Mostly Monday Reads

Kristal and her dog, Temple

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m sorry I’m a little late today!  I had to wake up early and get Kristal uptown.  I don’t even fake being a morning person anymore and returned to bed when I got home. Kristal’s there to get spayed. If you’d like to help out a great organization helping me with her, please send any donations to Trap Dat CatTrap Dat Cat is a 501c3 Nonprofit TNR and Rescue group in New Orleans.  Feral Cat colonies are supported by the city here.. This excellent group run by the fabulous Miss Nita helps ensure they’re healthy and fixed!

Many states have entirely cut off access to abortion services due to religious activists on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. I was reminded today as I drove by our Planned Parenthood uptown, wondering which of our rights they’ll cut off next. This good news comes from NPR. “Planned Parenthood mobile clinic will take abortion to red-state borders.”

With a growing number of patients in states that now prohibit abortion traveling for the procedure, Planned Parenthood says it will soon open its first mobile abortion clinic in the country, in southern Illinois.

“Our goal is to reduce the hundreds of miles that people are having to travel now in order to access care…and meet them where they are,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, President of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in an interview with NPR.

The mobile clinic will begin offering consultations and dispensing abortion pills later this year. It will operate within Illinois, where abortion remains legal, but will be able to travel closer to neighboring states’ borders, reducing the distance many patients travel for the procedure.

“It gives us a lot of flexibility about where to be,” Rodriguez said.

Temple and Kristal are inseparable come naptime. July 1, 2022

I’m still excited about the project that will put Clinic Ships in the Gulf since the surrounding states are hostile to medical science, women, and human development knowledge.

The pillow guy has lost an appeal to the Supreme Court in his defamation case.  This is from NBC News. “Supreme Court rejects Trump ally Mike Lindell’s appeal in 2020 election lawsuit.”The MyPillow CEO is fighting a defamation lawsuit filed by the voting machine company Dominion over his election conspiracy theories.”  Tough toenails, freak!

The Supreme Court on Mondayrejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s bid to fend off a defamation lawsuit the voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems filed over his far-fetched claims about the 2020 presidential election.

The justices’ decision not to hear the case means a federal judge’s ruling in August 2021 that allowed the lawsuit to move forward remains in place.

Lindell, a prominent TV salesman for the pillows his company makes, is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump.

Dominion sued Lindell and MyPillow in February 2021, claiming $1.3 billion in damages and alleging that Lindell purposely pushed the “big lie” that Trump won the 2020 election. Lindell repeatedly echoed baseless claims that Dominion’s machines manipulated vote counts to ensure that Joe Biden defeated Trump. The claims have been widely debunked. In the lawsuit, Dominion argues that Lindell knew his claims were false, while Lindell’s lawyers say he genuinely believes them.

BB told me about this interview with former Capitol Officer and insurrection assault victim Michael Fenone at Rolling Stone. This is written by Alex Morris. “Michael Fanone Is Not Your Fucking Hero. He almost lost his life defending the Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, he’s a #resistance star — and he hates it.” His book is entitled “Hold the Line: The Insurrection and One Cop’s Battle for America’s Soul.” 

It’s behind a paywall. But, things slip to other places.  Here’s something from The Guardian: “Former DC police officer Michael Fanone blasts Kevin McCarthy as a ‘f**king weasel b***h’. The former Washington Metropolitan police officer unloaded on Republicans in an interview with Rolling Stone.”  Just so you know, he voted from Trump in 2016.  That didn’t work out so well for him.

Mr Fanone became famous after he responded to a call to help defend the US Capitol on 6 January of last year and was tazed by supporters of former president Donald Trump, which led to him having a heart attack. His book Hold the Line will be released next week on 11 October.In a new profile for Rolling Stone, he criticises the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives for lying his way through his meeting with Mr Fanone and the mother of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the riot.

“I think at night, when the lights are turned off, Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan have some pretty choice words to say about the fact that they have to hang on Kevin McCarthy’s wall,” he said. “They did some f**king above-average things. And they’ve got to adorn the wall of this f**king weasel b***h named Kevin McCarthy, with his fake f**king spray-on tan, whose f**king claim to fame, at least in my eyes, is the fact that he amassed a collection of Donald Trump’s favorite-flavored Starburst, put them in a Mason jar, and presented them to f**king Donald Trump. What the f**k, dude?”

Mr Fanone said he is writing the book because he is broke.

“I’m pretty sure that’s why people do things like this,” he said. “I said the things that I said for free and f**king destroyed my career, made my job untenable, and then tried to make hard lemonade out of lemons.”

He also noted that back in 2016, he voted for the former president.

“I’m cognizant of the fact that I talk like a f**king redneck, I wear camo-colored Crocs, I drive a f**king truck with camo seats, I like guns, I go hunting, I f**king drink beer from a can some places that I shouldn’t drink beer from a can at, and I’m kind of a caricature of what people think of when they think of a Trump-supporting hillbilly,” he said.

Mr McCarthy wasn’t the only target of Mr Fanone’s harsh words.

The former officer also called out notable GOP faces Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Josh Hawley.

Kristal on my desk chair, June 26, 2022

From The Washington Post: “FBI investigating menacing calls to ex-D.C. police officer Michael Fanone. Fanone, who was seriously injured defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump.”

Federal authorities are investigating menacing phone calls and other messages directed at Michael Fanone, a former D.C. police officer who was seriously hurt defending the Capitol from rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, and has since become an outspoken critic of former president Donald Trump, according to Fanone and another person familiar with the matter.

Fanone said a prosecutor with the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. told him Thursday that the FBI had launched an inquiry into the communications he received, after he forwarded a recording of call in which someone told him: “The world would be a better place if you were hit by a fast moving bus tomorrow.”

That call came hours after Fanone, who was beaten and shocked with a stun device until he lost consciousness and suffered a heart attack during the Jan. 6 riot, testified at a sentencing hearing for one his attackers Tuesday in federal court. A judge sentenced Fanone’s assailant to seven years and two months in prison after Fanone told the man, “I hope you suffer.”

Meanwhile, Florida Man is in the House and all in for killing his constituents in Florida’s Panhandle.

 

 

Kristal’s June calendar shot on June 4, 2022

This is from Newsweek‘s Anne Skinner: “Matt Gaetz Votes Against Disaster Relief Days After Hurricane Ian Hits.”

Just days after Hurricane Ian ravaged his home state, Representative Matt Gaetz was one of many Republicans to vote against a stopgap measure that would continue funding the government and provide billions of dollars in extra disaster assistanceThe House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution on Friday, giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the ability to spend through the Disaster Relief Fund, freeing up $15 million more in aid for disaster relief. Only 10 Republicans voted for the measure, two days after a Category 4 hurricane barreled through Florida, killing dozens and causing billions in economic damage.

Gaetz indicated he’d vote against funding to benefit government agencies earlier this week. He joined dozens of his colleagues in signing a letter that they would “do what is necessary” to prevent additional funding for the Biden administration.

Temple and Kristal immediately adopted each other as besties. Here she is on May 24, 2022.

A Monmounth University poll shows that it’s still “the economy, stupid” with many voters.  “Economic Issues Outweigh Concerns About Rights in Midterm Vote.”

Economic issues are a bigger factor in this year’s midterm elections than concerns about rights and democracy, according to the latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”University Poll. Democrats prioritize a fairly wide range of issues from climate change to abortion, while Republicans focus on a more limited set including inflation, crime, and immigration. Independents, though, tend to hone in on one issue above all: rising prices. Further dampening Democrats’ prospects are the poor numbers President Joe Biden gets for his performance on the issues most important to independents.

Republicans have made slight gains in the public’s preference for party control of Congress since the summer. Currently, 36% of Americans say they want the GOP in charge and another 11% have no initial preference but lean toward Republican control. Democratic control is preferred by 34% with another 10% leaning toward the Democrats. The combined 47% who choose Republican control is up from 43% in August, while the 44% support level for Democratic control is down from 50%.

A majority (54%) of Americans say it is very important to have their preferred party in control of Congress. This control importance metric is slightly higher among those who want Republicans (62%) than those who want Democrats (58%) leading Congress, which is a flip of the partisan result for this question in last month’s poll. Similarly, those who want Republican leadership (65%) are somewhat more likely than those who want Democrats in charge (58%) to say they are extremely motivated to vote this year.

Kristal sleeps soundly on what is likely close to her one month birthday and her 5th day at the kathouse. It’s hard work waking everyone up every several hours for your bottle of kitten formula!

Writers Holly Otterbein and Jessica Piper of Politico assert “Weak rural turnout could hurt GOP in November. A POLITICO analysis of turnout in this year’s special elections suggests that since Dobbs, rural voters are less motivated to cast ballots than others.”

The Democratic Party’s newest star has an unlikely group to thank for his upset victory: rural voters.

Rep. Pat Ryan prevailed in a close race over his Republican opponent in an August special election in upstate New York in part because rural voters came out to the polls at lower rates than voters in more populated places in his bellwether congressional district.

The race in New York’s 19th District wasn’t unique. A POLITICO analysis of turnout data before and after Roe v. Wade was struck down in June shows that voters in rural counties were less motivated to cast ballots than those in more Democratic-leaning suburbs and cities after the Supreme Court decision. Though special elections are not a crystal ball, that could spell potential trouble for the GOP if the trend continues to the midterms in November, because rural voters, who overwhelmingly supported former President Donald Trump, are a key constituency for Republican candidates.

“Republicans are not as energized as they want or expected, and Democrats are very energized right now,” said Chris Walsh, Ryan’s campaign manager.

In four congressional special elections that have been held since June to fill vacant House seats — in Nebraska, Minnesota and New York — the portion of registered voters who cast ballots averaged 27 percent in suburban and urban counties, compared to 22 percent in rural counties, according to the analysis. Ahead of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe, those three groups had turnout numbers similar to each other.

Not coincidentally, in each of the contests that saw lower rural turnout, Democratic candidates overperformed compared to President Joe Biden’s 2020 results. Democrats’ higher turnout numbers have given the party hope that voter anger over the elimination of abortion rights would turn an anticipated red wave in the midterms into more a ripple.

Kristal on the morning of May 12. This is the day after she was found flea-ridden, anemic, and dehydrated on the Elysian Fields neutral ground. She was a tiny little miracle!

Let’s hope this trend continues!

Anyway, that’s it for me! I hope you have a good week and I’ll let you know when Kristal gets home to us!  Keely, once the baby cat, is already searching for her wrestling and chasing mate!

Take care!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Lazy Caturday Reads

Happy Caturday!!

d0e1b6bff14a34fed8a756186142162cIt’s a busy news day for a Saturday. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin gave an unhinged speech yesterday in which he announced Russia’s supposed annexation of parts of Ukraine. It’s not working out well for him on the ground.

Late last night, the DOJ asked the 11th Circuit appeals court to speed up consideration of their appeal of Judge Loose Cannon’s order of a special master to sort through the 11,000 unclassified files seized from Mar-a-Lago. Also last night, The Washington Post published a long article on conflicts in Trump’s legal team, including the fact that one of them, Christina Bobb, is willing to cooperate with the DOJ.

Jason Leopold, the FOIA expert who used to work for Buzzfeed, has moved to Bloomberg and published a scoop last night on Obama’s opinions about Trump. Plus, Politico published gossip about the “transition from hell” from Maggie Haberman’s upcoming book.

Putin and Ukraine

Michael Weiss and James Rushton at Yahoo News: Putin’s ‘annexation’ announcement changes little on the ground in Ukraine.

Even by his own fire-and-brimstone standards, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed angry on Friday as he addressed hundreds of Russian parliamentarians and governors in St. George Hall in the Kremlin.

The event had been called so that Putin could triumphantly announce his latest gambit in Ukraine, the annexation of four regions of that country into the Russian Federation. But as he rattled off a litany of reasons as to why this land grab was necessary, the mood was more apocalyptic than jubilant.

The rules-based international order was a sinister Western design, he told his audience, one that was rooted in Russophobia. The West itself has “embraced Satanism,” forced drug addiction, gender ambiguity and “the organized hunts of people as if they’re animals” — the latter either a strange reference to American mass shootings or the popularity of Netflix’s “Squid Game.” Nevertheless, such a fallen civilization still had the wherewithal to try and colonize Russia and steal its precious natural resources, he continued before comparing the United States to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, accusing it of setting a “precedent” in being the only nation to use nuclear weapons. Then he quoted from his favorite Russian fascist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin: “I believe in the spiritual forces of the Russian people, their spirit — my spirit, its fate is my fate, its suffering is my grief, its flowering is my joy.”

He sounds as crazy as Trump.

Following Putin’s theatrics, Ukraine announced it was applying for fast-track membership to NATO — exactly the contingency the Russian government has for years claimed it sought to avoid. However symbolic this declaration is (Ukraine’s accession is still a distant prospect), it deftly stole the international spotlight away from Putin….

Girl with Cat - Johs Rian 1932, Norwegian

Girl with Cat – Johs Rian 1932, Norwegian

Putin’s attempts to consolidate minimal Russian gains stand in marked contrast to the fact that his war of conquest is faltering, something even he subtly recognizes. Following his decree to gobble up four of Ukraine’s oblasts, he immediately suggested a “ceasefire” with Kyiv, which for weeks has been pressing the fight to the invaders.

Ukraine has continued its incredibly successful Kharkiv offensive by pushing across the Oskil River in an attempt to liberate the entirety of the oblast. Social media accounts have been overflowing with videos and pictures showing jubilant Ukrainian soldiers hoisting their flag’s blue-and-gold colors over recently liberated settlements. On Thursday, Ukrainian forces were said to have encircled the strategic city of Lyman in Donetsk, one of the oblasts Putin thinks is now going to be part of Russia. A few thousand Russian forces there have been cut off from the north, west and south, with only a narrow means of escaping eastward from advancing Ukrainian columns, according to pro-Russian military bloggers, whose pessimistic assessments are always more fact-based than anything emanating from the Russian Ministry of Defense. There are further indications that Lyman may be completely surrounded by Ukrainian forces.

And this morning Russian troops were forced to retreat. AP: Russia withdraws troops after Ukraine encircles key city.

After being encircled by Ukrainian forces, Russia pulled troops out Saturday from an eastern Ukrainian city that it had been using as a front-line hub. It was the latest victory for the Ukrainian counteroffensive that has humiliated and angered the Kremlin.

Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman complicates its internationally vilified move to annex four regions of Ukraine and paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push further into land that Moscow now illegally claims as its own.

The fighting comes at a pivotal moment in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. Facing Ukrainian gains on the battlefield — which he frames as a U.S.-orchestrated effort to destroy Russia — Putin this week heightened his threats of nuclear force and used his most aggressive, anti-Western rhetoric to date.

Frank Sofo

Painting by FrankSofo

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed to have inflicted damage on Ukrainian forces in battling to hold onto Lyman, but said outnumbered Russian troops were withdrawn to more favorable positions. The Russian announcement came soon after Ukraine’s air force said it had moved into Lyman and the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff posted photos of a Ukrainian flag being hoisted on the town’s outskirts.

Lyman, a key transport hub, had been an important node in the Russian front line for both ground communications and logistics. Located 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Lyman is in the Donetsk region near the border with Luhansk region, both of which Russia annexed Friday after an “referendum vote” was held at gunpoint.

Ukrainian forces have retaken vast swathes of territory in a counteroffensive that started in September which saw them push Russian forces out of the Kharkiv area and move east across the Oskil River toward Lyman and other strategic points.

New DOJ 11th Circuit Filing, and Trump’s Legal Team Troubles

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein at Politico: Feds seek to fast-track appeal in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents fight.

The Justice Department moved to quickly dismantle the independent review of documents seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, contending that the review — ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon — is impeding its criminal investigation.

In a 15-page filing asking a federal appeals court to speed its consideration of the issue, prosecutors complained the “special master” review prevents DOJ from accessing thousands of non-classified records recovered from the former president’s estate.

While those documents don’t present the same urgent national security concerns as the smaller volume of classified materials DOJ successfully fought to regain access to earlier this month, Justice Department officials said the continued blockade on non-classified materials had slowed investigators’ efforts to determine how some of the classified records were transferred to Mar-a-Lago and whether any of them were improperly accessed.

“The government is … unable to examine records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on, for example, how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” DOJ officials, including counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt, wrote in the filing with the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. “The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records].”

2e6b8d07f606349ed245bc1eb13ded82The Justice Department is seeking an expedited review of its appeal of Cannon’s order establishing the special master review. Though legal briefing in the appeal was slated to carry through mid-December or longer, DOJ’s proposed expedited schedule would conclude that process by mid-November and have oral arguments set soon thereafter.

The filing also hints at prosecutors’ irritation with Cannon, a Trump appointee confirmed days after his defeat in the 2020 election. The Justice Department noted that she has repeatedly overruled decisions made by the special master she appointed at Trump’s suggestion, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie. Those rulings could significantly delay Dearie’s review, prosecutors indicated.

Click the link to read the rest.

The Washington Post: Trump’s legal team divided over how to handle Mar-a-Lago case.

After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigatorargued that Trump should adopt a new strategy.

Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client, people familiar with the deliberations said.

Federal authorities had searched Trump’s Florida residence and club because they badly wanted to retrieve the classified documents that remained there even after a federal subpoena, Kise argued, according to these people. With that material back in government hands, maybe prosecutors could be persuaded to resolve the whole issue quietly.

But quiet has never been Trump’s style — nor has harmony within his orbit.

Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to persuade Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening asvarious lawyers make their best arguments.

Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one— an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers.

This is a very long and detailed article, so check out the whole thing if you’re interested. I’ll just share one more interesting section on Christina Bobb, the lawyer who signed the document that falsely claimed all classified documents had been returned in response to a DOJ subpoena. Bobb was also involved in activities and meetings leading up to the January 6 insurrection.

Bobb has told others close to Trump that she believes the certification she signed was accurate. She has hired her own lawyer, Tampa-based former prosecutor John Lauro, and has made it known to Trump allies that she is willing to cooperate and be interviewed by the Justice Department, people familiar with the situation said.

Asked last week whether she was negotiating to sit for an interview with prosecutors, Bobb declined to comment, saying: “I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to talk about it.” [….]

Chamberlain, Brenda, 1912-1971; Girl with a Siamese Cat

Chamberlain, Brenda; Girl with a Siamese Cat; Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Following the 2020 election, she volunteered her services to Trump’s legal team challenging the election results. Documents released through public records requests show that she exchanged emails with the president of the Arizona Senate regarding documents the Republican leader had requested of Rudy Giuliani, who was spearheading Trump’s election challenges.

An email obtained by The Post shows that Bobb also served as the note taker during a Dec. 12 callthat focused on planning detailed logistics for fake electors to gather in states won by Biden and declare Trump the winner in those states. The email has been turned over to federal investigators exploring the fake-elector scheme.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Bobb huddled with Giuliani at the campaign’s informal headquarters at the Willard hotel in Washington as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, The Post previously reported.

Despite giving numerous interviews in the days immediately after the FBI search in which she was identified as a lawyer for Trump, Bobb told a fellow RSBN anchor during a Sept. 23 broadcast that she was not acting as a Trump attorney while serving as custodian of the records in responding to the subpoena. The difference is important: The Justice Department team investigating the handling of the documents would face few hurdles to compel her to testify if she had not been serving as Trump’s lawyer at the time.

“I think people were a little bit confused,” Bobb told her fellow anchor. “I am on President Trump’s legal team. I do work for him on election issues. I was never on the legal team handling this case, just to be clear on that. Which is why I came in as the custodian of records — because I wasn’t on that team.”

That’s certainly interesting. Apparently her activities related to the stolen documents wouldn’t be covered by attorney-client privilege.

The Obama to Trump Transition

Jason Leopold at Bloomberg: For Obama, One Trump Term Wasn’t a Big Worry, but ‘Eight Years Would Be a Problem.’

Barack Obama told reporters in his last days as president that he wasn’t worried about a single Donald Trump term, but was concerned about a “sustained period” of political norms being undermined if he served two terms, according to newly released documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

Suzanne Valadon2

By Suzanne Valadon

Obama met with reporters three days before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 17, 2017, for an off-the-record conversation. A White House transcript of the meeting — which was never reported under the ground rules agreed upon by the journalists — was included in a cache of documents released by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

“I think that four years is okay,” Obama said. “Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.”

I fear Obama was wrong. Four years was much too long.

Obama’s nearly 90-minute conversation with reporters covered topics such as his commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence for leaking classified documents, saying she didn’t deserve a 35-year sentence. He also noted that Edward Snowden’s leaks about US surveillance of private citizens “identified some problems that had to do with technology.”

But it was Obama’s comments about the Republican Party and Trump that seem almost prescient….

As for the GOP, Obama said he thought “the Republican Party now is ideologically completely incoherent.”

“You don’t know what they stand for,” he said.

“So what’s bound them together is opposition to me, opposition to a fantastical creature called the liberal who looks down on them and just feeds all that regional resentment,” Obama said. “And there are a handful of issues, like guns, that trigger that sense of ‘these folks aren’t like us and they don’t like us and act like us.’ And there’s obviously some racial elements that get put out into that stew.”

Obama said his No. 1 concern about the incoming Trump administration was the potential politicization of law enforcement. He advised reporters at the time to pay close attention to the Justice Department.

Finally, here’s the latest excerpt from Haberman’s book. Politico: Transition from hell.

While DONALD TRUMP was attempting to prevent then President-elect JOE BIDEN from ascending to office in the months after the election, his staff was determined to create headaches small and large for their eventual replacements….excerpts of the new book shared with West Wing Playbook show how in the final days of his presidency, Trump’s team took steps to sabotage their successors.

Will Barnet, Martha and two cats, 1984, American

Will Barnet, Martha and two cats, 1984, American

Haberman reported that an employee of JOHN MCENTEE, who served as Trump’s director of the Presidential Personnel Office, stuffed copies of photos of HUNTER BIDEN into an air conditioning unit at the White House, breaking it.

The moment was a particularly petty representation of the disregard even rank-and-file staff had for the people who would soon be taking their jobs. The direct interactions between Trump and Biden’s senior staff weren’t much better.

Haberman noted that top members of Biden’s team were baffled by the behavior of their counterparts in the Trump White House. Even White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS, who paid lip service to easing the transition, simultaneously seemed to encourage the cohort of Trump world figures pushing to keep the president in office….

He refused to grant them access to a computer system needed to begin working on the president’s budget, telling the team that they “just can’t expect us to endorse your spending plans.” And when Klain said the president-elect needed to start receiving the intelligence briefing, Meadows asked how many days a week Biden wanted to get it. Haberman reported that Klain was “dumbstruck” by the question, and replied that Biden wanted it every day, just like he had as vice president. Meadows responded that “no president ever does that. That’s never happened.”

“It seemed so beyond Meadows’ own experience that he could not comprehend it,” Haberman wrote.

A few more details at the link.

What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following today?


Finally Friday Reads: Professional Cult Member and wife of Supreme Sex Pest Speaks to the J6 Committee

Good Morning Sky Dancers! 

Must be nice to be rich and powerful enough to live in your own private reality and be allowed on public streets. Ginnie Thomas stuck to her QAnon vision of life while testifying to the January 6 Committee yesterday. We don’t have much information on it, but it sounds delusional.  This is from the New York Times: “Ginni Thomas Denies Discussing Election Subversion Efforts With Her Husband. In a closed-door interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Ms. Thomas reiterated her false assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald J. Trump.”  I’m just wondering how many committee members were snickering during these statements. The analysis is by Luke Broadwater and Stephanie Lai.

In a statement she read at the beginning of her testimony, Ms. Thomas denied having discussed her postelection activities with her husband.

In her statement, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Thomas called it “an ironclad rule” that she and Justice Thomas never speak about cases pending before the Supreme Court. “It is laughable for anyone who knows my husband to think I could influence his jurisprudence — the man is independent and stubborn, with strong character traits of independence and integrity,” she added.

The interview ended months of negotiations between the committee and Ms. Thomas over her testimony. The committee’s investigators had grown particularly interested in her communications with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who was in close contact with Mr. Trump and wrote a memo that Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.

“At this point, we’re glad she came,” Mr. Thompson said.

After Ms. Thomas’s appearance on Thursday, her lawyer Mark Paoletta said she had been “happy to cooperate with the committee to clear up the misconceptions about her activities surrounding the 2020 elections.”

“She answered all the committee’s questions,” Mr. Paoletta said in a statement. “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas had significant concerns about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election. And, as she told the committee, her minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated. Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results. As she wrote in a text to Mark Meadows at the time, she also condemned the violence on Jan. 6, as she abhors violence on any side of the aisle.”

I still can’t forget how unhinged those texts were to Mark Meadows, who is likely in more trouble than anyone else.  Still, I can’t believe she didn’t discuss this with her husband. I also think more will come from Thomas’ role in the fake electors’ scheme.

The GOP is pouring lots of money into primaries where gerrymandering and the pattern of the out-party in midterms should be helping.  But is it?  Nate Cohn of the New York Times argues that structurally, the Republicans have the momentum. But can this hold given the number of extremists on the ballots and the ongoing legal troubles of its defacto lead, Orange Caligula? Cohn offers this analysis: “Gerrymandering Isn’t Giving Republicans the Advantage You Might Expect. Yes, the G.O.P. has a structural edge in the House, but it isn’t anything near insurmountable for Democrats.”

Now, Mr. Biden won the national vote by 4.5 percentage points, so even a map that’s biased toward Republicans might still have more Biden districts than Trump districts. But the simple fact that Mr. Biden won the most districts is a clear enough indication that the Republican advantage in the House isn’t totally insurmountable.

To account for Mr. Biden’s victory in 2020, a somewhat better — though more complex — measure is needed: a comparison between how districts voted and how the nation as a whole voted. If Mr. Biden won a district by more than he did nationally, it might be said to be a district where Democrats have the advantage if the national vote is tied. On a perfectly fair map, half the districts would lean toward Democrats with respect to the nation, while half would vote for Mr. Trump or vote for Mr. Biden by less than 4.5 points. And on this perfectly fair map, the district right in the middle — the median district — would have voted for Mr. Biden by 4.5 points, just like the nation.

Theo Van Rysselberghe, Bathers On The Rocks, 1920

Phillip Bump has one explanation: “A new reminder that candidate quality matters.”  This opinion is in the Washington Post. The Trumpiest candidates are winning many Republican Primaries and are a way to the right and as delusional as Ginnie Thomas.

What’s apparent at this point, just over a month before voting ends in the 2022 midterm elections, is that nearly any national outcome is possible. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of the state of play figures there’s about a 3 in 10 chance that Republicans win the House and Senate, about a 3 in 10 chance that the Democrats win both, and about a 4 in 10 chance that the parties split the two (Democrats, Senate; Republicans, House).

For all of the elevation of the importance of these elections, the field appears to remain fairly even. Or, perhaps, it’s because of the elevation of importance that it does. There are two reasons that a tug-of-war rope remains over the center point: No one is pulling at all, or both sides are pulling very hard.

This big-picture perspective, though, blurs the fact that overall patterns are dependent on individual races. And a spate of new polls conducted for Fox News by its bipartisan polling team shows, in essence, the importance of picking viable candidates in the first place.

The new polls evaluate the state of play in four states that are electing both governors and senators this year: ArizonaGeorgiaPennsylvania and Wisconsin. The widest overall margin is in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, where Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) leads state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) by 11 points. The closest race is in Wisconsin, where Gov. Tony Evers (D) earns the same level of support as his challenger, businessman Tim Michels (R). Generally, the picture is consistent: These races are too close to be able to identify a clear leader.

‘The Fragrance of a Bath’ (1930) by Itō Shinsui.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a bump in GOP Fundraising, from GOP  Billionaires.  This is from CNBC: “GOP billionaire donors direct cash to Senate leaders as Trump candidates lag Dems in fundraising.”

Republican megadonors want the GOP to take back the Senate, but they don’t have confidence that some of former President Donald Trump’s top picks can catapult their party to a victory in November.

Billionaire financiers Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Larry Ellison have so far avoided donating directly to some or all of Trump’s staunchest allies running for Senate in the midterms: J.D. Vance in Ohio, Blake Masters in Arizona, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, according to Federal Election Commission records and people familiar with the billionaires’ donations.

All of those candidates have been endorsed by Trump. And many of them have previously sided with the former president on the false claims that the 2020 presidential election had widespread voter fraud — an accusation that’s been debunked by Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, federal courts and several other top Republicans who served in Trump’s administration.

One GOP fundraiser said, “They would be lighting their money on fire if they got totally swayed by these candidates.” That strategist is advising clients to, instead, give to the super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — the Senate Leadership Fund — because “they have the best polls and they won’t sink money into races they know they can’t win.” The super PAC is run by Steven Law, McConnell’s former chief of staff.

Ad tracker AdImpact last week said that the Senate Leadership Fund has canceled the rest of its TV bookings in Arizona, a state where the campaign poll tracking website FiveThirtyEight shows Masters trailing Kelly by more than seven percentage points.

We have to take care of this campaign finance issue to maintain democracy. It is just one of the Republican’s fuckery with democracy.   Citizens United may prove one of the biggest hurdles to full inclusion in our democracy plus all the voting rights shenanigans by the Courts has been even worse. We have Justice Roberts to thank for a lot of that.

And, of course, while the rest of us are losing access to voting and bodily autonomy, let’s pity the poor little boys. If you want one of David Brooks’ most whiny pieces yet, try this one: “The Crisis of Men and Boys” at the New York Times, of course.

Richard V. Reeves’s new book, “Of Boys and Men,” is a landmark, one of the most important books of the year, not only because it is a comprehensive look at the male crisis, but also because it searches for the roots of that crisis and offers solutions.

I learned a lot I didn’t know. First, boys are much more hindered by challenging environments than girls. Girls in poor neighborhoods and unstable families may be able to climb their way out. Boys are less likely to do so. In Canada, boys born into the poorest households are twice as likely to remain poor as their female counterparts. In American schools, boys’ academic performance is more influenced by family background than girls’ performance. Boys raised by single parents have lower rates of college enrollment than girls raised by single parents.

Second, policies and programs designed to promote social mobility often work for women, but not men. Reeves, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, visited Kalamazoo, Mich., where, thanks to a donor, high school graduates get to go to many colleges in the state free. The program increased the number of women getting college degrees by 45 percent. The men’s graduation rates remained flat. Reeves lists a whole series of programs, from early childhood education to college support efforts, that produced impressive gains for women, but did not boost men.

Reeves has a series of policy proposals to address the crisis, the most controversial of which is redshirting boys — have them begin their schooling a year later than girls, because on average the prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum, which are involved in self-regulation, mature much earlier in girls than in boys.

There are many reasons men are struggling — for example, the decline in manufacturing jobs that put a high value on physical strength, and the rise of service sector jobs. But I was struck by the theme of demoralization that wafts through the book. Reeves talked to men in Kalamazoo about why women were leaping ahead. The men said that women are just more motivated, work harder, plan ahead better. Yet this is not a matter of individual responsibility. There is something in modern culture that is producing an aspiration gap.

Bathers, 1918 Pablo Picasso

I really didn’t want to include this but I think it’s important to understand just how entitled men are in this country. My experience in school was that the boys didn’t have to do much of anything but just show up. Maybe someone needs to tell them that participation trophies don’t count when you’ve got a lot of women and minorities motivated to succeed without them.

I thought I’d end with this Ed Yong article at The Atlantic about the legacy of the Covid -19 Pandemic. “All of this will happen again.”

American leaders and pundits have been trying to call an end to the pandemic since its beginning, only to be faced with new surges or variants. This mindset not only compromises the nation’s ability to manage COVID, but also leaves it vulnerable to other outbreaks. Future pandemics aren’t hypothetical; they’re inevitable and imminent. New infectious diseases have regularly emerged throughout recent decades, and climate change is quickening the pace of such events. As rising temperatures force animals to relocate, species that have never coexisted will meet, allowing the viruses within them to find new hosts—humans included. Dealing with all of this again is a matter of when, not if.

In 2018, I wrote an article in The Atlantic warning that the U.S. was not prepared for a pandemic. That diagnosis remains unchanged; if anything, I was too optimistic. America was ranked as the world’s most prepared country in 2019—and, bafflingly, again in 2021—but accounts for 16 percent of global COVID deaths despite having just 4 percent of the global population. It spends more on medical care than any other wealthy country, but its hospitals were nonetheless overwhelmed. It helped create vaccines in record time, but is 67th in the world in full vaccinations. (This trend cannot solely be attributed to political division; even the most heavily vaccinated blue state—Rhode Island—still lags behind 21 nations.) America experienced the largest life-expectancy decline of any wealthy country in 2020 and, unlike its peers, continued declining in 2021. If it had fared as well as just the average peer nation, 1.1 million people who died last year—a third of all American deaths—would still be alive.

America’s superlatively poor performance cannot solely be blamed on either the Trump or Biden administrations, although both have made egregious errors. Rather, the new coronavirus exploited the country’s many failing systems: its overstuffed prisons and understaffed nursing homes; its chronically underfunded public-health system; its reliance on convoluted supply chains and a just-in-time economy; its for-profit health-care system, whose workers were already burned out; its decades-long project of unweaving social safety nets; and its legacy of racism and segregation that had already left Black and Indigenous communities and other communities of color disproportionately burdened with health problems. Even in the pre-COVID years, the U.S. was still losing about 626,000 people more than expected for a nation of its size and resources. COVID simply toppled an edifice whose foundations were already rotten.

This, along with the Hurricane Ian experience reminded me that we’re not particularly forward-looking people anymore. I was happy to see Space Dart take out an astroid’s moon.  However, it seems to me that were more likely to be taken down by our own hubris.  Why do folks ignore climate change and still fall for developers’ promises of paradise on the beaches of Florida?  We should be looking for the next big virus while learning lessons to plan for the next.  We hurl from one emergency to the next without thinking about what in our system fails us?  Even Democracy is failing us in significant ways.  I no longer look to the Supreme Court to save us from ourselves.  They now represent the worst of our political system.

Getting Donald Trump off the Public stage is vital but the preparations for the next big trouble start with revitalizing our democratic institutions and shoring them up.  Also, getting the damn money out of politics would help too. Anyway, sorry to be Debbie Downer today.  Maybe I’m just more somber today because the heat of summer has broken. Also, I had my first training class in community organizing yesterday. I’m sitting here relationship mapping who I’m going to nag into to voting.  So, I started with my beloved community here.  Drag your ass and everyone you know to the polls!  I got granddaughters now!

This election is important. Please, get everyone you know to vote blue. A lot is at stake.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?

 


Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

It’s pretty clear that Hurricane Ian did catastrophic damage in Florida, although there still isn’t much specific reporting on it. The images on TV are horrifying though. We’ll likely be getting more details throughout today and over the next few days. The storm is now moving toward Georgia and the Carolinas. You can read live updates at the Weather Channel: Tropical Storm Ian Live Updates: Catastrophic Damage; Destruction Hampers Rescue Efforts; Death Reported.

More on Ian:

CNN: Sanibel and Captiva islands cut off from Florida mainland after Ian’s storm surge washes away three parts of Sanibel Causeway.

At least three sections of the Sanibel Causeway were washed away by storm surge from Hurricane Ian, according to video from CNN affiliates WBBH and WPLG, severing the Sanibel and Captiva islands’ only connection to Florida’s mainland.

The videos from the causeway show two portions of the ramp to both bridges washed away, as well as a stretch of roadway that crossed an island in the middle of the causeway.

A portion of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge “was damaged/washed out,” Lieutenant Gregory S. Bueno with the Public Affairs Division of Florida Highway Patrol told CNN. All lanes of the bridge are currently closed and the severity of the closure is listed as “major,” according to Florida 511.

Law enforcement and personnel from the Lee County Department of Transportation are on scene at the causeway, officials said in an update Thursday morning, and bridge inspectors were working to asses all bridges in Lee County. Residents are advised to remain off the roads “unless absolutely necessary.

The county, which includes Fort Myers in addition to Sanibel and Captiva islands and Cape Coral, suffered “catastrophic damage” from the storm, officials said in their update, noting that 98% of the county remains without power.

Urban search and rescue crews from local agencies are “actively engaged in search and rescue efforts,” with federal search and rescue teams being deployed. In the meantime, the 15 shelters opened prior to the storm’s arrival remain open.

Also from CNN this morning: Rescuers scour Florida’s flooded disaster zone amid massive power outages as Ian continues its ruinous crawl.

Rescuers have been pulling people from roofs as they work to respond to hundreds of calls for help since Ian – now a tropical storm marching across Florida – slammed the state’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane, its surge trapping residents and its monstrous winds and flooding rains leaving millions without power and many without drinkable water.

Many are believed to need rescuing in hard-hit southwest Florida’s Fort Myers area, FEMA chief Deanne Criswell said Thursday morning. The nearby Naples area was similarly slammed – feet of water submerged streets, nearly swallowing vehicles and rushing into the first floors of homes and businesses – after Ian’s center plowed ashore near Cayo Costa on Wednesday afternoon as one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall on Florida’s west coast.

The Coast Guard and National Guard were “pulling people off of roofs in Fort Myers” with aircraft Thursday morning, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson told CNN. Coast Guard crews have rescued at least 23 people since Wednesday, the service said.

Roughly five people are believed to have died in Lee County, the sheriff said, and parts of a key bridge there from Sanibel and Captiva islands to Florida’s mainland have been washed out.

Collapsed buildings, flooding, downed power lines and impassable roads were reported early Thursday by survey crews across southwest Florida. More than 2.5 million homes and businesses statewide have no power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, and some drinking water systems have broken down completely or have boil notices in effect.

Still, much about the misery remains unknown: how many lives Ian may have ended, how many people remain trapped, how many homes were wrecked beyond repair and how long it might take to restore a semblance of ordinary life.

The death toll from Tropical Storm Ian remained unclear early Thursday after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said it brought “historic” damage to the state, hours after President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Florida amid what the National Hurricane Center described as “catastrophic flooding” over east and central parts of the state.

“We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” DeSantis said.

Two people were reported dead Thursday, though DeSantis said it was still unconfirmed whether their deaths were storm-related or if they died amid the storm from other causes. Local officials reported that a 34-year-old man died in Martin County, just north of Palm Beach, and a 72-year-old man died in Volusia County on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The Lee County sheriff said Thursday he believed “hundreds” might be dead after the storm made landfall to the north, though no numbers have been confirmed as search and rescue efforts are underway.

Here’s what to know

  • The National Hurricane Center said Ian, which is heading toward Florida’s northeast with maximum sustained winds of about 65 miles per hour, is expected to further weaken Friday night and into Saturday but may re-intensify at times, and “could be near hurricane strength” on Friday when it approaches South Carolina.
  • Ian battered parts of Florida’s western coast, tearing down trees and power lines and causing dangerous storm surges in parts of the state. Authorities in Fort Myers, which was badly hit, said late Wednesday that parts of the city were under 3 to 4 feet of water. To the south in Naples, half of the streets “are not passable due to high water,” Collier County warned in a tweet.
  • Hurricane warnings that were in effect for parts of Florida’s east and west coasts were changed early Thursday to tropical storm warnings. Several airports across the state suspended commercial operations and canceled flights.

The storm will now move up the coast to do more damage. This story at NBC discusses how climate change is affecting storms like Ian: Why ‘Category 4’ doesn’t begin to explain Hurricane Ian’s dangers.

Even as Ian gathered strength and neared Category 5 status, experts warned that solely paying attention to a hurricane’s category often masks just how destructive and life-threatening these storms can be — particularly as climate change makes hurricanes both rainier and more intense.

Hurricane Ian is already proving to be a devastating storm. After knocking out power to all of Cuba on Tuesday, Ian is forecast to dump up to 24 inches of rain over parts of Florida and trigger up to 18-foot storm surges from Englewood to Bonita Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center

In the days leading up to Ian’s landfall, many drew comparisons to Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida’s southwestern coast as a Category 4 storm in 2004. But while past hurricanes can provide helpful context, Ian is sure to be a wildly different storm, said Kimberly Wood, an associate professor of meteorology at Mississippi State University.

“We’re looking at a similar category as Hurricane Charley, but the impacts will be very, very different,” they said.

Many of the most destructive and potentially deadly impacts of a hurricane — including storm surge, flooding and rainfall — are not accounted for in a storm’s category number. That’s because these categories refer to a storm’s rating on what’s known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which ranks hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on a storm’s maximum sustained wind speed.

The categories are used to estimate potential damage to property from hurricane winds, but where it becomes problematic is if people use the rankings to gauge other impacts on land.

“It has nothing to do with the size of a storm, and it has very little to do with how much rain is produced,” Wood said. “People hyper-focus on the category when the category is a very small part of the picture of what a hurricane might do to a location.”

The effects of climate change:

Hurricane Ian’s rainfall projections across Florida are a major concern and fit within a broader trend of storms becoming rainier in recent years due to climate change. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which often means heavy rain and catastrophic flooding when these storms make landfall.

Warmer ocean waters and other changes associated with climate change could also help hurricanes like Ian intensify rapidly as they near shore, said Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

As they approach the coast, major hurricanes can generate life-threatening storm surge, which refers to the abnormal rise in water levels because of the storm. Even lower-ranked hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale can generate huge storm surge.

As we saw yesterday, the storm surge in Florida was devastating.

More on climate change and hurricanes at Vox: Hurricane Ian’s rapid intensification is a sign of the world to come.

On Monday morning, Hurricane Ian had wind speeds of 75 miles per hour. Just 48 hours later, those speeds had more than doubled. On Wednesday, as the storm made landfall in southwestern Florida, Ian’s wind hit 155 mph — just shy of a Category 5 storm, the most severe category for a hurricane.

Such rapid growth is known by meteorologists as “rapid intensification.” It’s defined as storms whose wind speeds increase by roughly 35 mph or more in less than 24 hours. “Ian definitely met that criteria,” said Paul Miller, a professor of oceanography and coastal sciences at Louisiana State University.

While wind speed isn’t the only force that makes storms dangerous, hurricanes that rapidly intensify are especially worrisome. They can easily catch coastal communities off guard, giving them little time to prepare, Miller said.

What caused the rapid intensification?

It’s an important question, as storms like this one are highly destructive and are likely to become more frequent in the years to come.

There are three main ingredients that, when mixed together, can result in a rapidly intensifying hurricane: moist air, low wind shear (wind coming from different directions or at different speeds), and warm ocean water….

Ian had them all. As it developed several days ago, the storm system faced some disrupting winds, but there was little shear as it grew over the last few days, Miller said. And Ian has largely avoided a region of dry air in the Gulf of Mexico. (Had Ian hit Florida farther north, it might have deteriorated faster, he said.)

Then there’s the warm ocean water. The Gulf of Mexico has been unseasonably warm this summer, according to the National Weather Service. And climate change is heating the Caribbean ocean by a little over 1 degree C (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) per century.

“Even small changes — half a degree C, or a degree — can really make a big difference,” said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

Another reason why the ocean is so warm is that it’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season so far. As hurricanes churn through the Caribbean, they sap heat from the water and churn it up, making it colder and less favorable for rapid intensification, Miller said.

Read more at Vox.

More news, links only:

Charlie Savage at The New York Times: ‘Giant Backfire’: Trump’s Demand for Special Master Is Looking Like a Mistake.

CNN: Trump pushing back on special master’s request for him to declare in court whether DOJ inventory is accurate.

The Daily Beast: Judge Warns of Justice Department’s Gift to Trump That Could Keep on Giving.

Just Security: Tracker: Evidence of Trump’s Knowledge and Involvement in Retaining Mar-a-Lago Documents.

The Washington Post: Pentagon will double powerful HIMARS artillery for Ukraine.

AP: Russia poised to annex occupied Ukraine after sham vote.

CNN: First on CNN: European security officials observed Russian Navy ships in vicinity of Nord Stream pipeline leaks.

Forbes: Russian Sabotage Of The Nord Stream Pipeline Marks A Point Of No Return.

NPR: EU officials and others are concerned about explosions at Nord Stream pipelines.

Raw Story: ‘Incredibly alarming’: Republican poll worker in Michigan charged with tampering with voting equipment.

The Daily Beast: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Husband of 27 Years Files for Divorce.

Unfortunately, Ian didn’t wash Mar-a-Lago away, but Trump is stuck there.

If you’re in the path of the storm, please stay safe. Take care everyone.

Mostly Monday Reads: A Fascist Returns to Power in Italy and the Return of the January 6th Committee

Pearblossom Highway, 1986, David Hockney-

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been trying to get a handle on today’s headlines, and wow, there’s chaos afoot in the world and our country.  The New York Times has this for a headline: “U.S. Warns Russia of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ if It Uses Nuclear Weapons.” That’s nothing I thought I’d see again since the Cold War was over.

Then, Italy’s voters elected one of those bleach-blonde fascists we see so much these days on Fox News and Republican Conventions. For Eyes on the Right, Damon Linker analyzes the election results for us: ” What just happened in Italy? Much the same as what’s happened in France, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and the U.S.”

What happened in yesterday’s election in Italy?

At the purely factual level, a coalition of right-wing and center-right parties won big in an election trigged by the collapse of a government led by the center-left Mario Draghi.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) was the biggest vote winner. The Fratelli were founded in 2012 as a successor to the post-fascist MSI (Italian Social Movement), which was itself founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, who served as a minister under Mussolini. The other major members of the coalition are Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A fourth party called Noi Moderati (really a coalition of small, centrist parties) is also expected to join a right-leaning government. At the time of this writing, with about half of the votes counted, it looks like the right will take something in the range of 60 percent of the seats in both the lower and upper houses of the legislature while winning a slightly smaller share of the vote than polls had predicted. (With Salvini’s Lega, especially, under-performing.)

The reality is somewhat less ominous than one might conclude from hearing we’re living through “the return of fascism in Italy.” The incoming government is certainly Italy’s most right-wing since World War II. But it’s also the case that the members of the victorious coalition have much more in common with other right-leaning politicians and parties around the contemporary world than they do with the politics of the 1930s.

I’m not confident that reassures me especially given the Italian voter turnout.  This is from The New York Times: “Giorgia Meloni’s Hard-Right Party Leads in Italy’s Voting. Early results suggest that she could be Italy’s next prime minister, the first woman to hold the position and the first with post-Fascist roots. It will still be weeks before a new government is formed.” One-third of Italian voters sat out the election.

She grew up with a single mother in a working-class area of Rome, and being a woman, and mother, has been central to her political identity.

Being a woman has also distinguished her, and marked a major shift, from her coalition partners, especially Mr. Berlusconi, the subject of endless sex scandals.

But Ms. Meloni, Mr. Berlusconi and Mr. Salvini share a hard-right vision for the country. Ms. Meloni has called for a naval blockade against migrants and spread fears about a “great replacement” of native Italians. The three share populist proposals for deep tax cuts that economists fear would inflate Italy’s already enormous debt, and a traditionalist view of the family.

Despite the constraints of an Italian Constitution that is explicitly anti-Fascist and designed to stymie the rise of another Mussolini, many liberals are now worried that the right-wing coalition will erode the country’s norms. There was concern that if the coalition were to win two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, it would have the ability to change the Constitution to increase government powers.

On Thursday, during one of Ms. Meloni’s final rallies before the election, she exclaimed that “if the Italians give us the numbers to do it, we will.”

But the coalition, while winning 44 percent of the vote and a majority in Parliament, appeared not to hit that mark.

There seems to be a growing voter backlash against what the Trump Regime SCOTUS appointments have done to Abortion Rights.  Let’s hope we have a massive turnout for our elections in November.

Politico writer Steven Shepard reports, “Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022. Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again.”

Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.

Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.

It’s not that pollsters haven’t tried to fix the issues that plagued them in recent elections. Whether they’re public firms conducting surveys for the media and academic instructions or private campaign consultants, they have spent the past two years tweaking their methods to avoid a 2020 repeat.

But most of the changes they have made are small. Some pollsters are hoping that since Trump isn’t running in the midterms, the problems of underestimating Republicans’ vote share will disappear with him. But others worry that Trump’s ongoing dominance of the news cycle — from the FBI seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago to litigation against his businesses in New York — effectively is making him the central political figure going into Election Day.

“There’s no question that the polling errors in [20]16 and [20]20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”

David Hockney, Pop Art Paintings 2006 -2009

Let’s hope people just turn out to say no to Trumpism.

The upcoming January 6 Committee public hearing is being overshadowed by a book and the release of information by former senior technical adviser Denver Riggleman.  Riggleman looks a bit too opportunistic for me to fully trust his rationale for doing this. This is an interview with him via CBS’ 60 minutes.

Bill Whitaker: Wait a minute: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?

Denver Riggleman: On January 6th, absolutely.

Bill Whitaker: And you know who both ends of that call?

Denver Riggleman: I only know one end of that call. I don’t know the White House end, which I believe is more important. But the thing is the American people need to know that there are link connections that need to be explored more.

As senior technical adviser for the January 6th committee, Denver Riggleman, a former House Republican and ex- military intelligence officer, ran a data-driven operation pursuing phone records and other digital clues tied to the attack on the Capitol.

Denver Riggleman: From my perspective, you know, being in counterterrorism, you know, if the White House, even if it’s a short call, and it’s a connected call, who is actually making that phone call?

CNN has identified the rioter and has more information on the Rigglemen story.  Many texts from Mark Meadows “reveal direct White House communications with pro-Trump operative behind plans to seize voting machines.”  Will this be part of the next public hearing?

As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages obtained by CNN.

Phil Waldron, an early proponent of various election-related conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on December 23 that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit filed by friendly GOP lawmakers there. The suit demanded state election officials hand over voting machines and other election equipment, as part of the hunt for evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

In relaying the news to Meadows, Waldron said the decision would allow opponents to engage in “delay tactics” preventing Waldron and his associates from immediately accessing machines. Waldron also characterized Arizona as “our lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia.

David Hockney

Mark Meadows should be in some deep doo-doo over this, to use a Poppy Bushism. This analysis of the Riggleman interview comes from The Hill‘s Brad Dress. “Riggleman says Mark Meadows text messages reveal ‘roadmap to an attempted coup.’”

“The Meadows text messages show you an administration that was completely eaten up with a digital virus called QAnon conspiracy theories,” the former GOP lawmaker said. “You can look at text messages as a roadmap, but it’s also a look into the psyche of the Republican Party today.”

Before he stepped down in April, Riggleman and his team combed through phone records, emails, social media posts and text messages on behalf of the House committee.

That included 2,000 messages connected to Meadows, which Riggleman called “a roadmap to an attempted coup … of the United States.”

In those messages, Riggleman said his team traced the phone numbers of previously unidentified contacts to members of Congress and Trump allies including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who pushed to overturn the 2020 election.

Riggleman said what “shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife’s efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement.”

 

And, there’s this already.

This is from the Tweet posted above. “If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes. ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’”

The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending. The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has hinted at a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department, both in hearings last month and in interviews during the course of the investigation, by highlighting two potential crimes: interfering with an official proceeding and defrauding the United States. A brief the committee filed in a legal dispute with Trump attorney John Eastman, who hatched the fake-electors scheme in the multipronged effort to overturn the election, also highlights these two offenses. Cheney has further suggested that the committee may include a referral on witness tampering, based on contact Trump had with those called to testify before the panel.

The committee may be tempted to stake out a moderate position regarding criminal charges in a misguided effort to garner public support and make the unprecedented prosecution of a former president more palatable, but the Justice Department must act independently in deciding what, or whether, to charge. To be sure, the DOJ should consider any evidence of criminality uncovered by the committee, but it should give no weight to the committee’s opinion in reaching its determination.

Restricting a federal prosecution to two rather obscure-sounding charges — and a possible third relating to the integrity of the process — would not only downplay the seriousness of Trump’s offenses but could also exacerbate the view that any such prosecution is politically motivated. After the Mar-a-Lago search, that perception took hold among Trump supporters, who accuse the FBI of acting on a technicality involving federal records, even though the bureau had a search warrant signed by a federal judge and based on a showing of probable cause that a crime had been committed. Violating the Presidential Records Act by removing or destroying government documents is not in itself in the same league as insurrection or seditious conspiracy; if, however, the records in question pertain to serious national security breaches — The Washington Post has reported that some of the documents relate to nuclear weapons — that might be a different matter.

You may continue reading that at the WAPO link.

So, I think I’m confused, dazed, and befuddled enough today trying to think all this through.  What do you think?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?