what we can do in America with two cents?” Warren asked, getting visibly excited as she listed the possibilities. “We could start by providing universal childcare to every baby 0 to 5 in this country. We could provide universal pre-K for every three-year-old and four-year-old in this country. We could raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in this country.”

“And with that same two cents, we could do more. We could provide tuition-free technical school, community college and four-year college to every one of our kids who wants an education. We could also level the playing field and that means a $50 Billion investment into HBCUs,” she continued. “We could cancel student loan debt for 95% of the kids who got it. We can start to close that Black-white wealth gap.”

In the Q&A segment, speaking to Rev. Al Sharpton, ESSENCE CEO Michelle Ebanks and Founder and Chair of Essence Ventures Richelieu Dennis, Warren expanded on her ideas on the wealth gap, pointing out that it has led to a Black-white entrepreneurship gap.

The big headliner of the Day was former First Lady Michelle Obama.   Here’s USA Today’s coverage of her discussing living through hard hits with Gayle King.

Speaking onstage to Gayle King on Saturday at Essence Festival’s 25th anniversary celebration in New Orleans, the former first lady got real about how she learned to shake off hateful comments.

“It was important to tell that part of the story (in “Becoming,” her 2018 best-selling autobiography) because they see me and Barack now, but they don’t know how many punches it took us to get there,” said Obama, according to Essence. “People from all sides, Democrats and Republicans, tried to take me out by the knees. And the best way they could do it was to focus on the strength of the black woman, so they turned that into a caricature.”

So, this is how I spent my weekend.  I know that every one wants to speak on the breaking news about Jeffrey Epstein and I’m also sure that BostonBoomer will be far better equipped to elabortate on that tomorrow.  But, they  SDNY just gave a presser and it was a doozy.  My suggestion for a read to start that discussion of is this one from New York Magazine: “Everything We Know About the Sex Crimes Case Against Jeffrey Epstein” b

On Saturday, billionaire financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for the alleged sex trafficking of dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. In a criminal indictment unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors claimed that Epstein lured underage girls, some as young as 14, to his luxurious homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach under the guise of paying them cash for massages. He then molested them and encouraged them to recruit other young girls to return with them. The victims who returned with new victims were paid a finder’s fee.

“In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit, often on a daily basis,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.

The hedge-fund manager and former friend of presidents Trump and Clinton faced similar charges a decade ago but escaped federal prosecution via a widely criticized, shockingly lenient plea deal. After a decade of legal efforts by many of his victims — and, more recently, increased scrutiny from lawmakers and the media — Epstein faces prosecution by the notoriously tough Southern District of New York and a long prison sentence if convicted.

Trump’s name comes up several places.  Read the article to find out more.

And now … what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Wednesday Night Live Blog of the first Dem Debates

The first 10 Candidates for the Democratic Nomination for President debate tonight on several channels at 9:00 pm EST.  This kicks off our discussion with the basic information via NYT.  Join us for the discussion!!

  • You can watch it on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. It will also stream live on Twitter and YouTube. The debate is taking place in Miami.

  • The 10 Democratic candidates in this debate (10 others will debate on Thursday) will have 60 seconds to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals. There will be no opening statements, and each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement. The debate will be broken up into five segments with four commercial breaks.

  • Lester Holt of NBC News is the moderator. He will be joined in the first hour by Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show and José Díaz-Balart of Telemundo. Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC will appear in the second hour.

Via NPR:

Up first on Wednesday night: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Candidates will have to be succinct: The debate’s rules grant 60-second answers and 30-second follow-ups. There will be no opening statements. Each night will offer some chances for candidates to catch their breath — four commercial breaks among five segments during each two-hour event.

The best news is that there will be more women and POC than ever before! (Via Vox)

It’s a significant milestone for a whole slew of reasons. For one, the presence of more diverse voices ensures that there are a range of perspectives expressed on issues central to the Democratic Party, including health care, immigration, and wages. For another, the presence of more women candidates this cycle on both the debate stage and the campaign trail normalizes the idea of women as presidential candidates, helping shift the definition of “electability.”

While the Democratic field is still predominantly male (19 of the 25 candidates, to be exact), the debates this week offer an opportunity to see what the conversation looks like as gender parity in politics continues to grow.

Until this cycle, only a handful of women candidates have participated in presidential debates held by either party: Democrats Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun, and Hillary Clinton, and Republicans Carly Fiorina and Michele Bachmann.

None of them ever faced each other on a debate stage.

What should we keep a eye out for? Here’s Five-Thirty-Eight’s political Chat.

 

sarahf (Sarah Frostenson, politics editor): The first Democratic primary debates are finally here. And with two back-to-back nights, featuring 10 candidates each, it’ll be a challenge for many candidates to make an impression, especially those hovering around 1 percent in the polls.

 

So, join us  for the live action!

I’m pretty sure we won’t be in for a lot of finger wagging tonight but what else will we find out?

 


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: “He will Kill us All’

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, the Iran Situation is turning into the usual Trumpian Clusterfuck. And, this is what some Dems on Facebook. etc want in his place:

“Grampa Simpson runs for president”

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia.

I watched the Battle for Winterfield again last night. I can’t seem to get enough of the haunting “Night King” composition by Ramin Djawadi. I also keep looking for Arya to creep up behind what passes for our President these days with something that vaporizes him. Plus, there’s Joe imploding as he usually does to a chorus of but he’s our only hope. Voters of American, if Joe Biden is your answer you are asking the wrong damned question! The Grampa Simpson take is from politico and the keyboard of John F. Harris.

As thunderbolts crash around him, Joe Biden is facing an urgent question: What exactly is the rationale for his presidential candidacy?

The answers given by Biden sympathizers usually are rooted in character and personal history. Here is a decent man who has lived long and seen a lot, through setbacks and tragedy, and knows enough to understand and defend the timeless virtues that are so absent but also so needed in modern Washington. Late in life, the man and moment are in harmony at last for a heroic final chapter.

I’m sorry but Biden’s record in Congress and his habit of serially plagiarizing others, his treatment of Dr. Hill, and his damn inability to apologize for being totally insensitive to the feelings of others is disqualifying. A decent man does none of those things. A decent man realizes when what he says and does hurts others intentionally or not and he freaking APOLOGIZES and he makes amends and he works to never EVER do it again!

The hope is that voters will embrace Biden as a kind of American Churchill.

The past 24 hours raise, not for the first time, a more painful possibility: Grampa Simpson is running for president.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden bristled indignantly on Wednesday evening. But that wasn’t the primary concern about a 76-year-old’s paean to his youthful past, in which conscientious senators like himself supposedly could work productively and with “civility” even with segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia, that his values and assumptions were shaped by the last generation or even the one before that, that after many years in public life he still lacks the self-awareness or self-discipline to wonder whether modern voters will find his vagrant ruminations about the past as interesting or relevant as he does.

I’m not voting for fucking Joe Biden and I’m not going to be bullied into it or pleaded into it or kumbayah’d into it. Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.

Biden, during 48 years on the national scene, has never had an especially strong ideological profile: He’s been a reasonably centrist Democrat for all of them. When he has deviated it was usually in right-leaning directions, as with his opposition to forced busing for integration in the 1970s or his support for expanding crimes covered by the death penalty in the 1990s.

Or his treatment of women and his real views on Abortion rights.

This history means that the most likely answer to the “why Biden” challenge will rest on character. The evidence of the past couple days—redundant to evidence amassed over several decades—is that if voters are going to embrace Biden’s character they must also embrace or overlook his penchant for the cringe-worthy remark. And realize that often the most cringey remarks will flirt with racial themes.

And misogynist and handsy. And yeah, totally ignoring any one at any time when it’s inconvenient for him.

Now, about the problem of Trump and his inability to have a cogent thought, any kind of strategy, and finding good people that can do that for him. This is the headline I woke up to from the NYT: “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back.” Sort’ve sounds like a headline made for an impotent, senile old man doesn’t it? Only this one is not just playing with himself. He is the Commander and Chief and that should make all of us very afraid. Did some bad men shoot down your unmanned toy?

Yes he charged forward and then pulled out. Brave Brave Sir Donald! Dumb Dumb Sir Donald! This piece is written by the usual suspects: Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

There’s no adult in charge of the Pentagon right now. WTF? Why even think about this unless John Bolton is sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet war diatribes in your ear?

Jacqueline Alemany writes this for WAPO :Power Up: Impeachment, Iran, Immigration: Trump’s “I” word trifecta”

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they’re also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.

  • “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
  • Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.

These are a lot for a person with a sound mind to deal with but I can’t even begin–and wouldn’t want to be there–to wander through the mind of Dotard Donald. You order your military on a mission and THEN you worry about fucking casualties? If this doesn’t move the impeachment meter, we’ve got no hope for the republic.

President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”

Such a death toll was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

Trump’s Friday morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.

Iran said Friday the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.

Look. Old white men have been making bad decisions and failing upwards for way too long. They’ve been using the rest of us and ignorning what it does to us on the way.. Today just really reminds me of why it’s necessary to look for a leader that knows what it takes to face a complete uphill battle and still get there. It’s time for a different brand of leadership. I’m tired of being scared to death by ego and sheer incompetence.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Listen to this haunting background to the peak of the Battle for Winterfall and enjoy the work of this very talented musician and composer.