Monday Reads: A bit of this and that!

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fränzi in front of Carved Chair, 1910.

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

There are a lot of long-form articles up today that are worth a read.  I’m going to start with a few on the abortion issue since Kansas has a significant vote today. Kansas is the first state to have a Post-Roe vote.  This is from The New York Times: “‘Everybody Is Dug In’: Kansans Fiercely Debate the First Post-Roe Vote on Abortion. The Aug. 2 ballot question will decide whether the State Constitution will allow legislators to ban or further restrict the procedure.”

Kansas voters will decide next week whether to remove protections of abortion rights from their State Constitution, providing the first electoral test of Americans’ attitudes on the issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The election could give the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature authority to pass new abortion limits or to outlaw the procedure entirely, potentially reshaping the map of abortion access in the nation’s center. The vote, which has been planned since last year but took on far higher stakes after the federal right to abortion was eliminated, is expected to send a message far beyond Kansas as politicians nationwide weigh new abortion measures and watch for signs of how the public is reacting.

“Kansas is the bull’s-eye of the United States in terms of its geography, but it’s also the bull’s-eye where all the energy that has emerged from the Supreme Court decision has now focused,” said Pastor Randy Frazee, who leads a large church in suburban Kansas City, and who like many clergy members supports giving legislators the power to restrict abortions.

“Complementary Yellow Twin Sisters,” unknown artist

A good deal of my family is still in the Kansas City area. One of my great grandfathers was a Methodist circuit rider back in the day when Kansas had a healthy abolitionist movement. We’ll see if the old Kansas idea of Christian social justice is still there.  FiveThirtyEight discusses “How The Fight To Ban Abortion Is Rooted In The ‘Great Replacement’ Theory.”  It’s also firmly rooted in the idea that men own women and whatever activities they can do.  This analysis was written by Alex Samuels and Monica Potts.

Throughout colonial America and into the 19th century, abortions were fairly common with the help of a midwife or other women and could be obtained until the point that you could feel movement inside, according to Lauren MacIvor Thompson, a historian of early-20th-century women’s rights and public health. Most abortions were induced through herbal or medicinal remedies and, like other medical interventions of the time, weren’t always effective or safe.

But the dynamics surrounding the procedure changed by the mid-19th century, as America’s elites began to fear a rising tide of immigrants from Ireland, Italy and other European countries (people often viewed as “inferior”), suffragists seeking new freedoms and recently freed Black people, whom these elites feared were reproducing at higher rates than the white population. Laws limiting abortion, it was believed, would ultimately force middle- and upper-class white women — who had the most access to detect and terminate unwanted pregnancies — to bear more white children.

“There were concerns that these other groups were demographically outpacing white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant women. And so they thought to limit the bodily autonomy of white women and limit access to contraception in order to force them to have children. That they felt would keep up with the demographic birth rate,” said Alex DiBranco, the co-founder and executive director of the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism.

It took time for the anti-abortion movement to attract supporters, and unlike today, religious groups were not originally an active part of it. Still, momentum built as a small but influential number of physicians began arguing that licensed male doctors — as opposed to female midwives — should care for women throughout the reproductive cycle. In the late 1850s, one of the leaders of the nascent anti-abortion movement, a surgeon named Horatio Robinson Storer, began arguing that he didn’t want the medical profession to be associated with abortion. He was able to push the relatively new American Medical Association to support his cause, and soon they were working to delegitimize midwives and enforce abortion bans. In an 1865 essay issued by order of the AMA, Storer went so far as to say of white women that “upon their loins depends the future destiny of the nation.”

The Family (John Gruen, Jane Wilson and Julia), Alice Neel, 1970

There’s a lot more in the article if you can stand to read all the misogyny, racism, and basic WASP nationalism. From Cameron Joseph, at VICE we learn exactly how deep the Republican Party’s hatred of women has become.  “JD Vance Suggests People in ‘Violent’ Marriages Shouldn’t Get Divorced. The Ohio Republican Senate nominee claimed people “shift spouses like they change their underwear,” and that it had damaged a generation of children.”

“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, ‘well, OK, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy. And so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term,’” Vance said.

“And maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages,” Vance continued. “And that’s what I think all of us should be honest about, is we’ve run this experiment in real time. And what we have is a lot of very, very real family dysfunction that’s making our kids unhappy.”

Vance was responding to a moderator who referenced his grandparents’ relationship before asking, “What’s causing one generation to give up on fatherhood when the other one was so doggedly determined to stick it out, even in tough times?” And those comments came immediately after he brought up his grandparents’ relationship and how it differed from his parents’ generation. He described their marriage as “violent” in his best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” though they’d reconciled by the time he came along and helped raise him, giving him a sense of safety and stability his mother was unable to provide.

“Culturally, something has clearly shifted. I think it’s easy but also probably true to blame the sexual revolution of the 1960s. My grandparents had an incredibly chaotic marriage in a lot of ways, but they never got divorced, right? They were together to the end, ’til death do us part. That was a really important thing to my grandmother and my grandfather. That was clearly not true by the 70s or 80s,” he said.

Terrace in Balcic, Nutzi Acontz, 1930

How about once women actually get choices, where they can take care of themselves and their families, that makes the horrid man in their life irrelevant?  I endured one marriage of 20 years and believe me, never again. He’s working on his third btw.

So, one more topic I want to cover today is how the Republicans are trying to form a new kind of servitude on everyone but white Christian men and billionaires. First up from The Daily Beast: “The Four Stages of Republican Misinformation. The right has a tested formula to brainwash its base. From the Big Lie to attacking a 10-year-old rape victim, here’s how they do it.”  This is written by Wajahat Ali.

The entire right-wing ecosystem unleashed its full arsenal to discredit the 10-year-old girl as a liar, intimidate her physician, demonize liberals, and continue its march backward, undeterred, in its quest to make Handmaid’s Tale cosplay a reality—in an America that subordinates and punishes women for having the audacity to control their own bodies.

To achieve its goal, the right uses a now familiar four-part strategy.

First, Republicans use any means necessary to achieve power and promote their unpopular, extremist, counter-majoritarian agenda.

Second, they create and promote disinformation and lies to frighten their base and Jedi mind-trick them into believing they are being oppressed by the actual victims.

Third, they create a specific villain, target them, and then attack them through scapegoating, smearing, and intimidation.

Fourth, they never apologize or back down once their lie is exposed, but instead, they double down, and in times of doubt, always pivot towards racism and fear-mongering.

To illustrate the strategy, look no further than the GOP’s rationalization of the Jan. 6 insurrection and embrace of the Big Lie—which gave them the successful blueprint to promote their hateful anti-abortion policies.

First, Donald Trump deliberately promoted lies and conspiracy theories about election fraud conducted by Democrats. Instead of accepting his defeat, he unleashed a premeditated, coordinated strategy to engage in a failed coup, which eventually resulted in thousands of his supporters overtaking the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn a free and fair election.

To get to the point where a 10-year-old rape victim has to cross state lines for an abortion, look to the GOP’s four-decade effort to kill Roe v. Wade. Republicans finally got their wish by packing the Supreme Court with right-wing extremists in black robes handpicked by the Federalist Society. Sen. Mitch McConnell stole Merrick Garland’s seat by refusing to hold a confirmation hearing, citing the need to wait until after the 2016 election. Then, he went against his own bullshit precedent and bum-rushed Justice Amy Coney Barrett on to the Court after millions of votes had already been cast in the 2020 election. That’s how they got a right-wing majority to dutifully overturn Roe, which led to Republican-controlled states imposing draconian laws that are punishing women and their health-care providers.

Second, the right-wing media ecosystem continues to amplify the Big Lie and fuel conspiracy theories, which has since resulted in a majority of GOP voters falsely believing Biden was not fairly elected. More than 100 Republicans who have won their recent primaries support the Big Lie, which has transformed into a MAGA litmus test for aspiring GOP candidates.

Anxiety, Edvard Munch,1894

There’s more.  It’s a brutally factual and honest assessment. This leads to a story sent to me last night by BostonBoomer.  This is from The Atlantic: “America’s Self-Obsession Is Killing Its Democracy. The U.S. still has a chance to fix itself before 2024. But when democracies start dying—as ours already has—they usually don’t recover.”  It’s written by Brian Klaas.  I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but we must wake everyone up to all of this.

American democracy is dying. There are plenty of medicines that would cure it. Unfortunately, our political dysfunction means we’re choosing not to use them, and as time passes, fewer treatments become available to us, even though the disease is becoming terminal. No major prodemocracy reforms have passed Congress. No key political figures who tried to overturn an American election have faced real accountability. The president who orchestrated the greatest threat to our democracy in modern times is free to run for reelection, and may well return to office.

Our current situation started with a botched diagnosis. When Trump first rose to political prominence, much of the American political class reacted with amusement, seeing him as a sideshow. Even if he won, they thought, he’d tweet like a populist firebrand while governing like a Romney Republican, constrained by the system. But for those who had watched Trump-like authoritarian strongmen rise in Turkey, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela, Trump was never entertaining. He was ominously familiar.

At issue was a classic frame-of-reference problem. America’s political culture is astonishingly insular. Turn on cable news and it’s all America, all the time. Other countries occasionally make cameos, but the story is still about us. (Poland is discussed if Air Force One goes to Warsaw; Iran flits into view only in relation to Washington’s nuclear diplomacy; Madagascar appears only in cartoon form, mostly featuring talking animals that don’t actually live there.) Our self-obsession means that whenever authoritarianism rises abroad, it’s mentioned briefly, if at all. Have you ever spotted a breathless octobox of talking heads on CNN or Fox News debating the death of democracy in Turkey, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines?

That’s why most American pundits and journalists used an “outsider comes to Washington” framework to process Trump’s campaign and his presidency, when they should have been fitting every fresh fact into an “authoritarian populist” framework or a “democratic death spiral” framework. While debates raged over tax cuts and offensive tweets, the biggest story was often obscured: The system itself was at risk.

Even today, too many think of Trump more as Sarah Palin in 2012 rather than Viktor Orbán in 2022. They wrongly believe that the authoritarian threat is over and that January 6 was an isolated event from our past, rather than a mild preview of our future. That misreading is provoking an underreaction from the political establishment. And the worst may be yet to come.

This is another long read, but please check it out! I think I’ve saddled you with enough angst and anxiety for a while.  Oh, and sorry, but I am on a Queen binge recently. So enjoy the killer lyrics and solo guitar by Brian May, the Freddie vocals, and the artwork that is this video.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

While the sun hangs in the sky and the desert has sand
While the waves crash in the sea and meet the land
While there’s a wind and the stars and the rainbow
‘Til the mountains crumble into the plain
Oh, yes, we’ll keep on tryin’
Tread that fine line
Oh, we’ll keep on tryin’, yeah
Just passing our time
While we live according to race, colour or creed
While we rule by blind madness and pure greed
Our lives dictated by tradition, superstition, false religion
Through the aeons, and on and on
Oh, yes, we’ll keep on tryin’
We’ll tread that fine line
Oh-oh, we’ll keep on tryin’
‘Til the end of time
‘Til the end of time
Through the sorrow, all through our splendour
Don’t take offence at my innuendo
You can be anything you want to be
Just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be
Be free with your tempo, be free, be free
Surrender your ego, be free, be free to yourself
If there’s a God or any kind of justice under the sky
If there’s a point, if there’s a reason to live or die
If there’s an answer to the questions, we feel bound to ask
Show yourself, destroy our fears, release your mask
Oh, yes, we’ll keep on trying
Hey, tread that fine line
Yeah, we’ll keep on smiling, yeah (yeah, yeah)
And whatever will be, will be
We’ll keep on trying
We’ll just keep on trying
‘Til the end of time
‘Til the end of time
‘Til the end of time


Sunday Reads: Maybe we should call it, Embryonic Cardiac Activity?

Hello…and good morning.

Quoted below:

…as I’ve watched media coverage of abortion rights in America after the demise of Roe v. Wade, and as I’ve watched conservative politicians and interest groups pen anti-abortion legislation, it’s became clear that the American anti-abortion movement has been at the forefront of redefining reality — and that they’ve succeeded in radically reshaping our understanding of human life, pregnancy, and parenthood to be far outside of the bounds of scientific consensus, of common sense, and of anything human beings have believed for most of human history.

Read the rest of the thread at the link above…but here’s some more thoughts on the “heartbeat” laws. Here in Georgia, many Abortion Activists are referring to these draconian laws as “Fetal Cardiac Activity” Laws, but I think even that is a bit too friendly. It should be called out for what they are…Embryonic Cardiac Activity Laws! because embryos don’t have hearts.

Quoted below:

…obstetricians say the term “fetal heartbeat” is misleading, and that this scientific misunderstanding, among countless others, may contribute to negative public opinion toward abortion.

To wit: though pulsing cells can be detected in embryos as early as six weeks, this rhythm — detected by a doctor, via ultrasound — cannot be called a “heartbeat,” because embryos don’t have hearts. What is detectable at or around six weeks can more accurately be called “cardiac activity,” says Robyn Schickler, OB/GYN and fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. The difference between “cardiac activity” and “heartbeat” may seem linguistically minimal, but Schickler and others argue otherwise. At this stage, she says, what doctors can detect is essentially communication between a group of what will eventually become cardiac cells.

“From very early on, different cells are programmed to do different things for what is eventually a fully functioning human body,” says Jennifer Kerns, an OB/GYN and professor at the University of California in San Francisco. “These are cells that are programmed with electrical activity, which will eventually control the heart rate — they send a signal telling the heart to contract, once there is a heart.” It is this early activity which ultrasounds detect — not a heartbeat.

Quoted below:

In fact, “fetus” isn’t technically accurate at six weeks of gestation either, says Kerns, since “embryo” is the scientific term for that stage of development. Obstetricians don’t usually start using the term “fetus” until at least eight weeks into the pregnancy.

But “fetus” may have an appeal that the word “embryo” does not, Kern says: “The term ‘fetus’ certainly evokes images of a well-formed baby, so it’s advantageous to use that term instead of ’embryo’ — which may not be as easy for the public to feel strongly about, since embryos don’t look like a baby,” she explains. “So those terms are very purposefully used [in these laws] — and are also misleading.”

Quoted below:

“It is very common to use non-medical language to publicly talk about a medical procedure,” said David Cohen, professor of law at Drexel University’s Kline School of Law.“The law needs precision in order to know exactly what is being regulated,” Cohen said. “So in medicine it would be by using medical terminology.”

Cackovic, the fetal medicine specialist, said the current “heartbeat laws,” are based only on “our amazing technological advances” that allow detection of the earliest signs of embryonic cardiac activity, “and nothing else.”

On to the cartoons:

Yes, I know it is a bit heavy on Georgia stuff…

So this is the actual cover:

Oh boy….

One last link, and yes it’s a Georgia one:

That’s all for today, this is an open thread.


Monday Reads: The Miseducation Agenda

The public library in Council Bluffs opened in 1866.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There is nothing more telling about the state of discourse in our country than the move to censor and replace materials in libraries and public schools with pure nonsense and propaganda. As a child, I spent a great deal of the summer in the old Council Bluffs, Iowa Library doing the children’s reading club.  My mother took us to the local library at least once a week.

I don’t know if you can see the inscription on top, but it reads “Free Public Library.”  The city built a new library, but the Carnegie-funded library is now standing as a Union Pacific Railroad Museum.  I currently use another Carnegie-funded library in my neighborhood in New Orleans which features a Drag Queen storybook hour for kids. People come from out of the Parish to protest that, but everyone here is thankful for the creative time to read books together and discuss the one thing kids like to do which is play ‘dress-up.’

The Public Library–now closed–in Vinton, Iowa.

The public library in Council Bluffs when a subscription library was established for males over the age of 12. Libraries now strive to be more inclusive unless their town goes all Fahrenheit 451 on them. This is from CNN: “Iowa library temporarily closes after full-time staff leaves following complaints about ‘liberal agenda’ in book selection.” Rather than shrugging off stuff they don’t like and simply choosing not to read it, the Trumperz Thought Brownshirts would rather close the place down.

A small-town library in Iowa is scrambling to reopen after community complaints about its book selection prompted full-time staff members to resign.

The controversy started over complaints about books on display for children with information on the LGBTQ community, according to Jimmy Kelly, board chair of the Vinton Public Library.

“They would like balance that for every book that talks about LGBTQ issues, that there also be a book describing traditional gender expression,” Kelly told CNN Thursday.

“The people basically accused the library of having a liberal agenda,” he added.

“A reconsideration policy allows you to object to materials or programming in which the library is joined. Libraries have this, it’s very common,” she added. “It protects the library staff, it protects the library board as well as the person who is making the complaint. It is a wonderful process.”

The content complaints followed complaints last year the library had a children’s book about Vice President Kamala Harris and one written by first lady Jill Biden, but no children’s books about former President Donald Trump, according to Kelly. It resulted in McMahon’s resignation, he said.

Since resigning last year, McMahon took a job as the library director in DeWitt, about 90 miles away. She says the controversy leading to her decision to leave the Vinton community was unfortunate.

“It was very sad. I really liked working with the city department heads I worked with,” she said. “I had a great staff and there were a few people on the library board who I thought were fantastic, but it was just the atmosphere, and we all will choose a location of where we live or where we work by what matches our personalities and I just did not feel that I needed that extra stress in my life.”

McMahon said she also heard complaints there were no books about former President Donald Trump in the display.

“These were children’s books, these were picture books, and I did my due diligence. Did I miss someone? Did someone write a nice book about the former president? The answer at that point was no. I don’t know if there’s something now, I don’t know,” McMahon told CNN.

The Alvar Library in New Orleans, Lousiana

So, my first thought is just about every book in a collection is about traditional expressions of gender. It shouldn’t need to be singled out in a diatribe. My second thought was is there no wonder that no respectable children’s book author doesn’t want to write a book describing a corrupt, twice-impeached traitor with a wife that did soft porn? I mean seriously, how is that something a small child should be reading about?

But even more seriously, what is Governor Rick DeSantis doing to the Civics Curriculum in Florida?  If this isn’t lies and propaganda being pushed into Public Schools what is? I have slave owners in my family tree. Many of them signed the Declaration of Independence. Two Signed the Constitution.  One of the buggers that signed the US Constituion of the US was an ever not so great Uncle from South Carolina  who was the Governor at one point and wrote the Fugitive Slave Act. My own Uncle helped pen and argued for the Japanese Internment Laws before SCOTUS during Wolrd War Two. The last one particularly hits home to me because my mother-in-law was Japanese so my ex-husband, daughters, and granddaughters are of Japanese descent.

I imagine that most of my relatives–including me–lived on land stolen from Indigenous people. Why hide where they fucked up?  My mother took me around the country showing me where all this happened in the hopes that my knowledge would make sure it never happened again. Those dead people never had an ounce of an impact on me.  However, my mother, local librarians, and public school teachers sure did. Some in ways they intended, others in ways they did not.  The further I got in education, the more I learned that all of our history is not pleasant, it happened, but it should not happen again. It need not be covered up.  I trust our education to determine how and when to elucidate the impact of slavery, of the Indigenous relocation pogroms and reeducations schools, Japanese internment, and the system of immigration that favors some races over others. Then, we work to tear down the remanents that harm our modern society and correct them.

From NPR: “Florida Gov. DeSantis takes aim at what he sees as indoctrination in schools”  It’s always the same with these guys.  Projection! Slavery and Indigenous relocation and massacre are at the heart of our history and considered women to be property until after 1849.  That’s not part of the past that should be glossed-over or celebrated with some pantomimes with kind pilgrims, dancing slaves, and always happy mothers.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it clear how he views public schools and what they’re teaching children: He doesn’t trust them.

At a recent news conference, he returned to a familiar theme.

“Following woke indoctrination in our schools, that is a road to ruin for this country,” he said. “And we’re not going to let it happen in Florida.”

Since becoming governor in 2019, DeSantis has become known for taking combative positions on controversial issues, including education. He recently signed a number of measures aimed at preventing the sort of “indoctrination” he and his Republican supporters fear is taking place.

His “Stop Woke” act sets limits on how issues involving race may be taught. And it allows parents to sue teachers and school districts that violate it.

Another measure, the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, bans any instruction involving sexual orientation or gender identity in the earliest grades and says beyond that it must be “age appropriate.”

In a June interview with the Christian fundamentalist group, Focus on the Family, DeSantis said he believes there’s a “concerted effort to inject … gender ideology and sexuality into the discussions with the very youngest kids.”

You know something is wrong when he’s being guided by Child Beating advocates Focus on the Family.

As first reported by the Miami Herald, the training materials were prepared for the state by groups including the Bill of Rights Institute, founded by Charles Koch and Hillsdale College, a small Christian school in Michigan that is influential in developing conservative education policies.

Segal, a teacher with 18 years in the classroom, says DeSantis is pushing a false narrative that schools are promoting a “woke” progressive agenda.

“I hate to say this,” she says, “but I feel that maybe, possibly he’s pandering to a base for re-election and that’s very hurtful.”

DeSantis is running for re-election as governor in November but is also widely seen as a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

All this comes as Florida is facing a critical teacher shortage with more than 9,500 vacant jobs statewide.

In Brevard County, school board member Jennifer Jenkins says teachers are demoralized. Many have retired or found jobs in other fields. In her district, she says there are 20 vacancies at a single school that only has 40 staff members.

“I don’t know how we’re going to continue to live in this hostile environment, how we’re going to encourage educators to enter the field and stick around,” Jenkin says. “It’s really, really scary.”

School board members have become a particular target. Jenkins has had protesters outside her home, vandalism, and threats of violence stemming for her support for a school face mask mandate.

Ending tenure at Universities is another way Republicans are seeking to stack public education facilities with whatever. From the Advocate here in Louisana: “Mark Ballard: Conservatives want to clip tenure protections for outspoken college professors.”

Louisiana began down what one legislator calls the “slippery slope” toward eliminating job-protecting tenure for college professors who mouth off in unapproved ways.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, Friday received designees for the Task Force on Tenure in Postsecondary Education, putting Louisiana on the path already tread by other Republican-majority states seeking to remove what some professors call protection for academic free thought and what some conservatives say is a license to indoctrinate youth with extremist thought.

“The caricature for tenure has been weaponized on the national level for political pursuits,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson testified May 11 as legislators considered creating the task force. “I encourage you that the conversation around this is around the merits and not about the politics.”

The Darby Free Library in Darby, Pennsylvania is the country’s oldest library. It was founded as the Darby Library Company in 1743 .

There’s a good list there with all states trying to pass some form of the same effort.  So far, none of these efforts have passed but, just like voter suppression efforts, Republicans are hot to quash public education and send tax payer money to places with religious indoctrination agendas.  One of DeSantis’ civics changes includes this doozy via Axios: “Florida training program: “Misconception” that founders wanted separation of church and state”.

Driving the news: That and other content in a state-sponsored training course has raised eyebrows among some who have participated and felt it was omitting unflattering information about the country’s founders, pushing inaccuracies and centering religious ideas, per the Post.

  • The Constitution explicitly bars the government from “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Scholars interpret the passage to require a separation of church and state, per the Post.
  • In another example, the training states that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were against slavery, while omitting the fact that each owned enslaved people.

It’s obvious that the Republican Party likes their base stupid. They also want us to be just as stupid and uninformed.  Fox News Channel and AM radio shows do just that. Whatever can we do to stop all of this?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: NRA Blood Money and the Slaughter of Lambs

Hi Sky Dancers!

We’ve got the usual Dance of the Macabre performed by Republicans after another tragic shooting in a grade school two weeks after a tragic shooting in a grocery store.  My Senators are among the idiots saying bizarre things to keep their NRA checks in place.  When is this going to stop?

Take my Senator Cassidy, please! I guess all of us around here need an AR-15 to stop feral pigs. I’m not sure what purpose splattering a huge hog all over the neighborhood would serve but I’m sure our Fish and Games folks have something to say about that.

So, how many states actually have feral pigs? You don’t even need that much to get a huge alligator. One rifle shot to his sweet spot on the head and the guy is dead. Again, Lousiana Fish and Games, is that what you use?

But then, thankfully I don’t have this asshole for a Senator.  Why on earth would he ask for this?   Well, this weekend he’s kissing NRA butt so I suppose he thinks it doesn’t matter now.

 

I’m also struggling to watch them try to act like the “hardening” of schools, theatres, grocery stores, and whatever would simply solve the problem when it was obvious that Robb Grade school and its community of Uvalde supposedly had all of this in place.  It doesn’t work.  Follow the link above for more on that.

Uvalde also dedicates 40% of its city budget to the police who also had a swat team that didn’t seem to even show up that day.  You can read BB’s post yesterday for more on that but even last night we learned more about a series of screw-ups and failures that undoubtedly led to more deaths until the Border Patrol came to the rescue.

We’re learning more about that today.

This is from the Texas Tribune Tweet above and I’m about to turn my tv on to see what they fumble with today.  There’s a live link in the tweet.

But back to the big question … why do we need these kinds of weapons in our communities?  How is it that an 18-year-old can’t drink, can’t rent a car, and can’t do a lot of things but can buy tactical weapons and equipment in Texas and other states?

This is from the NPR tweet above.

Though the motivations in these particular cases likely differ, the suspects of these shootings, and others like it, have a lot in common, according to James Densley and Jillian Peterson, co-founders of The Violence Project. Their research organization studies gun violence, mass shootings and violent extremism.

“Usually what’s motivating these shootings is an element of self-hatred, hopelessness, despair, anger, that’s turned outward to the world,” said Densley, who is also a sociologist.

Connecting the two shootings is important, said Peterson, a psychologist.

“I think we’re too quick to write things off because the motive is slightly different,” she said. “It’s the same trajectory over and over and over again. Just people get radicalized in slightly different directions, their anger points in different directions, but its roots are the same.”

The shooters were both 18 and male

Salvador Ramos was 18 years old and a high school dropout, according to officials.

Payton Gendron, is also 18, and white. He turned to various websites during the pandemic, according to a document allegedly written by him, and said he was radicalized that way.

He threatened his high school last year, prompting a visit from the New York State Police.

Densley and Peterson said they see two kinds of age clusters of mass shooters: Men in their mid-40s for those who are workplace shooters and school shooters or those involved in other types of mass shootings between the ages of 15 and 24.

Of the 180 instances of mass shootings in the U.S. they’ve studied, they found that there are only two cases where women acted alone.

It’s always men otherwise, Peterson said.

“We know that 18 is this kind of fragile age, this kind of coming of age where people tend to have mental health crises, or they may feel suicidal,” she said.

These shootings are emblematic of that.

The shooters have “the desire to have that pain, and that anger be known to the world, to have us all watch and witness it, to hear their names, to see their pictures, to read what they’ve left behind for us to read. These are public performances meant for us to watch,” she said.

Notably, in many places in the U.S., it’s also the age they can legally buy their weapons of choice.

There’s more at the link and it’s worth the read.

As usual, “Gun legislation is stalled in Congress. Here’s why that won’t change anytime soon”.  This analysis is by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc.

A House-passed bill, HR 1446, backed by Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, would close what’s known as the “Charleston loophole,” which allows some licensed gun sales to go through before a required background check is done.

Specifically, the legislation would increase the amount of time, from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days, that a federal firearms licensee must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person.
Using that loophole, a White gunman was able to legally purchase a firearm to kill nine people at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Senate Democrats took steps Tuesday night to place the bill, called the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, onto the legislative calendar so it can be voted on.

It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the measure, but it needs 60 votes in the chamber to overcome a filibuster, and it’s clear the legislation does not have that support (at least not right now) — nor does it have full Democratic backing to gut the Senate rule altogether.

It’s unclear when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will try to force a procedural vote to break a filibuster. Unless there’s an agreement from all 100 senators, the earliest he could set up the procedural vote would be Saturday, according to a Democratic aide.

But senators were expected to leave for next week’s Memorial Day recess on Thursday afternoon. So they may wait until after the recess to take that procedural vote, even though leaving town amid the Texas tragedy would be bad optics.
The aide said Schumer has not indicated when he may try to force the vote yet.

Still, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who has pushed for gun safety legislation since the Sandy Hook shooting in his state nearly 10 years ago, told reporters Tuesday there should be a vote even if it is doomed to fail.

“I think we need to hold every member of Congress accountable and vote so that the public knows where every one of us stand,” he said. Asked about the potential for bipartisan agreement, he added, “I think there may well be areas of agreement. I have come close to agreement with a number of my colleagues on a red flag statute.”

 

A woman reacts as she pays her respects at a memorial site for the victims killed in this week’s elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

As “The Reid Blog” points out, “Texas Republicans offer the same old shameful responses to shootings.  Hours removed from a massacre at a Texas elementary school, Republican lawmakers from Texas are still prioritizing guns over people.”  This analysis is by

That wasn’t surprising. Like Abbott, Cruz acts like a shill for the gun lobby, which he’s demonstrated through his repeated efforts to block gun safety measures. And speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Cruz made it clear we shouldn’t expect the most recent mass shooting in his state to move him in any way.

“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Cruz said. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”

That claim is ironic coming from Cruz, who frequently poses as a supporter of law enforcement. If he were as attuned to the needs of police as he often suggests, he’d know law enforcement groups tend to back certain gun safety measures.

But Cruz’s stance is typical of conservatives when it comes to gun safety: They’re careless about who carries the burden for their perverted affinity for guns. That probably explains why Cruz proposed adding armed law enforcement to school campuses as a simple solution to mass shootings, despite the fact the gunman in Tuesday’s shooting reportedly got past armed police officers.

As my colleague Steve Benen wrote for the MaddowBlog, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined Cruz in suggesting more guns are needed in schools — except Paxton said teachers should be armed.

If it’s not abundantly clear by now, the GOP is desperately trying to avoid criticizing guns. Another Texas Republican, Rep. Brian Babin, even tied love for guns to Christ on Tuesday, appearing on the right-wing network Newsmax to suggest that the love of guns is interwoven with America’s “Judeo-Christian foundation.”

It’s clear that today’s Republican party has an agenda that only represents a sliver of the America where we grew up. They hate any kind of diversity and want state control of anything that goes against their white nationalistic version of Christianity.  We’re paying for that with the blood of our elderly and our young. These are the country’s most vulnerable.

It’s beyond shameful. It’s cruel. It’s rooted in greed and hatred. We have to find a way to vote them all out.  We’re losing our country to the worst of humanity.

 

 What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

So Strong

by Labi Siffre

The higher you build your barriers
The taller I become
The further you take my rights away
The faster I will run
You can deny me
You can decide to turn your face away
No matter, cos there’s
Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
The more you refuse to hear my voice
The louder I will sing
You hide behind walls of Jericho
Your lies will come tumbling
Deny my place in time
You squander wealth that’s mine
My light will shine so brightly
It will blind you
Cos there’s
Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
Brothers and sisters
When they insist we’re just not good enough
When we know better
Just look ’em in the eyes and say
We’re gonna do it anyway 2x
Something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong
Brothers and sisters
When they insist we’re just not enough
When we know better
Just look ’em in the eyes and say
We’re gonna do it anyway 4x
Because there’s something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it
Tho’ you’re doing me, so wrong
Oh no, something inside so strong
Oh oh oh oh oh something inside so strong


Monday Reads: It’s always the same Nonsense!

Seated Female Clown (Mlle Cha-U-Kao), 1896 Wall Art, Henri
de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Met

Good Day Sky Dancers!

BB is the authority on this, but I’d just like to say if you want any of the best examples of projection as an ego defense mechanism, choose any Republican.  The Encyclopedia of Britannica sums it up nicely. “Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world.”  From the existence of Pedophiles to Cancel Culture, Republican sloganeering puts a target on something “liberal” and then focuses on getting the attention off the incredible number of instances of it that appear in the Republican Party domain.

A few days ago, I put this Newsweek article up down the thread. “GOP Senator Ray Holmberg Resigns Chair After Texts to Child Porn Suspect.”   The details of anything other than the texts aren’t known right now, but it sure seems a lot of Republicans are overly intrigued with pedophiles these days.  Of course, we know of many recent Republican officeholders–most notably Denny Hastert, the former Speaker of the House– that were actual pedophiles. A judge referred to him as a “serial child molester” after determining he had been molesting boys he coached over decades.  We also have the examples of MagaRats Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan.  There’s an awful lot of deflecting and projecting dealing with that horrid behavior.

And who could forget this one from a few weeks ago? From Vanity Fair: “TED CRUZ WARNS DISNEY PROGRAMMING WILL SOON DEPICT MICKEY AND PLUTO F–KING.”

In an extremely weird set of remarks, even for him, the Texas lawmaker opined at a live recording of his podcastVerdict With Ted Cruz: “I think there are people who are misguided, trying to drive, you know, Disney stepping in, saying, you know, in every episode now they’re gonna have, you know, Mickey and Pluto going at it. Like, really? It’s just like, come on guys, these are kids, and you know, you could always shift to Cinemax if you want that. Like, why do you have—it used to be, look, I’m a dad. You used to be able to put your kids on the Disney Channel and be like, alright, something innocuous will happen.”

And then there’s this: “Kellyanne Conway Knew Of ‘Sexual Allegations’ Against Nebraska Candidate Months Ago. The former White House adviser and Donald Trump are working for Charles Herbster’s election as governor despite allegations he groped eight women.”  This is from HuffPo, as reported by Mary Papenfuss.

Former Trump administration White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she heard last year about “some kind of sexual allegations” against GOP Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster — but she’s working to get him elected anyway.

Conway alleged on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast that groping allegations raised by eight women, including a Republican state senator, were somehow cooked up by current Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who does not support Herbster, a corporate CEO who has never held office.

Ricketts “got in my face” 10 months ago vowing to “destroy Charles Herbster,” said Conway. She offered nothing else in the way of proof that Ricketts is behind the assault accusations.

A key accuser is GOP state Sen. Julie Slama. She said in an emotional radio interview earlier this month that she was “in shock” at what she called an “assault” by Herbster at a Republican dinner in 2019.

As I was … walking to my table, I felt a hand reach up my skirt, up my dress and the hand was Charles Herbster’s,” Slama said, her voice shaking, in an interview on News Radio KFAB in Omaha. “I was in shock. I was mortified. It’s one of the most traumatizing things I’ve ever been through.”

Slama added: “I watched as five minutes later he grabbed the buttocks of another young woman. … This was witnessed by several people at the event.”

You may read more about the allegations at the link.  And here’s my cartooning friend from Nebraska on the Pornhusker candidate. By the way, Ricketts also graduated from our High School!  ICK!!!!

We have more on the orange snot blob and his crime syndicate family as I’m writing this.  This is fresh off the virtual presses from the New York Times. “Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry. Former President Donald J. Trump was ordered to turn over materials sought by Letitia James, the New York attorney general, and will be fined $10,000 per day until he does so.

A New York judge on Monday held Donald J. Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the state’s attorney general, an extraordinary rebuke of the former president.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, ordered Mr. Trump to comply with a subpoena seeking records and assessed a fine of $10,000 per day until he satisfied the court’s requirements. In essence, the judge concluded that Mr. Trump had failed to cooperate with the attorney general, Letitia James, and follow the court’s orders.

“Mr. Trump: I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” remarked Justice Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, before he held Mr. Trump in contempt and banged his gavel.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said she intended to appeal the judge’s ruling.

Still, the ruling represents a significant victory for Ms. James, whose office is conducting a civil investigation into whether Mr. Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.

Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone

So a few more stories about other thuggish clowns.  Wherever you see a thuggish clown, there will be a thuggish religious figure to give him a messianic complex.  This is by Tom Nichols, writing for The Atlantic. “Putin’s Unholy War. Putin, the Patriarch, and the corruption of Orthodox Christianity.”

For most of the Christian world, Easter is over. For Orthodox Christians, however, Easter week has just begun—and Russia, the largest Orthodox country in the world, is still relentlessly pursuing the invasion and barbaric destruction of its mostly Orthodox neighbor, Ukraine. In fact, the renewed Russian offensive in the Donbas, replete with day and night bombardment of mostly Orthodox, mostly Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine, began just after Russians and Ukrainians observed Palm Sunday.

I note this because I, too, am an Orthodox Christian, and I am watching one nominally Orthodox nation try to slaughter another.

In most of my comments on the Russian war against Ukraine, I’ve tried, as best I can, to provide you with dispassionate analysis. But I hope this week you’ll allow me a few personal observations as I head toward Easter. I realize that sometimes the cold equations of political analysis can seem far removed from our emotions, and so I thought I would share with you some of my own.

Although my career was mostly spent as a scholar and Russia expert, it is difficult for any area specialist to be completely objective about the countries they study, because our lives end up unavoidably connected to the subject of our profession.

Nonetheless, whether friend or enemy, I have spent my life trying to understand Russia and its people. Now, like everyone, I am disgusted by Russian savagery. Fury grows in me each time I see the mutilated corpses and leveled homes—not only because of the sadistic violence, but also because I know that the Russian regime, in trying to destroy the Ukrainian nation, has destroyed a chance, at least for some years to come, for a better world.

And for what?

For the messianic dreams of a small man, a frightened and delusional thug leading a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government, who believes that he is doing God’s will.

You might be surprised at the last sentence, but Vladimir Putin really believes this. He thinks he’s on a mission. I’ll come back to this in a moment, but it’s a reality that too many in the West have either overlooked or chosen to ignore. And as much as I’d like to lay all of this mayhem on Putin’s shoulders alone, we now have to accept that his butchery of innocent people is either tacitly or openly supported by millions of Russians. Yes, there are brave Russians who have risked their lives to protest this war, but there is no way, any longer, to deny that Putin enjoys more support than any decent nation should give to such horror.

And so I grieve not only for Ukraine, but for the knowledge that no matter how this war ends, the era of hope that began in 1989 is over. Ukraine is now the scene of the largest conflict in Europe since World War II. NATO and Russia are openly enemies again. Nuclear war, for a time a forgotten abstraction, is a real danger.

Putin’s messianic madness is magnified by the blessings of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church leader for the invasion of Ukraine. This has split the church.  (Via WAPO)  This so reminds me of all the evangelicals who see Trump as some kind of messiah.  White Patriarchal Nationalism is just a potent poison wherever it manifests itself.

Whether warning about the “external enemies” attempting to divide the “united people” of Russia and Ukraine, or very publicly blessing the generals leading soldiers in the field, Patriarch Kirill has become one of the war’s most prominent backers. His sermons echo, and in some cases even supply, the rhetoric that President Vladimir Putin has used to justify the assault on cities and civilians.

“Let this image inspire young soldiers who take the oath, who embark on the path of defending the fatherland,” Kirill intoned as he gave a gilded icon to Gen. Viktor Zolotov during a service at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in mid-March. The precious gift, the general responded, would protect the troops in their battles against Ukrainian “Nazis.”

One more clown to send in today.

If you haven’t gotten the idea that my post today is all about the clowns who want money and power and will do any schtick to get it, well, you know now.  Now, this has nothing to do with Musk’s diagnosis of having Autism Spectrum Disorder but I think we can see more than a bit of Narcissism in all the folks we read about today. I will leave Twitter if the Orange Cheeto and his hateful cult are allowed back on.  Free speech isn’t about lying or harassing people and calling them ugly names. I use my block and report button continually because I prefer not to see hateful people try to take over a discussion.

Twitter is said to be nearing a deal to sell itself to Elon Musk, according to The New York Times and other outlets, 11 days after the Tesla and SpaceX CEO shocked the industry by offering to buy the company in a deal valuing it at more than $41 billion.

A deal could be finalized as soon as Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Twitter declined to comment on the reports.

Reports that a deal is imminent come after Musk revealed last week he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to acquire the company. Twitter’s board met Sunday to evaluate Musk’s offer to buy all the shares of the company he does not currently own for $54.20 a piece, a source familiar with the deal confirmed to CNN. The source said that discussions about Musk’s bid have turned serious.

Musk appeared to hint at the completion of a deal on Twitter on Monday when he tweeted, “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”

The potential sale agreement caps off a whirlwind news cycle that began less than a month ago, when Musk revealed he had taken a more than 9% stake in the company and ramped up calls for changes to the social media platform.

I just want quick access to breaking news as reported by the reporters.  Oh, well.  To me, there are critics and then there are damn liars with a mean ax to grind.  I want none of the latter.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?