Wednesday Reads: Tired of it

Good morning, yesterday I woke up to all my Kamala and Hillary stickers (as well as my equally and abortion rights…and voting rights and trans rights and women’s rights stickers) all ripped off the refrigerator. These stickers and magnets are important to me, I’ve been collecting them for decades. My son is the one who viciously took them down. He is one of those right wing assholes. Mirroring the words of MTG before I see tweets about her quotes on Twitter. It is so upsetting. So just the basics today.

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Will No Win? Hell yes!

Thanks Dak…

Fuck yeah!!!! Kansas votes No to save Abortion Rights!!!!

Let’s hope this is a sign of what will come in November…

What a lady…

I’m going to end with this cartoon from 1969/1970:

Find the latest primary results here:

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads: The Right to Vote is Essential to Addressing the Issues of Our Time

Marc Chagall – Saint-Paul de Vance at Sunset, 1977

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I hope your week went well and your weekend goes better! I think I’m fully moved into my new phone and zapped then returned the old one. I’m about to start switching over to the new computer tomorrow.  I just have a few more adulting things to do and I, fortunately, don’t need the camera and mic until Sunday.

American Life is so abnormal that I am really glad that I don’t have to drag myself into a classroom until January. I’ve dealt with teaching far worse economies and financial markets so that’s not the challenge. Part of me is just bugged by the fact I can’t depend on any American to do the right thing in this latest surge of Pandemic. Indeed, I’m actually thinking I may be back on Zoom instead of behind a podium next year. I think our economy is looking resilient and the financial markets are functional.  What I think is dysfunctional is the way America does business. That’s the model that doesn’t work. It’s especially not working now. The extreme nature of the American ideological take on Capitalism is causing all kinds of things just to not work.

Then, there’s the weather situation which was elucidated in an article in The Guardian that BB posted yesterday. We’re not just experiencing extreme weather. It’s extreme and unique. This week we had temperatures never reported before in December in places like St. Paul. We continue to have severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the midwest in December. These records are not only record-setting. These instances are making records because their occurences are unknown to us in modern times. Between the weather and the global pandemic, we need to strengthen and address flaws in our institutions before it all kills nearly everything.

Marc Chagall, Bouquets de Lilas a Saint-Paul (Bouquets of Lilacs at Saint-Paul), 1978

I do want to address the new push to reinstate and further Voting Rights and why it’s so important. First, I want to address what I’ve said above by sharing this Article in VOX by Anna North. “The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work? From the pandemic to climate change, Americans are still expected to work no matter what happens.”

It’s a good question to ask and it’s being asked by the workers at Kellogg’s including the one I spent my teen years viewing out school windows and those of my house on the hill.  The plant in Omaha is way across on another hill where you can always see the big ol’ red Kellogg’s signature on the building. My thought was always the same. I’m never going to put myself in a place where I have to endlessly and mindlessly drop trinkets in cereal boxes for at least 8 hours a day.  Yesterday, on MSNBC, I heard from Senator Sanders that some workers worked overtime for 100-120 consecutive days at Kellogg’s factories. We also learned that workers at the decimated candle factory in Kentucky were threatened with firing if they didn’t keep working.  Are candles and dry cereal really worth this?

We didn’t learn anything from all the workers dropping dead from COVID-19 at meat processing plants?   Now, we also find out there’s no shortage of truckers, it’s just how there’s a major difference between how independent truckers are paid and those that are union.  It’s basically a problem of driver delays.  Nonunion drivers get paid by the mile so they get assigned to places where they have to sit forever. Union drivers are paid by the hour. I’m frankly blessed not to have been pushed prematurely back into the classroom but that’s only because I’m semiretired and can say no without it threatening my work.

So, with that background, let’s read Anna North’s article.

For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism.

A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with relatively little loss of life.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Instead, white-collar workers shifted over to Zoom (often with kids in the background), and everybody else was forced to keep showing up to their jobs in the face of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands died, countless numbers descended into depression and burnout, and a grim new standard was set: Americans keep working, even during the apocalypse.

Now it’s been nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic — a time that has also encompassed an attempted coup, innumerable extreme weather events likely tied to climate change, and ongoing police violence against Black Americans — and we’ve been expected to show up to work through all of it. “I don’t think people are well,” says Riana Elyse Anderson, a clinical and community psychologist and professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We are moving along but we are certainly not well.”

For some Americans, working during the apocalypse is fatal — think of the transit workers who died from Covid-19 in 2020, or the Amazon warehouse workers killed by a tornado on December 10 in Illinois. “All disasters are workplace disasters for some people,” said Jacob Remes, a historian and the director of the Initiative for Critical Disaster Studies at New York University. For others, the effects are more of a slow burn; the chronic stress that comes with putting on a game face at work, day in and day out, as the world becomes ever more terrifying.

Of course, Americans haven’t all quietly accepted the demand that we work through the end times. Record numbers are quitting their jobs in search of higher pay and better conditions. After more than 20 months of being asked to keep showing up uncomplainingly while everything crumbles around them, people are demanding a more humane approach to work in the age of interlocking crises.

Marc Chagall: “Nocturne at Vence”  1963

Please read the full article.

So, the question is how do we get more humane treatment at work, access to educations, and childcare at a reasonable cost?  Pharmaceuticals at a reasonable cost? Food at a reasonable cost?   How about energy that doesn’t cost too much and kill us at the same time?  Fewer wars?  Actual customer service instead of automated checkouts and endless phone trees to get to someone that can actually help you?  The business model these days is basically about where it was pre-union. Just jack up prices, lower service levels, overwork what employees you have, push a paperwork and surveillance atmosphere, then drive all the profits to the top where no one has to pay taxes on anything or can hide their money. This is not sustainable in this day and age. Where do we get some redress and control?

We should get it through our voter franchise and our democracy and representatives that deliver to voters and not just donors and radical bases. We’re losing all kinds of rights and none of them will return to us unless the majority of the democracy can vote easily and get fair elections,  Can we get this done?

Not, when all roads lead to Joe Manchin and there’s a filibuster rule in the Senate for for basic civil, human, constitutional rights. These things should not be left to overturn by a radical minority.

From the AP: “Power of one: Manchin is singularly halting Biden’s agenda.”  Let’s be real about this. It’s not just Biden’s Agenda it’s the people’s agenda as demonstrated by poll -after-poll.  Joe Manchin is the perfect example of someone that pushes everything that’s not sustainable and mostly because his wealth depends on it and his power.

Sen. Joe Manchin settled in at President Joe Biden’s family home in Delaware on a Sunday morning in the fall as the Democrats worked furiously to gain his support on their far-reaching domestic package.

The two-hour-long session was the kind of special treatment being showered on the West Virginia senator — the president at one point even showing Manchin around his Wilmington home.

But months later, despite Democrats slashing Biden’s big bill in half and meeting the senator’s other demands, Manchin is no closer to voting yes.In an extraordinary display of political power in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, a single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda.

Biden said in a statement Thursday night that he still believed “we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition.”

But with his domestic agenda stalled out in Congress, senators are coming to terms with the reality that passage of the president’s signature “Build Back Better Act,” as well as Democrats’ high-priority voting rights package, would most likely have to be delayed to next year.

Failing to deliver on Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social and environmental bill would be a stunning end to the president’s first year in office.

Manchin’s actions throw Democrats into turmoil at time when families are struggling against the prolonged COVID-19 crisis and Biden’s party needs to convince voters heading toward the 2022 election that their unified party control of Washington can keep its campaign promises.

This has been pushed to the back burner and now they have decided to shift to voting rights.  Look at who’s on the catbird seat again.

 

Circus Dancer (Le Grand Cirque) 1968

From The Hill article in the above Tweet:

President Biden joined a Zoom call with Senate Democrats on Thursday to encourage them to pass voting rights legislation, as the chamber appears poised to leave for the year without a deal.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who are both part of the group negotiating rules changes and voting rights, said that they had spoken with Biden about their efforts.

“Very positive. ‘Good work, guys. Keep at it,’” Kaine said about Biden’s message.

“‘Are you talking, are you taking it seriously, are you trying to get there?’ Yes. So he [was] encouraging us, thanking us and encouraging us,” the Virginia Democrat added.

Tester, asked about Biden’s general message, summed it up as the right to vote is “important for democracy.”

Those included on the call were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kaine and Tester, a source familiar told The Hill. Vice President Harris was also on the call.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the call.

Biden’s call come as Senate Democrats are poised to wrap their work for the year without a deal on how to move voting rights legislation.

“We don’t have the votes right now to change the rules,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch, acknowledging the political reality that the party currently faces.

Democrats have been holding a flurry of behind-the-scenes meetings to try to come to a deal that unites all 50 Democrats on changing the Senate rules.

A group of Senate Democrats — Kaine, Tester and King — have been tasked with coming up with a proposal on how to alter the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a way that would allow voting rights legislation to move forward.

Republicans have blocked several voting rights and election bills, fueling calls from within the Senate Democratic caucus to change the rules.

Marc Chagall – le jardin d’Eden, 1980

Meanwhile, the Senate is going on holiday.  Why can’t we all get paid and have work hours and benefits like them?

From NPC News: Democrats rev up voting rights push to end 2021. But Senate path remains elusive. All 50 Senate Democrats would be needed to change the rules to get around a filibuster. But Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still don’t support such a move.

Long-simmering frustrations among prominent Black leaders appeared to be boiling over as they pressure President Joe Biden to do more to encourage the Senate to act. Progressive advocacy groups have revved up their pressure campaigns, fearing that time is running out to avert what they see as an existential threat to democracy. Leaders of the effort in the Senate, notably Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, have held meetings with colleagues to find a path forward.

And moderates like Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, said this week they’re ready to change the Senate rules to allow a vote on an election overhaul. But despite this movement, it may not be enough.

Manchin and Sinema are supportive of the Freedom to Vote Act, which would enshrine a series of voting-access guarantees across all states, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would impose additional limits on states with a history of discrimination. But neither supports a rule change to get around the 60-vote threshold that is blocking votes on those bills.

Manchin, who spoke to Warnock about the issue and left the Capitol shoulder-to-shoulder with him this week, told reporters he wants support from both parties before establishing new rules.

“All my discussions have been bipartisan, Republicans and Democrats. A rules change should be done to where we all have input in this rules change because we’re going to have to live with it,” he said.

That’s a problem: Republicans are extremely unlikely to sign off on any rule changes that would enable passage of voting rights legislation, which they staunchly oppose. A filibuster change through the regular process require a two-thirds vote, and even moderate Republicans say they’re not interested.

“I don’t see how. Unless Sen. (Chuck) Schumer tries to employ the nuclear option, rule changes require 67 votes,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told NBC News, referring to the Senate majority leader. “I think the rules and traditions of the Senate have generally served us well, and I don’t see the need for rule changes.”

Sinema said through a spokesperson that she still opposes weakening the 60-vote rule to pass a voting bill.

And that Ladies and Gentlemen is how empires and democracies die!

Have a great weekend!  I hope you enjoy the soothing colors of Marc Chagall!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Legacy

Hmmm…

Nice reference to Portrait of Dorian Gray.

Now for some news updates:

That is not The Onion..

The GOP still has me going bat crazy…


Monday Reads: Somebody needs to Cancel The Trump Show

Circus Horse 1964 Marc Chagall

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The Biden Transition Team has been announcing its team while chaos and denial surround KKKremlin Caligula. It’s time to pull the big top down on Trump and Trumpism. I have a feeling we’ll have the sideshows for a very long time to include gun toting angry white nationalists.

The Biden Transition Team announced these folks and their role in the leadership team come January 21. The National Security Team is the focus of today’s announcements. This is from the NYT: “Biden Will Nominate First Woman to Lead Intelligence, First Latino to Run Homeland Security. John Kerry, the former secretary of state, will be climate czar, according to the Biden transition team.”

At an event in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden will announce plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to be his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, his transition office said, and Avril Haines to be his director of national intelligence. He intends to name Mr. Kerry as a special presidential envoy on climate. The transition office also confirmed reports on Sunday night that Mr. Biden will nominate Antony J. Blinken to be secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.

Mr. Biden will also nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations and restore the job to cabinet-level status, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American woman, a seat on his National Security Council.

Mr. Kerry’s job does not require Senate confirmation. A statement released by the transition office said Mr. Kerry “will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council.”

The emerging team reunites a group of former senior officials from the Obama administration, most of whom worked closely together at the State Department and the White House and in several cases have close ties to Mr. Biden dating back years. They are well known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in the core principles of the Democratic foreign policy establishment — international cooperation, strong U.S. alliances and leadership but a wariness of foreign interventions after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The racial and gender mix also reflects Mr. Biden’s stated commitment to diversity, which has lagged behind notoriously in the worlds of foreign policy and national security, where white men are disproportionately represented.

This is encouraging. It’s going to take a lot of experienced people to put together the mess the Trump Regimists will leave in their respective Departments. Biden has also announced his choices for State and the UN. He appears to be looking for folks with quite deep credentials and experience. Kerry’s the only one so far that has a big name and the highly visible position. This is from WAPO: “Biden picks Antony Blinken as secretary of state, emphasizing experience and the foreign policy establishment”.

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Antony Blinken, one of his closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers, as secretary of state as he prepares to unveil a slate of new nominees this week that will emphasize a deep well of experience in the foreign policy and national security establishment.

Blinken will be nominated to one of the highest-profile Cabinet positions at a time when Biden is planning to prioritize foreign policy as a major pillar in his administration, with vows to reassemble global alliances and insert the United States into a more prominent position on the world stage.

Soon after taking office, Biden plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, stop the U.S. exit from the World Health Organization and resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal. Blinken has been described as having a “mind meld” with Biden on a range of issues that will be important in his early tenure.

Blinken’s appointment, first reported Sunday night by Bloomberg News, was confirmed by three people familiar with an announcement scheduled for Tuesday. Jake Sullivan, another top Biden adviser, is expected to be named as national security adviser, according to two people familiar with the announcement.

Biden also is planning to announce Linda Thomas-Greenfield as his nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, giving a former career Foreign Service officer and African American woman one of the most high-profile diplomatic posts in government, according to three people familiar with the decision.

All three expected nominees have decades-long careers working at the highest levels of government, and a deep respect for institutions.

Harlequin on Horseback ,1905, Pablo Picasso

This ought to have Steven Bannon muttering deep state from the recesses of his fevered brain and drug dreams. That’s not a problem. What is a problem is that Emily Murphy will not do her job. This is from The Atlantic and Anne Applebaum : “Why Won’t Emily Murphy Just Do Her Job? In delaying the transition, the General Services Administration chief is acting like an ideologue.” You think?

Not everybody has succumbed to this ideology. Just last week, Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was fired for refusing to lie. He would not support the president’s baseless claims of electoral fraud, and so he was told to leave his job.

But not everybody is Chris Krebs. Clearly, Emily Murphy is not Chris Krebs. Confronted with the reality of Joe Biden’s victory, and with the predictably mendacious reaction of the president, Murphy, along with an astonishing number of elected and appointed Republican officials, has chosen to stand by him too. “Friends” are now speaking to the national media on her behalf. One of these “friends” told CNN that Murphy is distressed: “She’s doing what she believes is her honest duty as someone who has sworn true allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the laws that govern her position.”

Well, no. She is not doing her honest duty. She is behaving badly, dishonestly, unfairly. She is violating the Constitution of the United States of America by refusing to recognize that the election is over, that Trump’s lawsuits and legal games are frivolous, and that the transition has begun. But she, like so many others in the White House, seems to believe the exact opposite: that it is part of her job to support radical, norm-breaking, democracy-destroying lies. Like so many others in the Republican Party, she appears to think that election results do not need to be accepted; that legal votes can be challenged; that courts and political pressure can be used to change the result.

In the grand historical scheme of things, this particular form of delusion is not uncommon. A lot of historical and political-science work has been devoted in recent years to bureaucrats who become ideologues—though I cringe to mention it, because most of it applies to people in much more severe and dramatic situations. In the years since Hannah Arendt coined the expression banality of evil, a number of historians have begun to argue, for example, that most of the Nazi bureaucrats who later described themselves as “just following orders” were doing no such thing: They were active and enthusiastic partisans, imagining themselves to be brave members of the Nazi avant-garde. They thought they were good people.

A similar argument has been made retrospectively about the participants in the infamous “shock experiments” carried out by the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. Most of those who agreed to deliver a series of what they thought were painful electric shocks to a person in the next room were doing so not out of an ingrained instinct for obedience, as Milgram claimed at the time, but because Milgram had truly convinced them of the significance of their task. They didn’t see themselves as delivering pain, but rather being part of a cutting-edge scientific project. They thought they were good people too.

Soir Bleu, Edward Hopper,1914

I’ll be interested in seeing what BB says about the Milgram experiments.

And speaking of interesting:

Cark Bernstein appeared on CNN last night and spilled a few beans about which senators think Trump is acting cray cray.

It seems that more than just a few Republicans are getting tired of these crazy antics by Trump to hold on to the presidency. “Trump’s legal absurdities force more Republicans to speak out”. This analysis is by Stephen Collins of CNN.

President Donald Trump’s increasingly inane legal claims and constitutional arson are prompting a growing number of high-profile Republicans and informal advisers that it’s time for him to end his attempt to overturn his election loss.

The President, ruining time-honored traditions of a peaceful transfer of power, is firing off long-shot court challenges and heaping pressure on state election officials. His aides are stoking a political storm apparently designed to destroy Joe Biden’s presidency before it starts and to shield Trump from the historic humiliation that comes with losing an election after only a single term.

Most congressional GOP leaders are still silent. But the spectacle has some senior Republicans ready to call time. “It’s over,” GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said on CNN’s “Inside Politics” Sunday. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a frequent Trump critic, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump’s behavior was akin to that seen in a “banana republic.” And even Trump’s friend, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” branded Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts a “national embarrassment.”

Meanwhile, Trump keeps doing really odd things in the National Defense arena.

This includes vetoing a bill to remove confederate traitors names from military bases and flying B-52 Bombers near Iran as some kind of message. He’s also withdrawing troops from Somalia.

George Seurat, The Circus, 1891

This has led to a flurry of denouncements from the National Security Leaders for Biden group who are especially interested in starting the transition. This was reported by The Hill this morning. “Former Republican national security officials demand GOP leaders denounce Trump’s refusal to concede election. “

More than 100 former GOP senior national security officials who served under former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, as well as President Trump, are urging party leadership to demand the president cease his “anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election” and concede.

“It has been clear for over two weeks that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, garnering 306 electoral votes, far more than the 270 electoral votes required to be elected,” reads letter signed by the group of former officials, known as Former Republican National Security Officials that was released on Monday.

“While the President is legally entitled to request recounts and file good-faith legal challenges, he has presented no evidence of widespread fraud or any other significant irregularities. Nearly every case filed by the President’s team across multiple states has been summarily dismissed,” the letter continued.

So, I have no idea what’s going to be going on the rest of the year with all of this but I do see some troubling signals coming from airports where a lot of really stupid Americans are creating Thanksgiving SuperSpreader events. As for me and mine, we shall stay home.

Take care! Have a great holiday where you’re safe from harm!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?