Lazy Caturday Reads

Ophelia Redpath2

By Ophelia Redpath, British artist

Good Morning!!

Just a short time ago, I knew almost nothing about Tesla owner Elon Musk; and now I wish I’d never even heard his name. This man is another Donald Trump–narcissistic, childish, completely self-involved, and devoid of empathy. What. An. Asshole.

Obviously, Musk’s bid to buy Twitter was a desperate ploy for attention. He’s gotten it, but much of the attention has been negative. Now both Tesla and Twitter stock are losing value and he has been credibly accused of sexual harassment. According to Business Insider, Musk exposed himself to a Space X flight attendant and asked her to perform a sex act, then paid her $250K for her silence when she refused. Even more shocking, the BI story said that Space X flight attendants were required to provide massages to Musk and other passengers and it was suggested that they get professional massage training and pay for it themselves. On top of that, yesterday Musk began baselessly attacking Hillary Clinton.

Jack Ewing at The New York Times: Tesla’s Aura Dims as Its Plunging Stock Highlights the Risks It Faces.

Investors are reassessing the premise that justified Tesla’s astronomical stock price and made its founder, Elon Musk, the richest person in the world.

Tesla’s $1 trillion valuation made sense only if investors believed the electric car company was on a path to dominate the auto industry the way Apple rules smartphones or Amazon commands online retailing.

But Tesla’s shares have declined more than 40 percent since April 4 — a much steeper fall than the broad market, vaporizing more than $400 billion in stock market value. And the tumble has called attention to the risks that the company faces. These include increasing competition, a dearth of new products, lawsuits accusing the company of racial discrimination and significant production problems at Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, which it uses to supply Asia and Europe.

Mr. Musk has not helped the stock price by turning his bid to buy Twitter into a financial soap opera. His antics have reinforced the perception that Tesla lacks an independent board of directors that could stop him from doing things that might damage the company’s business and brand.

“From a corporate good governance perspective Tesla has a lot of red flags,” said Andrew Poreda, a senior analyst who specializes in socially responsible investing at Sage Advisory Services, an investment firm in Austin, Texas. “There are almost no checks and balances.”

Even longtime Tesla optimists are having doubts. Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, has been one of the most steadfast believers in Tesla on Wall Street. But on Thursday, Wedbush lowered its target price for Tesla — the firm’s estimate of the shares’ fair market value based on future earnings — to $1,000 from $1,400. Mr. Ives cited Tesla’s problems in China, where lockdowns have throttled the supply of crucial parts and materials and demand for cars.

Dick and Puffin, by Nan Youngman, 1931, British

Dick and Puffin, by Nan Youngman, 1931, British artist

This is from Business Insider, via Yahoo Finance: 3 years after SpaceX is said to have paid a former employee $250,000 over Elon Musk’s sexual misconduct, women at Musk’s companies continue to complain about inappropriate behavior.

Even after SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to a contract worker flight attendant so that she wouldn’t sue its billionaire chief Elon Musk over sexual misconduct….three years since that settlement, female employees continue to raise sexual harassment issues at Musk’s companies, SpaceX and Tesla.

“In the past year alone, I have had to bring multiple different incidents of sexism to HR,” former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said in an essay published in December on Lioness. Kosak said she started as an intern in 2017 and became an engineer in 2019.

But “nothing was done” after she flagged these incidents to HR, she said. The company promised mandatory training about sexual harassment, but “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators,” according to Kosak.

“Ultimately, the stress that had mounted from my years of working at SpaceX broke my health down in ways I had never previously experienced,” said Kosak, and she left the company in late November….

SpaceX is not the only company founded by Musk that faced allegations of sexual misconduct and harsh work conditions.

At Tesla, at least 24 women have sued the carmaker in the past five years, alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or even physically assaulted, according to an Insider report in March. Some said they were denied pay raises and promotions, the article added.

In late 2021 alone, Tesla was hit by at least eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment at the company by female workers, according to reports from Insider and The Washington Post.

Jiří Petr

Painting by Jiří Petr

Six women filed individual lawsuits on December 14 alleging that Tesla fostered a culture of sexual harassment at its factories, The Post reported.

A few days prior, on December 8, an employee alleged that the carmaker failed to stop “a pattern of continuous and pervasive” sexual harassment and retaliating against her at its Fremont factory, Insider reported.

And in November, a worker sued the company for operating like a “frat house” by subjecting female employees to “rampant sexual harassment.”

Perhaps in response to the NYT report yesterday or knowledge of the upcoming sexual harassment story, Musk posted a Trumpian tweet suggesting he planned to begin suing people who dared to insult him. Raw Story: ‘There will be blood’: Elon Musk seeks to hire ‘hardcore streetfighters’ as Tesla stock tanks.

“Tesla is building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate & execute lawsuits. The team will report directly to me,” Musk posted to Twitter, which he is seeking to acquire.

He included an email address and asked people to “please send 3 to 5 bullet points describing evidence of exceptional ability.”

“Looking for hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers like Perkins or Cooley who thrive on corruption,” he explained.

“There will be blood,” the billionaire added ominously.

Musk was roundly mocked on Twitter for this; some tweeters suggested Musk had tried to hire high-profile attorneys who weren’t interested in his childish games. Kind of like Trump–I wonder if Musk pays his legal bills?

And then there’s this from psychologist John Gartner:

Yesterday, Musk actually replied approvingly to a tweet by Jim Jordan and attacked Hillary Clinton for a tweet she sent in 2016. The right wingers are trying to lock Hillary up again because she approved giving information to a journalist about a possible connection between the Trump organization and Alpha Bank.  The last I heard, giving a tip to a reporter is not a crime.

Business Insider: Elon Musk called out Twitter over 2016 Hillary Clinton tweet linking the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Elon Musk has accused Twitter of allowing “disinformation” on its platform by failing to act on a 2016 tweet by Hillary Clinton that linked the Trump Organization to a Russian state-owned bank.

Musk, who is in the process of buying Twitter, was prompted by a user who said they had reported the tweet — a screengrab of a statement from her policy adviser in response to a Slate article — to “the powers that be” at the social media giant for “misleading disinformation.”

Musk replied: “You are absolutely correct. That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial.” Musk linked to a BBC article from May 18 about a trial in which Michael Sussmann, Clinton’s lawyer, has been accused of trying to “manipulate” the FBI in the run-up to the 2016 election.

There’s more stupid stuff at the link if you’re interested. How is this guy any different from Trump?

One more Musk/Trump-related story from The Washington Post: Oracle’s Larry Ellison joined Nov. 2020 call about contesting Trump’s loss.

Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of the software company Oracle and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call shortly after the 2020 election that focused on strategies for contesting the legitimacy of the vote, according to court documents and a participant.

Sasha Bassari (166)

Painting by Sasha Bassari

The Nov. 14 call included Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.); Fox News host Sean Hannity; Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump; and James Bopp Jr., an attorney for True the Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit that has promoted disputed claims of widespread voter fraud.

Ellison’s participation illustrates a previously unknown dimension in the multifaceted campaign to challenge Trump’s loss, an effort still coming into focus more than 18 months later. It is the first known example of a technology industry titan joining powerful figures in conservative politics, media and law to strategize about Trump’s post-loss options and confer with an activist group that had already filed four lawsuits seeking to uncover evidence of illegal voting….

Details of the November 2020 call and questions about Ellison’s role in it were revealed in new filings made in litigation brought against True the Vote and its representatives by Fair Fight, a political action committee associated with the voting rights organization founded by Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

“Jim was on a call this evening with Jay Sekulow, Lindsey O. Graham, Sean Hannity, and Larry Ellison,” True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, wrote to a donor on the night of the call, referring to Bopp, her organization’s lawyer. “He explained the work we were doing and they asked for a preliminary report asap, to be used to rally their troops internally, so that’s what I’m working on now.”

Ellison’s participation in the call was confirmed by a participant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters. This person said Ellison, as a technology executive, may have been enlisted to assess claims about voting machines made by Sidney Powell, a onetime member of Trump’s legal team. And the person said the GOP megadonor was probably looped in by Graham, as part of a discussion about whether the Trump campaign had assembled an effective legal team.

Did Ellison urge Musk to buy Twitter to either help Trump get his account back or help right-wingers get control of the platform in preparation for 2024?

In other stupid right-wing news, check out this story at NBC News: Laws restricting lessons on racism are making it hard for teachers to discuss the massacre in Buffalo.

Two days after a white gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, teacher Elizabeth Close began her high school ethnic studies class in Austin, Texas, by reminding her students about a new state law that requires her to provide balanced perspectives on “widely debated and currently controversial issues.”

Oscar Wilde, by Theo Daamen

Oscar Wilde, by Theo Daamen

Close told her students that under the law, one of several recently implemented across the country that limit the ways teachers can discuss racism and current events, she was obligated to inform them that there’s more than one way to view Saturday’s mass shooting.

On one hand, she explained that authorities are investigating the killings as a racially motivated hate crime carried out by an 18-year-old who reportedly wrote of his belief in a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and integration.

“But I’m also supposed to tell you that that’s just one perspective,” Close recalled telling her students. “Another perspective is that this young man was out defending the world — or his kind — from being taken over.”

Close waited for her comment to fully register with her students, then added: “If you guys want to know why I’m thinking about quitting at the end of the year, it’s because of these types of policies — the fact that I have to have this conversation with you.”

Unbelievable.

I might as well stick with the stupid right-wingers theme. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy is getting a lot of attention for a racist remark about high rates of deaths of women in childbirth. Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy: Our Maternal Death Rates Are Only Bad If You Count Black Women.

Louisiana, which has a…trigger law that will go into effect upon Roe being reversed, maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. But according to GOP senator Bill Cassidy, the rate at which women die during pregnancy or shortly after is not as bad as it seems—if you subtract the deaths of Black women, which apparently don’t count.

In an interview with Politico, the following words came out of Cassidy’s mouth: “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.” There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the idea that Cassidy—who wants to defund Planned Parenthood is all, Yes, on its face, our maternal mortality rates are abysmal, but if you only count white women, they’re not that bad!

Then there’s the phrase “for whatever reason.” In fact, there is one very big reason in particular— perhaps you can take a guess? “It’s no mystery why maternal mortality rates are so high among Black women,” Michelle Williams, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health said in response. “They are high because of the devastating impacts of structural racism and individual bias.”

Ophelia Redpath

By Ophelia Redpath

One more from The Daily Dot about the right-wing Georgia rep who was asked by the January 6 committee to explain what he was doing showing a group of people around the Capitol building on January 5: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Loudermilk gave a radio interview that blows up his denials about hosting Jan. 6 protesters in his office.

The Daily Dot has obtained a radio interview from Jan. 6, 2021, from WBHF in Cartersville, Georgia, in which Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) says, “about a dozen” people were present in his congressional office in Washington, D.C. the day before the Capitol riot.

Yesterday, Loudermilk said in a statement that “a constituent family” visited him the day before the Capitol riot. That is an updated version of a previous statement by Republicans on the Committee on House Administration—which Loudermilk is a member of—that originally stated “there were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” given by him or other Republicans in advance of the Capitol riot.

But in the interview—given as the riot was winding down—Loudermilk made it clear that he met with people who were planning to protest on Jan. 6, and that he discussed how they wanted to be in the crowd that day to protest the results of the 2020 election.

Yesterday, the January 6th Select Committee sent a letter to Loudermilk, requesting his testimony. In the letter, they noted that “Republicans on the Committee on House Administration … claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6th and determined that ‘[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.’ However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.”

That’s it for me today. Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

million-deaths-covid-flags-01-ap-iwb-220512_1652366194164_hpMain_16x9_992We have passed another horrific milestone in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One million Americans have now died from the virus. ABC News: ‘Unthinkable tragedy’: U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpasses 1 million.

One million Americans have now died from the coronavirus, according to an announcement made Thursday by President Joe Biden, marking a long-dreaded milestone for an incomprehensible tragedy.

“Today, we mark a tragic milestone: one million American lives lost to COVID-19. One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them,” Biden said in a statement. “As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember.” [….]

Over the last two years, the deadly virus has kept the nation tightly in its clutch, with wave after wave of the virus washing over with only relatively brief respites in between.

“This unthinkable tragedy will forever appear in the history books,” said John Brownstein, Ph.D. an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor.

The loss of 1 million lives is a reality that is still difficult for many to comprehend, and to accept. In some respects, the death toll remains hidden from view.

Experts said the statistic, however massive, does not fully capture the magnitude of the human tragedy.

“It’s one thing to talk about numbers, but then to realize that each one of those numbers represents a grandparent or a spouse or someone with their own unique story that we’ve lost. Already over a million of those stories in you know, in this country alone — it really is a tragedy and a tragedy, in many ways, of unprecedented proportions,” Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told ABC News.

CNN: Biden mourns 1 million US Covid deaths as ‘irreplaceable losses.

President Joe Biden on Thursday mourned 1 million American deaths from Covid-19, using the occasion to again urge Congress to pass additional funding to control the pandemic.

While other official tallies have placed the figure a bit short of that mark, Biden marked the moment during the White House’s latest virtual Global Covid-19 Summit, reflecting on the pandemic’s devastation on the nation after more than two years.

“This pandemic isn’t over. Today, we mark a tragic milestone here in the United States — 1 million Covid deaths. One million empty chairs around the family dinner table. Each irreplaceable, irreplaceable losses. Each leaving behind a family, a community, forever changed because of this pandemic. Our hearts go out to all those who are struggling,” Biden said during his opening remarks at the summit, later acknowledging that “around the world, many more millions have died” as a result of the pandemic.

“That’s why I continue to call on Congress here at home to take the urgent action to provide emergency Covid-19 funding that is vital to protect Americans to make sure we’re that we maintain our supplies of Covid-19 test treatments and vaccines, including next generation vaccines that are being developed,” he said, later highlighting the request’s $5 billion proposal “to keep up our global partnership in the fight against Covid-19.”

In a proclamation issued Thursday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff to mark the milestone, Biden wrote that the nation “must not grow numb to such sorrow.”

Thursday’s summit is aimed at “redoubling” efforts to control Covid-19 and preparing the world for future variants of the coronavirus or the next deadly pandemic, two senior administration officials said.

The event, which is also co-hosted by Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Belize, is calling for countries to invest in the new Global Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security fund at the World Bank, and the US announced that its pledge will increase to $450 million, up from the initially promised amount of $250 million. The summit will also highlight an additional $3.1 billion in new funding commitments from countries around the world to combat Covid-19.

 

Have you heard about what happened to a women’s lacrose team from Delaware State University, an HBCU? It’s pretty shocking. FYI, I had to register to read this story: A Bus Carrying an HBCU’s Lacrosse Team Was Pulled Over. Deputies Searched It for Drugs.

The president of a historically Black university says he is “incensed” that the institution’s women’s lacrosse team was subjected to a “trying and humiliating” traffic stop in Georgia, where law enforcement used a minor traffic violation as an opportunity to search the students’ belongings for narcotics.

Nothing illegal was found, and coaches and members of the Delaware State University team — the majority of whom are Black — have spoken out about the experience in the days since, describing the stop-and-search as racial profiling and a frightening ordeal.

“We do not intend to let this or any other incident like it pass idly by. We are prepared to go wherever the evidence leads us,” President Tony Allen of Delaware State University wrote in a letter to the campus community. “We have video. We have allies. Perhaps more significantly, we have the courage of our convictions.” Allen also noted that he’s reached out to Georgia law enforcement and that he’s exploring “options for recourse — legal and otherwise.” [….]

The April 20 Delaware State incident was first reported last week by Sydney Anderson, a sophomore who was on the bus when deputies from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office stopped the vehicle as it traveled north on I-95, taking the team back to campus after several games in Florida.

In The Hornet Newspaper, Anderson wrote thatthe incident was traumatic, especially for those who’d never had an encounter with the police before, and called it one of the “constant reminders of being Black in America.”

During a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff William Bowman of Liberty County, who is Black, told reporters that the deputies didn’t know that the bus was carrying students from a historically Black university before they entered the vehicle, nor did the sherriff’s office realize the incident had been perceived as racial profiling.

Obviously, that is not true.

The Delaware State lacrosse players’ bus was pulled over about two and a half hours after the team left its hotel on the morning of April 20, Head Coach Pamella Jenkins said in an interview with The Chronicle. A police officer came to the door and asked the driver for his license and registration, saying commercial vehicles aren’t supposed to drive in the left lane.

Nobody on board thought much about it until one of the students noticed the officers pulling their luggage out from underneath the bus to search it, with the help of a drug-sniffing dog, Jenkins said.

Video footage taken by one of the players shows two white officers standing at the front of the bus as players and coaches look on. One of the officers can be heard saying, “If there is anything in y’all’s luggage, we’re probably gonna find it. … I’m not looking for a little bit of marijuana, but I’m pretty sure you guys chaperones probably gonna be disappointed if we find any.”

“I was definitely scared,” Jenkins said. “As a coach, especially traveling away from campus, I’m responsible for them and their safety, and in the moment, I felt helpless.” She credited the students for their level heads in face of an uncertain situation. “My hope was to just stay calm, stay quiet, so that they could do what they needed to do so that we could hurry up and get back to campus.”

Shortly after informing the students and coaches of their search, one of the deputies returned with a wrapped gift addressed to one of the players and asked what was inside. Jenkins said the student told the deputy that she didn’t know because it was a gift from a relative that she’d been told not to open until she got home. To this, the deputy said he would open the package off the bus but she would need to step off if it was anything that warranted discussion. The deputy returned a few minutes later and said they were free to go.

More reads on this incident:

Yahoo Sports: Sheriff falsely claims deputies didn’t search luggage during HBCU lacrosse bus stop in Georgia.

CNN: Lacross team claims racial profiling by Georgia deputies during traffic stop.

NPR: Delaware AG asks for federal civil rights review after HBCU team stopped by police.

Yesterday, Republicans and one “Democrat” in the Senate defeated a bill to protect abortion rights. Could Democrats be getting angry enough to really fight back against GOP misogyny and lies? Here’s what women from the House of Representatives did before what they knew would be a losing vote:

 

And check out this rant from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries:

The Hill: Hakeem Jeffries to Clarence Thomas: ‘Why are you such a hater?’

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) this week blasted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for his stance on a number of issues facing the court, including abortion rights.

“Let me ask this question of brother Thomas,” Jeffries said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing this week. “Why are you such a hater? Hate on civil rights. Hate on women’s rights. Hate on reproductive rights. Hate on voting rights. Hate on marital rights. Hate on equal protection under the law. Hate on liberty and justice for all. Hate on free and fair elections. Why are you such a hater?”

Jeffries added the senior conservative justice “thinks he can get away with” his stances on those key issues and “escape public scrutiny.” [….]

Thomas is one of several conservatives on the court who has indicated, according to a leaked draft opinion published earlier this month, that they would rule in favor of a Mississippi state law on abortion that would directly overturn Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a federally protected right.

“We are becoming addicted to wanting particular outcomes, not living with the outcomes we don’t like,” Thomas said last week in response to public outcry over the court’s reported stance. “We use stare decisis as a mantra when we don’t want to think.”

Jeffries referenced Thomas’s comments, telling the justice to “start in your own home.”

“Have a conversation with Ginni Thomas. She refused to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. Why?” the congressman said. “Because she didn’t like the outcome. Because the former twice-impeached so-called president of the United States lost legitimately to Joe Biden. How did she respond? Instead, she said the Bidens should face a military tribunal in Guantánamo Bay on trumped-up charges of sedition. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Joe Biden sounds fired up too. 

This is from Politico: ‘The great MAGA king’: Biden sharpens midterm attacks.

The president traveled the country on Wednesday, sharpening his lines of attack against the Republican Party as primary season kicks into full gear. Throughout the day, he laid into the GOP and baited former President Donald Trump, even testing a new nickname for his predecessor: the great MAGA king.

“Look at my predecessor, the great MAGA king — the deficit increased every single year he was president,” Biden said in Chicago at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International convention, contrasting the deficit reductions during his tenure with Trump’s term.

With a little over six months to go until the November midterms — what is often a referendum on the president’s performance — Biden is moving into full-fledged campaign mode. The noticeable change in tone comes as economic concerns hover over Democrats’ prospects and the White House tests out a new strategy — painting a clear picture of the differences between Democrats and Trump and his followers.

With his MAGA king nickname, Biden was just getting started. At a DNC fundraiser later Wednesday, the president called his 2020 victory against Trump a “low bar,” and dug into his favorite phrase of late, “MAGA Republicans,” twice calling these politicians “petty,” “mean-spirited” and “extreme.”

“They are cowered by Trump,” Biden said, telling the audience that Democrats have to make their case in 2022. “The fact of the matter is, they run the show — the MAGA Republicans. … It really is beyond the pale.”

The president, speaking to roughly 40 guests, said the GOP has a “radical agenda” and said it isn’t “your father’s Republican Party.”

What’s on your mind today? What stories are you following?


Wednesday Reads: We are still pissed off… #AbortionIsHealthcare

Fuck SCOTUS! Fuck the Republicans! Fuck Anti-Choice Democrats! Keep your motherfucking Bans off our Bodies!

I feel like everything I write or say these days should be proclaimed through a loud speaker or bullhorn.

I hope this Saturday will show the extent of the anger and disgust…as if it isn’t already apparent by now.

Cartoons from Cagle website:

Sorry about the lateness. Both of my kids moved back home in the last couple weeks and it has been crazy. Along with the chaos that is our current situation in general…it is just too much.

This is an open thread.

Watch this video above, about how nuts these anti abortion assholes truly are.


Tuesday Reads

William Merritt Chase, Afternoon by the Sea

William Merritt Chase, Afternoon by the Sea

Good Afternoon!!

Chris Coons, so-called Democratic Senator from Delaware, worked with Texas Senator John Cornyn to introduce a bill to protect the families of Supreme Court justices from scary peaceful demonstrations against their efforts to turn American women into broodmares. Coons could be working to protect women from Republicans who want them to loose their constitutional rights, but apparently that’s not important to him.

The Hill: Senate passes security bill for Supreme Court family members.

The Senate on Monday easily cleared a bill to extend security protections to the immediate family members of Supreme Court justices.

The bill — spearheaded by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) — passed the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning all 100 senators had to sign off in order for it to pass without a formal vote.

It still now heads to the House for passage.

“Threats to the physical safety of Supreme Court Justices and their families are disgraceful, and attempts to intimidate and influence the independence of our judiciary cannot be tolerated,” Cornyn said in a statement.

“I’m glad the Senate quickly approved this measure to extend Supreme Court police protection to family members, and the House must take up and pass it immediately,” he added.

Coons, in a statement, said that he was “glad to see this bipartisan bill unanimously pass the Senate in order to extend security protection to the families of Supreme Court members.”

Have there been “threats to the physical safety” of SCOTUS justices and their families? I haven’t seen it reported in the media. It seems to me that the people whose physical safety is threatened are women of childbearing age and their families. Apparently not. WTF?!

Chris Coons on getting rid the filibuster and reaction after SCOTUS leak at Raw Story:

After supporting Harry Reid’s filibuster reform as a freshman senator, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) later wished he could take it back. But there are no take backs in Congress.

“I have come over time to regret…changing the rules,” Coons told his colleagues from the Senate floor back in 2017, right before McConnell and Republicans followed Democrat’s lead and destroyed the filibuster so they could swiftly seat Neil Gorsuch on the court.

Last week, after the leak-heard-round-the-world, Coons rebuffed Raw Story’s question about filibuster reform, regret, and Roe v. Wade.

“I’m sorry. I’m out of energy. I’m out of time. I’m tired. Leave me alone,” Coons said.

Fuck you Coons!! And this guy is supposedly close to President Biden.

Here are the scary protesters on Sam Alito’s street.

Catherine Rampell usually writes about economic issues, but today she has a column on abortion rights.

The Washington Post: These GOP politicians aren’t pro-life. They’re pro-forced birth.

Republican politicians working to overturn Roe v. Wade say they are pro-life and antiabortion. In fact, they are neither. What they are is pro-forced birth.

This distinction is about more than semantics. These officials have drawn a clear line, as evidenced by policies they’ve adopted in conjunction with their opposition to Roe. GOP-led states are making choices, today, that increase the chances of unplanned pregnancies and, therefore, demand for abortions; their choices also limit access to health care and other critical programs for new moms, endangering the lives and welfare of mothers and their children.

mother-child, Mary Cassatt

Mother and Child, Mary Cassatt

Consider Mississippi.

It was a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks that has set the stage for the Supreme Court to roll back nearly 50 years of reproductive rights. If the court does overturn Roe, as a leakeddraft decision suggests it soon will, another Mississippi law would automatically “trigger,” banning nearly all abortions.

Some residents who find themselves with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy might be able to leave the state to seek an abortion. But others without the means to travel or take time off from work will be forced to give birth. And in Mississippi, that is an unusually dangerous undertaking.

Here’s why that is:

The United States has the highest maternal death rate in the developed world; Mississippi has one of the higher maternal death rates within the United States. The odds are worse for Black women, whose risk of death related to pregnancy and childbirth are nearly triple those for White women in the state.

Mississippi also has the country’s highest infant mortality and child poverty rates.

Mississippi’s legislature recently considered whether to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to a full year after birth, as federal law newly allows states to do. If you care about the lives of new moms (and, by extension, their kids), this is a no-brainer. Roughly 6 in 10 births in the state are covered by Medicaid; 86 percent of the state’s maternal deaths occur postpartum. Pregnancy and delivery raise the risk of many health complications, including infections, blood clots, high blood pressure, heart conditions and postpartum depression. Giving low-income moms access to health care a full year after birth would save lives.

But Mississippi’s Republican leadership rejected the proposal. Not because the state lacks the funds (which would be partly covered by the federal government); one thing state pols did manage to get through this session was the state’s largest-ever tax cut.

Janet Yellen has weighed in on the abortion issue.

Politico: Yellen: Banning abortion would be ‘very damaging’ to U.S. economy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday argued that banning abortion would be “very damaging” for the economy by reducing women’s ability to balance their careers and their families.

Mother and Child, Gustav Klimt“I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” she said in response to a question at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

In her comments, Yellen said the 1973 ruling helped allow women to finish school and increase their earning potential, leading to higher participation in the workforce.

Research also shows that it had a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children,” she said. “There are many research studies that have been done over the years looking at the economic impacts of access or lack thereof to abortion, and it makes clear that denying women access to abortion increases their odds of living in poverty or need for public assistance.”

According to a new poll by Yahoo News/YouGov: Confidence in Supreme Court has collapsed since conservatives took control.

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that Americans’ confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court has collapsed over the last 20 months — a period that began with former President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans installing a 6-3 conservative majority ahead of the 2020 election and culminated last week with the leak of a draft opinion signaling that five GOP-appointed justices plan to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The last time Yahoo News/YouGov asked about confidence in the court was in September 2020, a few days after liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and a few days before Trump nominated conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett to replace her.

Back then, 70% of registered voters said they had either “some” (50%) or “a lot” (20%) of confidence in the court, and 30% said they had either “a little” (23%) or “none” (7%).

But the new survey of 1,577 U.S. adults, which was conducted immediately after the leak, found that registered voters have swung from mostly having confidence in the Supreme Court — by a colossal 40-point margin — to being evenly split on the question.

Today, just half of voters still express some (37%) or a lot (14%) of confidence in the court, while the other half now expresses either a little (24%) or none (26%).

And among all Americans — as opposed to just registered voters — most (53%) now say they have either no confidence in the Supreme Court (28%) or only a little (25%).

mother-and-child-1921, pablo Picasso

Mother and Child, Pablo Picasso

As usual, Trump’s negative influence on U.S. politics is in news. A journalist whose family arrived in Nebraska in 1856 weighs in on the damage Trump has done to the state.

Ted Genaways at The New York Times: How Trump Helped Transform Nebraska Into a Toxic Political Wasteland.

LINCOLN, Neb. — In the old days, Charles W. Herbster, a cattle baron and bull semen tycoon who used his fortune and influence to get into Donald Trump’s good graces, almost certainly would have been forced to pull out of Nebraska’s Republican primary for governor by now. In recent weeks, eight women, including a state senator, have come forward to allege that Mr. Herbster groped them at various Republican events or at beauty pageants at which he was a judge.

But this is post-shame, post-“Access Hollywood” America, so Mr. Trump traveled to Nebraska last week for a rally at the I-80 Speedway between Lincoln and Omaha to show his continued support for Mr. Herbster. “He is innocent of these despicable charges,” Mr. Trump said. And Mr. Herbster, in true Trump fashion, has not only denied the allegations but also filed a defamation suit against one of his accusers and started running a television ad suggesting that the claims are part of a political conspiracy.

Mr. Herbster sees conspiracies everywhere — conspiracies to destroy him, conspiracies to undermine Mr. Trump, conspiracies to unravel the very fabric of the nation. “This country is in a war within the borders of the country,” he told the crowd at the Starlite Event Center in Wahoo on Thursday, a few days before Tuesday’s primary election. Over more than an hour, Mr. Herbster, dressed in his trademark cowboy hat and vest, unspooled a complex and meandering tale of the threat to America, interspersed with labyrinthine personal yarns and long diatribes about taxes.

It was convoluted but (as best I can understand) goes something like this: The coronavirus was manufactured in a lab in China and released into the United States in early 2020 by “illegals” from Mexico who were also smuggling Chinese-made fentanyl across the border. One of the smugglers, he said, had enough fentanyl in a single backpack to kill the entire population of Nebraska and South Dakota. The goal of this two-pronged attack, he explained, was to create a panic, stoked by Facebook and $400 million of Mark Zuckerberg’s money, to justify allowing voting by mail. Then, through unspecified means, the Chinese government used those mail-in ballots to steal the election — though Mr. Herbster hates that word. “They didn’t ‘steal’ it,” he told the crowd, his finger raised. “Do not use that terminology. They did not ‘steal’ it. They rigged it.”

Read more at the NYT link.

woman-and-child-on-the-balcony, Berthe Morisot

Woman and child on the balcony, Berthe Morisot

Former acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper is still making the rounds to sell his book. Here are his latest revelations about Trump.

Business Insider: Trump wanted to court-martial the retired Navy SEAL who led the bin Laden raid for criticizing him, former defense chief says.

Former President Donald Trump wanted to take the extraordinary step of reactivating retired US Navy Adm. William McRaven so that he could court-martial the former Navy SEAL commander for criticizing him, Trump’s former Pentagon chief claims in his new book.

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper writes that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, had to talk then-President Trump out of a plan to recall both retired US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and McRaven to active duty as a way to open the two former senior military officers up to court-martial proceedings.

“Doing this ‘will backfire on you, Mr. President,’ we said,” Esper wrote of a May 2020 meeting in his book, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” which is out today.

Trump told Esper and Milley that McRaven and McChrystal were “so disloyal” because of what he thought they were doing and had said about him. Esper writes that Trump “was spun up” by media stories in Breitbart claiming that McChrystal was advising Democrats on how to use artificial intelligence to “track down and counter Trump supporters.”

Also from Business Insider: Trump was the ‘biggest leaker of all’ in his administration and it was ‘generally bad’ for the country, his former Pentagon chief says.

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in his new book said that “leaks were a chronic problem” in the Trump administration and former President Donald Trump was the “biggest leaker of all.”

Julius Gari Melchers, Mother and Child“The individual motivations for the leaks ranged from advancing a preferred policy outcome to enhancing the leaker’s own role or credentials to currying favor with the president. It was a noxious behavior learned from the top. The president was the biggest leaker of all. It turned colleague against colleague, department against department, and it was generally bad for the administration and the country,” Esper wrote in “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times.”

Esper said the leaks “damaged trust” and made people “far more reluctant to speak up and share their views.”

“Nobody wanted to see their name in the morning news, especially when the words were so often twisted, misinterpreted, and taken out of context,” he added. “In the Trump administration, this could get you blacklisted or fired.” 

One more Trump-related story from The Daily Beast: OAN Finally Admits ‘No Widespread Voter Fraud’ After Settling Defamation Suit.

The right-wing cable network One America News Network on Monday ran a pre-recorded 30-second segment acknowledging that there was “no widespread voter fraud” by Georgia election workers in the 2020 presidential election. The segment appears to be part of a recent settlement relating to a defamation lawsuit brought against the network by two such workers.

The segment notes that an investigation by state officials into unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud made by ex-President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani turned up nothing. “The results of this investigation indicate that Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ‘Shaye’ Moss did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct,” a narrator states.

“A legal matter with this network and the two election workers has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties through a fair and reasonable settlement,” the voiceover adds.

Mother and children, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Mother and children, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Freeman and her daughter, Moss, say they were harassed online and in person after baseless rumors began circulating online, due in part to content published by the conspiracy website The Gateway Pundit, which the pair also sued.

In January 2021, when Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to try to “find” votes to overturn the state’s election results, he mentioned Freeman’s name 18 times. Freeman was also visited by a publicist for Kanye West, who threatened her in an effort to extract a confession about committing election fraud.

And if that weren’t enough, video of the pair doing their jobs was hyped up by Rudy Giuliani—and Sean Hannity—who falsely claimed that it showed “blatant, clear, obvious” fraud. While speaking to Georgia State House Republicans about the video during a Zoom meeting in December 2020, Giuliani at one point can be heard saying, “We should try to get this on Newsmax and OANN.”

Freeman and Moss sued Giuliani as well, and that case is ongoing.

That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: lt’s getting ugly out there in Twitterland

Good Day Sky Dancers!

We always knew there was a theocratic cabal out there. It’s been sneaking around since Ronald Reagan invited the Dominionists into the Republican party.  The Religious Right got its mojo when they found out they could no longer get taxpayers to subsidize their Christian forms of Madrassas and ignore laws ordering integration.  Here’s a little trip through history. “The Real Origins of the Religious Right.  They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation. ”  They just needed a good sideshow to stir up some good old righteous hellfire without coming off as the good KKK types they were.  Segregation was becoming increasingly unpopular even in the south. They found a new target and totally changed their theology to abuse their power.

Some of these anti- Roe crusaders even went so far as to call themselves “new abolitionists,” invoking their antebellum predecessors who had fought to eradicate slavery.

But the abortion myth quickly collapses under historical scrutiny. In fact, it wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after Roe—that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools. So much for the new abolitionism.

These mean and quite rude zealots are now at the center of what may domino into taking away the rights of GLBT and also, those laws that passed in the 1960s during the civil rights era that ended Jim Crow and the many blocks to full citizenship experienced by Black Americans.  Many state governors are already testing the waters to chip away at the now gaping hole in the idea of the right to privacy.

Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance, a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976.

When the Roe decision was handed down, W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

So, chipping away at birth control has started in Mississippi. “Miss. governor doesn’t rule out banning contraception if Roe falls.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility that his state would ban certain forms of contraception, sidestepping questions about what would happen next if Roe v. Wade is

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Reeves confirmed that, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a trigger law passed in Mississippi in 2007 would go into effect that essentially outlaws abortions in the state, although it makes exceptions for rape and for the life of the mother.

When asked if Mississippi might next target the use of contraceptives such as the Plan B pill or intrauterine devices, Reeves demurred, saying that was not what the state was focused on “at this time.”

“My view is that the next phase of the pro-life movement is focusing on helping those moms that maybe have an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy,” Reeves said. “And while I’m sure there will be conversations around America regarding [contraceptives], it’s not something that we have spent a lot of time focused on.”

In other words, bring on the baby mills for healthy white babies and send the rest wherever!  Tennesse’s Governor is up to the same Shenanigans!

BB sent me this thread that really states the deep shit our democracy has been buried under. Can we yet rise from the tyranny of a fanatical minority?  Happy the decade of killing all mothers!  Already I’ve reported people shrieking about baby killers and abortions after birth on Twitter!  They deserve no quarter from us.

And there is more to this thread. Go read and realize we are at the end of our country as we have known it.  We have a takeover just like the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan again because Donald Trump handed it to them.  Just like he tried to hand Ukraine to Russia.  He and Mitch McConnell have handed us over to “Charismatic Catholics’ that off-beat brand that 5 justices subscribe to and the leftovers of the so-called Moral Majority.  We’re under the sway of theocratic rule and they’ll take it all the way back to where they will use public funds for segregated Christian academies that serve the same purpose that Madrasas serve in Afghanistan.

So, if anyone tells you it’s impolite for neighbors to protest in their streets near Brent Kavanaugh’s house.  Tell them he must’ve been drunk and wearing something that made him deserve it.  Fuck off.  We still have our first Amendment rights and this court overruled a politeness buffer in 2013/4.  These people deserve as much respect as the forced birth crowd gave every women’s clinic.

Resist!

And get your butt on it now Biden!  No more Mister Middle of the Road Nice Guy!