Monday Reads: His Watch is Over

THE MUSE
La Muse
1935, Pablo Picasso

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I continue to spend my life on the phone or near my roof with adjustors of all flavors. It’s extremely exhausting but my Insurance adjustor is a peach and he’s getting a mitigation company to investigate my attic where wind-driven rain got to a piece of fascia and then into the attic over my hall and bathroom.  Luckily, it’s the new addition so the ceilings aren’t as tall as the old part of the house. They’re going to get an estimate from a mitigation company on what needs to be done in the attic and the ceilings.  My 3-year old roof held up though which is why I didn’t get any more catastrophic damage.

Today we learned that Colin Powell has passed. He was fighting cancer and Covid-19 complications ended his life. Powell was a complex figure.  He was the first black Secretary of State as a Republican under Dubya where some of his most controversial decisions included receiving faulty information that led us into the endless war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq.  He left the Republicans in the dust and became involved with the Obama campaign. He gave up on the Republican party as many moderate to center Republicans have.

Powell was a Vietnam Vet.  The one lost bit of his service often overlooks his role in the My Lai Massacre. I’ll put a brief reference to that here.  This is from The Nation and David Corn.  It was published in May 2001. “Colin Powell’s Vietnam Fog. The war was years ago, but that does not excuse misrepresenting one’s participation in it.” 

The hell of Vietnam—an unpopular war that involved hard-to-discern guerrilla combatants, brutal depopulation strategies, indiscriminate bombing and much “collateral damage,” as military bureaucrats called civilian kills—offers its distinct challenges to memory, the individual memories of many who served there and the collective memory of the nation that sent them and sponsored a dirty war of free-fire zones and destroy-the-village-to-save-the-village tactics. In reviewing Colin Powell’s military service recently, I found that Powell had his own trouble in setting the record straight on his involvement—tangential as it was—in one of the war’s more traumatic episodes.

As Powell notes in his 1995 autobiography, My American Journal, in 1969 he was an Army major, the deputy operations officer of the Americal Division, stationed at division headquarters in Chu Lai. He says that in March of that year, an investigator from the inspector general’s office of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) paid a call. In a “Joe Friday monotone,” the investigator shot questions at Powell about Powell’s position at the division and the division’s operational journals, of which Powell was the custodian. The inspector then asked Powell to produce the journals for March 1968. Powell started to explain that he had not been with the division at that time. “Just get the journal,” the IG man snapped, “and go through that month’s entries. Let me know if you find an unusual number of enemy killed on any day.”

Powell flipped through the records and came upon an entry from March 16, 1968. The journal noted that a unit of the division had reported a body count of 128 enemy dead on the Batangan Peninsula. “In this grinding, grim, but usually unspectacular warfare,” Powell writes, “that was a high number.” The investigator requested that Powell read the number into the tape recorder he had brought, and that was essentially the end of the interview. “He left,” Powell recalls, “leaving me as mystified as to his purpose as when he arrived.”

It would not be until two years later (according to the original version of Powell’s book) or six months later (according to the paperback version of the book) that Powell figured out that the IG official had been probing what was then a secret, the My Lai massacre. Not until the fall of 1969 did the world learned that on March 16, 1968, troops from the Americal Division, under the command of Lieut. William Calley, killed scores of men, women and children in that hamlet. “Subsequent investigation revealed that Calley and his men killed 347 people,” Powell writes. “The 128 enemy ‘kills’ I had found in the journal formed part of the total.”

Though he does not say so expressly, Powell leaves the impression that the IG investigation, using information provided by Powell, uncovered the massacre, for which Calley was later court-martialed. That is not accurate.

The transcript of the tape-recorded interview between the IG man—Lieut. Col. William Sheehan—and Powell tells a different story. During that session—which actually happened on May 23, 1969—the IG investigator did request that Powell take out the division’s operations journals covering the first three weeks of March. (The IG inquiry had been triggered by letters written to the Pentagon, the White House and twenty-four members of Congress by Ron Ridenhour, a former serviceman who had learned about the mass murders.) Sheehan examined the records. Then he asked Powell to say for the record what activity had transpired in “grid square BS 7178” in this period. “The most significant of these occurred on 16, March, 1968,” Powell replied, “beginning at 0740 when C Company, 1st of the 20th, then under Task Force Barker, and the 11th Infantry Brigade, conducted a combat assault into a hot LZ [landing zone].” He noted that C Company, after arriving in the landing zone, killed one Vietcong. About fifteen minutes later, the same company, backed up by helicopter gunships, killed three VC. In the following hour, the gunships killed three more VC, while C Company “located documents and equipment” and killed fourteen Vietcong. “There is no indication of the nature of the action which caused these fourteen VC KIA,” Powell said. Later that morning, C Company, according to the journal, captured a shortwave radio and detained twenty-three VC suspects for questioning, while two other companies that were also part of Task Force Barker were active in the same area without registering any enemy kills.

He’ll always be best remembered for that ill-begotten speech at the UN.  This is from CNN: “Colin Powell, first Black US secretary of state, dies of Covid-19 complications amid cancer battle.”

In February 2003, Powell delivered a speech before the United Nations in which he presented evidence that the US intelligence community said proved Iraq had misled inspectors and hid weapons of mass destruction.
“There can be no doubt,” Powell warned, “that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.”

Inspectors, however, later found no such weaponry in Iraq, and two years after Powell’s UN speech, a government report said the intelligence community was “dead wrong” in its assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the US invasion.

But the damage was already done — to both Iraq, which the US went to war with just six weeks after Powell’s speech, and to the reputation of the once highly popular statesman, who was reportedly told by Cheney before the UN speech: “You’ve got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points.”

Powell, who left the State Department in early 2005 after submitting his resignation to Bush the previous year, later called his UN speech a “blot” that will forever be on his record.

“I regret it now because the information was wrong — of course I do,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2010. “But I will always be seen as the one who made the case before the international community.”

“I swayed public opinion, there’s no question about it,” he added, referring to how influential his speech was on public support for the invasion.

In his 2012 memoir, “It Worked for Me,” Powell again acknowledged the speech, writing that his account of it in the book would likely be the last he publicly made.

I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me,” he wrote, referring to the report he used that contained faulty evidence of supposed Iraqi WMDs. “It was by no means my first, but it was one of my most momentous failures, the one with the widest-ranging impact.”

“The event will earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary,” Powell wrote.

Gustav Klimt, Emilie Flöge (1902).

I liked Powell. It’s hard to be first of anything especially when you’re a woman or minority.  I think both President Obama and Secretary Powell had to shoulder “the first black man to” and did so with a lot of caution.  That’s a tough balancing act.  He finally followed his own gut when he came out strongly for Obama. The one thing to admire about him was he was never one to avoid responsibility or apologies for leadership decisions that went awry

I’m having trouble figuring out one of my Senators who keeps showing a bit of unexpected independence from his Republican masters.  This is from Axios: “GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders.”  Both of my senators started out as liberal democrats.  Maybe he’s getting a bit of his conscience back.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an “Axios on HBO” interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 … Speaker Pelosi, 81 …  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 … and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, told me during our wide-ranging interview in Chalmette, La., that in your 80s, you begin a “rapid decline.”

  • Noting he wasn’t talking about specific people, Cassidy said: “It’s usually noticeable. So anybody in a position of responsibility who may potentially be on that slope, that is of concern. And I’m saying this as a doctor.”
  • “I’m told that there have been senators in the past who, at the end of their Senate terms were senile,” Cassidy added. “I’m told that was true of senators of both parties.”

Cassidy said it’d be reasonable for Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, and executive branch leaders to submit to an annual evaluation in which they would have to establish cognitive sharpness.

  • “We each have a sacred responsibility to the people of the United States,” Cassidy said. “It is not about me. It is about my ability to serve the people.”
  • Asked if he’d favor such a test for those leaders, Cassidy said: “Of course.”

🎬Watch a clipA rare GOP smack to Trump … Cassidy says Donald Trump might lose the GOP nomination if he runs in 2024 — noting that Trump lost “the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning.”

Mickalene Thomas, Dim All The Lights (2009).

Senator Cassidy has gone rogue on several of the most Trumpy of Trumpist votes.  This includes his vote for impeachment this year. This is from earlier this year and WaPo.

Sen. Bill Cassidy has been signaling for a few months that he wants to be a more independent force. After the November elections, in which the Louisiana Republican easily won a second term, Cassidy joined a bipartisan group that broke a negotiating logjam and paved the way for a $900 billion pandemic relief bill.

And on Jan. 6, as rioters supporting President Donald Trump were still being ejected from the Capitol, Cassidy condemned the attack in strong terms and demanded that Trump order the mob to stand down. “He needs to speak, because the president can speak as no one else can to these folks,” Cassidy told a Louisiana TV station that day.

But few expected Cassidy’s next bold, independent step — breaking GOP ranks and voting to declare that Trump’s second impeachment trial is constitutional and should proceed — particularly after he initially voted to essentially dismiss the case.

Don’t call him a RINO or a moderate he says.  Perhaps he’s angling to just be the Republican Joe Manchin. It’s possible he sees himself as a non-partisan deal maker.

Why is doing things in moderation or being moderate a thought police crime these days?  So, I had an overly exciting night yesterday having swallowed a part of a bay leaf that literally took my breath away and left me unable to speak.  I finally used the old trick of a finger down the throat to get it out. Not an experience I’d want to share with anyone.  I’m a bit out of sorts today.  I also got my Pfizer booster on Friday plus all the adjustor stuff on Saturday.  I’m going to call it a blog post and leave the chatting to you!

What’s on reading and list today?


Monday Reads: Right Wing America always thinks it’s All about them!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers! 

The Big Easy isn’t so easy at the moment.  I lost my cable and internet again on Saturday.  Right now, I have no water and probably won’t for a few hours.  We’re a case study in aging infrastructure combined with Climate Change disasters and the Republicans aren’t interested in either.  Plus, here we are still watching the neighboring states work really hard to kill people in the cause of crank science and white privilege masked as liberty.  Right-wing grievance basted in white nationalist hatred has always been a problem in our country and always has a terrible cost in both life and liberty for others.

Here’s Michael Beschloss reminding us that it always hangs out in some of our key institutions.  It’s been over 100 years since the communist scare struck their blessed little hearts with fear.  Here’s a reminder of what it looked like around 60 years ago.

We’re well known for basically thinking everyone but a White Christianist male is subservient and not fully human. These white nationalist movements–egged on by the Trumpist regime today–are really frightened of losing the hegemony they’ve enforced for years. They’ve always used over-the-top rhetoric and boogymen.  In those same years, communism was in charge of the fluoridation of water. Remember this scene from Dr. Stranglove?

Despite this seemingly inexorable progression, a vocal opposition has persisted—perhaps most famously embodied in the grizzled and gruff cigar-chomping and gun-toting General Jack Ripper of Dr. Strangelove. In that 1964 film Ripper explains his rationale for inciting nuclear war: “Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water? Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

Though General Ripper’s speech caricatured anti-Red paranoia, right-wing groups like the John Birch Society have long implied dark motives behind fluoridation. But more common are groups raising safety questions. Anti-fluoridation literature goes back over half a century, with titles like Robotry and Water: A Critique of Fluoridation (1959)

We suddenly see communism again in arguing that a past president should still have executive privilege among tons of other things. The Ghost of Roy Cohen should be pleased. Indicting Trump’s crime syndicate is communist too!  Why do we keep coming back to this?

The soldier bath or Artillerymen, 1915, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Now, see how David Leonhardt–writing for the New York Times–studies the patterns of death by thinking communism is in charge of a privately-developed set of vaccines. “Red Covid. Covid’s partisan pattern is growing more extreme.”

During the early months of Covid-19 vaccinations, several major demographic groups lagged in receiving shots, including Black Americans, Latino Americans and Republican voters.

More recently, the racial gaps — while still existing — have narrowed. The partisan gap, however, continues to be enormous. A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 86 percent of Democratic voters had received at least one shot, compared with 60 percent of Republican voters.

The political divide over vaccinations is so large that almost every reliably blue state now has a higher vaccination rate than almost every reliably red state …

How is it that every public health issue still shakes a few little people into thinking their superior genes protect them and jump straight to the communist plot rationale?  Mask mandates are communistic too right?

Since Delta began circulating widely in the U.S., Covid has exacted a horrific death toll on red America: In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June, according to Charles Gaba, a health care analyst. In counties where Trump won less than 32 percent of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.

And the gap will probably keep growing…

I guess we’re not really joking when we say the Republican Party is killing its base.

It’s also trying to kill our democracy and economy.  Senate Republics are full-on crazy-go-nuts if they think blocking the debt ceiling will do anything but cause chaos in the global economy.  Maybe that is what they want.  Joe Biden must fail for them to replace our democracy with some Trumpy autocrat.  This is from The Washington Post and Tony Romm: “Senate Republicans prepare to block measure to fund government, stave off U.S. default. The expected vote Monday sets up a last-minute scramble ahead of two critical fiscal deadlines.

Senate Republicans on Monday prepared to block a bill that would fund the government, provide billions of dollars in hurricane relief and stave off a default in U.S. debts, part of the party’s renewed campaign to undermine President Biden’s broader economic agenda.

The GOP’s expected opposition is sure to deal a death blow to the measure, which had passed the House last week, and threatens to add to the pressure on Democrats to devise their own path forward ahead of a series of urgent fiscal deadlines. A failure to address the issues could cause severe financial calamity, the White House has warned, potentially plunging the United States into another recession.

They want a recession. Their political goals for the mid-terms demands everything be more awful than they and Trump left us.

Kathe Kollwitz, “Never Again War!”, 1924

Lee Brutman writes this for FiveThirtyEight: “Why Bipartisanship In The Senate Is Dying.”

-So, what changed? Well, pretty much the entire nature of American electoral party politics.

One way to clearly see this change is to map American partisan competition. From the 1960s through the early 2000s, both Democrats and Republicans were genuinely national parties in the Senate. That is, Senate Democrats and Republicans used to hail from all parts of the country.

This was important because it kept both parties politically diverse and thus moderate overall. Moreover, because Senate elections were more about local issues, both parties were able to compete nationally. Voters didn’t care as much whether they sent a Democrat or a Republican to Washington. What mattered was whether they sent somebody who could represent their state well. And senators could prove their worth by bringing home federal funding for roads and bridges — just the kind of issue that used to facilitate bipartisan dealmaking.

But today’s political campaigns and voters care far less about roads and bridges. They care far more about national culture-war issues — and which party controls the majority in Congress. As a result, Democrats can’t win in much of the Southeast and the Mountain West, and Republicans are now perpetual losers in the West and the Northeast. Only the Southwest and the Midwest remain competitive, and that’s only because state populations are currently balanced between liberal cities and conservative exurbs.

It’s also why bipartisanship in the Senate is waning. Republican senators in solidly Republican states do not have to worry about winning over some Democrats; the senators’ general election win is all but assured. Rather, the most likely way they could lose is if they face a primary challenge to their right. And the most likely way they could draw such a challenger is if they were to publicly work with Democrats.

In other words, a bipartisan record has become a liability in today’s electoral environment.

There are a lot of charts and numbers there showing the trends.

FRANZ MARC The Wolves (Balkan War), 1913

So let’s go back to the idea of a Constitutional Crisis as elucidated by The Washington Post Op-Ed Cited in that above tweet.  This is ‘conservative’ Robert Kagan and has been hashed about for days.

The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos

I see that word chaos a lot these days and Republican obfuscation of every important issue of the day is at the root. Getting a vaccine should not be this big of a deal. Getting the debt ceiling raised or getting rid of that obscure law that demands it should not be that big of a deal.  Free and Fair elections with expansive access to the vote should not be this big of a deal.  Passing laws that protect women and children from Violence should not be that big of a deal. Passing gun safety laws that get weapons of war off the street should not be that big of all deal.  All of these things have been done before but recently it’s been impossible to renew any of them.  The only policy Mitch McConnell has is to ensure a train wreck every time a Democratic candidate gets the Presidency. This is an anti-democratic position and should be intolerable to any American.

So, that’s my Ted Talk for the day.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Fighting the Same Old Fights

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s been nearly a month since Ida turned Southeast Louisiana into a gigantic mess. It’s cooler now and sunny,  Fall seems to have treated us with an on-time appearance. My streets are free from the garbage that was not picked up for weeks on end.  Yesterday, they removed all the tree debris from the neutral ground.   There were some huge trunks there from one of the neighbor’s very old oak trees. They probably were riddled with Formosan Termites.

It continues to be difficult watching White Male Republican Christianists and their enablers tear at the very foundation and dream this country was built on. We should be a country where just about anyone should be able to come, seek refuge, and work their way up into the middle class, at least.  Our outcomes shouldn’t depend on our race, our gender, who we love, and the beliefs we hold. We are fighting the same fights for a more perfect union and watching the white male patriarchal nationalists continue to fix the game in their favor, morally objectionable people get thrown onto court benches for holding extremist positions. We’re reminded daily of this as the same group of suspects in state governorships rev up extremist laws that should be unconstitutional with the purpose of handing the decision to stacked courts.

There is now an intersection between two of the most objectionable and worthless Supreme Court Justices with a penchant for sexually assaulting women.  Anita Hill is back in the headlines with a new book. BB pointed me to this article last night in The Atlantic by Anita Hill herself.  “What It Was Like for Me to Watch Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony. From my own experience in 1991, I knew that her life would never be the same.” No matter what we do by changing laws and providing prevention and legal means to change the situation, predatory men still get rewarded by the system. She views the Kavanaugh hearing through the eyes of Christine Blasey Ford.

I had never spoken with Ford directly, but once the Judiciary Committee chair, Chuck Grassley, who also had heard my testimony about Clarence Thomas three decades earlier, announced that Ford would testify, emails flooded my inbox. Some suggested politely, “I would like to see you sitting behind Dr. Ford as she testifies on Thursday.” Others argued that my presence “would certainly send a message to those, dare I say, incorrigible, ignorant men who did not listen to your honest pleas to be heard those many years ago.”

My instinct told me that those “ignorant men” and many others would make political hay out of any gesture I made to show my support for Ford. I recalled the claims from 1991 that left-wing, pro-abortion-rights feminists had duped me into testifying about Thomas’s behavior. I was certain that Ford was hearing something of the same.

My biggest hope for the day was that it would be a completely different experience for her than it had been for me—that a lot of hard work by activists, researchers, lawyers, and others raising claims and demanding change in their workplace in the 27 years since I had faced that same Senate committee had resulted in the evolution of a new awareness of gender violence. But with some of the same senators from 1991 sitting on the Judiciary Committee and with Grassley in charge, I could not bring myself to be optimistic that the entire committee had evolved.

The 1991 committee was entirely made up of white men, and men in the Senate outnumbered women 98 to two. That the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee included women, one of whom was Black, as well as a Black man, gave me hope for a greater understanding of gender and power, as did the fact that 23 women were Senate members. I wanted to believe that, between 1991 and 2018, enough senators had read the Department of Justice or CDC reports about the prevalence and health consequences of sexual violence to counter the committee’s naysayers.

We know how that turned out.  Margaret Sullivan–writing for The Washington Post–refers to the two women as a “club of two”.

During a recent conversation recorded for a new podcast, Hill, now 65 and a Brandeis law professor, told Ford, 54 and a psychology scholar at Stanford and Palo Alto University, that she felt a sense of overwhelming kinship as she watched the 2018 testimony — a feeling that she knew was shared by a large community of like-minded women.

“A spiritual solidarity,” Hill called it.

Their conversation is a high point in “Because of Anita,” a new four-part podcast series that debuts in October. I listened to a segment of it Thursday and found it moving, instructive and — as podcasts sometimes can be — surprisingly intimate. The two had met and spoken before but not, until now, for the public to hear.

The conversation took place on Zoom in late August with Hill and Ford in their home offices in Massachusetts and California. The podcast hosts — activist and scholar Salamishah Tillet and journalist Cindi Leive, longtime editor of Glamour magazine — were in San Diego and Brooklyn.

Hill and Ford discussed the intensity of their experiences, and how it lingered far beyond their moments in the harsh spotlight — moments remembered by many Americans as a still image of each woman with her right hand raised.

They also agreed on their motivation: that it was not, at heart, to persuade those who would vote for or against the nominees but rather, a desire to be clear and honest about their experiences — to simply say what they knew and not to be attached to the outcome.

The most obvious outcomes, of course, were similar. Thomas and Kavanaugh both were confirmed by narrowly divided Senate votes: 52 to 48, and 50 to 48, respectively.

But both Hill and Ford sound as if they have made their peace with that — and say they would do it again, though they acknowledge how much the searing experiences have changed their lives.

Hill is still fighting the good fight against gender violence.  Samantha Simon has this to say about her in a piece for InStyle.  This is an interview with Hill who is part of a series speaking with “badass women”.

“Once you get on this track, you don’t stop. You just realize there’s something else to accomplish,” she says. “Right now, I’m feeling like I have time. I wish for everyone the feeling I have about how I live my life: I can do things to make the world better for other people, and that’s really a gift. Not everyone feels they have that kind of power.
The concentration of power — who holds it and the ways they use it to harm those who don’t have enough — has been central to Hill’s work all along. “This has been a public crisis long before the #MeToo movement, and people are still facing resistance to their ideas or identities in the workplace and can’t come forward,” she says. “As long as those conditions exist, I will be doing this work.”

That’s what I think it feels like for all of us working on Social Justice Issues. We’re fighting and refighting the same things. For example, some on needs to tell Lindsey Graham whipping black people with a leash went out with the end of the civil war.

There is nothing I can say to folks that try to lessen the impact of that image. It’s just another way we see another era in our country when people could be property.   It’s not supposed to be that way anymore.

I’m going to end here with something that happened to me this week. On Tuesday, I was sitting in my little virtual office online waiting patiently to see students or help students. The usual chat request came in with only the letter e typed in. What followed was this question. “Are you a (n-word)? Of course, the university is investigating it. It rattled me more than I thought possible given the amount of hate I’ve seen all around the Quarter when the White Male Christianists come to hate on women and the GLBTQ community. But, it reminded me that none of us really have a safe space which really, is what everyone wants.  Protecting privilege as vehemently as today’s Republicans do is just hard to deal with day-in-and-out.  But we are the majority.  That is what scares them. We must use our power as the majority and stop them. If I was a Christian, I would sure be pushing back on what they say is the path of Jesus. I’m allied with kindness, compassion, and civility.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Another Day, Another Couple of Hurricanes

Green Madonna, Olaf Hajek,2020

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I really am trying to adult today but at some point yesterday I reached peak hurricane exhaustion and brain.  I just want to zone out.  Anyway, I’ve just been glancing at Nicholas and what he’ll do to swipe at us. If you are looking for places to donate items or funds for hurricane Ida relief please consider the indigenous peoples in SE Louisiana. The Choctaw and smaller coastal tribes need lots of help as they are located in some of the worst-hit areas

This little headline from NBC News really frosted my cupcakes today: “Supreme Court Justice Barrett expresses concerns that the public may increasingly see the court as a partisan institution.”  Surely, she jests. Clarence “Uncle” Thomas’s wife’s behavior and the nature of hers and the other Trump appointments hasn’t given her the idea that their merry rampage through court precedent is something other than judicial largess?   However, “Judges must be “hyper vigilant” to keep personal biases out of their decisions, said Barrett, who would not comment on the court’s vote not to block Texas’ abortion ban.” is the quote/lie of the day as she works to inflict her Christoban views on the rest of us totally ignoring US history and law.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concerns Sunday that the public may increasingly see the court as a partisan institution.

Justices must be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too,” Barrett said at a lecture hosted by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

Introduced by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who founded the center and played a key role in pushing through her confirmation in the last days of the Trump administration, Barrett spoke at length about her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as nonpartisan.

Barrett said the media’s reporting of opinions doesn’t capture the deliberative process in reaching those decisions. And she insisted that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”

“To say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner,” said Barrett, whose confirmation to the seat left open by the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented conservative control of the court. “I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms.”

Barrett’s comments followed a high-profile decision earlier this month in which the court by 5-4 vote declined to step in to stop a Texas law banning most abortions from going into effect, prompting outrage from abortion rights groups and President Joe Biden.

Barrett was asked about that decision by students who submitted questions in advance and also asked about another recent decision by the court in which it refused to block a lower court ruling ordering the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era program informally known as the Remain in Mexico policy. Barrett said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on specific cases.

Several supporters of abortion rights demonstrated outside the Seelbach Hotel, where the private event was held.

Madonna, Edvard Munch,, circa 1892

Right-Wing Watch reports that; “Lauren Boebert Says Government Should Be Run by ‘Righteous Men and Women of God’.”  Again, we have the Christoban off on the same nightmare operating in Afghanistan now. Whose GAWD Laruen?  Allah?  Jehovah?  Could it be Satan?  Frankly, I say it should be the Greek Gods with their hubris and humorous treatment of humans.

Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado spoke Saturday at a conference held by the Truth & Liberty Coalition, a religious-right political organization founded by right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack.

Addressing a crowd of conservative Christian activists gathered in the auditorium at Wommack’s Charis Bible College, Boebert called on the audience to put faith into action by calling on God to remove ungodly leaders in Washington, D.C., and replace them with “righteous men and women of God” who realize that the government should be taking orders from the church.

“When we see Biden address the nation and the world and show more contempt and aggravation and aggression towards unvaccinated Americans than he does terrorists, we have a problem,” Boebert said. “And that’s why I have articles of impeachment to impeach Joe Biden, Kamala Harris.”

“We cannot take another 18 months, we cannot take another three years of this poor, failed leadership,” she continued. “We are sons and daughters of revolutionaries. They went to battle for a lot less. They took a stand for a lot less. And it’s time we get involved. I need you involved in every local level. I need you speaking up. I need the world to hear your voice. You know the word of God, and you know that there is power in your words, that the world was framed by words. You have the Lord God Almighty on your side. I need you to use your voice and speak.”

“What if Jesus showed up today and said, ‘From this point forward, everything you say you will have it’?” Boebert asked rhetorically. “He said it! That’s exactly what he said to us. So, what are we saying? Are we going to sit and agree with the enemy? Are we going to agree with what the enemy is doing? Are we going to sit back and complain and murmur? Or are we going to speak life into this nation? Are we going to speak victory? Are we going to declare that God removes these unrighteous politicians, these corrupt, crooked politician, and installs righteous men and women of God?”

“You have the God kind of faith, and that faith speaks,” she added. “That faith speaks to mountains, those impossible, immovable situations, and I think there’s some mountains they need to hear your voice. … It’s time the church speaks up. The church has relinquished too much authority to government. We should not be taking orders from the government; the government needs to be looking at the church and saying, ‘How do we do this effectively?’”

Chris Ofili, “The Holy Virgin Mary,” 1996

From which rock do these women hatch? And why do they hate themselves so much?  All they are is partisan shill for toxic patriarchy.

Jelani Cobb writes in The New Yorker today about “The Man Behind Critical Race Theory. As an attorney, Derrick Bell worked on many civil-rights cases, but his doubts about their impact launched a groundbreaking school of thought.”

For the past several months, however, conservatives have been waging war on a wide-ranging set of claims that they wrongly ascribe to critical race theory, while barely mentioning the body of scholarship behind it or even Bell’s name. As Christopher F. Rufo, an activist who launched the recent crusade, said on Twitter, the goal from the start was to distort the idea into an absurdist touchstone. “We have successfully frozen their brand—‘critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category,” he wrote. Accordingly, C.R.T. has been defined as Black-supremacist racism, false history, and the terrible apotheosis of wokeness. Patricia Williams, one of the key scholars of the C.R.T. canon, refers to the ongoing mischaracterization as “definitional theft.

Vinay Harpalani, a law professor at the University of New Mexico, who took a constitutional-law class that Bell taught at New York University in 2008, remembers his creating a climate of intellectual tolerance. “There were conservative white male students who got along very well with Professor Bell, because he respected their opinion,” Harpalani told me. “The irony of the conservative attack is that he was more respectful of conservative students and giving conservatives a voice than anyone.” Sarah Lustbader, a public defender based in New York City who was a teaching assistant for Bell’s constitutional-law class in 2010, has a similar recollection. “When people fear critical race theory, it stems from this idea that their children will be indoctrinated somehow. But Bell’s class was the least indoctrinated class I took in law school,” she said. “We got the most freedom in that class to reach our own conclusions without judgment, as long as they were good-faith arguments and well argued and reasonable.”

Republican lawmakers, however, have been swift to take advantage of the controversy. In June, Governor Greg Abbott, of Texas, signed a bill that restricts teaching about race in the state’s public schools. Oklahoma, Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Arizona have introduced similar legislation. But in all the outrage and reaction is an unwitting validation of the very arguments that Bell made. Last year, after the murder of George Floyd, Americans started confronting the genealogy of racism in this country in such large numbers that the moment was referred to as a reckoning. Bell, who died in 2011, at the age of eighty, would have been less focussed on the fact that white politicians responded to that reckoning by curtailing discussions of race in public schools than that they did so in conjunction with a larger effort to shore up the political structures that disadvantage African Americans. Another irony is that C.R.T. has become a fixation of conservatives despite the fact that some of its sharpest critiques were directed at the ultimate failings of liberalism, beginning with Bell’s own early involvement with one of its most heralded achievements.

And just like that, another anti-vaxxer dies and takes up valuable ICU space in a hospital.

Caritas (Madonna with Child) by Stanisław Wyspiański, 1904, pastel, photo: National Museum in Warsaw

This headline puts a face to the number of people dying because there are no hospitals available. “Alabama man dies after 43 hospitals with full ICUs turned him away; family urges COVID-19 vaccines.”  This is reported out of a local TV station.

The family of an Alabama man who died of heart issues more than 200 miles from his home is asking people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus after more than 40 hospitals across three states were unable to accept him due to full cardiac ICUs.

Ray Martin DeMonia died Sept. 1; three days before his 74th birthday, his family said.

DeMonia suffered a heart attack and was transferred to the nearest available bed, which was more than 200 miles away at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi.

In his obituary, his family urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Economist warns us In America, even full local hospitals do not dent vaccine scepticism. Full hospital wards have little effect on vaccine take-up. 

Some optimists had hoped that the spread of the Delta variant, though regrettable, might eventually persuade the naysayers to get vaccinated. Local news sites and stations have profiled people who had been sceptical and have now had their jabs. The Douglases in South Central Pennsylvania were vaccine-hesitant until “the Delta variant changed that”. The Columbus Dispatch wrote about a supervisor at a local plant who said: “The Delta variant was what really got me out.” In Oklahoma, Grace Zeiba, an emergency-room nurse, told her local station that because of Delta she decided “it’s time to be vaccinated”. But these anecdotes are not representative of the overall picture.

One way of measuring whether people are more likely to get vaccinated when their neighbours are very ill with covid-19, is to compare county-level icu capacities (which tell you whether a hospital is full of covid-19 patients) with the change in vaccination rates in the ensuing weeks. The Economist did this while controlling for potentially confounding variables, like state-level vaccination rates.

Our calculations show that full hospitals lead to only a slight increase in the number of people getting vaccinated. For every 10% decrease in available icu beds, there were roughly 14 additional first doses administered per 100,000 people in a county the next week. For a median-sized American county with a population of 26,000, that translates to 3.5 additional first doses, or just half a dose per day.

Counties with icus that were 80% full or more saw only an additional 104 first doses administered per 100,000 people the next week, compared with counties where icus were 20% full or less. That is consistent with what happened this summer, when areas hit by the Delta variant saw only slight upticks in vaccination rates compared with other counties.

Polls paint the same picture. As many Americans have scrambled for futile cures like ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug, interest in the most effective solution—the vaccine—is stuck. Polling from Morning Consult shows that the share of individuals who say they are unwilling to get the vaccine, or are uncertain if they will, has fallen only slightly—from 31% at the end of May (the month the World Health Organisation declared Delta to be a variant of concern) to 28% on August 30th. By contrast, the average share saying the same across the other 14 countries Morning Consult has surveyed fell from 25% to 14% (see chart).

The remaining Americans who have not had their jabs are not just hesitant but rather hardened—committed to shunning the vaccine despite its availability, safety and efficacy.

And, back to other Trumpist conspiracy theories that just won’t die, file these two.

I just cannot get used to the absolute fantasyland these folks evoke for partisan political reasons.  This includes the Christoban goons that sit on the supreme court to include Amy the Insane.  There are more sources than Fox News and some grifter’s concept of the New Testament.  Really!  Death,  Wars, massive debt to subsidize rich people, and fairy tales are all the Republicans offer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today! 


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Democracy-in-PerilYesterday Joe Biden commemorated Memorial Day with a speech honoring those who served the country in wartime, while cautioning that “democracy…is in peril.”

Politico: Biden on Memorial Day: Democracy is ‘in peril,’ worth dying for.

President Joe Biden marked Memorial Day with an address at Arlington National Cemetery, pledging to never forget or fail to honor fallen veterans’ sacrifice and saying that democracy is “worth fighting for” and “dying for.”

Democracy, which he called the “soul of America,” is in danger, Biden said on Monday.

“Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world,” Biden said, speaking to military officials and people who have lost military loved ones after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.”

Throughout the speech Monday, Biden praised veterans’ sacrifice for democracy and defended democracy’s aspirations, though he said the U.S. hadn’t always lived up to them. He called empathy “the fuel of democracy.”

The president said that “we all” take democracy “for granted,” saying “the biggest question” is whether the system of democracy can win out over opposing “powerful forces.”

“All that we do in our common life as a nation is part of that struggle,” Biden said. “A struggle for democracy. It’s taking place around the world, democracy and autocracy.”

Democracy is in danger because the Trumpist Republican Party opposes it. Since their cult leader lost the 2020 election, Republicans are focused on making voting more difficult. The latest effort took place in Texas. Fortunately, Democrats in the Texas legislature were able to fend off the new Jim Crow law for now.

The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Step Up and Smack Down Texas Jim Crow Law.

In a dramatic surprise, Texas Democrats stopped the GOP’s latest and lowest voter suppression effort at the eleventh hour (literally – the session was adjourned at 11pm Monday night). They used tricks, stunts, and gambits. They chased the headlines, and grabbed them. Democrats, this is how you do it.

For months, these outrageous, baseless, anti-democratic, and cravenly self-interested Republican efforts in state after state have been the “sleeper story” of the year. In some ways, Republican voter suppression isn’t new; they’ve been lying about voter fraud for years, even though it has never existed on a widespread level. And some of the concrete measures are familiar: closing voting locations in predominantly Black areas (yes, it really is that brazen), restricting early and absentee voting, and so on….

GHJFADFEVNEK3EHRR3RZ6KXX7MSo far, Democrats have failed to stop this racist and anti-democratic freight train. It’s barreled through FloridaGeorgia, and Iowa. It’s rigged the 2022 elections by making it harder for Black voters (and voters who can’t get off of work easily, or need help getting to the polls) to vote. It’s a national disgrace.

But it’s barely made the news….

These efforts should be headline freaking news. The blatantly racist nature of these policies. Their likely effects on the next election. And their foundation in the same conspiracy theory that led to the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C. All of these are beyond outrageous, but journalists can’t just make news happen; that’s up to politicians and other public figures who give us something to report.

Which is exactly what Texas Democrats did Sunday night.

They raised every possible technical and procedural objection to the vote. They indulged in long-winded Q&A sessions. They stretched the process out for hours. And then, right before eleven at night on the eve of Memorial Day, they walked out, depriving the Texas State House of Representatives of a quorum.

Even the walkout was dramatic. Texas State Representative Chris Turner texted party members at 10:35, writing, “Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building. ~ Chris”

Gotta love it.

But the bill could still pass. What’s needed is national legislation to protect voting rights.

The Washington Post: After defeating restrictive voting bill, Texas Democrats send loud message: ‘We need Congress to do their part.’

Texas Democrats who defeated a Republican effort to pass a suite of new voting restrictions with a dramatic late-night walkout from the state House chamber on Sunday have a message for President Biden and his allies in Congress: If we can protect voting rights, you can, too.

The surprise move by roughly 60 Democratic lawmakers headed off the expected passage of S.B. 7, a voting measure that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, by denying Republicans a required quorum and forcing them to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote.

downloadThe coordinated walkout just after 10:30 p.m. Central time jolted the national debate on voting rights, putting the spotlight on Democratic-backed federal legislation that has been stalled in the Senate all spring, even as state Republicans move to enact new voting rules.

“We knew today, with the eyes of the nation watching action in Austin, that we needed to send a message,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, said at a news conference held at a historically Black church in Austin early Monday, shortly after he and other lawmakers left the state Capitol. “And that message is very, very clear: Mr. President, we need a national response to federal voting rights.”\Republicans control every branch of Texas government and hold firm majorities in both the House and Senate. While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vowed late Sunday to bring the voting measure back at a special legislative session for redistricting later this year — and threatened to defund the legislature in a tweet on Monday — the walkout represented an unmistakable and shocking defeat for Republican leaders who had assumed the bill would pass ahead of the House’s midnight deadline to finish its 2021 business.

Unfortunately, Congress is not stepping up so far.

Nicolas Fandos at The Washington Post: Push for Voting Overhaul in Congress Falters.

In the national struggle over voting rights, Democrats have rested their hopes for turning back a wave of new restrictions in Republican-led states and expanding ballot access on their narrow majorities in Congress. Failure, they have repeatedly insisted, “is not an option.”

But as Republican efforts to clamp down on voting prevail across the country, the drive to enact the most sweeping elections overhaul in generations is faltering in the Senate. With a self-imposed Labor Day deadline for action, Democrats are struggling to unite around a strategy to overcome solid Republican opposition and an almost certain filibuster.

Republicans in Congress have dug in against the measure, with even the most moderate dismissing it as bloated and overly prescriptive. That leaves Democrats no option for passing it other than to try to force the bill through by destroying the filibuster rule — which requires 60 votes to put aside any senator’s objection — to pass it on a simple majority, party-line vote.

cg607453581752eBut Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the Democrats’ decisive swing vote, has repeatedly pledged to protect the filibuster and is refusing to sign on to the voting rights bill. He calls the legislation “too darn broad” and too partisan, despite endorsing such proposals in past sessions. Other Democrats also remain uneasy about some of its core provisions.

Navigating the 800-page For the People Act, or Senate Bill 1, through an evenly chamber was never going to be an easy task, even after it passed the House with only Democratic votes. But the Democrats’ strategy for moving the measure increasingly hinges on the longest of long shots: persuading Mr. Manchin and the other 49 Democrats to support both the bill and the gutting of the filibuster.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Meanwhile, extremist Republicans–including the former guy–are openly supporting insurrection. As Dakinikat reported yesterday, disgraced retired General Michael Flynn attended a Q-Anon meeting and called for a military coup in the U.S. 

Donnie O’Sullivan at CNN: Echoing QAnon forums, Michael Flynn appears to suggest a Myanmar-style coup should happen in the United States.

Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, appeared to endorse a Myanmar-style coup in the United States on Sunday.

For months, QAnon and Trump-supporting online forums have celebrated the deadly military coup in Myanmar and suggested the same should happen in the United States so Trump could be reinstated as President.

Flynn made the comments at an event in Dallas on Sunday that was attended by prominent peddlers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Big Lie.

“I want to know why what happened in Minamar (sic)can’t happen here?” a member of the audience, who identified himself as a Marine, asked Flynn.

“No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That’s right,” Flynn responded….

Some QAnon followers are obsessed with the idea that the US military will somehow put Trump back into office. Some believed and hoped Trump would declare martial law on Inauguration Day to stop Joe Biden from entering the White House.

Speaking at the same event in Dallas, Flynn earlier in the weekend falsely claimed, “Trump won. He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.”

Trump himself claims he will be “reinstated” as president, according to Maggie Haberman.

4060f4bbe7fc4726bd17af60a9fda86dRaw Story: Trump expects to be ‘reinstated’ as president by August: reporter.

Former President Donald Trump reportedly believes he’s going to be “reinstated” as president within the next two months.

According to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August” because the widely criticized “audit” he’s backing in Arizona will show he actually won the 2020 presidential election.

“He is not putting out statements about the ‘audits’ in states just for the sake of it,” Haberman reports. “He’s been laser focused on them, according to several people who’ve spoken with him.”

Haberman notes that Trump’s obsession with retaking the White House this year comes as he’s staring at the possibility of being indicted by the New York Attorney General’s Office, which is conducting a criminal probe of the Trump Organization for potential tax fraud.

If you want to know more about the conference of Q-Anon crazies that took place over the weekend, check out this article at Vice: QAnon’s Wildest Moments From Their Massively Disturbing Conference.

QAnon’s biggest celebrities threw a three-day conference in Dallas over the weekend—and it did not disappoint.

Whether you wanted to hear a former US Army general calling for a military coup or Roger Stone’s social media advisor calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution, there was something for everyone.

There were auctions selling $1,000-blankets and $8,000 baseball bats. A sitting Congressman appeared on stage and literally embraced QAnon influencers. Dozens of members of a shadowy militia provided protection—some with their own pugs in tow. And then there was Kraken-lawyer Sidney Powell trying to sing the national anthem….

The “For God and Country: Patriot Roundup” event took place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Dallas with thousands of QAnon supporters paying at least $500 for a ticket to the event.

The event took place in the city-owned Omni Hotel despite opposition from local residents whose petition was signed by more than 20,000 people.

The organizer of the event, John Sabal (known online as QAnon John) claimed prior to the  event that it was not a QAnon conference, despite multiple high profile QAnon figures speaking there.

The event was a coming-out party for many well-known figures in the QAnon world, but also highlighted just how far the conspiracy movement is bleeding into mainstream Republican politics, with one sitting Congressman, Rep. Louie Gohmert, speaking on stage, along with the chairman of the Texas GOP, Allen West.  

Read more highlights at the Vice link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following? As always, this is an open thread.