Friday Reads: The party of kooks and nutters

Hi Sky Dancers!

I really was looking for something meaty to post about today but there seems to be mostly about the slide of the Republican Party into abject delusion and insanity.  Last night, on Brian Williams, I had to look twice at the sight of Rudy Guiliani basically being a hype man for the My Pillow psycho.  Guiliani evidently has a youtube channel and last night’s performance of abject fellating of a man that could help him with his legal bills was eye-opening.  I thought it resembled that old Dan Ackroyd SNL character.

This is from Newsweek: “Rudy Giuliani Features MyPillow Ads as Mike Lindell Says Donald Trump Will Be President in August’.

Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Republican former President Donald Trump, is running advertisements for MyPillow on his YouTube show. Meanwhile, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has publicly said that Trump will return to the White House in August despite losing the 2020 election.

“I’m been sleeping on MyPillows for some time. I love them. They’re simply the very best pillows ever made,” Giuliani said in the most recent episode of his YouTube show, Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense. The 53-minute episode asked whether UFOs are real, in reference to a forthcoming Pentagon report on UFOs.

Giuliani continued the ad by stating that he “just found out” that MyPillow also offers other non-pillow products. When mentioning their slippers, he brandished a pair at the camera.

GEORGES ROUAULT (1871-1958) Clown de profil

BB talked about some of this craziness yesterday.  I think he’s doing his usual signalling to the hounds of hell to give him another coup attempt in August.  This is Amanda Marcotte’s take:”How do we report on Trump’s dastardly schemes without amplifying his lies and incitement? Trump’s blog failed, so he’s inciting followers through media leaks. Does that make journalists his accomplices?”

It is likely no coincidence that right around that time, stories based on claims by anonymous sources “close to Trump” (which often means Trump himself) started to tick up. It began when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, a longtime outlet for Trump “leaks”, tweeted that Trump has been telling people close to him that he believes he’ll reinstated as president in August. This tweet echoed a conspiracy theory from the QAnon and Q-adjacent world, and coincided with an uptick in far-right chatter about how the American right should look to Myanmar’s February military coup for inspiration.

After Haberman’s tweet, the Washington Post strengthened this narrative with a story about how Trump is “increasingly consumed with the notion that ballot reviews pushed by his supporters around the country could prove that he won” and is peddling the idea that such “audits” — which are deliberately messy and nonsensical affairs — “could result in his return to the White House this year.” The Daily Beast confirmed that “the ex-president had begun increasingly quizzing confidants about a potential August return to power.” This reporting gave Fox News all the excuse they needed to amplify the message. Even though that came in the form of Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, denying the reporting, the end result was another round of news stories reinforcing the basic concepts: August is the month. A violent coup. Trump’s miraculous reinstatement.

This is entirely too similar to the way Trump got the message out to his followers to stage a revolt on Jan. 6, through winking and nudging. So far, the big difference is that no exact date and location, as far as I can tell, has been established for a MAGA uprising.

As much as liberals resist the idea that Trump has any wits at all, what he’s doing is not exactly mysterious. He wants to get this particular message out, vaguely claiming that a glorious revolution will restore him to power later this year, and he’s using the mainstream press to do it. To make things worse, he’s exploiting the liberal desire to point at him and laugh to spread the message further. Every time a liberal shares one of these stories and calls Trump and his followers “delusional” for thinking that some extra-constitutional return to power is possible, they help spread the word — while also reminding Trump supporters how “owned” liberals would be if there really were a “storm” that swept Trump back into the White House in August.

Is it to avoid this too?

But the nutter parade continues with the ever-shrinking numbers of screeching, hateful, white nationalist evangelical Christians.  This is good news.  Their numbers are shrinking.  This is from NPR: “How Is The GOP Adjusting To A Less Religious America?” My days in that party got limited the minute they come in riding the tails of Ronnie Raygun and Pat Rob’em all Robertson.  Talk about another grift operation.  No wonder they grabbed onto Mister Two Corinthians.

The Clown by Auguste Renoir, 1868

In fact, the U.S. recently passed a religious milestone: For the first time, a majority of Americans are not church members, Gallup found this spring.

Over the last decade, the share of Republicans who are church members fell from 75% to 65%, according to Gallup. That’s a solid majority but also a sizable fall.

The key bloc of white evangelicals is also shrinking as a share of the population, while the share of religiously unaffiliated Americans grows.

This makes religion one key part of a looming, long-term demographic challenge for Republicans, says Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster.

“Republicans clearly have a stronger hold among the religiously affiliated, especially evangelical Protestants. And consequently, any decline in evangelical Protestant affiliation is not good news for the GOP,” he said.

The upshot, to Ayres, is that a party still deeply entwined with conservative Christianity and, particularly, white evangelicals will eventually have to win over more Christian conservatives — for example, among the growing Hispanic electorate — or make gains among substantially less-religious groups, like young voters.

Already, they’re directly inserting themselves in the Israeli ousting of Bibi. This is from All Israel News. “Will Christians support new Israeli government? Many will. But one prominent Evangelical has declared war on Naftali Bennett, sent scathing letter denouncing him with profanity – ‘I will fight you every step of the way'”.  They just can’t seem to stick to clothing and feeding the poor and homeless.

The apparently imminent demise of the Netanyahu government is coming as a shock to the 60 million pro-Israel Evangelical Christians in the United States.

In recent days, I have received many concerned emails and text messages from Evangelical leaders asking me what is happening, why, and what the implications of this political earthquake are likely to be.

By and large, Evangelicals have come to love and respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest serving premier in the history of modern Israel.

By contrast, most have never heard of Naftali Bennett, the right-wing former chief of staff to Netanyahu and former defense minister in Netanyahu’s Cabinet, who now appears poised to replace Netanyahu as the nation’s next prime minister.

Most have not heard of Yair Lapid, the centrist former finance minister and incoming foreign minister, either.

But they will soon.

To be clear, it is far too early to be sure that Bennett and Lapid and their colleagues will actually be sworn into office.

They have many opponents, who are working feverishly to derail their nascent new government.

But if they do come to power, one key question is whether Bennett and Lapid can quickly build relationships and trust with American Evangelicals – and Evangelicals worldwide – who are among the most important strategic allies that the State of Israel has.

There’s also one less congregation in Tennessee.  This former California TV star–who I never heard of–and his now late wife preached fat people could not get into heaven because of the sin of gluttony.  Their schtick was a diet.  I think if you see the pictures you’ll see this poor woman had body dysmorphia.   These kinds of things really confuse me.  Guess where they were going?

Clown tragique
Georges Rouault
Date: 1911
Style: Expressi

You have to wonder what the discussions these days are between George and brother Jeb Bush on this. From WAPO: “George P. Bush is running for attorney general in Texas — and courting Trump.”  Trump was brutal during the first primary and “low energy Jeb” took a lot of hits.

George P. Bush’s campaign video does not mention the Republican political dynasty that preceded him. Not his father, the former governor of Florida. Nor his uncle, the 43rd president of the United States. Nor his grandfather, the 41st.

The video does pay homage to former president Donald Trump.

“Under the leadership of President Trump our country was strong and vibrant again, but because of the failed leadership of liberal ideas, our country is suffering,” said George P. Bush, who this week launched a 2022 bid to become Texas attorney general. The state land commissioner is channeling and courting Trump despite the 45th president’s past attacks on elder members of the Bush family — a sign of Trump’s still-strong hold on a transformed GOP.

Scholars of Texas politics said the Bush name can still be a plus in the state, but also saw Trump’s endorsement as a big prize in the GOP primary for attorney general, where George P. Bush will face incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton is staunchly pro-Trump and last year.

Okay, enough of this!  Hopefully, you’ll see me on Monday with something newsy and less sleazy!  Have a great weekend!  I’m still feral but going to get my eyes checked this afternoon.  My post-vaccine life means catching up with doctor appointments, etc.  Have you dressed up and gone out into civil society yet?

Oh, wait, one more idiot before I go.

Evidently, you pay $19.99 to Direct Message him and he may or may not answer.   Cocaine is a helluva drug.  It’s also not cheap and neither are lawyers.  So, we’ve got the grift going.  Enjoy the laugh!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

And now, not going down the “Send in the Clowns” road!


Sunday Reads: Red Hats

Another Sunday…and more cartoons from Calle.com:

Cartoons from AAEC

The Purging of the Republican Party - by Angelo Lopez
Who’s Your Lifestyle Guru?
05292021 Memorial Day

Now some tweeters:

I wanted to stay away from disturbing news, but that can’t be done.

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Coke and a Child

Good morning, I guess the memes make themselves up nowadays.

Cartoons from Cagle.com

All this mask freedom…is a bit premature…

The fat lady hasn’t even started to warm up, she won’t be singing anytime soon.

I thought Benji was out? Or would be out soon?

Meanwhile in Mississippi:

There is a new case of police brutality…this one is torture.

Remember the name Jamal Sutherland…because he will become the next George Floyd.

I tried to watch the video, but I could not. My disgust is overwhelming and I am seriously thinking about going to Charleston to March in the protest.

I’m ending this with a few nice things:

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: World Press Freedom Day

Ker-Xavier Roussel Reading the Newspaper, 1893, Private Collection Édouard Vuillard

Happy World Press Freedom Day Sky Dancers!

A Free Press is enshrined in our Constitution here in the United States. It’s always been a hallmark of open, democratic societies.  So, how is the press doing in this day of increasing right-wing authoritarianism?

Here’s the 2020 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters without Borders.  Notice who is missing from the top ten? Notice where most of the world’s oldest Democracies land.  One of our NATO allies is one of the most frequent jailers of journalists.

A Press–independent of government oppression and manipulation–is a cornerstone of a democratic society.  EuroNews reports the concerns the UN has for a media free of government interference..

The world of journalism faces “drastic losses”, the UN has warned, as it highlights the importance of ‘information as a public good’ on World Press Freedom day.

The intergovernmental organisation says the current coronavirus crisis has forced closures and job cuts within the industry, while other media outlets are facing “political capture”.

The result is more “creeping news deserts” in countries where journalists are unable to get accurate information out to the public.

You may read country descriptions based on the Press Freedom Index on the challenges faced by journalists.

Elaine de Kooning, self portrait, 1946

We may be going back towards normalcy with the White House recognizing the role of a free press today. You may remember that we spent the last four years hearing how the press was the enemy of the people unless it presented stories that flattered and backed-up the delusional rantings of the previous guy.  It is also high time the Saudis pay for killing one of our journalists.  This is just one of the atrocities the previous guy ignored.

Will Biden stand up to the Saudis for the Prince’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi?   This is from NBC.

The Biden administration earlier this year released a U.S. intelligence report implicating the crown prince in the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but spared him any direct punishment. The prince denies any involvement.

Burns, Peter; Old Man Reading a Newspaper; 

There is perhaps no greater difference in our press than the split between the media  using traditional journalism and the lie pushing, agenda based narrative for something other than reality just for ratings, outrage, and political gain.  Our right-wing propaganda outlets have influenced nearly all of our institutions recently. They do not provide checks and balances to corruption but enable it.  No one is the clear these days. Even the U.S. Supreme Court Justices–a majority group of religious zealots with know records of hostility to democracy–are eager to cash in.   This is from Bloomberg: “Supreme Court’s Ethics Problems Are Bigger Than Coney Barrett. As conflicts of interest accumulate, the justices need to embrace more stringent standards of conduct.”  

We have impeached judges before.  Is this the decade of taking out the trash dumped in our justice system?  Perhaps we could at least develop and enforce standards of ethical behavior for judges?

A lot of hand-wringing has accompanied Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s $2 million book deal (including from those of us who wish we had a $2 million book deal). While there’s always reason to worry when big piles of money land on the court, and Coney Barrett has wasted little time monetizing her new job, some larger points are getting lost in all of this.

After all, Coney Barrett isn’t the first justice to reel in a big book deal. Justice Sonia Sotomayor collected an advance of more than $3 million for her memoir, and Justice Clarence Thomas got $1.5 million for his. Justice Neil Gorsuch was paid $225,000 for a book about the Constitution. Here’s the rub: Federal ethics guidelines mandate that justices can’t accept more than about $30,000 annually in outside pay. However, book income — which can reliably bring in much larger sums than the relatively modest pay justices receive for teaching gigs — is exempt from the guidelines.

When these deals arise, concerns are often voiced about justices being compromised by pocketing money from publishers who might have free speech and other issues affecting them before the court. But books are only a small part of a bigger problem: The Supreme Court’s conflicts of interest and financial disclosure rules remain ragged and outdated.

Unlike every other member of state and federal judiciaries, the court’s nine justices aren’t subject to an ethical code of conduct. That mirrors the latitude given the presidency, which also isn’t beholden to most guidelines circumscribing financial and professional practices of people in lower-ranking government jobs. Former President Donald Trump’s tenure, marked by flagrant financial conflicts of interest, is a reminder of how ineffective self-regulating ethics are when someone isn’t really interested in self-regulation.

Woman with a newspaper, Richard Diebenkorn

The danger of right-wing propaganda to our Democracy has been an ongoing issue in the last several centuries. It has always skirted the First Amendment in terms of substance and motivation. We depend on an educated populace to search out the truth among many sources.  The role it has played in putting public health issues into the realm of political cosplay is beyond the pale.  Derek Thomas writes this for The Atlantic: “Millions Are Saying No to the Vaccines. What Are They Thinking?  Feelings about the vaccine are intertwined with feelings about the pandemic.”  It’s also intertwined with politics and right-wing news media falsehoods.

What are they thinking, these vaccine-hesitant, vaccine-resistant, and COVID-apathetic? I wanted to know. So I posted an invitation on Twitter for anybody who wasn’t planning to get vaccinated to email me and explain why. In the past few days, I spoke or corresponded with more than a dozen such people. I told them that I was staunchly pro-vaccine, but this wouldn’t be a takedown piece. I wanted to produce an ethnography of a position I didn’t really understand.

The people I spoke with were all under 50. A few of them self-identified as Republican, and none of them claimed the modern Democratic Party as their political home. Most said they weren’t against all vaccines; they were just a “no” on this vaccine. They were COVID-19 no-vaxxers, not overall anti-vaxxers.

Many people I spoke with said they trusted their immune system to protect them. “Nobody ever looks at it from the perspective of a guy who’s like me,” Bradley Baca, a 39-year-old truck driver in Colorado, told me. “As an essential worker, my life was never going to change in the pandemic, and I knew I was going to get COVID no matter what. Now I think I’ve got the antibodies, so why would I take a risk on the vaccine?”

Some had already recovered from COVID-19 and considered the vaccine unnecessary. “In December 2020 I tested positive and experienced many symptoms,” said Derek Perrin, a 31-year-old service technician in Connecticut. “Since I have already survived one recorded bout with this virus, I see no reason to take a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use. I trust my immune system more than this current experiment.”

Others were worried that the vaccines might have long-term side effects. “As a Black American descendant of slavery, I am bottom caste, in terms of finances,” Georgette Russell, a 40-year-old resident of New Jersey, told me. “The fact that there is no way to sue the government or the pharmaceutical company if I have any adverse reactions is highly problematic to me.”

Many people said they had read up on the risk of COVID-19 to people under 50 and felt that the pandemic didn’t pose a particularly grave threat. “The chances of me dying from a car accident are higher than my dying of COVID,” said Michael Searle, a 36-year-old who owns a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. “But it’s not like I don’t get in my car.”

And many others said that perceived liberal overreach had pushed them to the right. “Before March 2020, I was a solid progressive Democrat,” Jenin Younes, a 37-year-old attorney, said. “I am so disturbed by the Democrats’ failure to recognize the importance of civil liberties. I’ll vote for anyone who takes a strong stand for civil liberties and doesn’t permit the erosion of our fundamental rights that we are seeing now.” Baca, the Colorado truck driver, also told me he didn’t vote much before the pandemic, but the perception of liberal overreach had a strong politicizing effect. “When COVID hit, I saw rights being taken away. So in 2020, I voted for the first time in my life, and I voted all the way Republican down the ballot.”

974 Expressionist Oil Painting Woman Reading Newspaper

We’re fucked at this rate.  And, here’s FiveThirtyEight explaining where we see the big divides in American Voters.

In many ways, the 2020 election was basically like every recent American presidential election: The Republican candidate won the white vote (54 percent to 44 percent, per CES), and the Democratic candidate won the overwhelming majority of the Black (90 percent to 8 percent), Asian American (66 percent to 31 percent) and Hispanic (64 percent to 33 percent) vote. Like in 2016, there was a huge difference among non-Hispanic white voters by education, as those with at least a four-year college degree favored Biden (55 percent to 42 percent), while those without degrees (63 to 35) favored Trump. (There wasn’t a huge education split among voters of color.)1

Other surveys tell the same general story: Trump won white voters overall by a margin in the double digits and won whites without four-year degrees by even more; Trump lost among whites with at least a four-year college degree, lost by a big margin with Asian American and Latino voters and lost by an enormous margin among African Americans.

So the main reason that Trump nearly won a second term was not his increased support among Latinos, who are only about 10 percent of American voters and are a group he lost by more than 20 points. Trump’s main strength was his huge advantage among non-Hispanic white voters without college degrees, who are about 45 percent of American voters. His second biggest bloc of support was among non-Hispanic white Americans with degrees, who are about 30 percent of all voters. According to the CES, over 80 percent of Trump’s voters were non-Hispanic white voters, with or without a college degree. In contrast, around 70 percent of nonwhite voters supported Biden, and they made up close to 40 percent of his supporters. So it is very much still the case that the Republicans are an overwhelmingly white party and that the Democratic coalition is much more racially diverse.

Here’s the President of Orleans Republican Women to prove a point: President of Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans Touts Biblical Positives of Slavery.   That scream you hear from way down on the Mississipi River is mine.  Yeah, for small, local,  independent media like The Big Easy Magazine!

The story began when Chalmette State Representative Raymond Garofalo proposed a bill where-in he wanted to ban “critical race theory” from being taught, a complex subject that conservatives have been using as a talking point recently to score political points. He said that he, in fact, wanted to “teach the good, the bad, and the ugly” about slavery. To which Hilferty replied, “There’s nothing good about slavery” to laughter.

Garofalo corrected himself, saying that, “You’re right. I didn’t mean to imply that. I don’t believe that, and I know that’s the case. But I’m using the term, ‘the good, bad, and ugly as a generic way of saying that you can teach any facts, factually based on anything.”

Both Hilferty and Garofalo have spoken directly to the media about the incident. Garofalo has tried to clarify his words, explain the terminology “good, bad, and ugly” was meant “generically,” and Hilferty claimed he was, “…talking about the good in slavery.”

Whether Garofalo meant that there were good aspects to slavery or whether he was speaking “generically,” Huckaby repeatedly came to his defense, and to the defense of slavery itself. The above was not her only post related to slavery and Garofalo. She also wrote in another post, “Slavery goes all they [sic] way back to biblical times, and if you’ve read your Bible, you would know that many of the slaves loved their masters, and their masters loved them, and took very good care of them, and their families.”

In addition, she indicated that, “Stephanie (Hilferty) has been indoctrinated by leftis [sic] marxisum [sic] education.”

So, hmm, I’m a communist troll in her eyes.  So bet it!  At this point, I’ll take any moniker that doesn’t include what she’s all about.

Anyway, you’ll have a good week!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Mr. Sandman

Happy St. Patrick’s Day…

Last night:

I believe they have since released the information that it is 6 Asian women, 1 white woman and 1 man.

In other news…

Some updates:

You may remember I posted a link to part one of these series…

Here are a few more for you to catch up with…

Make two more points…

And,

Here’s to better times….

Take it easy today.