Friday Reads: The United States of Abnormalcy

The Peacock Skirt 1893

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s a rainy Friday here in New Orleans. I’m actually happy for the break from the sun since my eyes are still not completely normal and I’m like one of those gremlins shouting “Bright light!” when I go outside my darkened room. Never the less,I persist and we persist here.

Today’s illustrations are from Aubrey Beardsley who is undoubtedly one of Britain’s greatest artists of the previous turn of the century. He’s known for “Erections, buttocks and beheadings” which is going to be the name of a show in his honor in 2020 at the Tate Gallery.

… it is delicious news that his perverse and often obscene art is to get the Tate Britain blockbuster treatment next year.

The fact that Beardsley worked in ink on paper, rather than paint on canvas, means his pictures are easy to hide in study rooms. Even in Queer British Art, the 2017 show at Tate Britain, Beardsley’s presence was surprisingly subdued. But the announcement that Tate will put 200 of his naughty little masterpieces on display next March, in a show that will tour to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, suggests we may finally be ready for one of the classiest purveyors of filth.

Beardsley produced a startling quantity of sensational art in a brief life. Born in Brighton in 1872, he died of tuberculosis in 1898, aged 25. Four years before his death, he already looked like a moribund figure to his fellow artistic radical Walter Sickert, who portrayed him walking weakly with a stick. Yet Beardsley presented himself the same year as a sensualist beast, nestled in a capacious bed whose covers swallow up his tiny figure. He’s lost in dirty reveries. “By the twin gods, not all the monsters are in Africa,” is inscribed in French in a corner.

The Climax 1893

No, Mr. Beardsley, not all the monsters are in Africa. Many of them appear to be in the White House, Senate, and the tainted Judiciary. We’re about to find out exactly how monstrous they really are even though we’ve had a taste of it the last few horrid years.

Republicans are so used to being stupid and to lying and getting away with it that this should hardly be news. However, it’s about Steve Sleaze that represents the white flight shithole next to New Orleans so I’m interested. He’s also the second most powerful Republican in the House. They’re always wrong but, hey it matters not as long as you’re willing to jail brown children and let women die while pregnant. Here he is defending Dumbo Jr and not recognizing one of his own.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-most powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is lying about a subpoena issued to Donald Trump Jr. by the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Scalise ironically says about the subpoena, issued by Chairman Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, to the President’s eldest son.

“Democrats are subpoenaing @DonaldJTrumpJr based on the testimony of Michael Cohen—a man who lied to Congress multiple times. This is how low they are willing to sink to harass @realDonaldTrump & his entire family. The #MuellerReport is done. Move on!” Scalise tweeted.

Messalina and her Companion 1895

Actually, Sleazoid, you just said Democrats did something a Republican did so I guess you can either make things up or you’re so stupid that you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

In one of the typical Biden Gaffeathons, Joe Boy looks for “‘middle ground’ climate policy”. Exactly how do you find middle ground in a situation where we are looking at the end of life on earth as we know it now? Joe and Sleaze can both go stand in some corner in hell and wear the Dunce caps as far as I’m concerned. My state is sinking into the Gulf. There’s going to be no ground here or in the all important electoral state of Florida either.  Maybe he can wax poetic about increased trade routes with Secretary of State Pompeo the voice of radical xtianists.

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters that elected Donald Trump, according to two sources, carving out a middle ground approach that will likely face heavy resistance from green activists.

The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who has become Biden’s informal advisor on climate change policy. She previously advised President Barack Obama.

The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy will likely also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities.

A spokesman for Biden’s campaign, TJ Ducklo, declined to comment on Biden’s emerging climate policy or his advisors, but said Biden takes climate change seriously. “Joe Biden has called climate change an ‘existential threat,’ and as Vice President was instrumental in orchestrating the Paris Climate Accord,” Ducklo said in an emailed statement.

Under The Hill – The Toilet of Helen 1896

So, I always know there’s something afoot in the Middle East when I spend two days being buzzed by fighter jets from the base over in Pensacola Florida. It’s going on as I type. Yesterday, I thought one was likely to land in the French Quarter it was so damn low and loud. I’m sensing that Bolton and Trump are cooking up something in the MENA region.

A top commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Friday that Tehran will not talk with the United States, an Iranian news agency reported — a day after President Donald Trump said he’d like Iranian leaders to “call me.”

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Yadollah Javani as saying that “there will be no negotiations with America.”

The Iranian commander also claimed the U.S. would not dare take military action against Iran but did not elaborate.

The verbal exchange comes as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration sent the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber squadron to the region in response to unspecified threats by Iran against American interests.

But in a softer approach, Trump told reporters on Thursday at the White House: “What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me.”
Shortly after Trump spoke, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a written statement that reinforced Trump’s tone. After repeating the administration’s complaints about Iran, including what he called “40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities and taking American hostages,” Pompeo appealed to “those in Tehran who see a path to a prosperous future” through modifying their government’s behavior.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday gave European leaders a 60-day deadline to find a way to shield Iran from U.S. sanctions targeting its economy and oil industry. Otherwise, he said Tehran would begin to enrich uranium at levels closer to weapons-grade levels.

From all of my least favorite writers at the NYT (Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt), we get this: “A Strategy Emerges to Counter House Democrats: Dare Them to Impeach.”

Confident that there are not enough votes to remove him from office through an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump and his advisers have chosen the path of maximum resistance, calculating that they can put the Democrats on the defensive in a fight that is politically useful for the president.

The decision to assert executive privilege and defy subpoenas across the board suits Mr. Trump’s natural combative instincts and fits the grievance narrative he has adopted by arguing that the establishment is out to get him. The president seems eager to force the hand of Democrats who are investigating him as if they are conducting an impeachment inquiry without actually calling it that and risking any of the political problems that might come with it.

“If it’s an impeachment proceeding, then somebody should call it that,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “If you don’t call their bluff now, they’ll just keep slithering around for four, five, six months.”

Self Portrait

Meanwhile, Rudy is trying to get foreign intervention in elections again and it’s not even subtle. I guess they’re going full throttle on the collusion in open bit since they’ve convinced every one it’s not really a crime so what of it.

President Trump’s personal lawyer, is encouraging Ukraine to wade further into sensitive political issues in the United States, seeking to push the incoming government in Kiev to press ahead with investigations that he hopes will benefit Mr. Trump.

Mr. Giuliani said he plans to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in the coming days and wants to meet with the nation’s president-elect to urge him to pursue inquiries that allies of the White House contend could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump.

One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Mr. Giuliani’s plans create the remarkable scene of a lawyer for the president of the United States pressing a foreign government to pursue investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help him in his re-election campaign. And it comes after Mr. Trump spent more than half of his term facing questions about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with a foreign power.

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

 

So, my electricity just went off and I’m tethering my computer to the hotspot on my phone to get this up in its current state. This should give you enough to chomp on. As you can see, we continue forward in a state of total abnormalcy.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?


Wednesday Reads: Heartbeat bill my ass!

 

 

We gotta shut this shit down:

Especially this shit:

You got that right…

Georgia governor signs ‘heartbeat bill,’ giving the state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation – The Washington Post

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics including medical lobbies have called bans on abortions after six weeks — which have been struck down by at least two courts — draconian, unscientific and part of a deliberate strategy to pass increasingly radical laws in hopes of getting the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. They have vowed to bring a lawsuit targeting the legislation — and promised electoral payback as well.

Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in an interview that the Georgia legislation is part of a larger landscape of nearly 300 antiabortion bills introduced so far this year in 36 states. Many of them contain far-reaching provisions, such as one in Georgia that would allow authorities to investigate women who miscarry and one in Texas that would allow capital punishment for those receiving or performing an abortion.

“This is an extremely dangerous time for women’s health all around the country,” Wen said.

[…]

Like some other versions, Georgia’s law includes exceptions for incest, rape and situations of medical futility or where the health of the mother is at stake. But unlike the others, Georgia’s says a fetus is a “natural person” and “human being” once a heartbeat is detected.

Which can lead to possible other conclusions? Like this thread from Leah McElrath….

And then there is this shit:

What the fuck are they talking about? Is this procedure done at your local CVS or Walgreens? Where women can also get a pap smear on their cooch and x-ray possible tumors on titties…while they pop in for any other supplies they may need?

Walgreens Corrects Fox & Friends: We Don’t Offer Pap Smears

On Saturday’s Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade attempted to dismiss the importance of Planned Parenthood funding by claiming that services like pap smears are available “at Walgreens.” In response to an email about the segment, a Walgreens spokesperson told Media Matters that they do not offer such services.

The Fox News hosts’ remarks came during a discussion of the debate over federal funding to Planned Parenthood. During the budget showdown, Republicans attempted to remove federal funding for the women’s health group. Planned Parenthood defenders, such as Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, have argued that the funding is necessary because it goes to “clinics that provide services like cancers tests that save women’s lives and save money down the road by catching diseases that are expensive to treat.”

On April 9, Doocy and Kilmeade responded to Reid by dismissing Planned Parenthood services:

STEVE DOOCY: And the thing about it that was audacious was the fact that he [Sen. Harry Reid] was talking about Planned Parenthood being this great provider where women can get blood pressure checks, and pap smears, and breast —

BRIAN KILMEADE: Which you can get at Walgreens.

DOOCY: –examinations. Exactly right.

Ah…memories….that was from back in 2011. We have come a long way baby!

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Fear of Fascism; Time to Impeach?

Good Morning!!

A few days ago, the Los Angeles Times published an article about the boom in books about fascism: Fascism is on the minds of book buyers — and publishers are taking notice, by Scott Timberg. Timberg interviewed fascism expert Elizabeth Drummond, “who spent the 1990s studying at Georgetown University.”

“There was a lot of optimism,” Drummond remembered. The topic of her studies — European Fascism of the 1920s and 1930s — seemed distant in both time and place.

But a quarter-century later, things look a bit different. Around the world, democracy appears to be losing ground to authoritarian populism in places like Hungary, Poland and the Philippines. Neo-Fascist, anti-immigrant movements brew in much of Europe and the United States. American politics is polarized in a way it’s not been in a century. And whatever’s going on in Venezuela, Turkey, Russia and North Korea, it’s hard to describe them as democracies.Today, the subject of Drummond’s research no longer feels like a black-and-white film from decades ago.

Drummond is not alone in seeing these connections. College students, book buyers and newspaper columnists are taking a renewed interest in the bad old days of interwar authoritarianism, as well as books about threats to the present. Several scholars have even started a crowd-sourced website called The New Fascism Syllabus.

The last few years have not been great for democracy around the world. But they have been, for people who write about or teach the subject, good for business. As a book review from the Washington Post put it, “Fascism is back in fashion.”

Read the rest at the LA Times.

Yes, fear of fascism is real for those of us who have closely watched Donald Trump in action. There’s no doubt anymore that his goal is to be another Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un or at least President-for-life Xi Jinping of China.

I still believe that Congressional hearings will lead inevitably to impeachment, but perhaps even I’m too complacent? Brian Klaas, the author of several books on authoritarianism, thinks we need impeachment now. The Washington Post: It’s time to start impeachment hearings. Today.

If Donald Trump weren’t president, he’d probably be in jail.

That’s the view of a bipartisan group of hundreds of former federal prosecutors, who have signed an open letter stating that Trump’s conduct would warrant criminal obstruction of justice charges if he lived anywhere except in the White House.

And yet, somehow, the accepted wisdom is that beginning impeachment hearings is not worth the risk. That argument is based on three assumptions. First, that impeachment will make Trump more popular. Second, that impeachment is worthwhile only if it actually ends with removing a president from office. And third, that Trump will lose in 2020, so voters, rather than Congress, can deliver the consequences that he deserves.

All three of those assumptions are shaky. Few Americans have actually read the Mueller report, and walking the country through all the damning material in high-profile public hearings has the potential to hurt Trump far more than the Democrats in Congress. Moreover, impeachment isn’t just a tool to remove a president — it’s also a way to mark a presidency with historic disapproval, thereby deterring similar conduct for future presidents. And finally, though Trump’s poll numbers are abysmal now, it’s entirely possible that he could get reelected in 2020.

If he wins reelection without even enduring so much as an impeachment hearing, then that will encourage future presidents to commit corrupt or criminal acts. After all, Trump will have gotten away with it “Scott Free.”

Impeachment hearings should therefore begin immediately to preserve the rule of law and protect democracy.

At HuffPost, Igor Bobic and Matt Fuller argue that Congress is Failing.

As House Democrats dither over moving forward with impeachment in a divided government and Senate Republicans are satisfied confirming judges rather than passing legislation, a pressing question is emerging: What the hell is Congress good for, anyway?

The House and Senate have been divided many times. Congress and the presidency are rarely controlled by one party. But the extent to which this Congress is already proving itself worthless as a legislative body and as a check against the president is historic.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it,” congressional historian and American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein told HuffPost this week. “With Nixon, we had people like Howard Baker, Hugh Scott, Barry Goldwater, Bill Cohen and John Rhodes. There is no equivalent today. And we have far worse corruption and lying.”

Ornstein added that Trump and his Cabinet are taking “defiance of Congress to a level we have not seen before.”

For the past century, the legislative branch has steadily handed its authority to the executive on various issues like trade, regulations and war-making powers. Lawmakers continued that tradition earlier this year, allowing Trump to circumvent the appropriations process with his emergency declaration and let him build portions of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The unprecedented move ― which a majority of Republicans supported ― opened the door for future presidents to similarly fund their priorities without the explicit approval of Congress.

Read the rest at HuffPo.

Meanwhile, Trump and Cover-Up General Bill Barr–along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin–seem to be inviting impeachment. Trump has announced that he won’t comply with any Congressional subpoenas and Barr and Mnuchin are carrying out Trump’s orders.

Grant Stern at Washington Press blog: Barr just wrote a stunning Mueller Report letter that dares Dems to start impeachment.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) subpoenaed the unredacted Mueller Report the day after Trump’s AG led the country through a series of misleading efforts to spin its contents.

Instead of providing the report, the Attorney General sent a reply to Nadler and the House Judiciary Committee that practically dares them to initiate impeachment proceedings with a formal resolution of inquiry.

Shockingly, Barr revealed that there are greater than two dozen ongoing criminal cases and investigations stemming from the Mueller Report. [Stern quotes from the Barr letter in which Barr argues that Nadler has not articulated any legal arguments that would justify releasing grand jury testimony about ongoing criminal cases]

“The Trump Administration is trying to box the Democrats in, to get them to make a decision about the formal process of impeachment,” says former federal prosecutor and Pace University School of Law professor Mimi Rocah.

“They know that it could cause dissension because some people in the party want impeachment,” says Rocah, “and others do not want to start the formal process.”

She’s one of more than 400 [now more than 500] former federal prosecutors from around the country who signed an open letter to the Department of Justice saying that President Trump would’ve been charged with criminal obstruction of justice based on the Mueller Report, were he not in the office.

If Democrats initiated impeachment hearings, they would be justified in demanding such information.

The Guardian: Democrats to fight for Trump’s tax returns after Mnuchin says no.

House Democrats are expected to file a lawsuit or a subpoena with the federal tax authorities for Donald Trump’s returns now that the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has refused to hand them over – in the latest twist of an escalating war between Congress and the executive branch of the US government.

The Treasury department on Monday afternoon denied a request by Congress for copies of Trump’s tax returns, saying that Congress had overstepped its bounds in requesting them.

The moves came as the president’s bitter confrontation with his political opponents continues to intensify. Democrats will meet with officials from the Department of Justice on Tuesday, having set up a vote in the House on Wednesday to hold Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, in contempt of Congress.

Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chair of the House judiciary committee, proposes to hold Barr in contempt after the justice department refused to provide the panel with an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of the Trump-Russia investigation. The committee had given Barr until 9am on Monday to comply, after a redacted version of the report was issued last month.

House Democrats will get some support from the New York AG. The Daily Beast: New York Attorney General Sues Trump Treasury Department, IRS.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Monday that her office has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Treasury Department and its subsidiary, the Internal Revenue Service, for failing to respond to legally mandated records requests. The suit targets a reporting standard released in July 2018, which eliminates donor disclosure requirements for non-501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups for donors who give more than $5,000. The statement alleges that after James’ office sent a FOIA seeking more information about the decision to implement the standard, the IRS did not adequately respond within the mandated time limit. It also claims that the revised standards impede the AG’s ability to regulate those organizations.

“My office depends on these critical donor disclosure forms to be able to adequately oversee non-profit organizations in New York,” James said in the statement. “Not only was this policy change made without notice, the Treasury and the IRS are now refusing to comply with the law to release information about the rationale for these changes. No one is above the law—not even the federal government—and we will use every tool to ensure they comply with these regulations to provide transparency and accountability.”

Politico: Nadler and Barr steam toward clash over contempt.

The House Judiciary Committee will proceed with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) confirmed late Monday, as the Justice Department attempts to fend off the effort ahead of a negotiating session with the Democratic-led committee on Tuesday.

Nadler’s firm stance comes as he seeks punitive actions against the attorney general for defying a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report on the Russia investigation and its underlying evidence. It also comes hours after the Justice Department put forward a last-ditch plea to negotiate with the panel, offering a Wednesday meeting but later agreeing to Nadler’s demand for a Tuesday sit-down.

“At the moment, our plans to consider holding Attorney General Barr accountable for his failure to comply with our subpoena still stand,” Nadler said in a statement. “My hope is that we make concrete progress at tomorrow’s meeting towards resolving this dispute. The committee remains committed to finding a reasonable accommodation.”

In a letter to Nadler earlier Monday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd invited the chairman to a negotiation session on Wednesday to discuss an “acceptable accommodation” that would potentially give more lawmakers access to a less-redacted version of the report, in addition to “possible disclosure of certain materials” cited in Mueller’s report.

Boyd’s letter came hours after the committee took its first formal step toward holding Barr in contempt of Congress for defying the panel’s subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, when Nadler announced that it planned to consider a contempt citation against Barr on Wednesday morning.

It certainly feels as if we are headed inevitably toward impeachment. I still think House Democrats need to exhaust all other means of getting the information they need; but it appears that Trump is almost asking to be impeached. So that’s where we are today; I’m sure there will be more dramatic news coming as the week goes on.

What stories are you following today?


Sunday Reads: Getting Medieval on GoT

 

The crazy just doesn’t stop….take a look at this latest statement from Nancy. I honestly don’t know what to think anymore.

By the way, this article is written by the one and only, Glenn Thrush…and what do we say to Glenn?

 

Pelosi Warns Democrats: Stay in the Center or Trump May Contest Election Results – The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe President Trump can be removed through impeachment — the only way to do it, she said this week, is to defeat him in 2020 by a margin so “big” he cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory.

That is something she worries about.

“We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Ms. Pelosi said during an interview at the Capitol on Wednesday as she discussed her concern that Mr. Trump would not give up power voluntarily if he lost re-election by a slim margin next year.

Sitting in her office with its panoramic view of the National Mall, Ms. Pelosi — the de facto head of the Democratic Party until a presidential nominee is selected in 2020 — offered Democrats her “coldblooded” plan for decisively ridding themselves of Mr. Trump: Do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment bid that will ultimately get crushed in the Republican-controlled Senate, and do not risk alienating the moderate voters who flocked to the party in 2018 by drifting too far to the left.

“Own the center left, own the mainstream,” Ms. Pelosi, 79, said.

“Our passions were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government — a simple message,” Ms. Pelosi said of the 40-seat Democratic pickup last year that resulted in her second ascent to the speakership. “We did not engage in some of the other exuberances that exist in our party” — a reference to some of the most ambitious plans advocated by the left wing of her party and some 2020 candidates, including “Medicare for all” and the Green New Deal, which she has declined to support.

Granted, this is via Thrush….but it still is concerning

Few people outside Ms. Pelosi’s inner circle were aware of how worried she was that Mr. Trump would try to stop the opposition party from taking control of the House unless the Democrats’ victory was emphatic enough to be indisputable.

“If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election,” said Ms. Pelosi, recalling her thinking in the run-up to the 2018 elections.

“He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people,” she added. “We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.”

In recent weeks Ms. Pelosi has told associates that she does not automatically trust the president to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat. That view, fed by Mr. Trump’s repeated and unsubstantiated claims of Democratic voter fraud, is one of the reasons she says it is imperative not to play into the president’s hands, especially on impeachment.

Read the rest at the link.

So yesterday, there was a strange event at the Kentucky Derby:

Country House wins Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security disqualified in stunner | Sport | The Guardian

For the first time in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby, the first horse across the finish line was disqualified for a foul on the track.

Country House, a chestnut colt trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Flavien Prat who went off as a 65-1 longshot, sprung one of the biggest upsets in the centuries-spanning history of America’s most famous thoroughbred race when it was declared that unofficial winner Maximum Security impeded with the path of two horses in the final turn.

Maximum Security, always on the lead after breaking well as a 4-1 favorite, appeared to have won by one-and-three-quarters lengths in 2:03.93 over a sloppy course, but a jockey objection was filed in the immediate aftermath. The stewards at Churchill Downs spent roughly 20 minutes examining the replay before ruling Maximum Security made a move that significantly changed the outcome of the race when his hind right leg bumped into War of Will, making the unprecedented decision of taking down a Kentucky Derby winner for track action.

65 to 1 shot? Damn….that almost sounds like the tRump presidential election results from 2016.

In other sporting news:

How grunting influences perception in tennis: Team unravels the role of auditory perception in tennis — ScienceDaily

Grunting noises in tennis influence the prediction of ball flight, according to sport psychologists. Exceeding noise levels of 100 decibels, the grunting sounds produced by some tennis players when hitting the ball are on a par with motorbikes or chainsaws. While fans react to these impressive exhalations with either annoyance or amusement, the habit has also been a source of intense debate among professionals. For instance, Serena Williams has said that she is not bothered by opponents grunting in the heat of the competition. In contrast, former world number one Martina Navratilova has complained that grunting masks the sound of the racket striking the ball, making it — unfairly — harder to predict the ball’s trajectory. The question of whether this common complaint is justified has now been examined in a new study by a team of sport psychologists from Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, led by Dr Florian Müller and Prof. Rouwen Cañal-Bruland.

Go to the link to read the study in full.

Almost to the GoT link, first a fun news item from 1939, a girl and her snake (no dragons.)

The Day Zorita and Her Snake Slowed Traffic to a Crawl in Downtown Miami, 1939 ~ vintage everyday

 

And now, presenting the best thing ever:

You Know Nothing about Medieval Warfare, Jon Snow | The Public Medievalist

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, Season 8 Episode 3: “The Long Night.”

In this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Long Night,” viewers were treated to one of the most intense medievalesque battle sequences since the battle of Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The battle was plenty bloody (though surprisingly few main characters bit the dust—“plot armor” seems very tough to defeat indeed). But watching the battle unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder… why is everyone being so dumb?

Before you cry foul and mark me as yet another historian trying to “ruin” fantasy, I know that we’re not dealing with actual reality here. But even if you take the show’s universe at face value—wights and all—the tactics seen on the field of battle leave a lot to be desired. In fact, had they learned even a little bit from actual medieval tacticians, the battle could have gone a lot better for our heroes.

So, go and read the entire article, and learn something of medieval and classical warfare. (And why elephants are so damned important to Cersei…)

Elephant armour (bargustawan), Indian, Mughal, c. 1600. On display at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.

I hope you have a great Sunday…

Today would have been my parents 51st wedding anniversary….it is my daughter’s first anniversary. Time is flying by.

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads

Illustration by Alan Baker

Good Morning!!

Dakinikat has a doctor’s appointment, so I’m filling in for her today. I’m illustrating this post with fantasy animal houses (mostly bunnies), just because.

So what’s happening?

House Democrats are inching toward impeachment hearings. They aren’t going to have much choice, since Trump and Cover-Up General Barr are stonewalling on releasing the full Mueller report along with the underlying evidence.

The New Yorker: House Democrats Debate Impeachment. The article notes that after two years of caution about impeachment from Democratic leaders, even moderate Democrats are now calling for it.

In recent days, however, even more moderate Democrats have begun speaking about impeachment, in response to Trump’s stonewalling of House investigations. “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” he told reporters last week. “Look, these aren’t like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win in 2020.” In response, Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Times that he is open to a limited impeachment inquiry, adding, “President Trump’s defiance of Congress is far more comprehensive and sweeping than anything Congress experienced during the Watergate period.”

Bunny Dream House by Sandra Steffensen

After Attorney General William Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, rejecting the committee’s condition that staff attorneys question him, other House members echoed Raskin’s warning. That morning, on CNN, Representative Ted Lieu said, “If the Trump Administration wants impeachment, they’re doing a good job of pushing Democrats there, because we want to first gather facts to decide if we should impeach. If we can’t gather facts, then we’re going to launch an impeachment.” Of the three articles of impeachment presented against Richard Nixon after Watergate, Lieu noted, the third was contempt of Congress.

For now, Democrats are pursuing a strategy that, in practice, could easily turn out to be the first, informal phase of an impeachment inquiry. They’re investigating, but without formally signalling that they believe Trump committed impeachable offenses. When I spoke to several members of the House Judiciary Committee last week, none ruled out the possibility of impeachment. “That’s another possible reasonable course,” Representative Madeleine Dean said. “I happen to like the course we’re on better, and here’s why. I have several key takeaways from the Mueller report that, for me, demand answers to questions. So I’d rather not pre-frame it with ‘We’re doing it in order to impeach or with the hope of impeaching.’ ”

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, Gerry Nadler gave a strong speech at the Judiciary Committee hearing that Barr was supposed to attend. I hope you’ll listen to it.

Nadler has a long history with Trump in New York, and I don’t think he is going to put up with Trump’s and Barr’s obstruction much longer. Yesterday we learned that his committee is in direct talks with Robert Mueller about testifying. The Hill reports:

Bunny tree house

Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team is in direct talks with the House Judiciary Committee about whether he will testify before Congress, according to multiple reports.

NBC News and ABC News reported that the committee is now speaking with Mueller’s team when it was previously dealing with the Justice Department. NBC reports that a hearing has not been finalized and a date was not set.

That’s good news. It’s about time Mueller started speaking out. He really should have done so sooner.

CNN: Mueller’s silence let Trump supporters fill the void.

All his life, the Vietnam War Marine veteran has lived out a code of discreet personal values — elevating government service, the rule of law and respect for the chain of command.

But now, the uproar triggered in the wake of Mueller’s Russia investigation raises the question of whether his time-honored methods have left him vulnerable to exploitation in a new political era of hyper-partisanship and self-aggrandizing.

And the discord is increasing calls for Mueller to break his silence in the most public way — in hearings being demanded by House Democrats, which would become one of the most hotly anticipated congressional appearances in years.

Pookie house, by Ivy Wallace

Mueller’s habitual reticence earned him a reputation for integrity that made him the ideal choice for the radioactive mission of investigating a sitting president’s campaign.
But in retrospect, it let others — who do not necessarily follow his blueprint for life — tell his story themselves.

Ultimately, the special counsel’s absence allowed Attorney General William Barr to step in and provide his own interpretation of Mueller’s report — with which Mueller now differs.
That left the long-held assumption that Mueller’s words in his report would speak for themselves undermined — to the political advantage of President Donald Trump, who is claiming blanket exoneration that the report does not confer.

Read the rest at CNN.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: Mueller Can’t Get Away With Silence Anymore. The gist:

If Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday demonstrated anything, it was that a deep rupture has yawned open between these two old friends and Washington lifers. It wasn’t just that Barr denigrated Mueller as a “political appointee” or dismissed his March 27 letter as “snitty,” and thus clearly the work of underlings. It wasn’t just that Barr implied that Mueller was either too timid or too incompetent to come to a conclusion on the question of whether Donald Trump had obstructed justice. And it wasn’t just that Barr suggested that since the entire Mueller probe had been proven to be “based on false accusations,” it was illegitimate, which certainly suggests that Mueller devoted two long years to a—you guessed it—witch hunt. Presumably, from now on, if the president decides any legal investigation is “based on false accusations,” he can just go ahead and impede it, a framing that makes a hash of everything Mueller sought to do. When pressed Wednesday on Mueller’s bona fides, Barr snapped that “Bob Mueller is the equivalent of a U.S. Attorney. … His work concluded when he sent his report to the attorney general. At that point, it was my baby.” This is not how you talk about a colleague you respect.

Secret World of Rabbits Above and Below, by Vince Desjardins

But it’s not just that. At the most basic level, Barr has distorted Mueller’s actual work product, including his polite and confidential and lawyerly letter asking (twice) that Barr correct his inaccurate summary of Mueller’s careful report. It’s a letter that Wired’s Garrett Graff, who wrote a book about Mueller, described thusly: “I’ve read just about every word Bob Mueller has ever said publicly or published. He’s written precisely one letter like the angry one he sent to Barr: It excoriated Scotland for letting the Pan Am 103 bomber out of prison.”

Read the whole thing at Slate.

Last night, Rachel Maddow made an argument for what I’ve been saying all along. Cover-Up General Barr effectively fired Mueller for Trump. He likely shut down the investigation, with the help of Rod Rosenstein. Here’s Rachel’s take on it, in case you missed it.

In other news, The media is vetting Bernie Sanders this time. The Washington Post has a big story on Bernie’s honeymoon in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union: Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union.

Bernie Sanders was bare-chested, towel-draped, sitting at a table lined with vodka bottles, as he sang “This Land Is Your Land” to his hosts in the Soviet Union in the spring of 1988.

The just-married socialist mayor from Vermont was on what he called “a very strange honeymoon,” an official 10-day visit to the communist country, and he was enthralled with the hospitality and the lessons that could be brought home.

“Let’s take the strengths of both systems,” he said upon completing the trip. “Let’s learn from each other.”

The Soviet sojourn has long been an extraordinary, if little understood, chapter in Sanders lore. He has for years used it to help explain his views about foreign policy, citing it as recently as last month….

As he stood on Soviet soil, Sanders, then 46 years old, criticized the cost of housing and health care in the United States, while lauding the lower prices — but not the quality — of that available in the Soviet Union. Then, at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries, stunning one of those who had accompanied him.

“I got really upset and walked out,” said David F. Kelley, who had helped arrange the trip and was the only Republican in Sanders’s entourage. “When you are a critic of your country, you can say anything you want on home soil. At that point, the Cold War wasn’t over, the arms race wasn’t over, and I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”

I imagine Trump will have fun with that.

More stories to check out, links only:

Bloomberg: Someone Did Get to Look at Trump’s Tax Returns: Deutsche Bankers.

The Washington Post: Trump is already set to use the government to destroy the Democratic nominee.

Heather Digby Parton at Raw Story: Will Trump order Bill Barr to sabotage Joe Biden?

The New York Times: The Coming Subpoena Fights Between Trump and Congress, Explained.

The Washington Post: Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes.

Media Matters: Study: Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average 19 times a day.

The New York Times: Woody Allen Pitched a Memoir. Publishers Weren’t Interested.

Vanity Fair: Apparently, No One Wants Woody Allen’s New Memoir.

The Daily Beast: Mark Halperin Enlists Pals Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Michael Smerconish to Rehab His Career After Sexual Misconduct Scandal.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories have you been following?


Wednesday Reads: ¡Ay, Dios mío!

The perfect example of today’s culture? Am I right?

Last night on Lawrence O’Donnell, Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) / Twitter started his conversation about all this Barr shit hitting the Mueller fan last night by saying the phrase….¡Ay, Dios mío!

 

It made me laugh like hell.

 

Russian meddling: 04/29/2019 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Russian meddling

 

 

 

Cycle of religious violence: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Cycle of religious violence

 

NRA Scandal: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - NRA Scandal

Bruce Plante Cartoon: The Battle of¬ᆲᆭ: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: The Battle of¬ᆲᆭ

The Iron Throne: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - The Iron Throne

04/30/2019 Cartoon by David Cohen

Cartoon by David Cohen -

Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Bennett editorial cartoon

Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/28/2019 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Bennett editorial cartoon

Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/27/2019 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Bennett editorial cartoon

04/30/2019 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Sucker Fish: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Sucker Fish

White House Parrot: 04/24/2019 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - White House Parrot

04/30/2019 Cartoon by Phil Hands

Cartoon by Phil Hands -

 

 

 

 

 

10 Thousand Told: 04/30/2019 Cartoon by Tom Curry

Cartoon by Tom Curry - 10 Thousand Told

 

This is an open thread…let’s see what happens later today?


Tuesday Reads: Trump’s Dangerous Pathological Lying

Good Morning!!

Everyone knows that Trump is a pathological liar, but the media has normalized his behavior to the point that the lies often don’t get reported anymore. I’m reminded of how the media eventually ignored Ronald Reagan’s wild exaggerations and misattributions of memories, but Trump is much much worse than Reagan.

Vanity Fair: Report: Trump Has told More Than 10,000 Lies Since Being Inagurated.

The noise from wind turbines causes cancer. The wall is already being built. Mothers, in consultation with their doctors, execute their children. These are some of the boldest, most deranged lies Donald Trump has told since becoming the 45th president of the United States. But, as anyone with access to the Internet or TV knows, he’s also told hundreds of smaller lies about everything from not calling Tim Cook “Tim Apple” to the number of people at a Beto O’Rourke rally. And when we say the leader of the free world has told “hundreds” of lies, we actually mean closer to 10,000.

In a truly superhuman feat, The Washington Post has tallied all the “falsehoods” that have spewed from Trump’s mouth and fingers since January 20, 2017, to April 27, 2019. Per the Post, that’s a whopping 10,111 in 828 days. And the situation vis-à-vis the president being a pathological liar is getting markedly worse. After telling a mere 5,000 false and misleading statements during his first 601 days in office, the pace and frequency of the lies has accelerated such that he doubled his bullshit in just a third of the time, telling almost 23 lies a day in the seven-month period beginning in late October, during midterm elections….

According to the Post, between April 25 and April 27, the president uttered 171 false or misleading statements—more than any single month in his first five months in Washington. Assuming that pace continues, with 631 days left in his first term, he’s on track to tell an additional 35,967 lies. But if his obvious mental degeneration continues, it could be even more!

Trump’s lies about immigration have arguably already gotten people killed in Pittsburgh and more recently in San Diego.

The Daily Beast: America Under Attack by White Supremacists Acting Like ISIS.

The alleged killer at a Southern California synagogue this weekend worked alone, according to law enforcement, but behind him is a sprawling, digital network of white supremacists spurring each other on to murder.

Moments before allegedly opening fire at worshippers in Chabad of Poway on Saturday, white supremacist John Earnest previewed his plans on 8chan, just as his supposed inspiration did. Last month, a white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand used 8chan to share a link to a livestream of him killing 50 Muslims at a mosque. In between the attacks, the anonymous forum with a large fascist presence called for people to carry out more shootings. The calls for violence also spread across fringe platforms like Gab, and messaging apps like Telegram. It’s reminiscent of calls online for followers of ISIS and al Qaeda to strike out at the enemy, counter-terrorism experts said.

After the New Zealand shooting, 8chan users decorated the alleged killer as a “saint” and encouraged each other to commit shootings of their own, including against synagogues, to prepare for the “third world war” against Jews, or to kill a journalist critical of the forum.

“As a lot of people have noted over the past few days, 8chan is an awful cesspool of encouraging violence and hatred,” said Sam Jackson, an assistant professor focusing on online extremism at the University of Albany. “That hate and encouragement of violence might be a sort of baseline, background noise, but periodically someone moves from participating in this online awfulness to committing offline actions.”

Those real-life actions appear to have spiked over the past six months, with at least three white supremacists announcing attack plans on 8chan or Gab, before opening fire at Jewish or Muslim houses of worship. Three such attacks—at a Pittsburgh synagogue, a Christchurch mosque, and at the Poway synagogue—have killed a combined 62 people in the past six months.

Trump has given these his blessing with his immigration policies and his lies about immigrants, and his administration is doing nothing to stop the hate and violence of white supremacists. Recently, he even defended his shocking remarks about white supremacist and anti-Semitic marchers in Charlottesville being “very fine people.”

Now Trump is telling outrageous lies that will put targets on the backs of doctors and nurses who provide palliative care for dying infants and their parents as part of his attacks on abortion.

Emily Shugarmaneat The Daily Beast: ‘Bizarre, Dangerous, and Insulting’: Baby Nurses Fed Up With Trump’s Bogus Abortion Rants.

President Trump’s latest rant about babies being executed after birth is riling up neonatal nurses, who say he’s twisted the palliative care they provide for the sickest of infants into an anti-abortion rallying cry that could endanger health providers.

Anna Schmidt, who has worked in a neonatal intensive care unit for five years, told the Daily Beast she was livid when she heard about Trump’s comments at a political rally in Wisconsin on Saturday.

“The families that I’ve worked with, where I’ve handed them their babies for the first and last time, they don’t deserve this kind of thing,” she told The Daily Beast. “They don’t deserve to be vilified or to be called an executioner.”

Trump’s remark was a continuation of his attacks on later abortions, which he describes as “ripp[ing] babies from their mothers’ wombs right up until the moment of birth.” But while abortion providers may be used to such attacks, the president’s latest criticism has rankled a new group of medical professionals—nurses who take care of babies destined to die….

“When a baby dies in the hospital it’s because something has gone very, very wrong,” said Julia Puler, a NICU nurse from Michigan. “I can’t point to a single case study of a healthy term newborn that was executed in a hospital. And the mere suggestions of that is just utterly bizarre and dangerous and insulting, frankly, for anyone who is a health-care professional.”

Hannah Gold at The Cut: Trump’s Lies About Abortion Keep Getting More Disturbing.

At a Saturday MAGA rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, President Donald Trump set some time aside for one of his favorite pastimes: spreading lies about later abortions.

During a lengthy speech in which he targeted Wisconsin’s Democratic governor Tony Evers, who has promised to veto a bill that could send doctors to jail for life if they fail to provide adequate medical care to infants born alive after failed abortion attempts, Trump repeated an incendiary — and patently false — claim about doctors “executing babies.”

“The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully,” he said. “And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

A terrible lie, which, as many critics have already pointed out, is just the sort of statement to turn his base to violent anger.

Michelle Goldberg At The New York Times: Trump’s Anti-Abortion Incitement. The president’s lies about infanticide could inspire violence.

It’s tempting to ignore the president’s mendacity, since, as with so much of Trump’s malicious propaganda, it’s hard to counter it without amplifying it. Trump’s lies work to focus public attention on issues of his choosing; if Democrats are trying to explain that they don’t support infanticide, Trump has already won.

But leaving the lie unchallenged is also dangerous. Abortion providers are regular targets of domestic terrorism, and Trump’s lies serve as incitement. In 2016, a man fired an AR-15 inside a Washington pizzeria because he believed right-wing conspiracy theories that it was the epicenter of a child sex trafficking ring involving Hillary Clinton. Now the putative leader of the free world is spreading tales about unimaginable Democratic depravity toward innocent children.

It’s not a stretch to imagine an unstable Trump acolyte taking him both seriously and literally. Indeed, it seems that at least one already has. Last week, a 30-year-old Trump supporter named Matthew Haviland was arrested and accused of threatening to rape and murder a professor who supports abortion rights. According to an affidavit by an F.B.I. joint terrorism task force officer, Haviland wrote in an email, “I will kill every Democrat in the world so we never more have to have our babies brutally murdered by you absolute terrorists.” He also made over a hundred threatening calls to an abortion clinic.

Besides their potential to inspire violence, Trump’s words are a cruel insult to parents who have to make agonizing decisions about end-of-life care for babies that are born extremely prematurely, or with serious anomalies. Doctors and mothers don’t choose to “execute” newborns. They are forced to decide, in excruciating situations, when to forgo medical interventions and provide palliative care instead. There are exceedingly rare cases where babies survive an attempted abortion, but federal law already extends the same protection to them due any other infant.

But these responses come from women opinion writers, not mainstream reporters who get much more attention from the public. The normalization of Trump’s behavior has reached the point where political reporters simply dismiss his dangerous lies and often don’t even report them.

Aaron Rupar at Vox: Coverage of Trump’s latest rally shows how major media outlets normalize his worst excesses.

President Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was an ugly affair. The president falsely accused Democrats of supporting infanticide, called the FBI and Justice Department leaders he’s purged from government “scum,” referred to the assembled media as “sick people,” and even admitted his proposal to punish blue states by relocating undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities was “actually my sick idea.”

The crowd ate it up, at various points chanting “lock her up!” and “CNN sucks!” and booing loudly as Trump demonized his political opponents.

Like most Trump rallies, it was a disturbing and unusual spectacle. But to listen to the mainstream media tell it, it was a completely normal political event.

As Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star highlighted, the headlines major outlets used to describe Trump’s rally completely ignored his lies and incendiary smears. And it goes beyond headlines — in their articles about the rally, CBS, USA Today, the Associated Press, and the Hill failed to so much as mention that Trump pushed a number of false claims.

The New York Times did attempt to fact-check Trump’s lie about Democrats and abortion — Trump accused Democrats of supporting doctors who “wrap the baby beautifully” before they get together with the mother and “determine whether or not they will execute the baby” — but in so doing, the outlet demonstrated it doesn’t really have a vocabulary to adequately deal with Trump.

Instead of calling Trump’s lie a lie, the Times used the euphemism “revived an inaccurate refrain” in a tweet that was widely mocked. The accompanying article goes out of its way to avoid accusing Trump of lying, instead describing him as “reviv[ing] on Saturday night what is fast becoming a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors ‘executing babies.’”

Read the rest at Vox.

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