Monday Reads: Yes, Virginia there are Monsters that live among Us

Artist Walter Anderson is often credited with giving his animal subjects personalities and moods, as in this study of an owl. (Image courtesy of Bell Museum of Natural History)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I am sorry that I’m so late with this. I had some intense dental work on Friday that was basically repeated this morning. I’m really sore, tired, and groggy. I get more on the 27th. I had no cavities but my gums needed some perking up. I hadn’t been to the dentist since before Katrina so I guess I’m a bit blessed it wasn’t a lot worse. The art today comes from Mississippi Gulf Coast Artist Walter Inglis Anderson and the Museum that features it. Anderson was born in New Orleans,

I was teaching last night when BB told me about the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy. This morning’s details are so sad. Many of the wounded and dead were small children and a marching group called “The Dancing Grannies.” They have one suspect in custody. It’s likely the SUV occupant was fleeing a knife fight. He’s got a criminal record. Monstrous behavior is on the lose in Wisconsin. This is from WaPo. As of now, there are five people dead. Ten of the 12 children hospitalized are in the pediatric ICU.

Officials said that 22 patients were transported by fire crews to six area hospitals. Additional people were transported to medical facilities by the police and bystanders. One hospital said Monday that 18 children had been brought to its emergency department alone.

“Our community needs to heal from physical injury and emotional trauma and what was taken from us by this senseless act,” Waukesha mayor Shawn Reilly said during the Monday briefing. “What we do today and in the days ahead is what will define us as a city, and I know we will come together and help Waukesha heal.”

By the morning after the parade, only some of the prior night’s chaos had been cleared. The trail of stray gloves, overturned chairs and abandoned drinkware grew denser the closer to Barstow Street, while Lollipops and wrapped candy were still scattered on the grassy parkway where families had gathered hours earlier for the parade themed “Comfort and Joy.” An image from the aftermath showed a jogging stroller, decorated with red and silver tinsel, now abandoned and missing a wheel.

Two Pelicans in Flight. Anderson, Walter Ingils (Artist)

The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin is still in the center of controversial verdict freeing Kyle Rittenhouse to kill again. The worst thing is that he has paired up with the FOX Monster known as Tucker Carlson for an interview airing a day ago. Two Fox News Contributers have quit the company over Carlson’s “documentary” that tries to whitewash Jan 6. This is from Greg Sargent at WaPo: “As two Fox contributors quit over Tucker Carlson, an alarming truth is revealed .”

It is fitting that two Fox News contributors have severed their ties with the network over Tucker Carlson’s glorification of Jan. 6 at exactly the moment when more than 150 scholars are sounding a loud, clanging alarm about the future of our democracy.

Because these two stories are unsettlingly related. Both should rivet our attention on the increasing flirtation among large swaths of the right with political violence, and on the role that the right’s campaign to delegitimize our political system is playing in it.

The two contributors — conservative writers Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg — quit Fox to protest Carlson’s online special “Patriot Purge.” As Ben Smith of the New York Times reports, they objected to its depiction of an alternate history of Jan. 6 as a “false flag” designed to create a pretext to persecute conservatives.

Here’s a UK The Guardian link to coverage of the interview of Vile Kyle by Tucker the Fucker: “Outcry as Kyle Rittenhouse sits down for Tucker Carlson Fox News interview.”

“This case has nothing to do with race,” Rittenhouse told Tucker Carlson in excerpts released by Fox News. “It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense.”

Rittenhouse has attracted support from conservative groups and lawmakers, some of whom, on the far right of the Republican party, have celebrated his acquittal and offered him internships. On Sunday Christina Pushaw, press officer for Republican governor Ron DeSantis, welcomed Rittenhouse to the “free state” of Florida in a tweet.

Before his trial, Rittenhouse was photographed in a bar with apparent members of the far-right Proud Boys, where he is alleged to have flashed white power hand signs. While his attorneys have insisted Rittenhouse is not a white supremacist, others have said otherwise.

On Saturday, the MSNBC host Tiffany Cross said: “The fact that white supremacists roam the halls of Congress freely and celebrate this little murderous white supremacist, and the fact that he gets to walk the streets freely, it lets you know these people have access to instituting laws, they represent the legislative branch of this country.”

The civil rights attorney Ben Crump was equally scathing following Friday’s verdict.

“If we were talking about a Black man,” he said, “the conversation and outcome would be starkly different. But we’re not. We’re talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, a racist, homicidal vigilante who, like so many white men before him, not only escaped accountability but laughed in its face.”

Fucker Carlson has also made a “documentary” on the case.

One party is impowering monsters. They are monsters. From CBS: “European thinktank adds U.S. to list of “backsliding” democracies for 1st time.”

The United States has joined an annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time, the International IDEA think-tank said on Monday, pointing to a “visible deterioration” that it said began in 2019. Globally, more than one in four people live in a backsliding democracy, a proportion that rises to more than two in three with the addition of authoritarian or “hybrid” regimes, according to the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

“This year we coded the United States as backsliding for the first time, but our data suggest that the backsliding episode began at least in 2019,” it said in its report titled “Global State of Democracy 2021.”

“The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy,” Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the report, told AFP.

Racist language has been resplendent in the three defendents tried for the murder of Ahmad Aubery. This prosecution has the right argument.

It is truely difficult these days to watch the violence in this country and then go outside your door. Many women and children do not even have to go outside their doors. This if from The Philidelphia Inquirer: “Pa. Senate candidate Sean Parnell has lost his custody battle after abuse claims by his estranged wife .”

Senate candidate Sean Parnell suspended his campaign Monday, hours after a judge ruled against him in a custody battle that included allegations he had physically and verbally abused his wife and children.

While Parnell denied those claims, the judge found his wife, Laurie Snell, to be more credible.

“There is nothing more important to me than my children, and while I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I can’t continue with a Senate campaign,” Parnell said in a statement. “My focus right now is 100% on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them.”

His decision capped a rapid collapse for a candidate once viewed as the GOP front-runner in Pennsylvania’s nationally watched race to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Parnell, a decorated Army veteran who received a Purple Heart after serving in Afghanistan, won an August endorsement from former President Donald Trump, but his campaign quickly unraveled after a rival questioned his personal conduct and his wife, Laurie Snell, testified under oath that Parnell choked her, pinned her down and called her “a whore.”

More from the little room

Rolling Stone has yet more on the Jan.6 insurrection and Trump involvement. You may go read that here: “Leaked Texts: Jan. 6 Organizers Say They Were ‘Following POTUS’ Lead’

Max Boot from WaPO writes this; “Republicans are fomenting a violent insurgency in America. It may have already started.

There really are monsters in this country. Read those and know who they are.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: It’s one of those days where I’m just speechless

Free South Africa- Keith Haring- 1985

Well, it’s Monday Sky Dancers!

I’m just going to put these items up and see if you’re as shocked and speechless as I am.  The Supreme Court is holding oral arguments on the unconstitutional Texas Abortion Law that’s designed to make women chattel property of whatever state decides that’s their political wish.    You can watch it on C-Span 2 where you can see that Clarence Thomas actually can speak from the bench and not just from political fundraisers.

The artwork today is from this link: “Famous Political Art Pieces”  and this link: “15 Influential Political Art Pieces. Artwork(s) In Focus, Top Lists, Art History, Socially Engaged Art”.

Shepard Fairey-George Orwell Print Set with Books (2008)

There really never was a day in America when political discourse wasn’t wrapped up in testosterone posing but this tit-for-tat shit is really out there.   I just learned about the “Let’s go Brandon” thing and here’s Dan Rather to damn it so I don’t have to fire a synapse thinking about college boys at football games creating a national meanness meme.  “A Party Embraces Vulgarity.”

The issue at hand can succinctly be summed up in three words: “Let’s go Brandon.” If you have no idea what I am talking about, consider yourself fortunate. For reasons too mundane to fully outline here, “Let’s go Brandon” has become a favorite chant and rallying cry for many Republicans as a stand-in for another three-word chant that you may also have heard : “F- Joe Biden,” with F-, for the purposes of decorum in this newsletter, standing for a four-letter vulgarity.  Search for “Let’s Go Brandon,” and you will start finding it everywhere – all over social media, a song with a ton of downloads on iTunes, at political rallies, and among snickering Republicans in Washington.

In a compelling column in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank uses the phrase to dive into the stark differences between the seriousness and propriety of the two political parties at this moment. He writes:

“Democrats clear the way for passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will provide broadband Internet and lead-free drinking water to every American, and better roads, bridges and ports for all to enjoy. And Republicans reply: Let’s go Brandon…

Could the contrast be any greater? Half of America’s leaders are trying to govern, and the other half are hurling vulgarities.”

The entire piece is worth the read, but for our discussion here I would like to delve a little deeper into what I think these vulgarities really mean, what motivates them, and what should be our – particularly the media’s – response.

Politics has never been a genteel pastime. The volume of vulgarities I heard covering the White House, Congress, and politics at the state and local level over the decades would rival any comedy special on HBO. In the passionate pursuit of power, discourse, especially behind the closed doors where the real action takes place, is often reduced to words that can be spelled with only four letters, or their adjectival equivalents. And no matter what side of the political divide you might be on, there have likely been moments when you are reading something or listening to an opposing politician speak and you have been moved to at least think of obscenities, if not utter them out loud. There have certainly been many Democratic politicians who have sworn about Republicans. But what we are witnessing here is fundamentally different.

“F- Joe Biden,” or the slightly less explicitly obscene but no more clever “Let’s go Brandon,” is about much more than political passion or anger. It’s about weaponizing the vulgar dehumanization of our entire democratic – small d – experiment. Joe Biden is not only a person; he is the President of the United States, whether your tinfoil-shrouded conspiracy brain cares to recognize that fact or not. How many times have we heard Republicans sanctimoniously preach about how Democrats don’t “respect” the office of the presidency for such things as President Obama not saluting properly or wearing a tan suit?

Golden Future of America- Robert Indiana- 1976

Not to be outdone, The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page which is a favorite thing of those seeking to line rat cages is pearl-clutching over 5 young people dressed up as the Torch Terrorists in Charlottesville and stood in silent ironic protest in front of the Trumpist running for governor in Virginia’s campaign bus. Wow, they really let the Lincoln Project get to them this time.  “A Dirty Campaign Trick in Virginia. The Lincoln Project plays the race card in a false-flag operation.”  As usual, there are two right-wing conspiracy theory signals dog-whistling from the headline.  Everything surrounding racism is playing “the race card” and I can’t even figure how this is a “false-flag operation,” but hey, get down with your crazy stupid selves!  How long do we have to wait before we read the next attempt to label it “virtue-signaling”?

Democrats routinely play the race card when they’re worried about losing an election, and that’s exactly what the operatives from the Lincoln Project did last week in staging a dirty campaign trick against surging GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin.

It started Friday when a reporter for a local NBC affiliate tweeted a photo of four men and one woman dressed in white shirts, khakis and sunglasses and holding tiki torches. They were standing in front of Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s bus during a campaign stop in Virginia.
“These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, ‘We’re all in for Glenn.” tweeted Elizabeth Holmes. The tiki torches were meant to tie Mr. Youngkin to the infamous torchlit, white nationalist march in Charlottesville in 2017.

Twitter exploded, with various people claiming to have identified people in the tiki-torch photo as Democrats. They hadn’t been positively ID’d by the time we went to press on Sunday.

But as evidence grew that this was a setup, the Lincoln Project finally fessed up. It presented its attempt to play the white supremacist card as an exercise in civic virtue, saying it was “our way of reminding Virginians” about Charlottesville, “the Republican Party’s embrace of those values,” and Mr. Youngkin’s “failure to condemn it.” This is a slur against Mr. Youngkin and the Virginia GOP.

Massacre in Korea, 1951 by Pablo Picasso

So, this is all pretty radically nuts because the latest craziness by the Republicans in Virginia is all about that Critical Race Theory nuttiness. Juan William states it plainly.  ‘Parents’ rights’ is code for white race politics’.  I remember living through this same craziness in 1992 when the code word was “multiculturalism” which basically means if it wasn’t spat out by a white christianist it shouldn’t be taught to children.

After white supremacists spilled blood in defense of keeping up Confederate statues in 2017, the GOP candidate for governor of Virginia, Ed Gillespie, said the monuments should stay up as a matter of heritage and history.

His TV advertising featured threatening images of Latino gangs, labeled illegal immigrants, involved in murder and rape.

The racially loaded “Culture Wars” campaign, straight from then-President Trump’s playbook, gave Gillespie a push, but he ultimately lost the race to Democrat Ralph Northam.

Now Virginia Republicans are back with a new and improved “Culture Wars” campaign for 2021. The closing argument is once again full of racial division — but this time it is dressed up as a defense of little children.

The rallying cry is “Parents’ Rights.”

It is a campaign to stop classroom discussion of Black Lives Matter protests or slavery because it could upset some children, especially white children who might feel guilt.

And this time, the Trump-imitating Republicans think they have struck political gold.

Unlike their earlier defense of Confederate monuments, the “Parents’ Rights” campaign message at first glance looks to have zero to do with race.

That puts Democrats on the defensive. They are in the uncomfortable position of calling the attention of suburban white moms to divisive racial politics being used by Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, calls the Republican message a “racist dog whistle.”

The Problem we all live with, Norman Rockwell, 1963

Still, that race–that will be determined tomorrow–is a dead heat.  This is from the NYT: “In the Final Days Before Virginia Votes, Both Sides Claim Momentum.”

The high-stakes race for governor of Virginia entered its final stretch with Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe trading accusations of sowing division, as voters appeared closely divided over returning a Democrat to office or electing a Republican to lead their state for the first time in more than a decade.

The size and atmosphere of dueling events during the last weekend of campaigning before Election Day on Tuesday reflected the trends in the most recent polls. Mr. Youngkin, the Republican candidate, greeted crowds of more than 1,000, while Mr. McAuliffe, the Democrat, hustled through sparsely attended events from morning to night.

Mr. McAuliffe, who served one term as governor from 2014 to 2018, has displayed a rising sense of urgency lately, dispatching some of the Democratic Party’s biggest stars to campaign for him and push people to vote early. In 11 hours on Saturday, Mr. McAuliffe traveled more than 120 miles, making eight stops in six cities amid a whirlwind day of campaigning in which he urged supporters not to be complacent.

“We are substantially leading on the early vote, but we cannot take our foot off the gas,” Mr. McAuliffe told a crowd on Saturday in Norfolk, where he met with labor leaders who were planning to spend the day knocking on doors.

Meanwhile, The Bulwark’s Tim Miller just had to put this headline in front of me today: “Donald Trump Is Now the Odds-On Favorite to Be President in 2025 .”  I’m gagging over here.

So, Donald Trump is now the odds-on favorite to be president of the United States in 2025.

I know that lede sentence was also the headline, but I wanted you to read it one more time just to let it really settle in the ol’ noggin before pressing forward.

The twice-impeached, disgraced loser who was schlonged in the 2020 election, tried to stay in power against the will of the people, and then came ten cowardly Republican senators away from being disqualified from ever running for office again, is now more likely than any other person in the world to take the next oath of office on the Capitol steps on January 20, 2025.

How is that for some weird shit?

Now I’m sure some will roll their eyes when this headline comes across the Twitter feed. Attribute this article to my raging Trump Derangement Syndrome or The Bulwark’s Cady Heron-level obsession with Mar-a-Lago’s in-house wedding toastmaster.

But this ain’t about my compulsions. It’s the actual, real-world reality being presented by those who have the most skin in the game.

Both the major off-shore gambling quants and the online trading markets have moved in Mr. Trump’s favor in the past couple weeks.

Banksy, The Flower Thrower, 1963

Here’s some more crazy shit that I’m speechless about.

Why does the press keep trying to incite a civil war instead of elucidating the danger in all of this?  Rad idea below  Atlantic writer suggests Never Trumperz support DeSantis.  (Connor Friedsdorf warning) What drug is this guy on? Or Read this shake-down in New York Magazine describing DeSantis worship.

I’m going to go play music and eat chocolate now.  Hope you have a great day and that you’re not as depressed and confused about all this is and derp as I am.

I had to steal this image from my blogging buddy Peter Athas  Get his take on that TNR article here.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Must Read Journalism and Must See TV

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I want to bring your attention to a TV documentary and a Rolling Stone Exclusive on evidence there was heavy planning on the part of Congressional Republicans in the insurrection on January 6th. I have to teach tonight, get my real ID this afternoon, and this morning a mitigation specialist comes to check out the water damage in my attic. This will be brief.

First, the documentary was shown last night on MSNBC and will be running on Peacock. It basically addresses the failures of Reconstruction after the Civil War and the deep roots of institutional racism in our country. There were compelling interviews with Southern Americans about their experience. There were professors discussing the various failures that led to the Lost Cause and a lot of where we are right now in terms of Black and White America. There were visits to historical–frequently covered up–events throughout our history like the Clinton, MS Race Massacre. There was also a visit to a Civil war museum that lifts up the contributions of black soldiers of the Union Army.

Here’s a basic description via the Chatanooga Free Times Press. “‘Civil War’ documentary, partially filmed in Chattanooga, premieres Sunday on MSNBC.”

A Civil War documentary that includes perspectives from several Chattanooga-area residents will premiere Sunday on MSNBC.

For “The Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are),” Emmy-nominated director Rachel Boynton visited classrooms around the nation to see how the war is taught.

Her stop in Chattanooga features Chris Carpenter’s Civil War classes at McCallie School, historian and educator LaFrederick Thirkill, the caretakers of Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery and Chattanooga Connected, a group of community leaders dedicated to intentionally breaking down racial barriers.

Franklin McCallie, a co-founder of Chattanooga Connected, said he’s proud of Boynton’s effort to shed light on “a major thorn in the side of our nation.” The film, he said, should get people talking “rationally and with the hope of healing.”

McCallie was among those who first saw the film in a screening at the Tivoli Theatre earlier this month.

“I feel this film could make a difference,” he said. “She has the liberal side, the very conservative side, and she has shown the depth of feeling of those who have not left the Confederacy behind, who have not left the Civil War behind” more than a century and a half later.

In a review, film critic Matt Zoller Seitz said the movie will be of “particular interest to students who want a lively, thoughtful presentation of basic historical subjects but aren’t going to get it in classrooms where the curriculum is approved by people who are mainly concerned with avoiding discomfort and preserving the status quo.”

This is an interview with the filmmaker.

Portrait of an unidentified African American soldier in uniform, c. 1860s

My next offering is from Rolling Stone. You will want to read this: “EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff. Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office.” It was written by Hunter Walker who had access to two sources working with the ongoing investigation.

I’ll put the list of seditionists up first.

The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.

These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.

Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.

Portrait of Christian Fleetwood.

It sounds like the chickens are coming home to roost!

In another indication members of Congress may have been involved in planning the protests against the election, Ali Alexander, who helped organize the “Wild Protest,” declared in a since-deleted livestream broadcast that Gosar, Brooks, and Biggs helped him formulate the strategy for that event.

“I was the person who came up with the Jan. 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and Congressman Andy Biggs,” Alexander said at the time. “We four schemed up on putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that — who we couldn’t lobby — we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside.”

Alexander led Stop the Steal, which was one of the main groups promoting efforts to dispute Trump’s loss. In December, he organized a Stop the Steal event in Phoenix, where Gosar was one the main speakers. At that demonstration, Alexander referred to Gosar as “my captain” and declared “one of the other heroes has been Congressman Andy Biggs.”

The indication is the list of acts leading up to riots and sedition is long and extensive. I think we can safely assume that these planners were likely at the hotel session prior to January 6,

I have one breaking news story from Sudan to add down here. “Sudan coup: Military dissolves civilian government and arrests leaders.” The reporting is via the BBC.

A coup is under way in Sudan, where the military has dissolved civilian rule, arrested political leaders and declared a state of emergency.

Coup leader, Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan, has blamed political infighting.

Protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and there are reports of gunfire.

Military and civilian leaders have been at odds since long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown two years ago and a transitional government set up.

Witnesses say the internet is down and that army and paramilitary troops have been deployed across the city. Khartoum airport is closed, and international flights are suspended.

Some protesters chanted “no to military rule”.

Demonstrator Sawsan Bashir told AFP news agency: “We will not leave the streets until the civilian government is back and the transition is back.”

“We are ready to give our lives for the democratic transition in Sudan,” another protester, Haitham Mohamed said.

So, that’s enough for me today. The news will likely be crazy-go-nuts today as the press secretary of the tv series The West Wing used to say.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?