Tuesday Reads: Surry Down!

Claude Monet – Luncheon on the Grass (1865-6)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

This isn’t a particularly newsy day.  I’m actually thinking that might be a good thing if only most of the headlines I see weren’t about Covid-19 and the upcoming anniversary of the sedition insurrection.  I’m going to take the time to dig into some other things. That’s an accidental hint because the first thing I’m going to share appeals to the kid in me that wanted to be an archeologist and you know, digging up bones and pottery of some lost tribes.

This is from NPR and involves the “big” finds of 2021 as determined by members of Trowelblazers which is “a group of four female archaeologists of different specialties dedicated to highlighting the historic and integral role of women in the “digging sciences”.” The first discovery is that of a family group of Neandertals–including children–whose footprints show that gathering may have been a family business. Is this a precursor to the family picnic?

While these aren’t the first Neanderthal footprints to be discovered, they are very special.

“This is especially nice, because it’s a group – mixed age, including children, some of which are quite young. They seem to be sort of foraging around on the edge of a lagoon,” Wragg Sykes said.

The diversity in age is key here and actually helps to challenge a common assumption that Neanderthals foraged in solitude, with the adults peeling off from the group to find food for the children.

The discovery instead gives support to the theory that hunting and gathering might have been a family affair, involving a collaborative and intergenerational effort.

Adorably, the paper also noted that some of the footprints which belonged to children were “grouped in a chaotic arrangement,” as if they were playing.

“That’s an angle on the Neanderthal life that we don’t often get to see,” Wragg Sykes said, adding that the discovery helps give a sense of humanity to this not-so-distant human relative.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Harvesters (1565)

Other finds include powerful women in ancient Spanish society, a million-year-old mammoth, and early tracks in Tanzania that were previously thought to belong to bears but instead, the prints “are an estimated 3.6 million years old, are the oldest evidence of bipedal locomotion of a human ancestor.”  It’s a really interesting set of reads.

We lost another American feminist icon this week. “Sarah Weddington, Who Successfully Argued Roe v. Wade, Dies at 76. She went before the U.S. Supreme Court at 26 with almost no legal experience and won one of the most consequential cases in American history.”  This is from her NYT Obit.

The Supreme Court first heard appeals on Dec. 13, 1971, with Ms. Weddington making the oral arguments.

“Weddington enjoyed the public stage as much as Coffee disliked it,” Joshua Prager, a journalist, wrote in Vanity Fair in 2017. “Moreover, despite her brilliance, Coffee could come across as bedraggled. And optics mattered. ‘She was younger than I was,’ Coffee said of Weddington. ‘She was blond, blue-eyed.’”

Jay Floyd, who was representing Texas, opened his argument with what commentators have called the “worst joke in legal history.” “It’s an old joke,” Mr. Floyd told the court, “but when a man argues against two beautiful ladies like this, they are going to have the last word.”

As it happened, only seven of the nine justices heard the arguments that day — two others had retired and had not yet been replaced. The justices then decided that the case should be reargued before the full court. All justices were sitting when Ms. Weddington came back on Oct. 11, 1972, and reargued the case.

Their 7-2 decision held that Texas had violated Roe’s constitutional right to privacy as outlined in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The decision was widely praised at the time. But with the rise of the religious right a few years later, abortion became a volcanic political issue, and it remains one of the most divisive in American society. Ms. Weddington received death threats and often traveled with security.

Renoir – Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81)

An important case in voting rights today will be heard in the Ohio Supreme Court. It concerns the highly gerrymandered new congressional districts. Governor DeWine’s son is on the bench and refused to recuse himself.  Given the Governor is one of the parties being sued by the ACLU the people there should be outraged.  The hearing is being broadcast live here.

Today’s Oral Arguments: 2021-1428/ Regina C. Adams, et al. v. Governor Mike DeWine, et al. 2021-1449 League of Women Voters of Ohio, et al. v. Ohio Redistricting Commission, et al.

This article discusses how Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine’s refusal to recuse himself from the lawsuit involving his father may be unprecedented. It’s from Cleveland.com.  It is written by Cory Schaffer.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Patrick DeWine’s refusal to recuse himself from trio of redistricting lawsuits, in which his father — Gov. Mike DeWine — is a defendant who will testify as a witness, might be unprecedented.

Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer set out to find a case where the Ohio Supreme Court’s chief justice considered whether a judge, at any court level, should be allowed to preside over a case in which his or her parent or child was a participant. The outlet searched through dozens of cases where the chief justice was asked to force a judge off of a case. Cleveland.com also spoke with multiple attorneys, all of whom declined to comment for this story.

Okay, one article on what we’re learning about what could’ve happened on sedition day.  This is from TPM: “EXCLUSIVE: There Was ANOTHER Rally Planned On Jan. 6 … At The Supreme Court. The same people who organized Trump’s fateful rally on the Ellipse had something else in store on Jan. 6: a rally planned in front of the Supreme Court.” Josh Kovensky has the byline.

The same people who organized Trump’s fateful rally on the Ellipse had something else in store on Jan. 6: a separate, previously unreported rally planned in front of the Supreme Court.

According to text messages and invoices obtained by TPM and provided to the House Jan. 6 Committee, the rally outside of the Supreme Court was set for the afternoon of Jan. 6 with some of the same speakers scheduled to appear.

The plan for a Supreme Court rally after the event at the Ellipse reveals a new and different perspective on the geography and timing of the attack on the Capitol.

We already knew that President Trump amassed supporters at the Ellipse, at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and dispatched them toward the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue, declaring that he would walk with them before promptly returning to the White House. But whether the rally at the Ellipse was planned as a march on the Capitol, even though it was never issued a march permit, remains a hotly contested issue. Regardless, rioters penetrated the Capitol even as the President was still speaking at the Ellipse.

But now TPM’s reporting suggests that the Ellipse rally organizers intended to hold a separate 2 p.m. ET event on the steps of the Supreme Court, across the street from the Capitol, where Congress began certifying the Electoral College vote at noon ET. It suggests that organizers wanted to keep up the pressure on Congress through an event far closer to the Capitol.

And to get there, Big Lie supporters would have had to walk past the Capitol building, traversing a geographic bit of irony: Constitution Avenue.

It’s a long read but try to skim through it at least.  The Augusta Chronicle reports that the county is closing 7 of 8 polling places in Lincoln County Georgia. The county is deep in rural Georgia. Officials argue that one location will make it more convenient for people to vote. The county is heavily black and has no public transportation.

Lincoln County is trying to close all but one polling place for next year’s elections, a move opposed by voting and civil rights groups.

Relocating voters from the county’s seven precincts to a single location will make voting “easier and more accessible” and eliminate the need to transport voting equipment and staff the remaining sites, according to a news release. Community members disagreed.

“Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” said Denise Freeman, an activist and former Lincoln County school board member. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.”

The move was made possible after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year disbanding the Lincoln County Board of Elections. The chief sponsor of Senate bills 282 and 283 was Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, whose district includes Lincoln County. The newly-appointed board agreed to move forward with the “consolidation” plan and was expected to vote on it last week, but appeared to lack a quorum, several said.

I imagine they will keep trying just like the Radical Republican Right did in Texas. I intend to keep my jaded eyes on gerrymandering cases and voting rights and that is my new year’s resolution.  Oh, that and spending a lot more time in my PJs with a cuppa!

So, that’s enough for me today. Thanks to BB for helping me out yesterday!  I made it through my last dentist appointment for the year. I intend to continue to stay in my pjs doing exactly what I want this week.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Meanwhile, surry down to a Stoned Soul Picnic! 


Virulant Friday Reads: Get Ready for the Next Wave

Indianapolis artist Kat Silver creates oil paintings based on her vision of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Read more about her here at the Indianapolis Star.

Happy Avoiding Black Friday Day!

I spent Thanksgiving with my neighbors, which is so lovely on many levels.  It really felt like the first typical holiday for me in a few years. The last one was the Mardi Gras, where I woke up with something that made me highly ill for weeks. I was really hoping to make it to Seattle, but I’m still afraid of crazies on planes and the maskless roaming airports. Now, I’m delighted I just zoomed the grandbabies and enjoyed the bags of groceries my daughter sent me so I could do my own family-style Thanksgiving at home.  The Dow has fallen this morning, and countries are racing to end flight contact with South Africa.  There’s a new Covid-19 variant.  This is the headline from WAPO: “Announcement of new virus variant alarms world, crashing stocks and banning flights.”

A new, possibly more infectious coronavirus variant, with an unusual number of mutations, had scientists sounding the alarm, countries moving to impose travel bans and financial markets tumbling on Friday, as the world feared another setback on the long road out of the pandemic.

Major questions remain about the variant’s transmissibility, whether it might make people sicker and whether it might be able to evade vaccines, but Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to Britain’s Health and Security Agency, warned that the new variant found in southern Africa is the “most worrying we’ve seen.”

The variant, known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana, but scientists in South Africa convened a news conference Thursday and said they had linked it to an exponential rise of infections in their country. Cases have also been identified in Hong Kong and Belgium.

By the next morning, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged about 800 points or 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 1.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index was off 1.1 percent. Crude oil prices tumbled as well.

France, Britain, Japan and Israel began to ban or order quarantines for air passengers arriving from the southern African region. The European Union is also expected to also propose a ban on air travel arriving from southern Africa.

“Our view is very clear,” Dana Spinant, deputy chief spokeswoman for the European Commission, said at a news conference Friday. “We need to act very fast, we need to be vigilant, and we need to take all measures that are appropriate at this stage to prevent this virus from entering Europe.”

Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility,” but that a decision has not been made yet.

Kat’s paintings, including these done on toilet paper which has been available for $20

I keep telling all my Mardi Gras-loving friends not to get overly excited about the possibility of parades again. This thing is not through with us yet. It should be called the Trump Virus by now.  Reuters reports on Dr. Fauci’s comments. 

“There is always the possibility of doing what the UK has done, namely block travel from South Africa and related countries,” Fauci said in an interview on CNN.

“That’s certainly something you think about and get prepared to do. You’re prepared to do everything you need to protect the American public. But you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that,” he said.

“Obviously as soon as we find out more information we’ll make a decision as quickly as we possibly can.”

Fauci said U.S. scientists would speak with South African counterparts on Friday about the new variant, called B.1.1.529, which has raised concern about its transmissibility and whether it might evade immune responses.

He added that there was no indication that the new variant was already in the United States.

Here we go again!  Our healthcare continues to be threatened by right-wing Trumperz and Trumperz clones.

From the NYT: “Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies. Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.”  I am so glad my daughters have moved to states that let medical science rather than superstition abide.

A few weeks after Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, Dr. Andrea Palmer delivered terrible news to a Fort Worth patient who was midway through her pregnancy.

The fetus had a rare neural tube defect. The brain would not develop, and the infant would die at birth or shortly afterward. Carrying the pregnancy to term would be emotionally grueling and would also raise the mother’s risk of blood clots and severe postpartum bleeding, the doctor warned.

But the patient was past six weeks’ gestation, and under the new law, an abortion was not an option in Texas because the woman was not immediately facing a life-threatening medical crisis or risk of permanent disability.

“So we look at them like a ticking time bomb and wait for the complications to develop,” Dr. Palmer said of her patients.

In this case, the woman had the means to travel, and she obtained an abortion in another state, an option unavailable to many low-income and working class women.

Texas’ new measure was intended to impose stringent limits on abortion. But it is also affecting women who have no desire for termination but are experiencing medically risky pregnancies. Many doctors say they are unable to discuss the procedure as an option until the patient’s condition deteriorates and her life is at risk.

Abortion is permitted in Texas after six weeks only when a woman is facing a life-threatening or disabling medical emergency linked to her pregnancy. The law makes no exceptions for nonviable pregnancies in which the fetus has no chance of survival.

Even crazier are these calls to action by the QAnon Queen of Canada reported in VIce. “QAnon’s ‘Queen of Canada’ Calls for Followers to ‘Kill’ People Vaccinating Children. QAnon influencer Romana Didulo told her 70,000 followers that “duck-hunting season is open” and by ducks, she means healthcare workers, politicians, and journalists.” Vigilantism is sure en vogue with these dangerous nutters. Oh, Canada!

Earlier this week, the so-called QAnon Queen of Canada opened up “duck-hunting” season in the Great White North.

Now, to be clear, we aren’t talking about hunters in hip waders going after our fine-feathered friends with a loyal hound by their side. These “duck hunters” are “soldiers” of Roman Didulo—a Canadian woman who has convinced thousands of QAnon adherents that she’s the secret ruler of Canada—targeting health care workers administering COVID-19 vaccines to children, politicians, journalists, and others who make up the cabal at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy.

In a post on Sunday to her over 70,000 followers on Telegram, Didulo issued an order to the soldiers of her “Kingdom of Canada’s Military.” She demanded the mass arrests of those they consider opposition, and wanted her soldiers to take control of newspapers and seize the border.

“Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines,” she wrote. “This order is effective immediately.”

A follow-up post on Tuesday changed the wording from “shoot to kill” to “arrest.”

“Please, use airports, hospitals, schools, stadiums, and other public venues to hold and detain all traitors,” the post said. “They will stay there until Military Tribunal is held for each one of them until the day they are executed via firing squad or hanging.”

Here are two articles to read.

This Guardian article is specific and prescient. It comes from 2020 directly after the election.  Have we made any progress since a year ago?

As Ian Bassin, executive director of Protect Democracy, put it: “The United States just allowed an autocratic person to ascend to the presidency, to serve in it for four years and to very nearly extend that term. The big question is: how did that happen, what went wrong there?”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, expressed a similar thought in Slate: “Our voting system is fundamentally broken,” she wrote. “The future of our country unequivocally depends on our ability to reform it.”

This Op-Ed by   MSNBC Opinion Columnist–is provocative because we really have not faced these threats head-on.

There are a lot of different ways that democracies can fail. Some collapse under the weight of political leaders who assume authoritarian control, arrest opponents, or refuse to allow new elections to take place. Others suffer at the hands of citizens who support political violence, dehumanize other political parties as “evil,” or call for civil war. Still others struggle with voter suppression and intimidation efforts, weakened trust in institutions, and falling political participation.

The U.S. is facing all these problems, and more. We are witnessing challenges to the integrity of elections, rooted in disinformation spread by our own elected officials and in widespread conspiracies that circulate online. A third of election poll workers reported feeling unsafe this year, after an “unprecedented” number of them received threats. The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 came at the hands of thousands of ordinary citizens who aimed to disrupt the democratic certification of the presidential election and prevent President Joe Biden from taking office.

We also face rising harassment and violence from extremist groups, citizen vigilantes, and unlawful militias who threaten minority groups, disrupt our freedom of assembly and demonstration with shows of violent force, and violate civil rights like the right to “public accommodations,” as recent court rulings have shown. We have seen repeated violent attacks, harassment, and even death threats directed at front-line workers and public officials, including school board members, health care workers, teachers, flight attendants, and restaurant hostesses.

The U.S. isn’t the only democracy that is eroding. Democratic stability is backsliding across the globe, as nations suffer from compromised elections, dismantled checks on government, challenges to a free media, and reductions of minority protections. But there is a particular urgency in the U.S. warning signs, not least because we are a nation of citizens who are now armed at previously unimaginable levels. This year is on track to be the second-highest year of firearm sales in history, following a “record shattering” year in 2020, in which 21 million background checks for firearms sales took place — far above the average of about 8.6 million annual checks.

Luckily, just because a democracy is in crisis does not mean it will collapse. On average, it takes about a decade from the onset of democratic backsliding to end in either democratic breakdown or recovery. But we are long overdue for a course correction.

We are facing back-sliding on so many civil liberties issues that I am astounded daily. Will SCOTUS overturn Roe v. Wade?  Will we be able to correct the inequities that its decision on the Voting Rights Act caused? How do we deal with vigilantism; especially in communities where the police encourage it! Can we get some criminal justice reform?  Haven’t we all seen enough to know how necessary it is?

These are all eyes-on-the-prize questions to me.  What are yours?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

capitol-insurrection-tear-gas-crowd-gty-imgA bipartisan Senate report on the January 6 insurrection came out last night, and it’s highly critical of the Capitol Police, but it doesn’t address Trump’s role in encouraging the riot. 

A new Senate report reveals previously unknown details about the stunning security breakdowns ahead of the January 6 US Capitol attack, including a finding that the US Capitol Police’s main intelligence unit “was aware of the potential for violence” beforehand.

The report adds an authoritative emphasis to previous evidence that there were massive intelligence failures, critical miscommunications, and unheeded warnings that ultimately led to the chaotic response that day.

Among the failures was an inability by intelligence officials to tie together a swirl of troubling internet chatter leading up to the riot and a reliance on using past, non-violent Trump rallies in security planning.

There are also several glaring omissions in the report including any examination of Donald Trump’s role in the riots, raising questions about whether lawmakers, in their quest for bipartisanship, exposed the limits of a Congress divided and unable to agree on certain truths, particularly those related to the former President’s actions.

Sources tell CNN that in order for this report, which was compiled by the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees, to have support from both parties, the language had to be carefully crafted, and that included excluding the word “insurrection,” which notably does not appear outside of witness quotes and footnotes.

Clearly we need an independent commission to investigate the origins of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. Nevertheless the Senate report does reveal new information.

The Washington Post: Capitol Police had intelligence indicating an armed invasion weeks before Jan. 6 riot, Senate probe finds.

The U.S. Capitol Police had specific intelligence that supporters of President Donald Trump planned to mount an armed invasion of the Capitol at least two weeks before the Jan. 6 riot, according to new findings in a bipartisan Senate investigation, but a series of omissions and miscommunications kept that information from reaching front-line officers targeted by the violence.

11696121ha.originalA joint report, from the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, outlines the most detailed public timeline to date of the communications and intelligence failures that led the Capitol Police and partner agencies to prepare for the “Stop the Steal” protest as though it were a routine Trump rally, instead of the organized assault that was planned in the open online.

Released Tuesday, the report shows how an intelligence arm of the Capitol Police disseminated security assessments labeling the threat of violence “remote” to “improbable,” even as authorities collected evidence showing that pro-Trump activists intended to bring weapons to the demonstration and “storm the Capitol.”

“There were significant, widespread and unacceptable breakdowns in the intelligence gathering. . . . The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the homeland security panel, told reporters. “The attack was, quite frankly, planned in plain sight.”

Recommendations for the future?

The report’s recommendations, which call for better planning, training and intelligence gathering, largely mirror those of other investigators who have examined the topic, and its contents steer clear of offering any assessment or conclusion about Trump’s responsibility for the riot.

Still, the report provides a vivid picture of how poor communication and unheeded warnings left officers underequipped to face violent threats about which they had not been made aware, leaving the Capitol vulnerable to an attack that otherwise might have been preventable.

According to the report, Capitol Police intelligence officers knew as early as Dec. 21 that protesters planned to “bring guns” and other weapons to the Jan. 6 demonstration and turn them on any law enforcement officers who blocked their entry into the Capitol. They knew that would-be rioters were sharing maps of the Capitol campus online and discussing the building’s best entry points — and how to seal them off to trap lawmakers inside. But that information was shared only with command officers.

A separate security assessment dated Dec. 23 made no mention of those findings. Neither did a follow-up Dec. 30.

Read more at the WaPo.

file-20210107-16-1t7kdysThe New York Times: ‘Does Anybody Have a Plan?’ Senate Report Details Jan. 6 Security Failures.

Top federal intelligence agencies failed to adequately warn law enforcement officials before the Jan. 6 riot that pro-Trump extremists were threatening violence, including plans to “storm the Capitol,” infiltrate its tunnel system and “bring guns,” according to a new report by two Senate committees that outlines large-scale failures that contributed to the deadly assault.

An F.B.I. memo on Jan. 5 warning of people traveling to Washington for “war” at the Capitol never made its way to top law enforcement officials. The Capitol Police failed to widely circulate information from its intelligence unit that supporters of President Donald J. Trump were posting online about pressuring lawmakers to overturn his election loss.

“If they don’t show up, we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors,” one post said.

“Bring guns. It’s now or never,” said another.

The first congressional report on the Capitol riot is the most comprehensive and detailed account to date of the dozens of intelligence failures, miscommunications and security lapses that led to what the bipartisan team of senators that assembled it concluded was an “unprecedented attack” on American democracy and the most significant assault on the Capitol in more than 200 years….

The 127-page joint report, a product of more than three months of hearings and interviews and reviews of thousands of pages of documents, presents a damning portrait of the preparations and response at multiple levels. Law enforcement officials did not take seriously threats of violence, it found, and a dysfunctional police force at the Capitol lacked the capacity to respond effectively when those threats materialized.

There are many more details on the report at the NYT link.

NBC News: Capitol Police didn’t act on warnings Trump backers would breach Capitol, target Democrats, report say.

U.S. Capitol Police leaders learned that Trump supporters were discussing ways to infiltrate tunnels around the complex and target Democratic members of Congress on Jan. 6 but failed to act on the threats, according to a new Senate report summing up what it says were profound intelligence and security failures that contributed to one of the worst incidents of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

Rioters clash with police trying to enter Capitol building

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The report also says that officers complained about a lack of leadership within the department as they tried to repel the attack — and that top leaders were virtually silent as they begged for help.

Through tips from the public and other sources, Capitol Police “knew about social media posts calling for violence at the Capitol on January 6, including a plot to breach the Capitol, the online sharing of maps of the Capitol Complex’s tunnel systems, and other specific threats of violence,” the report said, but the police force’s intelligence division “did not convey the full scope of known information to USCP leadership, rank-and-file officers, or law enforcement partners.”

The Capitol Police’s possession of the specific intelligence had been previously flagged by the department’s inspector general in a report that has not made public, NBC News and other news organizations have reported. But the Senate document sheds new light on it. The failure to distribute the information widely, the report says, left rank-and-file Capitol Police officers unprepared to defend themselves from the armed mob.

“The objects thrown at us varied in size, shape and consistency,” an officer said. “Some were frozen cans and bottles, rebar from the construction, bricks, liquids, pepper spray, bear spray, sticks of various widths, pipes, bats.”

Another officer told Senate investigators: “We were ill prepared. We were NOT informed with intelligence. We were betrayed.”

In other news, CNN obtained a recording of a 2019 phone call between Rudy Giuliani and a Ukrainian official: Exclusive: New audio of 2019 phone call reveals how Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate baseless Biden conspiracies.

Never-before-heard audio, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows how former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani relentlessly pressured and coaxed the Ukrainian government in 2019 to investigate baseless conspiracies about then-candidate Joe Biden.

The audio is of a July 2019 phone call between Giuliani, US diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call was a precursor to Trump’s infamous call with Zelensky, and both conversations later became a central part of Trump’s first impeachment, where he was accused of soliciting Ukrainian help for his campaign.

US-IRAN-DEMONSTRATION

During the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly told Yermak that Zelensky should publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump. (These separate claims are both untrue.)

“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said, according to the audio. “… Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”

The new audio demonstrates how Giuliani aggressively cajoled the Ukrainians to do Trump’s bidding. And it undermines Trump’s oft-repeated assertion that “there was no quid pro quo” where Zelensky could secure US government support if he did political favors for Trump.

The call was one of the opening salvos in the years-long quest by Trump and his allies to damage Biden and subvert the 2020 election process — by soliciting foreign meddling, lying about voter fraud, attempting to overturn the results, and inciting the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol.

I hadn’t heard of this crazy conspiracy theory until yesterday. Vanity Fair: Trump’s Deranged Theory That Democrats Would Replace Biden Might Have Helped Him Lose 2020

In early 2020, a frustrated and furious Donald Trump described Joe Biden as “a mental retard” while struggling to cope with his own placement in early polls, according to a passage from “Frankly, We Did Win This Election”: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, a forthcoming book by senior Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender. The author notes that Trump vented his anger at the time by interrupting “a policy meeting in the Oval Office to ask, ‘How am I losing in the polls to a mental retard?’” 

In another moment Bender writes that Trump held back on focusing his firepower on Biden during the primary stage of the election because he was convinced that the Democratic Party was scheming to switch out now president Biden for a different candidate—such as Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama—over the summer. The source of this conspiracy theory, per Bender, was Dick Morris, a former Clinton White House adviser who was “quietly advising Trump” last year. “Dick Morris told Trump that Biden was too old and too prone to gaffes to be the nominee,” Bender writes, while others in Trumpworld felt Biden would exit the race and be replaced by someone else if Trump began bashing him too hard. “Others said Fox News anchor Sean Hannity expressed concern that Biden would collapse under a sustained attack from Trump.”

trump-dollarAccording to Bender, Trump also felt that his attack strategy had backfired during the first stage of the Democratic primary. “The president, meanwhile, had often complained that his early attack on [Elizabeth] Warren had damaged her presidential bid, which he regretted because he viewed her as an easier opponent than Biden,” Bender writes. “Now he worried that a heavy blitz of attack ads would hasten the secret plot being hatched by Democrats, and his mind raced with who they might select in Biden’s place.” During a meeting held the month after the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S., Trump expressed his Biden replacement theory to advisers, saying that Democratic leadership would “realize [Biden is] old, and they’re going to give it to somebody else. They’re going to give it to Hillary, or they’re going to give it to Michelle Obama.” 

One person in Trump’s circle did work to put a stop to this absurd belief, which Trump apparently clung to so deeply that he “had cited it as a reason to hold off on heavy spending against Biden earlier in the month.” Bender writes that Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio “devoted nearly an entire page of [a campaign memo] to debunking a conspiracy theory that had bubbled up inside Trump World, including with the president, that Democrats were going to steal Biden’s nomination at the convention.” In the memo, Fabrizio reportedly wrote, “I know there is some concern (which I strenuously disagree with) that if we go after Biden too soon, we can collapse him, and the Dems will replace him at their convention. I know POTUS tends to share this opinion.” Bender adds: “The pollster aimed to debunk the theory by outlining the remaining Democratic primaries, in which Biden had no significant challenger, and the delegate math to secure the nomination. Biden would have enough delegates to secure the nomination in just three weeks, Fabrizio explained, and it would be mathematically impossible to steal it in four weeks.”

How on earth could this wacko actually have been POTUS? 

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


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

Good Day Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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