Monday Reads: America has a gun fetish that’s killing us

The Super Flower Blood Moon eclipse of 2022 over my house last night.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I gaze through my Twitter feed which is loaded with all these photos of wipipo and their small army of indoctrinated children looking like they’re all about to head to The Aluminium Warehouse Church of the Almighty Dollar to get their sanctimony on or to everyone’s favorite store, movie theatre, or place of actual worship to slaughter the rest of us.

I’m trolling my stupid Senator again because he doesn’t seem to have any concept of being moral even though he throws bible verses on his feed day after day. Sometimes he sounds almost normal and then, he goes down the MAGA rabbit hole and sounds like a monster.

I am just sick of all the gun violence and white national terrorist violence and murder. I know I keep writing about it but folks like my one semi-cogent Senator are just fixated on all the wrong problems. For one, why do kids have access to dangerous weapons of war? For another, at what point do we start looking at Terrorist Manifestos and “news” broadcasts domestically and say this isn’t free speech, it is violent insurrection talking?

This is your basic child abuse. They look like a cult! And this is what their children grow up to do:

And this is your basic horrid policy. Let’s kill a lot of people by linking these two things together! And of course, let’s ignore gun violence even if you’re a doctor and every doctor’s organization calls it a Public Health Crisis.

Please read that thread from Sherrilyn Iffel. It’s enlightening. Please read this one too!!!

I’ve been caught in several shootouts in my neighborhood recently. The abandoned Naval Base is full of methheads and heroin addicts who come from the rural areas to the city. There are gunshots at least once a day. There have been at least 4 deaths there this month that are known around here from there. The police seem absolutely unable to do anything. Our crime wave is due to the long-ignored Opioid crisis. Why don’t we see some action there?

I grew up in a small Iowa town with a lot of people that had guns specifically for hunting. All I ever saw was the meat my dad would bring home when his friends shared their bounty. I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years and it was labeled as dangerous when I moved here. Well, the demographics have changed and the violence is appalling now. I’ll let you read between the lines. They are getting these ideas from one Party, from their Preachers, and from the likes of Tucker Carlson on Fox News.

Congressman Adam Schiff said it out loud. Fox News, Republicans, and white nationalist xtians are killing us and our democracy. There is no other way to look at this. They are after the rights of women, religious minorities, or the nonreligious, and they are after people of color and the GLBTQ community. It’s their way or we go to prison or they just turn their maladjusted little men on us with their tactical gear and semi-automatic weapons. OR, they let big Pharma loose to turn those little men into monsters.

And they send monsters to serve at the State and Federal levels who want the process to be rigged in their favor. Otherwise, they quit or go on Fox to howl like hyenas.

The number of proposed laws catering to one very small part of the Christian belief community is astounding. I just wished that a number of people heard those of us that experienced it from the 1980s forward and actually believed what we were saying. I was under attack as not being a ‘real’ Christian because I was a social justice Methodist at the time. One of my great grandfathers was a circuit rider in the Kansas/Oklahoma area doing just about the same thing as me so it’s a long tradition in my family.

Oh, and here are some pictures of my new Kitty Cristal who was rescued from the middle of neutral ground and is now happily installed on my bed. I’m hoping to distract you from all this distress with her as much as she is doing for me.

From Salon: “Why is the Supreme Court using religious belief to alter secular law? Alito’s draft opinion is full of specious legal and historical language — but it’s just religious doctrine in drag”. This is written by Thom Hartmann.

Democrats are generally disinclined to discuss religion, much less debate it.

They like to point out that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were famously atheist, Thomas Jefferson and dozens of other high-profile people in the founding generation were deists (a close cousin to atheists and certainly not Christians), and that in two different places the Constitution explicitly rejects religion interfering with government or vice versa.

But it’s time to discuss religion whether we like it or not, because it’s no longer knocking on our door: Sam Alito just sent it into the house with a no-knock warrant and stun grenades that threaten to catch the place on fire.

Alito’s Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion rests on two main premises.

The first is that the Supreme Court has no business recognizing a “right” that isn’t rooted in the nation’s “history and tradition.”

This right-wing canard has been around for years, and has been used to argue against pretty much ever form of modernity from integrated public schools to, more recently, same-sex marriage. It’s a convenient pole around which you can twist pretty much any argument you want, because American history and tradition have been all over the map during the past roughly 240 years.

For example, Alito could just as easily have pointed out that there were no federal or state laws regulating abortion at all at the founding of our republic, and they didn’t really start showing up until the 1800s as physicians were clamoring for licensure to lock midwives out of birth-related medical practice (which included abortion).

The year Virginia got an abortion-regulating law, for example, was the same year — 1847 — that the American Medical Association was founded. Ben Franklin had been dead more than a half-century and not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence was still alive.

She sure sleeps better than I do!!

Read on. We’re in the dawning of the Age of DisReason and Religious tyranny. It’s back to the Middle Ages. We also know they are a well-armed bunch of Crusaders that have been whipped up into a frenzy by the Republican Party and Fox News. They also have plenty of playgrounds out on the Internet. They’ve been stacking courts since the Reagan years and look out!

And now, we have a fringe theory guiding yet another set of their reactionary movement. This is from the New York Times: “A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P. Replacement theory, espoused by the suspect in the Buffalo massacre, has been embraced by some right-wing politicians and commentators.”

Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.

The next year, another white man, angry over what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.

And in yet another deadly mass shooting, unfolding in Buffalo on Saturday, a heavily armed white man is accused of killing 10 people after targeting a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side, writing in a lengthy screed posted online that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”

Three shootings, three different targets — but all linked by one sprawling, ever-mutating belief now commonly known as replacement theory. At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence.

But replacement theory, once confined to the digital fever swamps of Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes — of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority — has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations.

By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as “replacers” of white Americans. Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party — spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.

My Dog Temple has a new buddy.

We’ve always had ugly racist, anti-semite, white nationalist movements lurking about but now they’re weaponizing the first and second amendment against the majority. And of course, some Republicans are calling it a “false flag” operation which means this ugly ass young man was really a liberal. This Senator is a white nationalist. From HuffPo: “State Senator Who Backs White Nationalism Suggests Buffalo Shooting Was False Flag. Arizona GOP Sen. Wendy Rogers promoted a deranged conspiracy theory after 10 people were killed in what authorities say was a

A Republican state lawmaker with ties to white nationalists suggested the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket was staged by government agents.
“Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo,” Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers wrote on Telegram. The first-term lawmaker has built a national profile among far-right extremists with incendiary rhetoric, diehard support for former President Donald Trump and an embrace of white nationalism.

Authorities said an 18-year-old white gunman traveled several hours on Saturday to a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, where he opened fire outside at a supermarket. Thirteen people were shot; 10 died. Most were Black. The accused killer left a manifesto riddled with racist views and references to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white Americans are being replaced by people of color, according to The New York Times.

Oh, and then there’s this from VOX: “The Supreme Court just made it much easier to bribe a member of Congress. A case brought by Ted Cruz is a huge boon to rich candidates and moneyed lobbyists.” SCOTUS weaponized the first amendment again and there’s nothing in the original Constitution about lobbyists and dark money so please, Alito, explain this one to me in “federalist” terms.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been at war with campaign finance laws for more than a dozen years, stretching at least as far back as its decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). On Monday, the Court’s six Republican appointees escalated this war.

The Court’s decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign.

Federal law permits candidates to loan money to their campaigns. In 2001, however, Congress prohibited campaigns from repaying more than $250,000 of these loans using funds raised after the election. They can repay as much as they want from campaign donations received before the election (although a federal regulation required them to do so “within 20 days of the election”).

The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official’s pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him.

Indeed, now that this limit on loan repayments has been struck down, lawmakers with sufficiently creative accountants may be able to use such loans to give themselves a steady income stream from campaign donors.

According to the Los Angeles Times, for example, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) made a $150,000 loan to her campaign at 18 percent interest in 1998 — before the 2001 law was enacted. Though Napolitano did eventually reduce the interest rate on this loan to 10 percent, the high-interest loan allowed her to make a considerable profit from donors.

Okay, there’s more about this shit but I can’t do it. Maybe BB will pick up on some of it tomorrow.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today!!

And love and snuggles from all of us at the kathouse! Here’s Ted Cruz with the Last Word today.


Monday Reads: And the Beat Goes On …

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been staring at this white page on my computer screen for several hours now. I’m going back and forth between Twitter and Memeorandum, sorting out the headlines we’ve lived with for over a year. It’s just a riff on the days and months before.

The news on the Insurrectionists continues to be grim, with yet another Republican refusing to testify before a committee. This time it’s Gym Jordan who swears he knows nothing, nothing! This is from Steve Benen, writing for MSNBC.

It was nearly three weeks ago when the bipartisan panel first reached out to Jordan, not with a subpoena, but with a written request for information. The far-right congressman soon after appeared on Fox News, saying he was unlikely to cooperate. “I got real concerns about any committee that will take a document and alter it and present it to the American people — completely mislead the American people like they did last week,” he argued.

In reality, the committee did not actually mislead anyone and Jordan’s complaint was difficult to take seriously.

Yesterday, Jordan moved on to a new list of concerns, claiming in a written response that the request from investigators “is far outside the bounds of any legitimate inquiry, violates core constitutional principles and would serve to further erode legislative norms.”

So much for “if they call me, I got nothing to hide.”

In case this isn’t obvious, the Republican is in a unique position to help shed light on the events surrounding last year’s political violence. The New York Times recently reported, for example, that Jordan attended crisis meetings at Trump campaign headquarters as early as Nov. 9, just two days after Joe Biden became president-elect.

Nicolas Wu reports this bit of breaking news today in Politico. As we all know, Trump was a very busy boy trying to dump election results. Now, we are beginning to see the extent of it.

.

The public focus of Congress’ Jan. 6 investigation, so far, is what happened in Washington, D.C. Behind the scenes, the probe’s state-level work is kicking into overdrive.

The House committee investigating the Capitol attack has gathered thousands of records from state officials and interviewed a slate of witnesses as it attempts to retrace former President Donald Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election, particularly in four key states that swung the presidency to Joe Biden. They’re getting ready to take their work public, possibly as soon as the spring.

“We want to let the public see and hear from those individuals who conducted elections in those states,” select panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview. He described those witnesses as particularly important given their mandates to keep elections “fair and impartial” while hailing from one political party.

The voluminous documents state election officials have sent the Jan. 6 committee, obtained by POLITICO through open records requests, underscore the depth of Trump’s pressure campaign directed at the typically lower-level administrators of presidential balloting. The emails, texts and phone recordings also add consequential context to previously reported incidents, such as Trump’s call to Georgia’s top elections investigator and Mark Meadows’ outreach to Georgia election officials.

Trump really mistook all those state public servants as foot soldiers in his campaign to be President-for-Life. It shows how urgent the situation will be if any more Trumpzies get into the office at any level.

The Washington Post has a most exciting database and analysis of ng “Who owned Slaves in Congress.” As a descendent of 6 signers of the Declaration of Independence and two signers of The US Constitution, I continually deal with the idea that my family–at one point–owned people. All of my greats that fought in the Civil War were on the Union side; still, farther back, were everything from prominent plantation families from Virginia and South Carolina to small farmers owning a couple and their children. It’s still something I try to wrap my head around.More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were and how they shaped the nation”. The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of pages of census records and historical documents.” This is also how my mother dug up our family history.

The biggest shock came for me after the murder of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who I realized was most likely a family member. He was murdered in 2015 by a white supremacist along with other parishioners. Mother always was a little weird when explaining the relationship between the signers of the Constitution from South Carolina. She would always point out that the Governor was just a great Uncle while our “direct” ancestor was the other. I’ve known this since high school but only delved deeper into that history after that horrible massacre in the Mother Emanuel AME church. I found that great Uncle Charles Pinckney helped write the Fugitive Slave Act. This haunts me and the knowledge that every black American with that name has ties to that family plantation. It grounds me in history in a significant way. The interactive database is quite interesting.

The country is still grappling with the legacy of their embrace of slavery. The link between race and political power in early America echoes in complicated ways, from the racial inequities that persist to this day to the polarizing fights over voting rights and the way history is taught in schools.

The Washington Post created a database that shows enslavers in Congressrepresented 37 states, including not just the South but every state in New England, much of the Midwest, and many Western states.

While teachers are now discouraged from teaching actual history including our roots in slavery and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous peoples, one GOP State Senator from Indiana has a really abhorrent policy suggestion. “An Indiana GOP state senator said teachers’ need to be impartial’ during lessons about Nazism and fascism” I’m thrilled my father didn’t live to see this coming out of the Republican Party.

On Wednesday, during an Indiana state Senate committee hearing about a proposed bill that would ban “divisive concepts” in school classrooms, Republican Sen. Scott Baldwin said teachers’ lessons about fascism and Nazismshould be impartial.

“Marxism, Nazism, fascism … I have no problem with the education system providing instruction on the existence of those ‘isms,’ ” said Baldwin, who co-wrote the bill. “I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position. … We need to be impartial.”

Baldwin backtracked those comments Thursday following criticism. In an email to the Indianapolis Star, Baldwin said he was focused on the “big picture” of preventing teachers fromtelling students “what to think about politics.”

“Nazism, Marxism and fascism are a stain on our world history and should be regarded as such, and I failed to adequately articulate that in my comments during the meeting,” Baldwin said. “I believe that kids should learn about these horrible events in history so that we don’t experience them again in humanity.”

These are the same people that insist their take on Christianity be forced on everyone, including other Christians. They’re still continuing to try to kill public education.

Here’s why they hate anyone who teaches critical thinking skills like yours truly. (via Eudhanna). This is from the New Daily of Australia. “Conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills: New study.” It was initially published last July by John Elder.

The French researchers ran two studies, where they assessed the critical thinking skills of 338 undergraduate students using a French version of a teaching and testing tool known as the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test.

They then scored the students’ tendencies towards conspiracy beliefs and their personal assessment of their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of a situation – and requires a number of cognitive skills.

These include the ability to think systematically, see other perspectives, change your mind when new evidence arises, identify relevant versus irrelevant information, identify and discard logical fallacies, be aware of biases and avoid them, and look beyond the obvious.

None of this is particularly easy.

What the researchers found was a strong association between lower critical thinking skills and an increased tendency toward believing conspiracy theories.

This isn’t a new idea – instead, it persuasively builds on previous research.

Meanwhile, the pandemic continues unabated.

.Caitlin Owens–writing for Axiosbelieves that “The Biden administration has a COVID credibility crisis.”

A series of messaging missteps is threatening the credibility of federal health agencies, and critics say the White House isn’t doing enough to manage the fallout.

Why it matters: While much of the unvaccinated population is unlikely to be persuaded by any messenger, large swaths of the public are still receptive to expert guidance, but federal health agencies, particularly the CDC, may be squandering their credibility with this population.

  • “The administration in general has lost the confidence of people who would be their natural supporters,” said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert and former Biden administration advisory board member.

State of play: Months of convoluted guidance hit a breaking point over the winter holiday, when the CDC became a viral internet meme amongst frustrated Americans who could no longer take the agency’s guidance seriously.

  • The CDC’s new guidance on how long COVID patients should remain in isolation was mocked by thousands of internet meme-makers. The CDC responded by saying the changing guidelines are motivated by “fast-moving science.”
  • “It’s never good to be the butt of jokes,” former CDC director Tom Frieden said in an interview.

Context: The CDC and the FDA also waited months to make booster shots available to all American adults. Those shots have proven especially important against Omicron, and many states, pharmacies and individual patients ignored the CDC’s more limited initial recommendations.

  • Recommendations about masking have fallen flat for months.

What they’re saying: “The CDC is facing a real crisis of trust,” said Leana Wen, a physician and professor at George Washington University.

  • And some experts say CDC director Rochelle Walensky should shoulder much of the blame for the administration’s messaging mess.
  • “The primary problem is the policy and how insular Walensky has been in setting it,” Wen said. “She and the others are great communicators but no one can communicate a bad policy.”

The next part of the piece is basically a rebuttal if you want to read the counterpoints.

So, you can always take the Q-Anon/Anti-Vaxxer’s take on things, including taking horse pills and drinking piss. This is from the Daily Beast. “Anti-Vax Leader Urges Followers to Drink Their Own Urine to Fight COVID.”

Anti-COVID-19 “Vaccine Police” leader Christopher Key has a new quarter-baked conspiracy theory for his anti-vax followers to use to cure themselves of COVID-19: Drink their own urine. “The antidote that we have seen now, and we have tons and tons of research, is urine therapy. OK, and I know to a lot of you this sounds crazy, but guys, God’s given us everything we need,” Key said in a video posted over the weekend on his Telegram account after being released from jail over a trespassing charge. “This has been around for centuries,” he added. “When I tell you this, please take it with a grain of salt,” the anti-vaccine advocate warned while saying people might now think he is “cray cray.” “Now drink urine!” he continued. “This vaccine is the worst bioweapon I have ever seen,” he concluded. “I drink my own urine!” Reached for comment by The Daily Beast on Sunday night, Key doubled down on what he calls “urine therapy” and railed against “foolish” people who took the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective.

No critical thinking skills here at all, I’d say!

So, the last thing I want to mention is the Bronx fire that has killed 17 people, including children.

And with that, I leave you.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


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?


Monday Reads: Darwin Award Issue

Masks, 1911, Emil Nolde

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

The state of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans opened up right before Halloween dropping some of the mask mandates. I’m not sure how smart of an idea that was given that we’ve seen the same pattern of plague rat invasion as tourists come back to the city from places where vaccine adoption is low.  The 4th of July comes to mind.  However, we did have good numbers, and I’m now starting the countdown to Thanksgiving to see if we surge again. I’m still masking and staying my fat ass home mostly. I’ve come to enjoy having things delivered.  Halloween should have been a big party with best mask awards.

So, anyway, today’s New York Times and David Leonhardt have some startling–but not surprising–statistics to report. “U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder. The partisan gap in Covid’s death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.” This is essentially why I worry when we just invite the surrounding parishes and states to let their people out of the state to aim a deadly cough at anyone.  The differences in death rates between this year and last are astounding.

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

Some conservative writers have tried to claim that the gap may stem from regional differences in weather or age, but those arguments fall apart under scrutiny. (If weather or age were a major reason, the pattern would have begun to appear last year.) The true explanation is straightforward: The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.

And while we’re on the subject, how can you possibly get triggered by Big Bird?

Jackson Pollock, Mask,
1941

Plague rats indeed.  Red is Dead.  Meanwhile, the worst of them are triggered by Big Bird talking to kids about his vaccine. There’s a lot of a pearl-clutching about doing mass vaccinations in schools while many of us are old enough to have stood in line for a lot of those in the 1950s and 1960s. Many Republicans are acting like that never happened.

So, if they think public health actions are a governmental overreach, why are they down with authoritarianism?  Is it because it wears a white face?  This is from The Bulwark. ” Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report. Claremont’s post-election war game provides a window into the group’s ambitions.”

John Eastman has a prominent place in all of this along with all the white nationalist domestic terrorists. It’s a tough read but a necessary one.

The sun rises on January 6, 2021 while a nation is in crisis.

Michigan’s presidential electors are in dispute after a mysterious fire in Detroit destroyed thousands of mail-in ballots, ultimately throwing the election to Congress.

The nation’s capital is overwhelmed by riots organized by left-wing radicals.

A Republican member of Congress is attacked and critically injured in the violence, potentially depriving Donald Trump of the decisive vote.

However, the representative heroically insists on being taken to the House floor. “With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the member casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.”

This is the grisly climax of a report published in mid-October 2020 by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) called “79 Days to Inauguration,” prepared by “Constitutional scholars, along with experts in election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and media . . . coordinated by a retired military officer experienced in running hundreds of wargames.”

Among these luminaries were figures such as John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

Other participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

Masks, 1925′ James Ensor

The MSM needs to be screaming a lot louder about this than talking about sausage-making behind any policy.  Leave the latter worry to Nancy, Chuck, Kamala, and Joe.  More from that Bulwark article:

Remember, this narrative is the result of a role-playing exercise in which the participants imagined themselves as key decision-makers in the federal government. The actions described, therefore, might be best understood as a combination of group therapy and suggestions for how they believe the federal government and law enforcement should behave in a moment of constitutional crisis.

Some of the report is revealing. Some of it is sad. Some of it is darkly funny. For instance, the authors’ recommendation for mass, politically motivated arrests “to remove the players from the picture” sits oddly next to the right’s outraged reaction to the prosecution of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There’s more irony in how the task force imagines right-wing gangs would operate during such a period: with quiet discipline and in cooperation with law enforcement.

A lack of social media activity and overt action by the rioting by members of the Proud Boys draws the attention of law enforcement officials suspecting they may be operating covertly on the ground in several major urban rioting areas, but their exact involvement is unknown. Reports of militias moving into suburban areas is being monitored. Several groups affiliated with the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers have openly offered to assist law enforcement in putting down the violence via social media, touting significant current and retired law enforcement and military membership.

Which is . . . not how the Trumpist forces behaved during the actual crisis:

Go read it and try to open a few eyes around you by sharing it.  Then see who they really are when you read this.

A man who allegedly participated in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 and is wanted by the FBI is now seeking asylum in Belarus, the country’s state media reported Monday, presenting him as a “simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”

Evan Neumann, who appears to have sat down for an interview with Belarusian state television in a segment titled “Goodbye, America,” is wanted in the United States on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder.

Both Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his close ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have frequently referenced the Capitol riot, calling the prosecution of those involved an example of “double standards” by the United States because it frequently criticizes crackdowns on anti-government protests abroad.

When mass protests broke out across Belarus last year over its presidential election, which the international community has widely denounced as rigged, thousands of demonstrators were brutally beaten by police and arrested. Many said they were tortured in prison.

But Neumann could be welcomed in Belarus as part of the regime’s anti-Western propaganda efforts. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has said the United States stoked last year’s opposition movement to unseat him.

Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, which is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, said in a statement that the embassy has “seen Belarusian state media reporting about Mr. Neumann. Due to U.S. privacy laws, we are limited in what we can say about individual U.S. citizens.”

“The United States is a country where the rule of law is respected and where government is transparent and accountable for its actions,” O’Connor added. “Every citizen can count on an impartial and objective court system. There has not been a single case of transparent, accountable investigation into and prosecution of the actions of Belarusian police that resulted in deaths, systemic torture and the continued repression of Belarusian citizens, of whom over 800 remain in jail for peaceful protest against the regime.”

Death and the Masks, 1897, James Ensor

Maybe Belarus could take all the Trumps and the Trumperz in and deal with them.  That way we’d have a lot fewer problems.  NBC reports on a poll that shows deep partisan differences in social media usage. Well, if they all went to Belarus they wouldn’t have to worry about social media at all.

Our most recent NBC News poll asked respondents about their social media consumption, and the results told a clear story that doesn’t require 280 characters.

Twitter isn’t real life — at least when it comes to party identification and political attitudes.

In the poll, 69 percent of adults say they have an account on Facebook, 28 percent say they use Twitter, 27 percent use TikTok and 27 percent don’t have an account on any of these social media platforms.

And those who use Twitter and TikTok are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans; are more likely to be Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primary season; and are — not surprisingly — more likely to be younger than the general population.

That figures.  Most people I know on Twitter use it to find breaking news.  I don’t really look for news on Facebook other than that related to my friends’ cats, dogs, bunnies, and grandchildren.

So, I’ll leave all this to you to discuss.  Are you still masking everywhere?  I walk Temple sans mask but I don’t go near people without one in a building if I go at all.  Like I said, I’m beginning to enjoy front door service.

What’s on your news and reading list today?


Finally Friday Reads: Lock the Big Lie Enablers Up!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

We’re six months past a soft coup d’etat that investigations show was way worse than we thought. It came after months of careful, planning, changes in staffing at DOJ and the Pentagon, and many attempts to manipulate state officials.  The brutality to Capitol Hill Officers during the insurrection was terrifying. However, there was a clear, cynical lead-up for planners in the White House–clearly led and encouraged by Trump–as shown by a Senate Committee investigation.  This post follows up on BB’s post yesterday as more information becomes available.

Peasant Couple,
Maqbool Fida Husain ,1950

From CNN: “Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top DOJ lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election”.  Trump “relentlessly” sought to overturn the election.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a sweeping report about how former President Donald Trump and a top lawyer in the Justice Department attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election result, and his chief of staff Mark Meadows broke administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department lawyer to investigate claims of election fraud, according to the report, which is based on witness interviews of top former Justice Department officials.

The Democratic-led committee also revealed that White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to quit in early January as Trump considered replacing then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ lawyer who supported election fraud conspiracies.

After the eight-month investigation, the findings highlight the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers as they fixated on using the Justice Department to prop up false conspiracies of election fraud. The committee report, the most comprehensive account so far of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, described his conduct as an abuse of presidential power.

The massive plot to overturn the election that eventually led to the January 6 soft coup is laid out bare at the CNN link.  You may watch the coverage and continue reading there. This intersects nicely with the 1/6 Commission’s work.  They’ve issued subpoenas and Donald Trump has asked four big players to ignore them. From The Independent: “Four of Mr Trump’s associates were sent subpoenas by House select committee investigating 6 January”

Confirming that Mr would not be cooperating, The Washington Post reported the text of a letter from Mr Bannon’s lawyer to the committee citing the former president’s executive privilege.

“It is therefore clear to us that since the executive privileges belong to President Trump and he has, through his counsel, announced his intention to assert those privileges … we must accept his direction and honour his invocation of executive privilege,” attorney Robert Costello wrote.

Mr Bannon’s response was also confirmed by another source who told CNN that a second of Mr Trump’s inner circle asked to cooperate with the investigation, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, has responded, but it is as yet unknown whether he will or will not cooperate.

Four of Mr Trump’s associates were sent subpoenas by the House select committee. It is not yet known if the other two, Karsh Patel and Dan Scavino, have responded.

Lawyers working for the former president sent letters to the four men on Wednesday saying that Mr Trump viewed the subpoenas as an infringement of executive privilege and that they should not cooperate.

Trump continues to push the false narrative that he has some kind of blanket executive privilege after office.  He clearly does not as witnessed by the flurry of documents released to both committees by the real President.

Susan B Glasser has penned this for The New Yorker: “The Battle of January 6th Has Just Begun. Nine months after the storming of the Capitol, Trump is more popular with the G.O.P. and his Big Lie is more widely believed.”

But look at where our politics are, nine months after the insurrection, and they tell a radically different story. Trump is, per Pew and other recent polls, both the overwhelming favorite among Republicans for 2024 and their continuing spiritual leader. (Two-thirds of the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents that Pew surveyed wanted Trump to continue to be a major national figure, a total that’s gone up by ten points since January. Yes, that’s not a typo—it’s gone up.) Just as important, he has succeeded in selling his party on his Big Lie about the 2020 election, on January 6th revisionism, and on taking a series of specific actions—from changing how states certify elections to purging state Republican officials who did not go along with his 2020 coup attempt—that will affect American democracy for years to come, whether or not Trump runs again.

Consider one metric I’ve been obsessed with: the increase in the percentage of Republicans who believe Trump’s falsehoods about the election. In January, a CNN poll found that seventy-five per cent of Republicans said that Biden was not legitimately elected President. In April, that number declined to seventy per cent, but now, according to the most recent CNN survey, it has risen to seventy-eight per cent. Yes, more Republicans believe that the 2020 election was stolen now than did when the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

On January 7th, it was still possible to anticipate a different outcome. But, on October 7th, we have to acknowledge that this didn’t happen. Nine months ago, in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, enough Republican leaders and Trump White House officials viewed the Trump-inspired attack on the democratic transition of power as an event of such horrifying excess that it was difficult to imagine them normalizing, justifying, and rationalizing it as they had the Trumpian excesses of the previous four years. Yet that is exactly what has taken place in the intervening months. “Republicans initially started down the road to a post-Trump party, as opposed to a Trump party . . . and they backed up in record time,” Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told me, on Thursday. “They have missed the historic opportunity to put Trump in the past.” The result is that the political crisis today is worse than it was, not better. The unacceptable has been accepted by a shockingly large part of the population and its political leadership.

Krishen Khanna, News of Gandhiji’s Death (1948). Oil on canvas.

This long form analysis is shocking, indeed!  But this viewpoint is very on point!

The survey, which is worth reading in its entirety, shows that this is not a problem of ideology or policy or the other markers of conventional American politics. It is something much deeper and more intractable: two parties whose members now hate one another with a fierce, anti-democratic, Constitution-threatening passion. Eighty-four per cent of Trump voters said that Democratic officials are a “clear and present danger” to society; seventy-eight per cent of Trump voters also said that Americans who strongly support Democrats are a “clear and present danger.” This level of antipathy is fully reciprocated by Democrats; eighty per cent of Biden voters surveyed said that Republican officials represent a “clear and present danger,” and seventy-five per cent of them said the same about Americans who strongly support Republicans. Things are so bad that fifty-two per cent of Trump voters and forty-one per cent of Biden voters said that they would favor seceding from America. January 6th may not have been the end of Trump so much as the beginning of something even worse.

Which is time to discuss today’s events.

Let’s dive deeper into that.  From HuffPo and Sara Boboltz: “Trump Told 4 Officials To Ignore Jan. 6 Committee Subpoena: Report. The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol wants to hear from Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel.”

Select Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in each of his Sept. 23 letters to the witnesses that the panel is “investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend to the House and its relevant committees corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations.”

Thompson’s committee has already taken steps to get its hands on communications from the Trump White House relating to the attack. In August, it sent a sweeping records request to the National Archives, which handles presidential records, and to several federal agencies asking for documentation.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated last month that President Joe Biden was unlikely to block any Trump-era records from making their way onto committee members’ desks, but the administration later issued a clarification saying it would evaluate such requests individually.

Krishen Khanna. 
The Game 1, the early 1980s

Thompson additionally made comments to press on this matter and has indicated that all options are on the table. He did say that Criminal Referrals will be issued on October 1st. Today is basically the first day that contempt of congress charges are applicable.  Newsweek reports this information.

Patel issued a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday before the deadline, pointing to his website where he is seeking to raise $250,000 “to fund a top-notch legal team.”

“I will continue to tell the American people the truth about January 6, and I am putting our country and freedoms first through my Fight with Kash initiative,” he told the newspaper.

The committee had been unable to physically locate Scavino in order to serve him with a subpoena as of Thursday.

It’s not entirely clear what steps the select committee will take if the four former aides refuse to cooperate, but Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, who sits on the committee, suggested on Thursday that they could face contempt charges.

“I believe this is a matter of the utmost seriousness and we need to consider the full panoply of enforcement sanctions available to us, and that means criminal contempt citations, civil contempt citations and the use of Congress‘s own inherent contempt powers,” Raskin said.

I’m willing to give the Congressman the benefit of the weekend.  And, do have a good weekend!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?