Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump and Fascism

By Edward B. Gordon

Good Afternoon!!

Over the past couple of weeks, Trump has downplayed an attempt to assassinate at least 13 present and former Democratic officials and prominent Democrats as well as the hate crime murder of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue. His deepest expressed concern about these horrific events has been that they interfered with media coverage of his Hitler rallies. In addition, Trump has blatantly lied about a group of Honduran asylum-seekers, claiming their “caravan” represents a national emergency that requires the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops on the Southern border. I think at this point it’s appropriate to label Trump’s behavior and rhetoric as fascism. I’m far from the only one saying this.

The Washington Post: Trump deploys the fascist playbook for the midterms, by Ishaan Tharoor

President Trump’s message is as clear as it is ugly: Fearmongering about illegal immigration will deliver his party the votes it needs to retain control of Congress. And so, in the final stretch before next week’s midterm election, the president and his allies have launched a blitzkrieg of misinformation.

By Henri Lebasque (1865 – 1937)

In a move unprecedented in modern American history, Trump ordered thousands of active-duty troops to the border to intercept a caravan of Central American migrants, casting them as a menacing “invasion” of “unknown Middle Easterners” and other shadowy elements. His allies at right-wing media outlets spread lurid conspiracy theories about liberals enabling disease-bearing foreigners to infiltrate the country.

Even as attention shifted to a spate of right-wing violence, including the slaughter of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue that critics linked to the president’s rhetoric, Trump barreled on, undaunted. On Thursday, he gave a speech at the White House where he warned that U.S. troops would shoot violent migrants at the border. He also shared an ad that sought to connect the Democratic Party to murders carried out by a man twice deported to Mexico, and then to link the man’s murderous behavior to the supposed threat posed by all migrants.

Taroor links to several other writers on the subject, including:

Timothy Snyder at The Guardian: Donald Trump borrows from the old tricks of fascism.

The governing principle of the Trump administration is total irresponsibility, a claim of innocence from a position of power, something which happens to be an old fascist trick. As we see in the president’s reactions to American rightwing terrorism, he will always claim victimhood for himself and shift blame to the actual victims. As we see in the motivations of the terrorists themselves, and in the long history of fascism, this maneuver can lead to murder.

Comfy Chair, by Rae Andrews

The Nazis claimed a monopoly on victimhood. Mein Kampf includes a lengthy pout about how Jews and other non-Germans made Hitler’s life as a young man in the Habsburg monarchy difficult. After stormtroopers attacked others in Germany in the early 1930s, they made a great fuss if one of their own was injured. The Horst Wessel Song, recalling a single Nazi who was killed, was on the lips of Germans who killed millions of people. The second world war was for the Nazis’ self-defense against “global Jewry”.

The idea that the powerful must be coddled arose in a setting that recalls the United States of today. The Habsburg monarchy of Hitler’s youth was a multinational country with democratic institutions and a free press. Some Germans, members of the dominant nationality, felt threatened because others could vote and publish. Hitler was an extreme example of this kind of sentiment. Today, some white Americans are similarly threatened by the presence of others in institutions they think of as their own. Among the targets of the accused pipe bomber were four women, five black people and two Jews. Just as (some) Germans were the only serious national problem within the Habsburg monarchy, so today are (some) white Americans the only serious threat to their own republic.

How does this apply to Trump?

Trump and some of his supporters mount a strategy of deterrence by narcissism: if you note our debts to fascism, we will up the pitch of the whining. Thus Trump can base his rhetoric on the fascist idea of us and them, lead fascist chants at rallies, encourage his supporters to use violence, praise a politician who attacked a journalist, muse that Hillary Clinton should be assassinated, denigrate the intelligence of African Americans, associate migrants with criminality, run an antisemitic advertisement, spread the Nazi trope of Jews as “globalists”, and endorse the antisemitic idea that the Jewish financier George Soros is responsible for political opposition – but he and his followers will puff chests and swell sinuses if anyone points this out.

By Ivan Stepanovich Ivanov-Sakachev

If Trump is not a fascist, this is only in the precise sense that he is not even a fascist. He strikes a fascist pose, and then issues generic palliative remarks and denies responsibility for his words and actions. But since total irresponsibility is a central part of the fascist tradition, it is perhaps best to give Trump his due credit as an innovator.

The next piece is very long, but I hope you’ll go read it. I can’t do it justice with excerpts. From the Literary Hub, Aleksandar Hemon on Civility: Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight. Hemon is from Bosnia. His essay responds to The New Yorker’s quickly aborted invitation to Steve Bannon to discuss his “ideas” with editor-in-chief David Remnick.

The public discussion prompted by the (dis)invitation confirmed to me that only those safe from fascism and its practices are far more likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives—and it does so because it openly aims so.

Witness Stephen Miller and Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance for illegal immigration” policy. Fascism’s central idea, appearing in a small repertoire of familiar guises, is that there are classes of human beings who deserve diminishment and destruction because they’re for some reason (genetic, cultural, whatever) inherently inferior to “us.” Every fucking fascist, Bannon included, strives to enact that idea, even if he (and it is usually a he—fascism is a masculine ideology, and therefore inherently misogynist) bittercoats it in a discourse of victimization and national self-defense. You know: they are contaminating our nation/race; they are destroying our culture; we must do something about them or perish. At the end of such an ideological trajectory is always genocide, as it was the case in Bosnia.

By Kenton Nelson

The effects and consequences of fascism, however, are not equally distributed along that trajectory. Its ideas are enacted first and foremost upon the bodies and lives of the people whose presence within “our” national domain is prohibitive. In Bannon/Trump’s case, that domain is nativist and white. Presently, their ideas are inflicted upon people of color and immigrants, who do not experience them as ideas but as violence. The practice of fascism supersedes its ideas, which is why people affected and diminished by it are not all that interested in a marketplace of ideas in which fascists have prime purchasing power.

The error in Bannon’s headlining The New Yorker Festival would not have been in giving him a platform to spew his hateful rhetoric, for he was as likely to convert anyone as he himself was to be shown the light in conversation with Remnick. The catastrophic error would’ve been in allowing him to divorce his ideas from the fascist practices in which they’re actualized with brutality. If he is at all relevant, it is not as a thinker, but as a (former) executive who has worked to build the Trumpist edifice of power that cages children and is dismantling mechanisms of democracy.

Relevant reading from Today’s news:

The Washington Post: Trump’s election-eve border mission puts the military in partisan crosshairs.

The Washington Post: Army assessment of migrant caravans undermines Trump’s rhetoric.

Think Progress: These prominent white supremacists interacted with the Pittsburgh shooting suspect on social media.

The Independent: Fascism has arrived in Brazil – Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency will be worse than you think.

The New York Times: Nigerian Army Uses Trump’s Words to Justify Fatal Shooting of Rock-Throwing Protesters.

Buzzfeed News: Trump Said US Soldiers Should Shoot Rock-Throwing Migrants, And Vets Were Having None Of That.

What stories are you following today?

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Sunday Reads: Murder Victims

I would say these are the Tree of Life Synagogue Murder Victims….

 

As Tree of Life Victims Are Identified, Pittsburgh Rallies Together | Vanity Fair

After yesterday’s devastating shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the city and its wonderful community have been rallying around the synagogue.

Officials at a Sunday morning press conference identified the 11 people killed in the shooting including one married couple and two brothers.

[…]

Prosecutors charged Robert Bowers, the suspected shooter, with 29 counts—including 11 counts of murdering victims who were exercising their religious beliefs and 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder.

[…]

“The news was in the air, along with the shock and the sadness, the grief and the gruesome details, the worst of which were confirmed within hours,” wrote Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteexecutive editor David M. Shribman, who himself lives three blocks from Tree of Life. “You could hear it in the sirens that broke the stillness of the morning and shattered the serenity of the Saturday routines at the cleaners, at the shoe store, at the hotcake house. No need, of course, in a place like this to identify the name of the cleaners, the shoe store, the hotcake house. Everyone knows them, just as they know the names of almost everyone along Forbes Avenue at any time of the day.”

Many have turned to the words of Fred Rogers, who was perhaps the neighborhood’s most famous resident, for comfort. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” Rogers said. The quote traveled across social media, onto CNN and the TodayShow, and into the pages of The New York Times over the weekend. Rogers’s home was three blocks from Tree of Life.

Fox News guest blames CNN after mail bombs: They ‘make no effort’ to understand why people chant ‘CNN sucks’

Fox News guest on Sunday blamed CNN for not trying to understand why people like suspected mail bomber Cesar Sayoc repeat the slogan “CNN sucks.”

During on Fox News segment about the attempted mail bombings, host Howard Kurtz asked if it was fair to blame President Donald Trump for the toxic atmosphere his rhetoric creates.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Emily Jashinsky of The Federalist said. “And it takes responsibility away from where it belongs: with the sick and twisted individuals who are committing these heinous crimes, whether it’s [the synagogue shooting] or whether it was earlier this week with these pipe bombs. To blame anybody but the people responsible for this, I find disgraceful and unfortunate.”

Then the Democrat Fox had on as a rebuttal:

 

… Adrienne Elrod argued that Trump’s rhetoric “is a big problem here.”

“There is a divisiveness in this country that the president of the United States has created,” she explained. “He criticizes the media. We’ve had media who have had to have Secret Service protection. He’s not doing anything to try to bring this country together.”

But Jashinsky suggested that CNN could have prevented the mail bombs if it had tried to “understand” why Trump fans chant “CNN sucks” at his rallies, where Sayoc was seen with a sign expressing the same sentiment.

Then came the crap…

Jashinsky said that she was hesitant to talk about her views on CNN “because obviously CNN was the victim.”

“They had a device sent to their headquarters — whatever,” she continued. “When you see at rallies people chanting, ‘CNN sucks’ — I would never do it personally — but CNN makes no effort to understand why people feel that way. They do the opposite. Right? They act like they are the victims, that they’ve done nothing wrong to deserve this.”

According to Jashinsky, the lower-third graphics on CNN broadcasts are what “gets people so upset.”

“There’s no room for violence,” she said. “There’s no room to be sending devices to CNN, it has to stop. I hate it. But they need some self-reflection.”

Video at the link…if you care.

One more link:

The True Toll Of Donald Trump’s Words | HuffPost

Saturday morning, President Donald Trump attacked a Democratic Senate candidate on Twitter, calling her a “Nancy Pelosi Wacko!”

Just a short while later, speaking about the horrific shooting massacre in Pittsburgh that killed at least 11 people, Trump lamented, “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country… It’s a violent world. You think when you’re over it, it just goes away but then it comes back in the form of a madman, a wacko.”

Within a few hours, the president of the United States applied the term “wacko” to one of the most accomplished public servants in our nation’s history and then used precisely the same term for a deranged murderer.

Earlier last week, on the same day that numerous pipe bombs targeted several prominent Democrats and Trump critics, the president declared that, “We have to unify. We have to come together and send the unmistakable message, that acts or threats and political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”

In the very next breath, Trump returned to his divisive refrains attacking and blaming the media for the hate infecting our country. “The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” he said.

The next paragraph of this op/ed goes on with the same shit…tRump is “ignorant of what he does vs he doesn’t care” …I think we all know that he knows exactly what he is doing…and he fucking doesn’t care.

Words matter. Trump more than anybody understands this. From the first day of his campaign, his political strategy has relied on the use of insults like “crooked,” “crazy,” “weak,” “lyin’,” and “wacko” to smear his opponents and mobilize his supporters.

The events of the past week has revealed the true toll that Trump’s words are having on our society. And I am afraid it is only going to get worse.

The scariest thing isn’t that Trump says what he says, it’s that there are those who cheer him for it. Who believe it when he says the free press is “the enemy of the people.” Who laugh when he mocks a disabled reporter. Who chant “lock her up” after Hillary Clinton was mailed an explosive device. Who look the other way when reports surface revealing how foreign powers are eavesdropping on the president’s cell phone conversations because he refuses to use a secure line. Who applaud when he attacks victims of sexual assault. Who would rather militarize schools and churches than consider any reform to our nation’s gun laws.

Read the rest at the link…

One last thing before I go…

 

I spent some time at a local domestic violence crisis center, handing out candy to the children who are being kept safe by staying behind a twelve foot electrified fence topped with razor wire…at an undisclosed location. A prison of “safety” to keep the family protected from the violence of “loved ones” who want to kill them.

I’m going to continue to go back there. I met these three women, I will call them the Ladies Auxiliary…who were a powerhouse of strength. You could tell they had the determination to push through, but the exhaustion was plainly visible. When I told them that my derby name was Jugzz of Fury…. they started laughing and all of them were saying, “Oooo, we got that too….” “Yeah, we have full Jugs of Fury!” Spectacular boobs and luscious curves was a fantastic feature we all shared in common.

There was many children, toddlers..young boys but mostly preteen and teen aged girls…who are at that age where having women with a strong body positive role model is an important.

I am so happy to be a part of WFTDA Roller Derby, it is truly a great experience…Roller Derby is exercise, sisterhood and a form of therapy that is totally beneficial for everyone involved.

If you are on Facebook, be sure to like our page:

 North Georgia Roller Girls – Home

 

 

Anyway, this is an open thread.

 


Monday Reads: The Midterms are coming

Not in here Magats per “The Bank Street Bar”

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I usually go down to the Quarter to see the Krewe of Boo this time of year.  I had grades to do and there were some unwelcome visitors there this weekend. I can’t take any more of the Magats so I stayed home.

We got a visit from the hate group “Proud Boys” who seemed to stage a deliberate breakdown of their vehicle in front of Jackson Square so they could set up a really offensive float called “The Trump Bridge.”  Of course, they did not have the appropriate paperwork, even selling those terrible red Magat hats illegally from the truck bed. All activities were without licenses so quite illegal. The NOPD watched them but did nothing.

With the exception of a few lone bars that I really didn’t know existed down there anyway, they were refused service and forced to drink in the streets.  All in all, the entire city did a great job of ignoring them.

Several “watchers” from progressive groups spent time documenting and following them in the hopes of catching any of their usual hateful antics.  We do have a local chapter of them and recently, a Plaquemines Parish Deputy Sheriff lost his job for his association with them

The Proud Boys say they’re not a hate group and that they’re not a part of the alt-right, the catch-all euphemism for various groups of Nazis, white nationalists and white supremacists. The founder of the Proud Boys criticized the eruption of violence in Charlottesville, but a prominent member of that organization had organized the “Unite the Right” rally and later tweeted that “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. Communists killed 94 million. Looks like it was payback time.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the founder of the Proud Boys says he expelled the writer of that tweet from his group “once his racist views became known.” To hear that founder tell it, the Proud Boys is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of Western chauvinists who part ways with the alt-right on “the JQ,” that is, “the Jewish question.”

In its website’s HateWatch feature, the SPLC notes that the founder of the Proud Boys “denies any connection between his group and the far right, dismissing the fact that they show up to the same events, take fashion cues from each other, read the same books, sympathize with each other’s viewpoints — including, at times, anti-Semitism — and joust in the shadows of the same windmills.”

Green, the Plaquemines deputy, scrubbed his Facebook feed of his Proud Boys posts, but not before they’d been screen shot and sent to his employer.  His Facebook profile described him as “Deputy Sheriff, Father, Proud Boy.” His profile photo showed him in his law enforcement uniform with the words “The West Is The Best” superimposed on the picture.

Also in his Facebook feed, there had been posted a video in which Green appears to recite the Proud Boys oath, “I’m Brian Green and I’m a proud western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.”

There is nothing positive about chauvinism of any kind. Furthermore, it’s safe to say that nobody reciting the Proud Boys oath had anything to do with the creation of this modern world.  That oath makes as much sense as me refusing to apologize for having created blues music, jazz and rock-and-roll when all those things were here when I was born.

I do have a few reports from friends that I will put up here just so you have some first hand accounts as well as they pictures and videos taken.   I’m going to leave their names off because I don’t want to accidentally dox them to the wrong people.

So can we talk about the fact that the NOLA Proudboys (an SPLC-recognized violent white supremacist hate group) managed to have the “Trump Unity Bridge” (basically a giant mobile hate-campaign) ‘break down’ conveniently right in front of Jackson Square before the Krewe of Boo parade this evening– a halloween parade largely attended by families and kids. The police didn’t even tow that junk off of Decatur, and instead let them set up shop right along the parade route where they (illegally) sold MAGA hats to the crowd, yelled racial slurs at kids and passers by, threatened a few people who took their picture, tried to provoke violence, paraded around in blackface masks, oh and I’m told finally punched a woman and beat somebody with a flagpole shortly after I left. If you find that state of affairs as disappointing as I do, please call or write the Mayor’s office and tell her that you expect better in the so-called “city of yes” . . . that oughtn’t to mean ‘yes’ to every kind of white supremacist intimidation and depravity, especially anywhere that children are concerned. 504-658-4900, mayor@nola.gov

Here’s the link to the SPLC site that gives you more information about them.

As you know, a number of them were arrested in New York for a brawl which is basically what they always go looking for.

The founder of the far-right group the Proud Boys said on Friday that he was arranging the surrender of several members whom the police are seeking in connection with a violent brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan last weekend.

At the same time, a senior official said the police had opened a broad criminal inquiry into the group’s activities.

Gavin McInnes, 48, a polemical far-right speaker who started the Proud Boys in 2016, said several suspects would turn themselves in. By late Friday afternoon, two of the nine men sought by the police had been arrested. A police official said a lawyer representing at least four of the suspects had called the 19th Precinct on Friday to work out the details of their surrender.

Though it was unclear how many might face charges, Mr. McInnes said the rest would soon be in custody. “They are going to be in the Tombs,” he said.

The Proud Boys are a fraternal organization of so-called Western chauvinists that Mr. McInnes has sometimes referred to as a gang. The group has clashed with anarchists and left-wing protesters at political events across the country several times in recent years.

They fought with anti-fascist demonstrators on Oct. 12 shortly after Mr. McInnes gave a speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club, a bastion of establishment conservatism on the Upper East Side.

There’s some national news about the midterms and other things we should discuss.  This headline is startling.  From Time: “Trump Plans to Tear Up a 31-Year-Old Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Now What?”.

President Donald Trump revealed Saturday the United States intends to withdraw from a 31-year-old nuclear weapons agreement with Russia, delivering a severe blow to the arms control regime that helped preserve peace since the Cold War.

“We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Trump told reporters after a rally in Elko, Nevada, without indicating what the next steps might be.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, first signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987, was the first and only nuclear arms control agreement that ever eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. The treaty forced the superpowers to scrap more than 2,600 missiles with ranges 310 to 3,420 miles — weapons considered destabilizing to the European continent because of their capability to launch a nuclear strike from anywhere without early warning.

Gorbachev has called the move ‘Not the Work of a Great Mind’.

President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia drew sharp criticism Sunday from one of the men who signed it, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called the decision reckless and not the work of “a great mind.”

In making his announcement Saturday, Mr. Trump cited Russian violations of the pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in Washington in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, who is now 87 years old, cast Mr. Trump’s decision as a threat to peace.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Mr. Gorbachev called Mr. Trump’s rollback of the disarmament agreement “very strange.” He added: “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?”

The last Soviet leader, who is perceived more warmly in the West than inside Russia, has already watched his domestic reform agendas supporting democracy and greater freedom of the press unravel in recent years. Nuclear disarmament also defined his legacy.

Eric Levitz opines this for New York Magazine today: Tribalism Isn’t Our Democracy’s Main Problem. The Conservative Movement Is.

In the middle of the 20th century, America was home to liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. The most important fault-lines in Congress weren’t partisan but regional; on many issues, southern Democrats and western Republicans united in battle against northern (and typically, liberal and/or labor-aligned) members of their respective caucuses. On economics, the two parties’ agendas were distinct, but far less disparate than they are today. On civil rights and immigration, the divisions within each side of the aisle were more important than those between them.

This utter dearth of partisan polarization undermined democratic accountability. A liberal could vote for Democratic candidates in New York, and unwittingly empower arch-segregationists in the Senate; many voters had no clear heuristic telling them which party would best represent their interests and ideological goals, nor which one was to blame for Congress’s failure to advance such aims.

In response, the American Political Science Association (APSA) released a report in 1950 that called on Republicans and Democrats to heighten their contradictions, arguing that “popular government in a nation of 150 million people requires political parties which provide the electorate with a proper range of choices between alternatives of action.”

Sixty-eight years later, we’ve done just as the APSA advised.

Today’s party system offers voters a wide — and clearly labeled — range of alternatives. While myriad policy debates remain stifled by bipartisan consensus (the proper size and role of the U.S. military, for example), it is nevertheless the case that Democrats and Republicans now provide the electorate with stark choices on health care, taxation, social spending, immigration, racial justice, abortion, environmental regulation, labor rights, and myriad other issues. It has rarely, if ever, been more clear what — and whom — each party in the U.S. stands for.

And rarely, if ever, has “popular government” been a worse misnomer for what transpires in our nation’s state and federal capitals.

In 2018, polarization still looms large in the discourse on our democracy’s failings. But these days, it’s seen less as an elixir than a cancer. In fact, some pundits and political scientists regard it as the root of all the Trump era’s evils. In this new telling, our republic may be suffering from a variety of disfiguring illnesses, but all trace back to the damage that hyperpartisanship did to its immune system: Our president may be a kleptocratic conspiracy theorist who oozes contempt for America’s highest ideals (and ignorance of high-school civics) — but only because conservative voters came to despise the Democratic Party more than they loathe self-proclaimed pussy-grabbers. Congress might be barely able to fund its own paychecks, let alone find consensus solutions to policy challenges — but voters only tolerate such gridlock because they’ve come to see compromise as a synonym for their side’s defeat. And Americans might be losing confidence in public institutions, the integrity of their nation’s elections, and the value of democracy itself — but this is largely because so many of them have decided that one of their nation’s two political parties poses an existential threat to their bedrock ideals.

I was happy to see Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum pull ahead in the polls.  Evidently, the group of old white fogies at The Villages fear him.  Being an old fogie myself, I wonder why they hate their Medicare and Social Security so much, but then, I don’t think in terms of black people taking things away from me.  I think in terms of Republicans doing that.

President Donald Trump’s loyalists here at Florida’s premier retirement community fear Andrew Gillum.

It has nothing to do with his race, they insist, when asked about the 39-year-old Democrat who could become the state’s first African-American governor. Instead, The Villages’ deeply conservative residents are convinced a Gillum victory would trigger an era of high crime, higher taxes and moral failing.

“He’ll kill everything that’s good about Florida,” says Talmadge Strickland, a 66-year-old retired firefighter wearing a “Trump 2020″ baseball cap at a rally for Gillum’s opponent. “He will hurt us; he will physically hurt us with his socialist mentality.”

In an era defined by deep political partisanship, there’s perhaps no state where the divide runs deeper than Florida, which is in the grip of a fierce culture clash over guns, race, climate change and the president. Gillum sits at the center of the melee, his campaign a proxy for the larger fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s GOP.

Gillum’s fate is inexorably linked to fellow Democrats whose success could determine control of Congress. That’s especially true for three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who could benefit from Gillum’s appeal among young voters and minorities.

As early voting begins in Florida this week, that link is tenuous.

“New voters and infrequent voters are everything to us winning,” Gillum told The Associated Press when asked about his impact on Nelson’s race. “I think they will vote for both of us, and that will be to his benefit.”

Young people and minorities are traditionally among the least reliable voters, particularly in midterm elections. Meanwhile, white voters in place like The Villages are lining up behind his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The electorate in Florida this year is especially unpredictable due to an unusual collision of events: a massive hurricane, the nation’s deadliest high school shooting and Gillum’s historic candidacy.

Those of us that have had anything to hear from or do with a Trump voter know exactly how angry and ugly they are.  But, be prepared for ads from the RNC that basically say that Dems are the angry mob. We may be angry, but our protests are hardly mob like and Greg Sargent of WAPO’s Plum line explains why we’re angry right back at them.

President Trump and Republicans have adopted a closing electoral strategy that depicts the Democratic Party and “angry” leftist protests against Trumpian rule as the only real reigning threat to our country’s civic fabric and the rule of law. A new Republican National Committee video juxtaposes footage of leading mainstream Democratic figures with that of angry protesters, while decrying “the left” as an “unhinged mob.”

As absurd as this conflation is on its face, it has smuggled itself into the mainstream debate, where it is getting a quasi-respectful hearing, in the form of a public argument over whether Democrats are “going low,” or tacitly egging on their voters to violence, or, by adopting the smashmouth media tactics of Michael Avenatti, succumbing to “Avenatti-ism.”

But much of the resulting debate over all this is hollow, because it is not putting these basic realities front and center: Trump, more than any leading U.S. figure in recent memory, has actively tried to stoke civil conflict on as many fronts as possible. He has concertedly subverted the rule of law, not just to shield himself from accountability, but, more to the point for present purposes, with the deliberate purpose of exciting his minority base — and enraging millions on the other side of the cultural divide — in a manner that is thoroughly corrupt to its core.

Here in New Orleans we like our food, our parades, our holidays, and our music.  Most of us like our beer and bongs and whatever libations that goes along with watching the Saints or celebrating 300 years here.  Yet, every time we have one of those celebrations we get angry white people doing disrespectful things.  We get Westborough Baptist during our Southern Decadence celebration of the GLBT community here.  We get big ol’ sign carrying christians telling us that we’re all about as sinful as you can get during Carnivale.  Now, we get the Proud Boys and their ugly little float during Mardi Gras and our annual celebration of Halloween.  None of them are loving of people or fun.  They are here to buzz saw any one that isn’t like them.

We used to have to endure them during small little windows of time, but now, they assault us daily on all forms of media and in every walk of life. I get weary of all that resentment, hate, and privilege rattling.

Why do they come here to piss on other people’s celebrations?  Why do they have to have laws that cause other people to live their lives according to some other person’s idea of how life needs to be.

We have a few more weeks of these awful rallies and the even worse pictures and words of these poor excuses for human beings.  I’m not sure where the 20 million voters that never show up are, but please, please, please, get rid of these Ugly Americans. Get them back under their rocks and out of our lives and sight.

I want to go back to a January article by Rebbecca Solnit at the Literary Hub. ” 20 MILLION MISSING PEOPLE COULD SAVE AMERICA. ON LIFE IN THE DARK TIMELINE, AND THE MORAL CAUSE OF OUR MOMENT”.

But who is missing? It’s not only the women directors, the black screenwriters, the not-so-misogynist lead journalists in the mainstream.

It’s voters.

Voting is a form of speech, a way you say who you believe in, what kind of world you want to see. Having a voice doesn’t just mean literally being able to say things; it means having a role, having agency, being able to say things that have an impact whether it’s I witnessed this police brutality, or no I don’t want to have sex with you, or this is my vision of society.

As far as I can estimate, about 20 million voters were disenfranchised in the last election. Voter ID laws, the cross-check system, purging voter rolls, the undermining of the Voting Rights Act, making sure there were not enough polling stations or cutting back polling hours, harassing people when they showed up at those stations, taking the vote away from ex-felons—the means are many, and the consequences are that a lot of people have been denied their rights, so much so that it’s the other new Jim Crow. (There is no clear tally of how many voters are missing, and it’s also complicated by the fact that some populations—more than six million Americans with felony convictions, for example—are prevented outright from voting, some face obstacles and harassment—via voter ID laws, for example—that thin out their numbers.)

Politics is how we tell the stories we live by, how we decide if we value the health and well-being of children or not, the autonomy of women’s bodies and equality of our lives, or not, if we protect the Dreamers who came here as small children, or not, if we act on climate change, or not. Voting is far from the only way, but is a key way we decide on what story to base our actions on. We choose a story about who and what matters; we act on that story to rearrange the world around it—and then there are tax cuts to billionaires and children kicked off healthcare, or there are climate agreements and millions of acres of federal land protected and support for universities. We live inside what, during postmodernism’s heyday, we’d call master narratives—so there’s always a question of who’s telling the story, who is in charge of the narrative, and what happens if that changes.

Sometimes when journalists like Ari Berman at Mother Jones—the best voice on this issue—write about the suppression of the votes, people assume they’re saying Hillary Clinton should have won the last presidential election. If you changed who had access to the ballot in 2016, that might be the outcome, but the story is so much bigger than that, and the potential outcomes are so much more radical than that. The Republican Party has maintained a toehold on national power by systematically, strategically, increasingly suppressing the votes of people of color over decades. They are a minority party. They could never win a fair election nationally with their current platform of white grievance and misogyny and favors for the one percent, so they’ve set about to have unfair elections. (And they have also gerrymandered the daylights out of a lot of states to hang onto majorities at the state and national level; in 2012, they took the majority of seats in the lower house of Congress with a minority of overall votes.)

Imagine that those 20 million votes were not suppressed. The Republican Party would be defunct or be unrecognizably different from what it is today. But the Democratic Party would be different too. Imagine that the Democratic Party had to answer to more young people, more poor people, more nonwhite people, more people who believe in strengthening human rights and social service safety nets, economic justice, stronger action on climate change. Imagine a country where Democrats weren’t competing for moderate-to-conservative voters because the electorate was far more progressive—as it would be if all those people who lost their voting rights actually had them (and yeah, more younger people showed up). It wouldn’t change something as small as the outcome of the 2016 election. It would mean different political parties with different platforms and different candidates, different news coverage, different outcomes. It would change the story. It would change who gets to tell the story.

By voting, we can remove the tyranny of the shrinking minority before they completely set the game up so that we never can.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Readings: Vote because Our Lives depend on it

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would this ballot measure change about convictions?

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

Do other states allow for non-unanimous jury convictions?

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

Have the courts addressed the non-unanimous juries rule?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget to vote!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Monday Reads: Losing Ground but Finding Strength

Coyote Buttes South. Photo: John Fowler

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

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

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

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

Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park

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

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

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

Gros Morne National Park

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

That’s all I can stomach today.

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: The Great Wall of Africa

 

 

NO, it is not The onion…

 

Donald Trump urged Spain to ‘build the wall’ – across the Sahara | US news | The Guardian

Donald Trump suggested the Spanish government tackled the Mediterranean migration crisis by emulating one of his most famous policies and building a wall across the Sahara desert, the country’s foreign minister has revealed.

According to Josep Borrell, the US president brushed off the scepticism of Spanish diplomats – who pointed out that the Sahara stretched for 3,000 miles – saying: “The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.”

Trump wooed voters in the 2016 election with his promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” across the US/Mexico border, which is roughly 2,000 miles long.

A similar plan in the Sahara, however, would be complicated by the fact that Spain holds only two small enclaves in north Africa – Ceuta and Melilla – and such a wall would have to be built on foreign territory.

Borrell’s comments were made at a lunch event in Madrid this week and widely reported in the Spanish media. “We can confirm that’s what the minister said, but we won’t be making any further comment on the minister’s remarks,” said a spokesman for the foreign ministry.

But let’s get down to more serious matters, like this news from last evening…another notch to add to tRump’s wall of shame.

Moving on to Dr. Ford:

 

I know this post is late, so here are the funnies:

Kavanaugh confirmation: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Kavanaugh confirmation

Actually, I could finish it with that single cartoon. Powerful stuff there.

SHE SAID HE SAID: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SHE SAID HE SAID

Kavanaugh Defense: 09/18/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Kavanaugh Defense

Kavanaugh accuser: 09/17/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Kavanaugh accuser

MEPATHY: 09/16/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MEPATHY

The fake out : 09/15/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - The fake out

Cyclone of denial: 09/14/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Cyclone of denial

09/19/2018 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

09/19/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

09/18/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

09/15/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

09/19/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

09/18/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

09/13/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

09/19/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Trade Fortune: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Trade Fortune

Supreme Groping: 09/18/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Supreme Groping

Kavanaugh’s oath: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Kavanaugh's oath

Duterte Silences His Critics: 09/19/2018 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - Duterte Silences His Critics

Put that Duterte cartoon into a tRump context….

09/18 Mike Luckovich: You left the seat up.

And on that note…this is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Another Wild Week In Crazytown

By David Hettinger

Good Afternoon!!

We’ve reached the end of another stunning week in Trump world, culminating in the news that Paul Manafort has flipped and SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh may be a sexual predator. How much more of this can we take?

It’s difficult to believe that it was only this Tuesday the Bob Woodward’s book Fear was released. I’ve been reading it and, difficult as this is to believe, it is even more surreal than Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. We are truly living on the edge of disaster every single day under this “president.”

The cable networks have been obsessed with Hurricane Florence for days now, to the point that there was little coverage of the Manafort plea deal and the shocking news that Trump’s SCOTUS nominee allegedly tried to rape a woman when he was in high school.

It’s really difficult to know what to focus on today, so I’m just going to offer some reads that have caught my attention this morning.

Harry Litman at USA Today: Manafort plea is new proof that Mueller is Trump’s worst nightmare. He’s on to him.

It’s tempting to view Paul Manafort’s guilty plea and cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in gladiatorial terms: Manafort brought utterly to heel; Mueller in full triumph; and the vainglorious orange-haired Emperor sulking in the royal box, his chosen warrior having turned tail and abandoned him.

By Claude Grobety

The actual story is even more exhilarating. In his all-out, morally bankrupt assault on the Mueller probe, the president had chosen Manafort as his poster child for justice. Manafort, the multi-million dollar tax cheat and mercenary servant of Russia’s interests, became Manafort, the stand-up guy. And the two men appeared to be enacting an obstruction of justice in plain view: Manafort keeping quiet and going to jail in the expectation of a corrupt pardon from Trump, which the president had shown himself very willing to give.

All that is blown to bits after the plea deal announcement, which is, more than anything, a triumph for the rule of law and the notion that, Rudy Giuliani’s buffoonish proclamations to the contrary, truth is truth.

What does the Manafort deal mean for Trump?

For the president, the plea agreement from his former campaign chair is at least a huge blow and potentially disastrous. It had been widely reported that Trump believed Manafort could incriminate him and took great relief from the thought that he would keep his lips sealed.

For starters, Manafort likely knows whether Trump had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, which would expose the president to co-conspirator liability. Manafort likewise was at the center of the manipulation of the Republican platform to favor Russian interests in the Ukraine.

By Jane Peterson

More generally, Manafort’s shamed, mumbled court confession to all Mueller’s charges further makes more untenable Trump’s histrionic shrieks of “witch hunt,” which already had been losing purchase.

Manafort’s cooperation promise also may bode ill for Roger Stone, his former business partner, on whom Mueller already has been turning the vise, and possibly Jared Kushner, who worked closely with Manafort during the campaign and now is a senior adviser to his father-in-law at the White House.

Yes, there’s much more to come, and it seems clear now that Mueller isn’t worried about Rudy Giuliani’s threats about the investigation continuing as we approach the election. After all, Trump is not on any ballots.

I didn’t know that Manafort was involved in identity theft. The New York Times: How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort.

KIEV, Ukraine — At first glance, what happened to Yevgeny G. Kaseyev hardly seems like misfortune.

Without his knowledge, he says, unknown individuals set up multiple companies in his name and deposited tens of millions of dollars into those companies’ bank accounts.

“Sometimes it seems fun,” Mr. Kaseyev, a 34-year-old hairdresser, said with a shrug during an interview. “I’m a secret millionaire.”

Sally Strand – A Good Read (2008)

Until the authorities came calling, that is, seeking $30 million in back taxes.

One of the people who did business with a company opened under Mr. Kaseyev’s stolen identity didn’t mean anything to him. But the name certainly caught the eye of investigators in the United States: Paul J. Manafort.

Mr. Manafort, who worked for a decade as a political consultant in Ukraine before becoming chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, made a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with the shell company under the hairdresser’s name. It was called Neocom Systems Limited, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker.

Read the rest of the twisted tale at the link.

On the Kavanaugh story, in July Sen. Diane Feinstein, the ranking member on on the Senate Judiciary Committee, received a letter from a woman who said that Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of his had sexually assaulted her at a party when they were high school students. From Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece:

The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

Feinstein sat on the story until the Intercept published a report that she was keeping it secret, even from other Democrats on the committee.

Félix Vallotton (Swiss-born French, 1865-1925), La Liseuse (1922)

Kavanaugh and the friend, Mark Judge, both deny that the events happened. But it turns out Judge has a colorful past. He wrote a book about being a teenage alcoholic, and wrote a bizarre 2012 piece for The Daily Caller claiming that a black person stole his bicycle, even though he actually had no idea who had done it: The End Of My White Guilt. Judge parked his car with his bike on the roof when he went to church; when he returned, the bike was gone.

But  when I came back to my car after the stations, my bike, which had been locked to a bike rack on my car, was gone. I called the cops and filed a report. Then I walked around Brookland, the neighborhood around the Shrine, for an hour to see if I could spot it. I didn’t, but I did talk to some people who said there were a lot of kids around that day because the schools are out.

I went to college at Catholic University, which is right next to the National Shrine, and I know Brookland pretty well. It’s home to several Catholic religious orders (Brookland was once known as “Little Rome”). I could be pretty certain that on Good Friday a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is across the street from where I was parked, had not nicked my bike. Neither had the monks at the Dominican House of Studies on the corner. The students at Catholic University were on Easter break. That left the neighborhoods around the university. Since the time I was an undergrad at Catholic University in the 1980s, most of the crime that has occurred on campus has come from those neighborhoods, which are predominately black. As sure as it took the D.C. cops forever to get to the parking lot to file a report, I knew that the odds were very high that a black person had taken my bike — maybe one of the kids that had been described.

I actually remember reading about this at the time, because Judge was roundly mocked on the internet. So this guy is Brett Kavanaugh’s alibi. Read more about him at Heavy: Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh’s Classmate: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

There’s at least one other rumor going around about Kavanaugh:

It’s also weird that Kavanaugh clerked for Alex Kosinki, the judge who was forced to resign over accusations of sexual harassment; yet Kavanaugh claims he had no knowledge of Kosinki’s blatantly abusive behavior. Slate: I Received Some of Kozinski’s Infamous Gag List Emails. I’m Baffled by Kavanaugh’s Responses to Questions About Them, by Heidi Bond

When I came forward in December about my experience in Judge Alex Kozinski’s chambers, I said that when he showed me pictures of naked people without my co-clerks present, I felt isolated. Had they been there, I explained, “it would have felt like I was being treated as one of the guys. Kozinski was not known for being terribly appropriate, but I could handle that. Inappropriateness directed solely at me felt very different than chambers-wide jokes.”

Cynthia Reading by Rosina Emmet Sherwood (1854 – 1948)

Those chamberswide jokes that I alluded to have now become an issue in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the early 1990s and has maintained a close personal relationship with the judge. When Kavanaugh was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006, it was Kozinski who introduced him to the Senate.

For years, Kozinski maintained an email list known as the “Easy Rider Gag List,” to which he would send sexually explicit and otherwise raunchy jokes; the existence of the list was first publicized in 2008. In his hearings, Kavanaugh was asked by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mazie Hirono if he was aware of the email list, and if he had received emails from Kozinski with sexually explicit content. In response to these questions, he said he couldn’t recall anything like that. And, in response to a written question for the record—“Has Judge Kozinski ever made comments about sexual matters to you, either in jest or otherwise?”—Kavanaugh responded, “I do not remember any such comments.”

This last response leaves me wondering whether Kavanaugh and I clerked for the same man. Kozinski’s sexual comments—to both men and women—were legendary.

Click on the link to read the rest.

I’m running out of time and space, so I’ll end with this strange story from The Washington Post: A solar observatory in New Mexico is evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one will say why.

 At a small solar observatory tucked away in the woods of a national forest here, scientists and other personnel were commanded last week to leave at once. A week later, the facility remains vacant, and no one is willing to say why.

By Julian Barrow

The mysterious and lengthy evacuation, in a state known for secretive military testing and a suspected UFO crash, has spawned a wealth of speculation.

Did the researchers spot something extraterrestrial? Was the solar telescope hacked by a foreign power and deployed to spy on, say, the state’s missile testing range? Or is there an innocuous explanation, suppressed only because of corporate and government resistance to transparency?

On Friday, the entrance to the National Solar Observatory was blocked by yellow crime scene tape and two security guards, who said even they had been kept in the dark. The guards, from Red Rock Security & Patrol in Las Cruces, N.M., did not give their names but said it was the first day the company was guarding the entrance and that only the “director and an assistant” were allowed in. There was no obvious sign of law enforcement activity.

A spokeswoman for the nonprofit group that runs the facility said the organization was ad­dressing a “security issue,” but offered no additional information, other than, “I can tell you it definitely wasn’t aliens.” She said Friday that the facility “will remain closed until further notice.” Neither the FBI — which was spotted on the premises around the time of the evacuation — nor those who worked at the facility would tell local law enforcement what had happened, said Otero County Sheriff Benny House.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

So . . . what stories are you following today?