Monday Reads: Trigger Post for victims of Rape and Assault and Racism

Yayoi Kusama

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

If you read one thing today make it this opinion piece at The Guardian by Rebecca Solnit: “Women are harmed every day by invisible men”.  The title really doesn’t say it all but the body of the essay does.

I was a teenage advocate to challenge how women and children are treated by about every layer of society and the justice system when men do something untoward and harmful to them.  My neighbor was in Junior League that established one of the first rape and abuse crisis lines for women in the country. It is now nationally recognized and run by the YWCA in Omaha.  At the time, we had one phone in a psychologist’s office in West Omaha, training to use the list we had and to listen, and then various resources that we could provide to callers.  It was small but became mighty.  Fortunately, it now has skilled counselors on phones instead of teenage volunteers and homemakers.

I learned many things at the time about exactly how unfair the entire criminal justice system was to women and child victims at the time.  Sex crimes were in the property crimes divisions of police stations.  Women officers?  Nope.  Could a man rape his wife?  Nope. Have at least three witnesses present to see the entire thing?  No? Then, forget prosecution.  My job at the crisis line was to say here’s the person you call, here’s a hospital that will help you, and eventually we started having lists of safe houses and counsellors. This was the mid 70s.  A lot has changed on that front but one thing hasn’t.

Whatever happens to a woman is still likely seen to be her fault. The perpetrator eventually becomes invisible. She asked for it. She provoked him. She had a drink.  I even had a friend while at university who knew I was still passionately working on campus and at the legislature to change things who had just  been raped by the library rapist.  She asked if it was worth reporting it because she had a couple of hits off a joint before she went there to study.  I’m like Go to the hospital! Call the police!  Do not make this man the winner of anything!

Ask any woman and they’ll have similar stories from either their own lives or women they know.  I grew up with my mother pointing to the imprint of an iron on her inner thigh and the stories of how it got there.  My mild mannered banker of a grandfather was violent and abusive.  My family oozed white, WASPY upper mild class privilege so I don’t want to hear any of that other kind’ve stuff that excuses men’s–and especially white men’s–actions and behaviors. It’s still rampant.

Tschabalala Self

Solnit’s writing always hits home but this one hit home so hard my house shook.  She’s speaking to the latest spree shooter who targeted Asian Women working for Day Spas in the Atlanta area.  However, she reminds us that we’ve seen this and we’ve seen the response over and over and over.

Some white guy with no emotional or self control has to eliminate “temptation” or was forced into a “rage” or a “hard on” by some women.  So, rather than get his act together he  kills the “objects” of his temptation or rapes her.  Then, the media continues with his narrative. Women are to blame for what happens to them.  Women are just men’s property.  They are objects. They are less.   These guys have a right to feel resentful and harmed and to correct that by taking it out on the woman or women or they’re just lone wolves, disturbed little boys, men with issues we can’t possibly understand.

This is Solnit’s opening narrative.

The alleged murderer of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, reportedly said that he was trying to “eliminate temptation”. It’s as if he thought others were responsible for his inner life, as though the horrific act of taking others’ lives rather than learning some form of self-control was appropriate. This aspect of a crime that was also horrifically racist reflects a culture in which men and the society at large blame women for men’s behavior and the things men do to women. The idea of women as temptresses goes back to the Old Testament and is heavily stressed in white evangelical Christianity; the victims were workers and others present in massage parlors; the killer was reportedly on his way to shoot up Florida’s porn industry when he was apprehended.

This week an older friend recounted her attempts in the 1970s to open a domestic-violence shelter in a community whose men didn’t believe domestic violence was an issue there and when she convinced them it was, told her, but “what if it’s the women’s fault”. And last week a male friend of mine posted an anti-feminist screed blaming young women for New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s travails, as though they should suck it up when he violated clear and longstanding workplace rules, as though they and not he had the responsibility to protect his career and reputation.

Sometimes men are written out of the story altogether. Since the pandemic began there have been torrents of stories about how women’s careers have been crushed or they have left their jobs altogether because they’re doing the lioness’s share of domestic labor , especially child-rearing, in heterosexual households. In February of this year, NPR opened a story with the assertion that this work has “landed on the shoulders of women” as if that workload had fallen from the sky rather than been shoved there by spouses. I have yet to see an article about a man’s career that’s flourishing because he’s dumped on his wife, or focusing on how he’s shirking the work.

Informal responses often blame women in these situations for their spouses and recommend they leave without addressing that divorce often leads to poverty for women and children, and of course, unequal workloads at home can undermine a woman’s chances at financial success and independence. Behind all this is a storytelling problem. The familiar narratives about murder, rape, domestic violence, harassment, unwanted pregnancy, poverty in single-female-parent households, and a host of other phenomena portray these things as somehow happening to women and write men out of the story altogether, absolve them of responsibility – or turn them into “she made him do it” narratives. Thus have we treated a lot of things that men do to women or men and women do together as women’s problems that women need to solve, either by being amazing and heroic and enduring beyond all reason, or by fixing men, or by magically choosing impossible lives beyond the reach of harm and inequality. Not only the housework and the childcare, but what men do becomes women’s work.

Please Read the entire thing.  Then, consider this stream of tweets by Bruce Bartlett on research by Pew Research. It’s basically a reading list of things surrounding white–but especially white male–fragility.   Yes.  Racial discrimination is a problem for white males in their minds just about the same way that the mass murderer felt women tempting him were his problem.

Minnie-Evans

Minnie-Evans

The research thankfully shows that the majority of all of us in this country see racial discrimination and even white people.  But, then there’s the wipipo that think it’s all about them.  Bartlett writes about this at The New Republic: “The Ultimate White Fragility. White people in not-insignificant numbers maintain a persistent belief that they’re the ones suffering historic levels of racial discrimination.”   Robin DiAngelo, coined the term in a best-selling book in 2011. Yes, that’s 10 years ago and look where we are on this.

Over the last 10 years, the issue of reverse racism and its social and political implications have drawn extensive interest from social scientists. The most well-known study was by Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers of the Harvard Business School and Tufts University, respectively, in 2011. They found that whites increasingly viewed racial prejudice as a zero-sum game—reduced bias against black citizens automatically led to increased bias against their white counterparts. As the chart from their article shows, perceived discrimination against whites by both whites and blacks rose as discrimination against blacks was perceived to have fallen. (This analysis is available through Tufts University.)

Further studies in 20142015, and 2016 confirmed that many whites do indeed see racial progress as a zero-sum game. However, the latest study, published last year, was more skeptical of this trend. Nevertheless, the idea of zero-sum racial discrimination is very popular in the Republican Party. Then-Senator Jeff Sessions expressed the widely held GOP sentiment in 2009 when he said, “Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.”

Grace Hartigan

Notice it’s the same set of white evangelicals and republicans that tend to come up in all the quotes and polls that Bartlett cites in that 2019 article.  It’s a complete taste of Trumpism.  All of this is deeply intertwined with both patriarchy as viewed by many religious traditions like white evangelical Christianity and white supremacy which has been at the root of native genocides and slavery of Africans and black Americans since the country’s inception. It continues to poison the well.

So, the Supreme Court is considering reinstating the death penalty of the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Remember that Domestic Terrorist Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma bombings was the last to receive the federal death penalty in 2001 until Trump went on killing spree at the end of his term. You may remember that a woman was one of them. The other were primarily black men   This is from January and BBC Canada.

Five people have been executed in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration – breaking with an 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition.

They make Mr Trump the country’s most prolific execution president in more than a century, overseeing the executions of 13 death row inmates since July of this year.

The five executions began with convicted killer 40-year-old Brandon Bernard who was put to death at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. They ended with the death of Dustin Higgs, 48, at the same site on 16 January.

Lillian Bassman

President Biden does not support the Death Penalty.  This is from the AP link.

The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider reinstating the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, presenting President Joe Biden with an early test of his opposition to capital punishment.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal filed by the Trump administration, which carried out executions of 13 federal inmates in its final six months in office, including three in the last week of President Donald Trump’s term.

The case won’t be heard until the fall, and it’s unclear how the new administration will approach Tsarnaev’s case. The initial prosecution and decision to seek a death sentence was made by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president.

Queenie McKenzie

Justice and jobs are not generally meted out equally in this country and many white men fear they will be.  The Capitol Hill Riot/Insurrection will be a test of this certainly.  Today’s NYT: “Evidence in Capitol Attack Most Likely Supports Sedition Charges, Prosecutor Says.“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” said Michael Sherwin, who had led the Justice Department’s inquiry into the riot. “. This is from Katie Benner.

Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.

The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.

But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.

“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”

Scott Pelley’s interview on 60 minutes can be found at this link.

I’d like to point you to a more inspiring read from Vogue:  “5 Female Artists From Around the World Who Celebrate Women in Their Work.”    If you’d like to share something with the kids or grand kids, try the Multicultural Kids Blog.: “7 Women Artists Who Changed History.”. You can also check out this from Art and Design: “Famous Female Artists – 5 Incredible Women Artists That You Need To Know”  

I hope you have a good week.  It’s so nice to have so many flavors of spring decorating the avenue now.  All the azaleas and camellias are in bloom. I hope they’re finding they’re way to your corner of the northern hemisphere!

Meanwhile enjoy a live performance of Suzanne Vega and her song “Luka”.   And then listen to Natalie Merchant and “Motherland”.  Gee, I like this Women’s History month thing!  And, I notice I’m really late in the day already!  This was my morning to sleep 2 hours later than the I usually get up in Fake Time and 1 hour later in Real Time. My body is really not liking this time change.  But, anyway … your turn!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: A House Divided

Norah Neilson-Gray
SELF PORTRAIT IN CLOCHE HAT

Good Day Sky Dancers!

We continue to find more about just exactly how violent the insurrectionists were as they were attacking the Capitol. We’ve also found that Republicans are eager to remove access to voting seeing it as the only path to remaining front and center in the culture wars as a white nationalist christianist party while being a minority party.   The third thing we learned yesterday was that election interference from foreign countries hostile to the US and democracy are moving the process along.

Anne Applebaum writes this lede for The Atlantic: The Science of Making Americans Hurt Their Own Country. A new report lays bare why Russian disinformation succeeds.” Konstantin Kilimnik figures prominently. He was core to passing Russian disinformation to Rudy Gulliani in 2020.

When I read the report, my instinctive reaction was I know all of this already. No wonder the story is familiar—most of it appeared in newspapers as it was unfolding. Giuliani’s contacts with Derkach can’t be described as an open secret, because they weren’t secret at all. In 2019 the two men appeared together on the One American News Network, a far-right channel that breathlessly described Derkach as part of a group of “actual whistleblowers,” talked about the “impeachment hoax,” and referred to the FBI’s “personal hatred for Donald Trump.” Giuliani and Derkach provided the channel with doctored tapes and other material designed to create the impression that Biden was somehow involved in corruption in Ukraine.

Kilimnik, too, has become an old and familiar face in American politics, one that appears in election after election. During the 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, passed polling information to him. Although this fact turned up in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election, nobody has ever explained why Kilimnik wanted this polling information or what he might have done with it. Now here he is, back again, front and center in 2020. The new report says that—in addition to providing kompromat to OANN—Kilimnik, Derkach, and others “met with and provided materials to Trump administration–linked US persons to advocate for formal investigations; hired a US firm to petition US officials; and attempted to make contact with several senior US officials.”

All of that helps explain why my second reaction was If I know this already, and none of it seems to matter, then something is seriously wrong with the American political system. If the link between Russian security services and the stories about the Biden family was bleedingly obvious at the time, why did anyone go along with it? Why were American journalists, American politicians, and the American president’s advisers messing around with Russian intelligence agents?

Self Portrait with Cloud & Cigarette
Joan Brown
1964

That’s the question we keep asking here.  It was obvious.  Why were so many drawn into the narrrative.  Applebaum continues.

The problem is not only the outgrowth of the peculiar climate created by Donald Trump—however simple and satisfying such an explanation might be. Think, for a moment, about why the Russian state indulges in this kind of activity, year in and year out, despite the political costs and the risk of sanctions: Because it’s very cheap, it’s very easy, and a lot of evidence suggests that it works.

For decades now, Russian security services have studied a concept called “reflexive control”—the science of how to get your enemies to make mistakes. To be successful, practitioners must first analyze their opponents deeply, to understand where they get their information and why they trust it; then they need to find ways of playing with those trusted sources, in order to insert errors and mistakes. This way of thinking has huge implications for the military; consider how a piece of incorrect information might get a general to make a mistake. But it works in politics too. The Russian security services have now studied us and worked out (it probably wasn’t very hard) that large numbers of Americans—not only Fox News pundits and OANN broadcasters but also members of Congress—are very happy to accept sensational information, however tainted, from any source that happens to provide it. As long as it suits their partisan frames, and as long as it can be used against their opponents, they don’t care who invented it or for what purpose.

In other words, there’s an eager market here for all those false narratives. It’s basically a group of Republican White Men of a certain flavor of Christianity eager to maintaing Patriarchy and Hegemony.  They’re desperate and they’re doing whatever they can to fight the changing US demographics.   Hence, nearly every republican-controlled statehouse in the country is rushing through Jim Crow Redux.  This is at the roots of the insurrection, the elevation of Trumpism, and the total Republican Meltdown about every Mexican or South American that shows up at the border. Racism, Sexism and Xenobia is all they have any more.

Self-portrait Zinaida Serebriakova 1921

The Washington Post‘s David Ignatious has this analysis and opinion this morning. “Russia’s disinformation campaign will keep rolling, as long as Republicans are gullible enough”.

The most startling conclusion that emerges from the intelligence reports is that Republicans close to Trump continued to peddle Moscow’s line even after they were warned about the Russian disinformation campaign. They eagerly took the bait.

One persistent pro-Kremlin manipulator was Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who the first report alleged “has ties to Russian officials as well as Russia’s intelligence services.” Derkach met in Kyiv on Dec. 5, 2019, with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pass disinformation about Biden. Haines noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin “had purview over the activities” of Derkach.

The intelligence community warned the White House back then, in December 2019, that “Giuliani was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence,” according to a story 10 months later in The Post.
865c0432629618a13203944a6a747de8

Self Portrait, Joni Mitchell,

 
Maybe both the press and social media outlets are beginning to come around to this nonsense. This is from CNBC: Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene as Democrats push to expel her from Congress.”

Twitter has once again suspended the account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., her office said Friday, as dozens of House Democrats move to expel the conspiracy-embracing lawmaker from Congress.

Greene, who has previously promoted the baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy and supported calls for violence against Democrats, said in a campaign message that Twitter suspended her account around 1 a.m. Friday “without explanation,” her office told CNBC.

Greene’s account is locked for 12 hours, according to that campaign message.

Spokespeople for Twitter did not immediately confirm the suspension or provide comment on Greene’s claims.

Twitter had previously temporarily suspended Greene in January for spreading misinformation.

Greene’s office raised suspicions about the timing of the social media giant’s latest action, which allegedly came hours before Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., introduced a resolution to expel Greene from Congress. There was no immediate evidence to back up the suspicions.

Amrita Sher-Gil · Self Portrait · 1933

We’re finding more about the Capitol Insurrectionsists. We knew they were violent but any one watching the news last night saw it first hand.  This is from NPR: “Yes, Capitol Rioters Were Armed. Here Are The Weapons Prosecutors Say They Used”.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a popular narrative has emerged: that because rioters did not fire guns that day, they were not really “armed.”

But a review of the federal charges against the alleged rioters shows that they did come armed, and with a variety of weapons: stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats and flagpoles wielded as clubs. An additional suspect also allegedly planted pipe bombs by the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties the night before the riot and remains at large.

Those weapons brought violence and chaos to the Capitol. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died one day after two rioters allegedly sprayed him and other officers with what prosecutors describe as an “unknown chemical substance.” Four other people in the crowd died in the insurrection, and more than 100 police officers suffered injuries, including cracked ribs, gouged eyes and shattered spinal disks.

Some supporters of former President Donald Trump have argued that the dangerousness of the Capitol rioters has been overblown. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has said, for example, “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me.”

Natalia Goncharova
Self-portrait
1907

Then there is this little bit of news from VIce :Trump Official Charged In Capitol Riot Has Family Ties to Argentina’s Military Junta.  Federico “Freddie” Klein, a Trump appointee, repeatedly praised the Argentinian military junta of the 1970s and 80s while working at the State Department.”  Look, another one of those very nice people on both sides.

A Trump administration official who’s been charged with playing a major role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol had a history of praising a military dictatorship that seized power in a coup—and close family ties to that junta.

Federico “Freddie” Klein, a former mid-level political appointee at the State Department who sits in jail awaiting a trial for his role in the riots, repeatedly praised the Argentinian military junta of the late 1970s and early 1980s while working at the State Department, according to three former colleagues.

“He had warm feelings about the Argentine junta. His father’s Argentine, and he expressed some frustration about how history remembers that brutal dictatorship,” one former State Department official who’d heard Klein praise the junta told VICE News.

It turns out that those views may run in the family.

Klein’s uncle Guillermo Walter Klein Jr. was a senior economic official in the Argentine military junta shortly after came to power in 1976. While he pushed through drastic neoliberal economic reforms, the military and its allies were busy murdering as many as 30,000 Argentine students, trade union organizers and other dissidents. And he may not have been the only relative with pro-junta views.

Bob Cox, a former newspaper editor in Argentina, told VICE News that he knew both Walter and Federico, Freddie’s father—and while he hadn’t met Freddie, who was born in the U.S. in 1978, Cox said was “not a bit surprised” about his alleged involvement in the insurrection given his father’s and uncle’s politics.

“There is a connection of the belief that you use military force, if you can. That ran in the family,” he said.

A number of Argentina experts—as well as some of Freddie Klein’s former colleagues — noted unsettling parallels between his family’s support for a right-wing coup that toppled a democratically elected regime in Argentina and Freddie’s own alleged role in the attempted pro-Trump coup at the Capitol on January 6.

So, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it but I do believe that media coverage is still part of the primary cause and effect as well as solution. Then there’s the still wild wild frontier approach adopted early on by social media prior to them becoming a force in merchandising and monetizing everything.  Let’s not even think about the Dark Web. At the heart of this is that these Republicans officials are willing to do anything to stay in power including push false narratives to their gullible base.  That’s not the way a democracy is supposed to work.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: This is Crazy! This is Crazy!

Blonde and Brunette

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I managed to ignore the weekend’s whack florida event with the Fatted Trump calf made in Mexico up there on the altar.  The only thing that really managed to get sacrificed was the Truth. So, here’s some pleasing beach pictures by Edward Henry Potthast  (American Painter, 1857-1927  to get us past all that ugly.

I’m not going to spend time obsessing on it now but I will give you a list of the lies from various congress critters and elected officials because these big lie s are something we cannot ignore.  This is from WAPO and Greg Sargent:Trump’s big CPAC lie unmasks a vile truth. Democrats ignore it at their peril.” 

Amid the stream of delusion, depravity, malevolence and megalomania that characterized Donald Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, one message should be regarded as arguably more important than all the others combined.

It’s this: The former president told his audience that the Republican Party’s success in coming years depends, in no small part, on its commitment to being an anti-democracy party. Trump didn’t say this in precisely those words, of course. But that message blared through all the background noise like a loud, clanging alarm bell.

This will require Democrats to redouble their focus on passing their big package of pro-democracy reforms as soon as possible — and to be prepared to nix the legislative filibuster to get it into law. It may be tempting to dismiss or ignore Trump’s deranged rantings, but Democrats should see this one message as an actionable one.

As expected, Trump’s CPAC speech doubled down on the big lie that the election was stolen from him — and then some. Aaron Rupar tallies up at least five different ways he told this lie, which drew at least one standing ovation.

But embedded in that big lie was an unintentional truth. It was revealed when Trump uncorked an extended riff suggesting that the GOP’s future prospects depend on what he called “election reforms.”

Trump was still obsessed with vote-by-mail and the way making it easier to vote and more accessible to POC means Republicans–and specifically the  racist Trump family crime syndicate–will not get elected. Groups like the one run by Stacey Abrahams are a clear and present danger to those wanting white hegemony and the presence of NAZI symbols reminids us that these folks are not the least bit benign.

Little Sea Bather

This is from the Mother Jones article referenced by Ari Berman above.

In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required that states with a long history of discrimination had to approve their voting changes with the federal government. That ruling led to a wave of new voter suppression laws in states including Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

Roberts justified his position by pointing to the continued existence of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which applies nationwide and outlaws the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color. “Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in Section 2,” he wrote in Shelby County v. Holder.

But now, in two Supreme Court cases from Arizona that will be heard on March 2, Republicans are trying to kill what remains of the VRA. Influential Republicans at the state and federal level (including Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell in an amicus brief) have asked the court’s conservative majority to weaken Section 2 or strike it down all together. If they succeed, the VRA would provide little to no protection to minority voters facing an onslaught of new GOP voter suppression efforts across the country, where more than 250 bills restricting voting access have been introduced in 43 states in the past two months.

“This is a time where we are in desperate need of the Voting Rights Act,” says Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center for Justice, “where it is unmistakable that some politicians are reacting with restrictions when they see voters voting, instead of choosing to compete for their vote.”

The GOP’s push to weaken Section 2 dates back more than 40 years—and Roberts was a key foot soldier in that effort.

“Cold Feet”

Gym Jordan was also chief amongst the weekends lying liars and their big fat lies.   This is from Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post: “Rep. Jim Jordan’s false claim that Pelosi denied a request for National Guard troops“.

Though the Capitol Hill insurrection was inspired by former president Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and mounted by his followers, some Republicans have tried to pin the blame elsewhere. One prominent target is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as this tweet indicates.

We were convinced by House Republican staff to hold off on fact-checking this tweet before last week’s testimony by key figures in the Capitol Hill security during the Jan. 6 events. But if anything, that testimony further undermined Jordan’s widely circulated tweet.

(Jordan also tweeted it “took over an hour” to get approval on Jan. 6 for National Guard support from “Pelosi’s team” after a request was made. We will hold off on fact-checking that, because there continues to be a gap between phone records and individual recollections of the calls. But the New York Times reported that video indicates Pelosi approved the request on the spot once the request was passed to her.)

Umbrellas and the Sun, 1887, Edward Potthast

The New York Times investigates: “How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot”.  As you can see, it’s pushed both by right wing media and republican reactionary elected officials too.

Within hours, a narrative built on rumors and partisan conjecture had reached the Twitter megaphones of pro-Trump politicians. By day’s end, Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin had shared it with millions of Fox News viewers, and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida had stood on the ransacked House floor and claimed that many rioters “were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Nearly two months after the attack, the claim that antifa was involved has been repeatedly debunked by federal authorities, but it has hardened into gospel among hard-line Trump supporters, by voters and sanctified by elected officials in the party. More than half of Trump voters in a Suffolk University/USA Today poll said that the riot was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack.” At Senate hearings last week focused on the security breakdown at the Capitol, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence.

For those who hoped Mr. Trump’s don’t-believe-your-eyes tactics might fade after his defeat, the mainstreaming of the antifa conspiracy is a sign that truth remains a fungible concept among his most ardent followers. Buoyed by a powerful right-wing media network that had just spent eight weeks advancing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, pro-Trump Republicans have succeeded in warping their voters’ realities, exhibiting sheer gall as they seek to minimize a violent riot perpetrated by their own supporters.

It appears Hyatt finally realized they had an event where the stage was a Nazi Symbol.  This is from the Daily Beast and the the above tweet.

It sounds like Hyatt Hotels wished it had never agreed to host this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. In an unusually honest corporate statement issued late Sunday, after Donald Trump took to the stage at the conference’s finale, the hotel group said it was “extremely disappointed by the disrespect many individuals involved in the event showed to our colleagues” following reports that attendees became abusive when asked to wear masks and socially distance. The hotel group also called symbols of hate “abhorrent” after the design of the CPAC stage was compared to a Norse rune used by Nazis during World War Two. Hyatt clarified that it had no involvement in the stage design, adding: “We take the concern raised about the prospect of symbols of hate being included in the stage design at CPAC 2021 very seriously as all such symbols are abhorrent and unequivocally counter to our values as a company.” Matt Schlapp, American Conservative Union chair, dismissed the comparisons to the Nazi rune as “outrageous and slanderous.”

Yeah, right after they cashed all the checks they did a mea culpa.  And I’m sorry, but I just could resist showing you this interview with Julian Castro at MSNBC.  I just love gratuitous Ted Cruz bashing!!!

 

So, Wipipo Hatefest is over with the straw poll giving Trumperz 55% of the vote. That seems a little on the small side too as far as numbers go but then it’s never much of an indicator of much any way. I get my second dose of the Pfizer on Wednesday and I hope I can lecture Wednesday evening on Zoom. I’m hoping I don’t get much of a reaciton but who knows. Let us know how your pandemic life is going! We all care about you!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Rule of Law! What a Concept!

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’ve been watching the Merrick Garland confirmation and have been just so overwhelmed with wonky joyness over the discussion between Senator Amy Klobucher from Minnesota and the Judge up for the AG position.  I’ve been hearing basic American Economic liberty concepts like tougher Merger & Analysis scrutiny and trust law enforcement for huge, monopolistic companies including all the usual suspects in social media.

Then, I  watched him worddance with glee around some Republican Senator obsessed that their gun fetish and penis enhancer opportunities would be stolen in the name of protecting citizens from armed terrorists and criminals.  He waltzed around them like a professional ballroom dancer.

I feel ready to bring out my Nina Simone again!   It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day! 

Merrick Garland: “I would not have taken this job if I thought that politics would have any influence over prosecutions and investigations.”

More on that in a minute.  Here’s a bit of good news via the Supreme Court with the exception of Uncle Clarence Thomas who still is looking to convince every one he’s just a melatonin-capable version of wipipo.  They did, however, reject Stormy Daniel’s appeal of her defamation of character suit against Trump.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by adult film star Stormy Daniels in a defamation suit she brought against former President Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in 2018 after he suggested on Twitter that Daniels had lied about being threatened by an unknown man in 2011 in relation to her alleged affair with the former president.

Daniels appealed to the Supreme Court after her case was dismissed in the lower courts. The justices on Monday denied her petition without comment.

Oh,  and I’m not quite done with Ted Cruz memes either.  I think JJ, BB, and I have all had a lot of fun with them this week but not quite enough.  But anyway, here’s the other SCOTUS decision for NYC.

More  from Scotus Blog from Amy Howe: “Justices will not block New York grand jury subpoena for Trump’s records.”

The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for a New York grand jury to obtain former President Donald Trump’s financial records. Over four months after Trump asked them to intervene, the justices turned down a request by the former president to stay a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that permits Cyrus Vance, the district attorney for Manhattan, to enforce a subpoena to Mazars USA, the president’s longtime accountant. Monday’s order means that Vance and the grand jury likely will finally acquire eight years of Trump’s tax returns and other related records, although grand jury secrecy laws may preclude them from becoming public.

The court’s order came in a dispute that began in 2019, when Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars as part of a state grand jury’s investigation into criminal violations of New York law. The investigation includes a probe into hush-money payments that were made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. A federal district court in New York and the 2nd Circuit rebuffed the president’s request to quash that subpoena, prompting Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court. The justices ruled in July that the president is not categorically immune from state criminal subpoenas, but they sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the president to challenge the subpoena on other grounds.

When the case returned to the district court, the president again asked the judge to quash the subpoena, arguing that it was a “fishing expedition” issued in “bad faith” to harass him. But the judge rejected the president’s contention and granted Vance’s motion to dismiss the president’s claims, prompting the president to appeal to the 2nd Circuit, which upheld that ruling.

So, this is where the Trump family crime syndicate gets its fortunes, freedom, and time ate up by courts, lawyers, and fees.  And this is where he looks to use Republicans again for fundraising and personal gain.  From Axios and Mike Allen: “Scoop: Trump to claim total control of GOP.”  Couldn’t happen to a better group of insurrection enablers.

In his first post-presidential appearance, Donald Trump plans to send the message next weekend that he is Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” with a vise grip on the party’s base, top Trump allies tell Axios.

What to watch: A longtime adviser called Trump’s speech a “show of force,” and said the message will be: “I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I’m still in charge.” Payback is his chief obsession.

Axios has learned that Trump advisers will meet with him at Mar-a-Lago this week to plan his next political moves, and to set up the machinery for kingmaking in the 2022 midterms.

  • Trump is expected to stoke primary challenges for some of those who have crossed him, and shower money and endorsements on the Trumpiest candidates.
  • State-level officials, fresh off censuring Trump critics, stand ready to back him up.

Why it matters: Trump’s speech Sunday at CPAC in Orlando is designed to show that he controls the party, whether or not he runs in 2024.

  • His advisers argue that his power within the GOP runs deeper and broader than ever, and that no force can temper him.
  • “Trump effectively is the Republican Party,” Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told me. “The only chasm is between Beltway insiders and grassroots Republicans around the country. When you attack President Trump, you’re attacking the Republican grassroots.”

The big picture: The few Republicans who have spoken ill of Trump since the election — including House members who voted to impeach him, and senators who voted to convict — have found themselves censured, challenged and vilified by the parties in their home states.

What’s next: Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, has $75 million on hand, and he has a database of tens of millions of names.

The long game: Many Trump confidants think he’ll pretend to run but ultimately pass. He knows the possibility — or threat — gives him leverage and attention.

A Trump source said some Republicans have told him: “If you endorse me, I’ll run.”

Hope he keeps their nuts in cracker for a few years at least a few years. So, back to the Merrick.  Garland Hearing and Senator Klobucher whom I still love from the presidential primaries.

This is the sort of thing economists live for …  And of course the Republican think he’s going to make the DOJ a hotbed of political activism and gunhating.  They’re just the part of white outrage and hypocrisy any more with Tax Cuts for the rich thrown in.

Additionally, there was a strong statement on the current state of Domestic Terrorism which is probably why the gun nut senators were out in force today.  From Chris Strohm at Bloomberg:

“We are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City,” said Garland, who led the prosecution of the worst domestic attack in the U.S., the truck bombing of the federal building there in 1995.

Garland, who’s now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appears headed for a bipartisan vote of approval in the Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, called Garland “a good pick to lead the Department of Justice,” and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he’s “very inclined” to support him.

As the Justice Department pursues criminal cases stemming from the Capitol riot, Garland pledged to lead the effort. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” he said.

Garland also signaled he’ll make decisions independently from Biden. “The president nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer — not for any individual, but for the people of the United States,” he said.

All of this is still very much breaking news as the hearing continues/

So, I’ll let us continue the discussion down thread as we continue to learn more about Garland and his views.  Sen. Lindsey Graham  asked Judge Merrick Garland the single most idiotic question I’ve seen so far .

“Do you promise to defend the Portland courthouse against anarchists?”

Next he’ll be asking to check the Biden Dog Beds for hidden communists I suppose.

So, hope everything is okay with y’all and you’re up for the vaccine or done with them by now!  It’s warming up down here so I’m feeling much better just with that!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: It’s Brutal Out there!

Good Day Sky Dancers! 

We’ve got brutal weather around the country and the headlines are a bit brutal today too!  The brutal headlines are mostly about the Party of Sociopaths.  Take this one, for example on Senator Cold Hearted Cruz (Republican, Texass): “Ted Cruz Abandons Millions of Freezing Texans and His Poodle, Snowflake”. This from New York Magazine and the keyboard of Michael Hardy.

For most, though, especially Texans like me who have suffered through a week without heat or water in freezing overnight weather, the notion of Cruz leaving his dog behind to hit the beach was all too much — especially the thought of the power being out when they left. (The New York Times reported that Cruz’s wife Heidi had complained that the house was “FREEZING” in a group chat to friends and neighbors that proposed leaving the blackout behind for the Ritz-Carlton in Cancún.)

Like far too many of us, I’ve been without power and water for most of the week. I spent one night at the apartment of a friend who still has power, but the rest of the time I’ve been bundled up in multiple layers of clothing, shivering beneath four blankets, leaving the apartment only to charge devices in my car. With only an electric stove, I couldn’t heat up food. I haven’t showered since Sunday. And it could be worse — my parents in Austin still have no power or water, and yesterday one of their pipes burst, flooding the first floor of their house. To watch our junior senator escape to Cancun while the rest of us freeze is the ultimate indignity.

But Ted’s not the only Republican taking the proverbial heat for the lack of heat. This is from Marc Caputo at Politico:  “Top Texas Republicans on the ropes after tone-deaf storm response . The swaggering, Texas brand of free-market governance that’s central to the state’s political identity is taking a beating.”  Ah, aint that a shame?

The brutal winter storm that turned Texas roads to ice, burst pipes across the state and left millions of residents shivering and without power has also damaged the reputations of three of the state’s leading Republicans.

Sen. Ted Cruz was discovered to have slipped off to Mexico on Wednesday night, only to announce his return when he was caught in the act. Gov. Greg Abbott came under fire over his leadership and misleading claims about the causes of the power outages. And former Gov. Rick Perry suggested Texans preferred power failures to federal regulation, a callous note in a moment of widespread suffering.

It’s more than just a public relations crisis for the three politicians. The storm has also battered the swaggering, Texas brand of free-market governance that’s central to the state’s political identity on the national stage.

“Texans are angry and they have every right to be. Failed power, water and communications surely took some lives,” JoAnn Fleming, a Texas conservative activist and executive director of a group called Grassroots America, said in a text message exchange with POLITICO.

“The Texas electric grid is not secure,” said Fleming, pointing out that lawmakers “have been talking about shoring up/protecting the Texas electric grid for THREE legislative sessions (6 yrs),” but “every session special energy interests kill the bills with Republicans in charge … Our politicians spend too much time listening to monied lobbyists & political consultants. Not enough time actually listening to real people.”

Chad Prather, a popular Republican humorist who is running for governor against Abbott next year, echoed similar sentiments about the three politicians.

Then there’s was the death of Rush Limbaugh where the obits sound as harsh as the Big Fat Liar was air.  This is from Conor Friedersdorf at  The Atlantic:  “Don’t Read This If You Were a Rush Limbaugh Fan”

As a proponent of conservatism in America, Limbaugh was a failure who in his later years abandoned the project of advancing a positive agenda, culminating in his alignment with the vulgar style and populist anti-leftism of Donald Trump. Character no longer mattered. Budget deficits no longer mattered. Free trade no longer mattered. Nepotism no longer mattered. Lavishing praise on foreign dictators no longer mattered.

All that mattered was owning the libs in the culture war, in part to avenge a deeply felt sense of aggrievement. Limbaugh and Trump were alike in attaining great wealth and political influence while still talking and seeming to feel as though society was stacked against guys like them.

In obituaries and commemorations, many right-leaning commentators are crediting Limbaugh with advancing movement conservatism, as if he were the William F. Buckley Jr. of the Baby Boomer generation. That’s certainly how it felt in the 1990s when I would hear him in the car with my grandparents. Back then, before Fox News, no one on the right was as popular with the public.

Yet he wasn’t for everyone with conservative instincts, and the proposition that Limbaugh helped conservatism thrive or grow is unsubstantiated. National Review and Barry Goldwater reinvigorated conservatism in postwar America. The high-water mark of American conservatism, Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was over before Limbaugh was a force in American politics.

Over the ensuing decades, as Limbaugh grew in fame and gained as much influence in the Republican Party as anyone, the conservative movement suffered from political and intellectual decline. “In place of the permanent things, we get Happy Meal conservatism: cheap, childish, familiar,” a writer at The American Conservative once complained. “Gone are the internal tensions, the thought-provoking paradoxes, the ideological uneasiness that marked the early Right.” The seesaw of partisan politics gave conservatives occasional victories, such as the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and the 2010 Tea Party wave, but once in office the GOP tended to squander those victories quickly and never accomplished much conservative change. The government kept getting bigger. The country kept getting more socially liberal. The right delighted in the fact that the left was never able to create its own Rush Limbaugh, despite various attempts. But perhaps that supposed failing has helped progressives make gains.

Since Limbaugh’s political radio career took off in the late 1980s, each successive Republican president has been less conservative than the last, and Trump was the least conservative GOP president since Richard Nixon. Looking at that trajectory and thinking that Limbaugh helped advance conservatism in America is as delusional as believing Jeb Bush’s claim that his brother kept Americans safe on 9/11.

And that’s from a liberatarian bernie bro so  you can imagine the roasting and toasting from the progressive democrats.  Grave dancing would basically be kind characterization.  This is from  Dean Obeidallah, MSNBC Opinion Columnist: “How Rush Limbaugh helped to create Trump’s America.  It can be hard to tell where Trump begins and Limbaugh ends — but Limbaugh did it first.”

Shortly after news broke that Rush Limbaugh had died on Wednesday, 2020 election loser and former President Donald Trump held a phone interview on Fox News, where he praised Limbaugh as “irreplaceable” and as “a fantastic man, a fantastic talent.”

Limbaugh more than earned those words from Trump; even the one-term president likely gets that it was Limbaugh’s open embrace of racism, bigotry and sexism that laid the groundwork for Trump to win the White House in the first place. Perhaps more than any other one person, Limbaugh employed his media platform to weaponize America’s far-right into a political force that helped many conservative Republicans — including, of course, Trump — win elections.

Barack Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once called the conservative radio commentator “the voice and intellectual force of the Republican Party.” He showed Trump that you could be as vile and hateful as you want — and there was still a mass audience on the right who loved it.

Before Trump slithered down the escalator of Trump Tower in 2015 to smear Mexicans as “rapists,” there was Limbaugh in 2013 praising Cuban immigrants (who tend to vote Republican) as hard-working, while suggesting Mexicans were lazy. Even before then, in 1993, Limbaugh “joked” on his show that the U.S. should let Mexicans into America to do the “stupid and unskilled” work.

Trump himself made despicable comments about Black and brown members of Congress, like Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, saying they should to “go back” to their countries. He repeatedly called Black American celebrities “low IQ,” a common white supremacist trope.

In doing so, Trump was conjuring up Limbaugh’s own racist playbook. Years before, Limbaugh had told a Black caller on his radio show, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” He also once said, “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

Vile words from  two vile men.  Maybe I should be playing dead presidents for today’s music but I thought I’d pick this one instead.

Speaking of the vile one down there in Florida, today’s Telegraph has a Martin Fletcher Fauci interview that’s amazing. “Anthony Fauci exclusive interview: ‘When I publicly disagreed with Trump he let terrible things happen’. Labelled a ‘disaster’ by President Trump, who publicly lobbied against his top Covid adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci is now back in the spotlight”

Fauci’s challenge was to correct the president’s dangerous falsehoods as diplomatically as possible, often while sharing the stage with him at televised White House briefings, but he says that ‘when it became clear that in order to maintain my integrity and to get the right message [across] I had to publicly disagree with him, he did things – or allowed things to happen – that were terrible.

‘Like he allowed Peter Navarro [Trump’s trade adviser] to write an editorial in USA Today saying that almost everything I’ve ever said was wrong. He allowed the communications department of the White House to send out a list to all of the media, all of the networks, all of the cables, all of the print press, about all of the mistakes I’ve made, which was absolute nonsense because there were no mistakes.’

Trump also began to denigrate Fauci in tweets and press conferences, setting him up as a target for the extreme Right’s hatred. ‘Which I became, to the point that to this day I have to have armed federal agents guarding me all the time,’ Fauci says. And he was not the only target. To his dismay, his wife and three adult daughters were also harassed and threatened.

Liberated under President Biden, Fauci can now speak frankly in a way he couldn’t last year. He tells me that in the final two months of his presidency Trump almost completely abandoned his duty to protect the nation from the pandemic. ‘We [the scientists] were trying, but we were acting almost alone, in the sense of without any direction.’

The vile offspring continue to be vile also.

So, while that side of the aisle continues viley on there is good news for the rest of us. The vacines are working and being improved.

and a bit more.

It might be possible we’ll have a more normal life by summer.  The only bad news on that front is this as reported by Jonathan Lemire “White House says winter weather has temporarily delayed shipment of 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses.”

And LOOK!  There’s a normal presidential response to the Texas disaster.

We also are having an actual conversation with our allies too on adult topics!

So, it looks like there’s the new reality with the old reality still lingering.  At least there’s less Trump presence in the TV news.  I can’t stand to see him animated any more unless it’s in a cartoon.

So, have a good weekend!  Hope the weather is good where you’re at! It’s supposed to improve here.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?