St. Valentine’s Day Reads

This special Valentine goes out to all those people #43Traitors who voted to give a certain insurrectionist yet another free pass.

By the way, all Kitty hearts illustrations by:

This tweet is getting some attention:

So, there are bad storms across the country…

I will end with this one observation:

What can you say after that?


Sunday Reads: Refolution?

Disgusting.

This next link is an interview with historian/sociologist Jack Goldstone:

It is a lengthy article, but please take time to read the whole thing.

I also suggest looking into the articles listed in the first few paragraphs of the Alternet piece:

…Jack Goldstone, whose 1991 book, “Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World,” revolutionized our understanding of revolutions as products of organizational failure in coping with demographic pressures. 

Goldstone’s book appeared just as America was celebrating “The End of History,” as announced in a then-famous book by Francis Fukuyama. With the end of the Cold War, everything had supposedly been settled. There would be no more revolutions or ideological struggles. Almost 30 years later, no one thinks that anymore, and the demographic factors Goldstone identified — such as the “youth bulges” associated with the Arab Spring — have become commonplace terms in discussing potential revolutions. Goldstone’s model combined measures of demographically-driven social stress from the mass population, the elites and the state to produce a single number, the “political stress indicator,” or psi. State breakdown — and thus revolution — has only occurred when psi rises to dramatically high levels. Unlike earlier theories, Goldstone’s approach explained when revolutions didn’t happen, as well as when they did.

I discovered Goldstone’s work by way of cultural anthropologist Peter Turchin, who refined and expanded his model and applied it to a broader range of societies, including modern industrial states. Four years ago, the month before Donald Trump was elected, I reviewed Turchin’s book, “Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History,” which predicted an approaching period of social and political disintegration, regardless of whether Trump won or lost.

But even in 1991, Goldstone had seen worrying signs in America of the same sorts of problems his book described in England and France in the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively, as well as in China and the Ottoman Empire. Most notable was the problem of “selfish elites” who “preferred to protect their private wealth, even at the expense of a deterioration of state finances, public services, and long-term international strength.”

That’s why Goldstone’s perspective on the problems facing us today seem particularly worth our attention. He and Turchin combined to write an article for Noema magazine in September, “Welcome to the Turbulent Twenties,” and BuzzFeed highlighted their perspective — and specifically, the role of psi — in a late October storyon the possibility of rising political violence in the U.S. But their perspective deserves much more than an occasional mention — it should inform the entire framework in which our discussions take place.

So please give that interview your attention…some responses may give you pause to think, but others are completely on the mark.

The other day:

Here’s a few other items from this week:

Love the message:

Isn’t nature amazing:

Finally, hello Dolly…

I love this woman.

Have a safe day….peace.


Sunday Reads: Ditto

I’ve got plenty of links for you today, the only thing is…I can’t remember if these links have been shared already. All the days and news horrors meld together, it has become so difficult to make sense of anything.

Be sure you watch this clip, so you can have a good laugh before the serious news links hit like bricks.

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I can't take it any more.

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In Poland:

Other weather updates:

Picture above from the Oslo episode of Veep…showing the map of chickenpox outbreaks that follow the exact path of Jonah’s Presidential campaign rallies…

Want to laugh…read the comments:

Sean Connery passed away yesterday:

That was a lot of tweets and links, but there is a whole bunch of shit going on…this is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: SuperSPREADER

No, that is not a link to The Onion:

In a series of phone calls, President Donald Trump floated a bizarre idea last week from his presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — he wanted to rip open his dress shirt after discharge to reveal a Superman symbol beneath, The New York Times reported Saturday.

He “wanted to appear frail at first,” people with knowledge of the conversations told the Times. But underneath his dress shirt, Trump would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal by ripping open the top layer of his clothing. He ultimately opted not to go ahead with the stunt. It wasn’t immediately clear why.

I think it is obvious, tRump is clearly crazy coo coo.

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A cartoon by @b_a_bourgeois. #NewYorkerCartoons

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Meanwhile…

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Looking real good RNC

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This seems like a poor choice of outfit

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👀

A post shared by Bianca Del Rio (@thebiancadelrio) on

Here are a few interesting items, non-political links:

This is a quick post, we have already seen a tornado warning tonight…also flash flood warnings, as the remaining parts of Delta pass over Northeast Georgia. I hope everyone takes care…this is an open thread.


Friday Reads: So much Outrage so little Time

Georg Tappert. Carnival, 1930

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The headlines today are so outrageous that I had trouble reading even one of them for awhile.  We have to get rid of Mitch McConnell. This greeted me from Salon and I had to go lie down in bed for awhile to pet the dog. Petting my cats and dogs is getting to be such a comfort ritual for me they all take turns jumping up to see if I’m okay.

“Mitch McConnell rams through six Trump judges in 30 hours after blocking coronavirus aid for months. Planned Parenthood warned that “many” of the judges have “hostile records” toward human rights and abortion.”  Republicans are beholden to White Male Supremacy and a very narrow view of Christianity and the rest of us are held hostage.  This was written by Igor Derysh

The Republican-led Senate confirmed six of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees to lifetime appointments over two days this week, even though it has delayed crucial coronavirus relief since May.

The Senate filled four federal vacancies in California and two in Illinois, Bloomberg Law reported. It is also expected to confirm two additional Illinois judges in short order.

“The Senate has confirmed six of Trump’s judicial nominees in the past 30 hours,” tweeted Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “These are lifetime appointments that McConnell’s pushing through instead of the HEROES Act & other crucial legislation.”

Three of the judges were appointed to seats covering Los Angeles, while another was appointed to a seat covering San Diego. There are 11 additional nominees to California courts awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Senate additionally confirmed David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn to the Eastern District of Illinois while ending the debate on the nominations of Iain Johnston to the Northern District. The upper chamber is also expected to end debate on the nomination of Franklin Ulyses Valderrama to the Northern District of Illinois.

Three of the judges were appointed to seats covering Los Angeles, while another was appointed to a seat covering San Diego. There are 11 additional nominees to California courts awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Senate additionally confirmed David Dugan and Stephen McGlynn to the Eastern District of Illinois while ending the debate on the nominations of Iain Johnston to the Northern District. The upper chamber is also expected to end debate on the nomination of Franklin Ulyses Valderrama to the Northern District of Illinois.

Advocacy groups sounded the alarm over the confirmations of Dugan and McGlynn, who received support from anti-abortion organizations and signaled their opposition to abortion rights.

“Today’s vote should never have even happened. People are calling on their senators to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and the rampant anti-Black violence occurring around the country,” Anisha Singh, the director of judiciary affairs at Planned Parenthood, said in a statement. “And yet, the Senate majority continues to prioritize confirming judges for lifetime appointments — many with hostile records on reproductive and civil rights, including abortion.”

Singh called on the Senate to “immediately halt” upcoming votes, noting that the two judges’ “records demonstrate they are more likely to be threats to people’s health, rights and bodily autonomy.”

Georg Tappert. Creole, 1911

Today’s Republican Party is a pantheon of anti-democratic values. These judges they appoint are the same kinds of goose steppers you’d expect to find in any Banana Republic. From Vox and Ian Millhiser:  “Chief Justice Roberts’s lifelong crusade against voting rights, explained. He has fought to undermine voting rights his entire career.”

John Roberts was 26 years old, and he was outraged that he’d just been outmaneuvered by older and much more experienced political hands.

It was 1981. Roberts had just completed a prestigious clerkship with Justice William Rehnquist — then the most conservative judge to serve on the Supreme Court in decades — and, as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith, Roberts was tasked with making the case against one of the most consequential voting rights laws in the nation’s history.

The House had recently passed legislation extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a seminal civil rights bill that dismantled much of Jim Crow — and shoring up one of its key provisions after a 1980 Supreme Court decision had severely weakened the law. Meanwhile, a filibuster-proof majority of the Senate had co-sponsored the same bill.

Roberts was distraught.

“Something must be done to educate the Senators on the seriousness of this problem,” Roberts wrote his boss, Smith, just a few days before Christmas. In a subsequent memo, he argued that the rapidly advancing bill — which now forms much of the backbone of American voting rights law — was “not only constitutionally suspect, but also contrary to the most fundamental tenants [sic]of the legislative process on which the laws of this country are based.”

Roberts’s early crusade against voting rights ended in failure. Though President Reagan preferred a weaker voting rights law — he once described the Voting Rights Act as “humiliating to the South” — the conservative president eventually bowed to political pressure and signed the legislation Roberts deemed contrary to many of our nation’s “most fundamental” tenets.

But time was on Roberts’s side. He rose within government and within the legal profession until President George W. Bush made him chief justice of the United States in 2005. Roberts is now the most powerful judge in the country. As Congress has grown more and more dysfunctional, the Supreme Court is increasingly the locus of policymaking within the United States.

Georg Tappert. Fest, 1925

What follows in this long read is a good explanation of what Conservative (sic) Republicans have against voting rights even though the last time it passed it had overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Dubya. But, then came Shelby.

Justice Antonin Scalia gave voice to this frustration during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the Roberts Court case that quashed preclearance. The Voting Rights Act, Scalia claimed, was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement,” and “whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”

“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act,” Scalia continued. “And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution.”

Scalia had just turned 76 when his Court heard Shelby County, and he’d watched his fellow Republicans bow over and over again to liberals. That, in Scalia’s mind, was a failure of democracy. His side had won the presidency and, in some cases, control of Congress. And yet the victor did not collect the spoils.

And so the Supreme Court’s Republican majority stepped up to cure this perceived injustice. Chief Justice Roberts led the charge.

There are more whistle blowers coming forward than ever before, including a few in the Justice Department that are testifying in front of Congress.  Here is FBI Director Christopher Wray warning of Russian Interference Redux.

Plus, there’s this: “The FBI director also broke with Trump’s claim that antifa is a terrorist organization.”  from Politico

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday described “very active efforts” by Russia to interfere in the 2020 election, primarily by working to damage former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Wray said Russians have been using social media, as well as “proxies, state media, online journals” and other vehicles to hurt Biden and what it views as anti-Russian factions in U.S. politics.

Wray’s assessment affirms the findings of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which last month described Russia’s efforts to damage Biden and specifically identified Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who has met with President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as an agent of Russia’s influence operations.

Wray’s testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee affirmed that Russia is continuing to take an active role in the 2020 campaign with less than 50 days until Election Day. He offered no new specifics in the early-going of the hearing, but emphasized that the intelligence community has not seen evidence that Russia is reprising its 2016 attempt to target election infrastructure, such as voter databases.

In testimony to the Homeland Security Committee, Wray also diverged from Trump’s claim that “antifa” is a terrorist organization. Rather, Wray said antifa is “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization” and though there has been violence by some who self-identify as antifa, it has not appeared to be part of a central organization.

“Antifa is a real thing,” Wray said. “But it’s not an organization or a structure.”

Under questioning from Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Wray indicated that white supremacist violence is the largest portion of what he described as the most significant domestic terrorism threat in the country: “racially motivated violent extremism.”

Oh, look, two groups looking to overthrow the US’s form of government are basically the Trump Base and Trump’s Handler Putin. Which brings to me to the music accompanying my art theme today which is, again, German expressionists painting life during the rise of Hitler.

1917 Max Beckmann Autoportrait au foulard rouge

So, the most stunning thing to me this week is that our Attorney General and Head of Federal Law Enforcement has decided to not even hide his fascist and theocratic tendencies. BB had an entire list of Barr’s crazy notions in yesterday’s post. Grinding through them yesterday was one of the most depressing things I have ever done.  The man should be tossed in a padded cell.

And so, after reading all that, this headline made a lot of sense to me. It’s from WAPO: ” The United States is backsliding into autocracy under Trump, scholars warn.  The weakening of democratic values — a path that’s difficult to reverse — has accelerated, according to hundreds of indicators assessed each year.”  This is by Christopher Ingraham.

Three years into the Trump administration, American democracy has eroded to a point that more often than not leads to full-blown autocracy, according to a project that tracks the health of representative government in nations around the world.

The project, called V-Dem, or Varieties of Democracy, is an effort to precisely quantify global democracy at the country level based on hundreds indicators assessed annually by thousands of individual experts. It’s one of several ongoing projects by political scientists that have registered a weakening of democratic values in the United States in recent years.

V-Dem’s findings are bracing: The United States is undergoing “substantial autocratization” — defined as the loss of democratic traits — that has accelerated precipitously under President Trump. This is particularly alarming in light of what the group’s historic data show: Only 1 in 5 democracies that start down this path are able to reverse the damage before succumbing to full-blown autocracy.

Each year, the V-Dem project asks its experts to rate their respective nations on hundreds of measures of democracy, such as the presence of legislative checks on executive power, freedom of personal expression, the civility of political discourse, free and open elections, and executive branch corruption, among others.

The United States is backsliding on all of those measures. “Executive respect for the Constitution is now at the lowest level since 1865,” said Michael Coppedge, a Notre Dame political scientist and one of the project’s chief investigators. “Corruption in the executive branch is basically the worst since Harding.”

Warren G. Harding, whose administration was tainted by corruption and scandal, is routinely ranked among the nation’s worst chief executives

1914 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Couple de danseur

Keep reading the article. The list is horrifying.

I’m pretty sure Mitchie is off doing his dirty work because already seated judges are busy overturning all kinds of Trumpist things at the state level.  Today, a judge banned a Michigan law making it illegal to drive people to polls which is something churches routinely do for their elderly and homebound down here.  Yesterday, a judge ordered the Post Office to stop and reverse everything it was doing to slow down the mail. 

A federal judge on Thursday blocked controversial changes to the United States postal service, saying they were “a politically motivated attack” that had slowed the nation’s mail and likely would slow the delivery of ballots in the upcoming presidential election.

And, of course we’re back to the time where we just might possibly be purposefully sterilizing women of color in ICE Detention.  This story grows more horrifying by the day too. “AP Exclusive: More migrant women say they didn’t OK surgery”  reported b

Sitting across from her lawyer at an immigration detention center in rural Georgia, Mileidy Cardentey Fernandez unbuttoned her jail jumpsuit to show the scars on her abdomen. There were three small, circular marks.

The 39-year-old woman from Cuba was told only that she would undergo an operation to treat her ovarian cysts, but a month later, she’s still not sure what procedure she got. After Cardentey repeatedly requested her medical records to find out, Irwin County Detention Center gave her more than 100 pages showing a diagnosis of cysts but nothing from the day of the surgery.

“The only thing they told me was: ‘You’re going to go to sleep and when you wake up, we will have finished,’” Cardentey said this week in a phone interview.

Cardentey kept her hospital bracelet. It has the date, Aug. 14, and part of the doctor’s name, Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist linked this week to allegations of unwanted hysterectomies and other procedures done on detained immigrant women that jeopardize their ability to have children.

An Associated Press review of medical records for four women and interviews with lawyers revealed growing allegations that Amin performed surgeries and other procedures on detained immigrants that they never sought or didn’t fully understand. Although some procedures could be justified based on problems documented in the records, the women’s lack of consent or knowledge raises severe legal and ethical issues, lawyers and medical experts said.

Amin has performed surgery or other gynecological treatment on at least eight women detained at Irwin County Detention Center since 2017, including one hysterectomy, said Andrew Free, an immigration and civil rights lawyer working with other attorneys to investigate medical treatment at the jail. Doctors are helping the attorneys examine new records and more women are coming forward to report their treatment by Amin, Free said.

“The indication is there’s a systemic lack of truly informed and legally valid consent to perform procedures that could ultimately result — intentionally or unintentionally — in sterilization,” he said.

1920 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Malade dans la nuit

Is this just limited to this one doctor so it is likely fraud of some kind or is it systemic ?

Well, yesterday and today’s news is that the CDC was forced to publish Covid-19 testing guidelines against scientists complaints that were written by the Trumpist Regime and inserted on the site against every one’s advice.  And TWICE now.

The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield.

But officials told The Times this week that the Department of Health and Human Services did the rewriting and then “dropped” it into the C.D.C.’s public website, flouting the agency’s strict scientific review process.

“That was a doc that came from the top down, from the H.H.S. and the task force,” said a federal official with knowledge of the matter, referring to the White House task force on the coronavirus. “That policy does not reflect what many people at the C.D.C. feel should be the policy.”

And we have Dan Coates and more Generals sounding an alarm..

So with that,  I feel I need to leave you with this:

So, you know the routine!  Be safe!  Be kind and gentle to yourself and others!  Stay home as much as you can!  Check in with us so we know you’re okay!!  We care about you!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?